Is Philadelphia the new Brooklyn?

philadelphia hipsters mini postcard
Now sold on Etsy.

You’re burned out on Brooklyn, you can’t afford Manhattan, you’re too bratty for Queens, so what do you do? My friend Ben, a recent Brooklyn ex-pat, has the answer: “If you want to live in Brooklyn and pay half in rent, move to Philly!” he proclaimed, the night before he left the island for good.

I moved to Brooklyn from New Orleans a year ago, and the way I look at it, I got myself into this mess, so now I’m committed to see the suffering through while trying to put together a career in publishing. But Ben got me thinking more critically about this life of unrealistic expectations and disproportionate salary-to-rent ratios, physical and mental jaundice. And he’s not my only friend to flee what is sometimes (condescendingly) referred to as the “sixth borough.”

With lower rents and cheaper beer, is Philly the dream of Brooklyn, actually realized? Or was Daria right when she said, “Life sucks no matter what, so don’t be fooled by location changes”? I asked three friends who cashed in their Metrocards for SEPTA passes.

Why did they leave?
As much as they love the cheap rent and cheese steaks, girls were the driving factor for two ex-pats. Originally from Boston, Ben, 26, moved to Brooklyn after college, lived in Bushwick and then Crown Heights and worked as a newspaper reporter. He was in a long-distance relationship with a girl who lived in Philly — an added frustration to his feeling of general malaise in “Sucks City,” as he called NYC. Now they are together in the city of brotherly love, where he works at a law firm.

Born and raised in Park Slope, 27-year-old Billy ditched Brooklyn for Philly because his girlfriend got a great job there. In Brooklyn, he was co-editor at a basketball magazine and then an M.F.A. grad student in fiction; in Philly, he does freelance journalism and copywriting.

Originally from Bar Harbor, Maine, Julie, 27, moved to Brooklyn after college, where she at first worked as a full-time photo assistant, then juggled a combination of freelance photo assistant, bartender and nanny. In Philly, she works full time at a jewelry store doing graphic design, photography and creating visual displays. “Because it’s slower here and less expensive, I’ve found I have more mental space to think about what I want to do, where I want to go, and spend more time working on my art.”

Fishtown Philadelphia
This Fishtown place looks vaguely Brooklynish. Photo courtesy of Flying Kite media.


Yes, Philly really is cheaper
According to 2011 national Cost of Living Index averages, residents of New York, Washington D.C. and Boston have to earn up to 59% more to enjoy the same standard of living as a Philadelphia resident. Another telling stat: the Consumer Price Index is 100 for New York, compared to 77.7 for Philadelphia. This means that we pay a third more for basics like food, housing, transportation, clothing, fuel and medical care and so on.

When our representatives decamped for Philadelphia, their average rent dropped from $745 per month to $503. And they all got more for their money, dwelling-wise.

Ben’s rent is half compared to what he paid in Brooklyn, and he lives close enough to walk to work. “Now that I’m here I’m just deliriously happy to be feeling like I can breathe, no more asshole roommates, no more asshole boss,” he told me. “I feel like I broke out of a real nasty downward spiral.”

Billy says he lives “like a king” freelancing in Philly compared to when he had a full-time job in New York. “I am the most semi-employed person I know. I probably billed under $1,000 to clients last month.”

Yet his apartment in Fishtown, which he calls the “Bushwick of Philly,” is a 1,000 square foot loft with 12-foot ceilings and a private entrance.

“It pretty much looks like the Gossip Girl version of a Brooklyn apartment,” he says. “My neighborhood is probably the future Brooklyn, in that it’s full of young people, but there are no businesses. Fishtown is basically made up of bars [Barcade recently opened up here] and crackheads stealing scrap metal, and then the scrap metal place where they sell it.”

Julie believes living in Philly means finally being able to cut the cord from your parents, even on a part-time job. “In NYC, you have to have money, or parents who give you money, to live healthy and happily,” she says. “Here, you can have a house with a studio in it for a price that’s actually within reach.”

But you can’t get a job there either

In fact, the unemployment rate is actually higher in Philly — 50 percent higher than in Brooklyn. According to the 2010 census, 15.1% of those in age-group 25 to 44 were unemployed in Philadelphia County, compared to 10.1% in Kings County. While Philadephia is a hub of health, research and education, with more than 80 colleges and universities, it plays second or third fiddle to New York in creative fields.

Ben, always a realist, believes that as with anywhere, “dream jobs” are still hard to find. But at least in Philly, he’s “no longer feeling career desperation like I’m doomed to being a slave rowing an ancient ship while being hit with a bullwhip.”

To Billy, jobs seem pretty scarce, but he’s not really looking. “I dread the thought of ever having to be responsible again. Some day, maybe, but not now.”

And Julie’s content to make art and work at a jewelry store. “New York makes sense if you have defined your career and are living successfully there. I’m not in that place yet, so I don’t want to be struggling just to live in NYC when I need to be spending my energy on more important things.”

They have cheaper beer and [ ________ ] sports teams

Beer is cheaper in Philly. According to an unofficial census by our ex-pats, draft pints are $3 to $5 there, as opposed to $5 to $7 in Brooklyn. Additionally, a can of PBR and a shot of well whiskey ($5 in Brooklyn) is $3 there.

And who needs to wait for the Nets to come to Brooklyn? Philly has its own sports teams, and their games are relatively cheap. “I got fourth row seats at a 76ers game for $80!” Billy says. If you feel comfortable cutting your allegiances to Eli, (or at least keeping your real preferences to yourself) or if you’re game to talk yourself into developing a crush on stud second baseman Chase Utley, or two-time Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay, then you definitely have enough replacement teams to keep you going. But if you’re a Giants fan, keep that to yourself.

Would I have friends in Philly?

Julie says she actually has more of them than in Brooklyn. “Life is a little slower here, people are able to have houses and therefore actually have people over — like dinner parties! Or less formally, it’s really easy to just walk over to a friend’s house for a glass of wine or dinner, which is something I do often.”

Ben’s outlook on moving is more in line with Daria’s sentiment, but he can breathe easier in Philadelphia. “No place is perfect, and life sucks everywhere,” he says. “One thing I can say in favor of Philly is that people here aren’t overbearing prima donnas who are constantly trying to justify themselves and their sad, shitty lives.”

But something must suck in Philly, right?

Why yes, you are more likely to get murdered there. Philly closed out 2011 with the highest per-capita murder rate in the country, with 324 homicides (population 1.53 million), meaning your chances of getting whacked are 1 in 5,000. Last year, Brooklyn saw its lowest murder rate since 1963, with 195 murders in a population of 2.5 million. In other words, Brooklyn offers a reassuring 1 in 12,500 chance of a violent demise.

Says Billy: “The trade-off is Philly’s an incredibly cheap city full of young people, but it’s a little shadier than New York,” he says. “A guy got jumped and beaten unconscious by a gang two blocks away from my house. And people are really pissed off here. They’re constantly yelling at each other.”

Photo from Q Train
They don’t have this in Philadelphia. Flickr photo by Marc Cappelletti.


OK, so are you moving to Philly?

No, I’m still happy living here. The soup dumplings alone satisfy me. I love reading on my Q train commute into the city, taking in the skyline as I cross the bridge. (Their subway shuts down at midnight.) I even dig the break dancers on my train. I live in Prospect Lefferts Gardens on Ocean Avenue, directly across the street from Prospect Park, where I go running with my dog every afternoon. When the city makes me claustrophobic, I can escape half an hour to the nearest beach, a couple hours from a cabin in the Catskills.

But ask me in another year.


    • Karan

      Actually believe it or not, outside the 5 boroughs nobody really thinks much about New York.  New Yorkers can pretend that Philly is the 6th borough and that Boston is the upper-upper east side….but most of us just shrug and laugh at the insecurity New Yorkers must feel at having to justify every location in relation to NY.

      • wasting away in phila

        people in phila are always whining about how they’re better than ny. we are the most provincial & segregated city in the universe also. i meet so many people here who are just AFRAID of ny & scared they don’t have the ambition or skills to make it there.

        • Steve

           As a Philadelphian I know I don’t have they money or ambition to make it there.  I bought a fucking house a mile from City Hall.  Try doing that in New York without much money or ambition.

        • Most segregated? Philly’s one of the least actually; it’s not fucking Boston. True Fishtown’s still got a racist white trash but that’s what you’d expect from the bottom tip of the northeast. My hood in South Philly is Irish, Italian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian, Black, and Mexican. Needless to say the food is killer.

          • Anonymous

            what Alex said.  I live in west/southwest Philly, we have all kinds up here.  Great ethiopian restaurants, growing populations of people from southeast asia and india, white people and african americans, and mennonites.  Philly’s a great city.  please stay in NY, thanks.

        • Newloose

          Oh my g0d, why are you here? Do you have friends here and a good life? No city will work for you if you have no friends and you hate life. I’m sorry but I just can’t take your comments seriously.

      • Anonymous

        “Actually believe it or not, outside the 5 boroughs nobody really thinks much about New York.”  

        Then what in the fuck are you doing here on a Brooklyn blog? 

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, I’d make time to read an article about myself. However, if I was to read every one about Brooklyn I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything else all day.  

        • ultraval

          the only philly folks here are the ones who followed the link from philebrity. we really don’t give a shit about bklyn unless we’re looking for a place to crash, in which case YES YOU RULE

          • Anonymous

            It would never occur to me to go and read something about Brooklyn on a Philly (or Boston) blog, much less to comment on it. I have nothing against Philly (in fact I like it), but the argument that we spend more time thinking about Philly then you guys think about NYC is just silly, and you know it. 

  1. as a Philly expat who got this backwards, i’ve always thought living in Brooklyn is like living in a bigger, more expensive downtown Philadelphia, so i totally agree that Philadelphia, not condescendingly, is sort of a mini-BK. I also agree that it’s a little slower there and lets you sort of make a little more sense out of your wacky little life. I’ve always said my decision to move to New York is not at all about Philly not being good enough–it’s about New York being just too damn good, nonviable rent and all. I’ll stay here as long as I can afford it, and, well, it’s always just a 99-mile move home when i can’t…

  2. Dustyrosevintage

    i lived in philly for two years.  it took me a year to stop hating it, fell in love with it the second year, and then it took me about two weeks to completely get over it when i moved to brooklyn.  it’s insanely homogenous for such a “diverse” and old city, the business taxes cripple the chance of any exciting growth, it’s hard to buy alcohol and lots of people are perpetually angry.  super cute and cheap, but the next brooklyn it aint.  

    • Oh man, buying booze there is awful, I had forgotten all about that. Any city that makes it that hard to get drunk in your own home/on your neighbor’s porch should go back to the minors.

      • Anonymous

         Yeah, right?  Wine and liquor at the state stores, six packs at the bodegas and cases and kegs at the distributors.  There’s no overlap either!

        • guest1

           granted pretty much all bars sell take out sixers so it’s not exactly a pain to pick up beer on any given day but the wine/liquor laws are puritanical bullshit

          • Anonymous

             and now it’s one of the best states in which to open a microbrewery, whereas in NY, not so much.  There’s a damn good reason NYC only has 3 micros, one of them a chain.

  3. Anonymous

    If I didn’t have any ties here, I’m sure I’d give Philly a try, but mostly this story makes me worry about poor Ben. That guy needs a grilled cheese and a bowl of tomato soup.

  4. Pacific Northwest Escape

    I moved to NYC three+ years ago to work in book publishing; but now I work in environmental advocacy.  Since I’m no longer tied to the city because of a career (publishing) that exists almost exclusively in New York – I’m lookin to downshift to a different pace. Forget Philly though – I’ve got my eyes set on the Pacific Northwest.

    Also – I’ve been living in PLG on Ocean for the last 2.5 years as well. The Park, my bike (and formerly, our dog) are the only things that keep me sane here.

    • I almost defected to Portland earlier this year, and ultimately decided against it due to the very high (er, higher than NYC at least) unemployment rate out there, but I still want to check it out sometime. Apparently Brooklyn and Portland swap people on a regular basis.

      In defense of Philly, the one time I visited was very lovely, but the lack of 24 hour public transportation was an issue. Given that I shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car if at all possible (super nervous driver), I’d rather live in a place where I wouldn’t have to rely heavily on a car to get anywhere. I don’t know how bike friendly Philly is, though I’m sure someone on here can comment on that.

          • barryg

            That’s kind of the point, the smallish streets and stops at the end of each block are natural traffic calming. Most streets can fit a car and bike side by side so there isn’t much contention.

            There are also newish bike lanes downtown and many of the wider streets outside of downtown have them.

          • Steve

             No.  It has the highest cycling rate of any of the top-10 most populous cities.  Portland and Minneapolis blow Philly out of the water in terms of overall rate.

            • Alexmowens

               it’s sort of apples and oranges though. Tiny cities like Minneapolis and Portland are inherently more bike friendly due to size alone.

      • barryg

        There are many 24 hours bus routes and while the subway trains don’t run 24 hours, late night they are replaced by buses that run the same route, so in effect they are 24 hours. But those “night owl” runs can be a little sketchy.

        It’s not hard to hail a cab in most placed you’d go out, and unlike NYC, you can call a metered cab from anywhere.And yes, very bike friendly.

        • Buses do not run all night lies!!! Philadelphia is very very racist, very very conservative, one minded people, very judgmental people. I came here yearrrss ago for college, and STILL cry everyday to go home to NY!! The only thing that keeps people here from NY, is the cost of living!! I can’t relate to the mindset of the people!! Very very racist whites, and the black people are “trained slaves”, or either the WORST FORM OF GHETTO TRASH I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!! VERY STRANGE, DIFFERENT!!! I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND THEIR THINKING MENTALITIES, OR WAYS OF LIFE!! When I meet another person of color in Philadelphia from NY, believe me…..I know it!!!! :). We hold our own, we are hungry, go getters!! This place is very strange & different. Sometimes it feels like the south… times. Seriously Philadelphia sucks socially!!! Ecomically…… You’ll get somewhere…… That’s IT!!!! :( :( ,:( RACIST, RACISTS, RACISM!!! THIS CAN MAKE JOBS HARD TO GET HERE!!!

          • Ernie, buses do run here all night. Yes we have racist just like NY. Your description of blacks in Philly, as “trained slaves, and the worst form of ghetto trash leads me to believe that you are a true racist yourself. I don’t mind people talking about Philly, but it seem like you could not hold your own in our wonderful little slow city. Like the song said, “if you could make it there meaning NY you can make it anywhere”. Guess the song did not apply to you.

      • Anonymous

         it’s true that the market frankford line, the broad street line, and many of the trolleys shut down after 12:30 (the 13 trolley and the 36 run 24 hours though). That said, MANY buses run 24 hours, including lines that duplicate those same subway routes.  Boston is the city that shuts transit down completely after 12:00. Philly always has transit options open.

  5. wasting away in phila

    philadelphia is a shithole. i moved here after being gentrified out of brooklyn . unless all you want to do with your life is drink cheap beer & smoke cigarettes , you will die here. every intelligent or creative person i’ve met in my 5 years here has moved to brooklyn. we are left with the no talents & losers who think phila is a cool place because they can get cigarettes at half the price they cost in ny. also, after 25 years of riding the ny subways with no problem, i was immediately punched in the head on the phila subway (also was robbed on a bus.) septa told me  i should’ve brought a gun. if you want to begin a slow death, then move to philadelphia. (also, if you don’t get a pennsylvania i.d. immediately, you will have lost your right to vote -as just happened to me.)

      • wasting away in phila

        karan, i bought a house in phila which is now worth half of what it was worth 5 years ago when i bought it. i’d love to be able to leave but i now have no money because i used it all to pay for this house. i doubt there is 1 home owner in ny whose house or apt has gone down in value the way my house in phila has.

        • porco cane

          hahaa. loser. whyd you come to philly in the first place? you are so creative but couldnt hack it in nyc? this town is for realfolk. when money gets tight, we find marks on the subway to mug. oh my fault, that would be you. except you transcend that by even managing to get mugged on a bus! you should probably move to utah

          • wasting away in phila

            mr porco, if you can afford a rent hike to $2200, i’ll accept your criticism about not making it in ny. i “hacked it” there for nearly 25 years. also, i wasn’t “mugged” on the subway, i was only punched. that’s how realfolk do things in phila. & no, i wasn’t mugged on the bus either, i was pickpocketed on a crowded bus & your friend, or was that you, got away with $2 & a large wad of used kleenex…

            • phreshness

              Punched on a subway… probably stood there and took it like a bitch.  Nobody cares about you in philly, same as new york.  Scratch moving to Utah, and just kill yourself.

            • wasting away in phila

              mr phreshness & mr porco, you prove my point exactly about what a shithole philadelphia is. you are the true philadelphians , i’m not. i’m just a bitch who gets sucker punched from behind by a gang of three kids  when he’s reading on the subway. who then run out the door before i know what’s happening . brooklyners, if this kind of fun sounds good to you then , by all means, come to philadelphia, these guys are typical of what the real philadelphian is like & our attitude here is if you get shot, robbed, etc , it’s your own fault because you’re a shithead who should be in utah. it is now a really trendy thing here for a gang of kids to attack someone (preferably an older person) from behind & sucker punch them. some people would consider this a little cowardly but, hey, not philadelphians….

            • Steve

               What neighborhood did you buy in that fell 50%?  I did spend $45,000 less on my house than the previous buyer but that’s not a 50% change.

              It sounds like you chose a bad neighborhood.  I live in the good areas of South Philly, have no problems, have some hipster joints but mostly normal working people around me which I suppose oyu might find boring.

            • wasting away in phila

              steve, i’m guessing from your description that you’re in the passyunk area . i’m 10 minutes further south. $45,000 is a big drop in that area or mine. i know people who bought in that area more than 10 years ago & paid less than that for a house. it’s only a 50% loss for people who bought at the peak of the inflated market.

            • phreshness

              Well we can apparently agree on one thing: You’re a bitch.

              So, let’s put the notice out.  Bitches are not welcome in Philly.  Only the strong survive, and the weak should probably stay in brooklyn. By the way, that is in no way a statement about gender or sexual orientation. Translation: The chicks and queers here are tougher than you. 

            • Gabriella Iacovetti

               Really?  None of this ever happens on the Metro?  Are you smoking crack?  You were lucky or in denial that you were ever targeted for a crime in NYC. 

        • What neighborhood did you buy in?  I’m trying to buy a house in philly right now and most of the market research shows philly’s housing market has stayed more stable than many other places across the country.  

        • Alexmowens

           How the hell did you lose out on the housing market here that much?  Philly’s has been pretty resilient compared to almost any other large city despite the housing slump. Damn near every half-decent house in not too deep South Philly, No Libs, and Fishtown has multiplied several times over the last decade or so. Look at Grad Hospital, 10 years ago those homes were selling for $50k, now the same ones are selling for $400k+

          • wasting away in phila

            alex, what you are saying is true but the operative term here is “10 years ago.” the housing market spiked right after that . 10 years ago , houses on my block were selling for what they’re selling for now. in 2006 when i bought, the prices were bloated & after that they crashed. & particularly in borderline areas like “too deep south philly.”
            to clarify my comment about segregation, i too live in an area which is very diverse yet people rarely mix with other ethnic groups except when the purchase of drugs is involved (ok, also going to restaurants.) there is a major racial tension that exists here that just doesn’t exist in ny. i get looked at with total hatred by so many white or black people here & this never happened in’s the mood that another commenter on this page called “despair.” look at how many philadelphians on this page are bragging about our dangerous subways. i’m waiting for someone here to say something that is actually GOOD about philadelphia ! i mean, even ?uestlove has moved to ny, now…

            • Proud Kenzo

              I think the housing slump was across the board for the whole country , ya dumb ass no wonder your wasting away in phila. do it fast the hipsters can use the compost….

    • I moved to philly from boston seven years ago (after growing up in queens) and I never switched my ID and have never had a problem voting.  Voter ID laws in PA actually just changed today because Tom Corbett is a racist dick, but prior to today you didn’t have to do anything but fill out a form to get a voter ID card.  
      I regularly ride the bus in Philly at all hours of the night with no issues, but I’ve been mugged in Bushwick, had my wallet pick-pocketed at Trash bar, and gotten elbowed in the tit on the subway more times than I’d like to count.  

      Plus, I pay $800/month for a 3 story house with a backyard that is walking distance from work.  

      • wasting away in phila

        the new voter id law is what i’m talking about. i voted in phila the last 5 years & when i needed an id , i used my ny nondrivers license which is no longer enough to retain my right to vote here.but tom corbett hates philadelphia even far more than i do. he got 11% of the vote here. a lot of philadelphia’s troubles (guns everywhere) are encouraged by our state govt.
         hey, i’m glad you haven’t been attacked on the bus or subway. i don’t wish that on anyone. but every philadelphian i spoke to about it told me a story of being attacked themselves & took it for granted that this happens a lot here. we’re the big city murder capital , far more than ny.

      • wasting away in phila

        the new voter id law is what i’m talking about. i voted in phila the last 5 years & when i needed an id , i used my ny nondrivers license which is no longer enough to retain my right to vote here.but tom corbett hates philadelphia even far more than i do. he got 11% of the vote here. a lot of philadelphia’s troubles (guns everywhere) are encouraged by our state govt.
         hey, i’m glad you haven’t been attacked on the bus or subway. i don’t wish that on anyone. but every philadelphian i spoke to about it told me a story of being attacked themselves & took it for granted that this happens a lot here. we’re the big city murder capital , far more than ny.

        • porco cane

          murder rates are not happening on the bus or sub or to the demographic that you probably fit into. sure people get jumped, just like they used to in nyc before they pushed as many poor people out of manhattan and brooklyn as possible. 
          of course i dont like seeing or hearing about people getting robbed, but the privileged whining of newyork transplants is obnoxious. philly remains affordable (for now), allowing the diverse spectrum of people who grew up here a chance to remain and not get priced out. low income neighborhoods might seem like blighted sources of danger and violence, but they have a vibrancy that whitewashed new york just doesnt have anymore, unless you like ten dollar drinks,disney, and being surrounded by social climbers.  
          it is important to provide services, jobs and investment for grittier neighborhoods, but the downside is that as soon as areas pick up a little, speculators and artisits start moving in, followed by students, hipsters and finally yuppies. its been happening down here, unfortunately. hard to strike a balance between the two.

        • porco cane

          long story short, people who come down here and start whining get no respect in my book. yall are a bunch of opportunists. i have spent time in most cities in the country (as well as many overseas) and visiting them always makes me appreciate philly more. those who can’t maybe can’t value a place for what it is

  6. Hmm… I’m tied here, definitely love Brooklyn but rents are still skyrocketing like crazy. Philly is not cheap either though!  What I will say is that the public transportation in Philly is not the greatest, but as a kid who grew up in the suburbs it’s really easy getting from the burbs’ to Philly. I’ve definitely contemplated moving there myself at times, but if I was moving cities, I would go to Austin. 
    Also no one makes a better hoagie than Philly. They are not subs, they are hoagies, and they do not exist in Brooklyn. 

  7. Anonymous

    I lived in philly for years.  I loved living there!  Job opportunities are just crappy though.  I guess that depends on what field your in but even if its a field philly excels in you’ll likely get paid much less to do it there as opposed to nyc.

  8. pobitch

    Lightweights. move to either Queens or da Bronx.  Transportation sucks in Philly after hours and when there is 1 inch of snow, there is not a single bus to be found in Philly.  Also, having something on your passenger seat in Philly is a suggestion for someone to break your window and take your stuff. Philly needs to work on their roads and infrastructure since it takes forever to get from one part of town to another and it’s not even rush hour.

  9. Monkie

    I’m happy to see Brokelyn sort-of addressing what for me and many of my friends is a big elephant in the room. According to one cost of living index I could have an extra $9,000 of disposable income if I lived in Philadelphia making the same salary. I have different priorities now than when I moved to New York 4 years ago, one of which is being able to buy cat food without checking my bank account balance. I don’t lose sleep that I might be missing some fun cool NYC specific thing as much as I do lose sleep that I might never be able to afford to retire if I stay here. More  this is a Brooklyn/NYC Centric job but posts like this please? 

    •  I like your main point but the thing is most people won’t earn the same salary in Philly. Depends on the field you’re in, but I’m guessing there are less industries and lower salaries in general there.

      • Monkie

        That’s true. It’s a smaller city and there are likely less jobs to go around, but my salary wouldn’t decrease by much. I do probably earn more here but it doesn’t go back in to my pocket at all, it just nudges me in to higher tax brackets for no reason. 

    • Steve

      Do not use the cost of living index.  It’s for a City.  If you live in and like inner Brooklyn Neighborhoods you will not want to live in the far Northeast of Philly.  It really depends on where you want to live.  I had a friend out by Avenue H on the Q paying $500 for his room but the commute sucked.  In Philly you can pay $500 for a shared flat in an area where you can walk anywhere in Center City.

      I don’t worry about mass transit becuase everywhere in Center City is a 20 minute walk tops for me.  And most places I want to go are a 20 minute bike ride.

  10. Anonymous

    I was born and raised in Philly and now live in Brooklyn.  Philly is small and has its problems but if I could have the same job and make the same money as  I do here,  I’d move back to Philly in a second.  

  11. lifeisbetter inphilly

    Yes, for sure there are less jobs, however Philly is a wonderful place for self-starters that would like to start their own business and be their own boss. I know a lot of people  that were cogs working 70 hour weeks in NY that moved here and work freelance very happily. I lived in NY for years and made the move here, the first thing that hit me is the ‘realness’ of the people. It’s less about what you do here and more about who you are.

  12. i grew up in the philly suburbs and my first priority was to get away from the burbs and philly. i hung around the city as a teenager, but it certainly wasn’t a place to aspire to, just someplace to stand around and look surly until i could get to a better place (brooklyn). 
    imho it’s not hugely safe, my brother got beat up pretty well and his car shot up for being in the wrong neighborhood. plus, camden.
    it seems like despair just hangs over the city like a heavy fog, even in the cute lively areas, but that could just be me. you couldn’t pay me to move there, cheesesteaks and tastykakes and pizelles and italian hoagies and all (but i do like to visit and go food shopping and sing along to boyz ii men).

  13. Thewholeshebang

    As a Brooklynite that has a girlfriend in Philly and spends a lot of time there, I can tell you, Philly is a magical place. Things that seem novelty to us, are commonplace there. And everyone has an edge, which naturally occurs when you don’t live in a white-washed, wealthy city. Even their three-piece-suit business men are just somehow, cooler. I don’t know, I think it’s the environment there that is so comfortable for starving artists, creativity really thrives.

  14. Thewholeshebang

    Fun fact: The Brokelyn logo was designed by two guys that live and thrive very happily in Philadelphia, who often say they could have never been so successful had they lived in NY. Another one for the Phil.

    • Whoa, wait a minute Thewholeshebang. They lived in Brooklyn when they designed the logo. You could seriously kill our street cred up here with that kinda talk.

  15. My two cents…If you’re young and can afford it Brooklyn is way more fun. Philly is a great place for aging hipsters and young families who want the city life at an affordable price. Yes people are angry here but that’s because a lot of people have lived their whole lives here and if you live in a big city long enough you get pissy.

    • mayorgulliani

       At least the shit is real. Brooklyn would mix up some fake fertilizer, put a depressing package on it and sell it for fifty bucks. Philly makes it, Brooklyn takes it.

    • Philly is like a sore dick:  you just can’t beat it.     Sorry Brooklyn, why pay 6 times for for the same shit you can get here?   Oh yeah: “the ambiance and allure” of being able to stare at Manhattan from miles away.   Mmm, kay.      Do us a favor, please do not move to Philadelphia and infect more of the neighborhoods we already have crawling with hipsters, and their awkward whiteness makes yupsters feel “safe” enough to commit to an FHA mortgage and before you know it, a hoagie jumps in price to $7.

      Most hipsters cannot put up with Pennsylvania outside the bubble of Philly–particularly the 2nd Amendment gun culture [the rest of the state is called Pennsyltucky for a reason].

  16. MotherGoose

    Wow, I’ve seen more constructive comments on Youtube. Basically most people are saying “I love my city more than you love your city! Sooo you suck… and SPORTS TEAMS RAAAR.”

    Both cities have their own perks and faults. Its up to each individual to choose what they want more out of life. Its so childish to disrespect someone for what they have chosen. “Oh gross you like Apples? Oranges taste so much better and are so much cooooler, you’re weird.” Is it insecurity that drives people to be so blindly defensive over their situation? Do you need to remind yourself

    U guyscray, brookyln is cool.philly cool 2. in diffrent wayss. haters goin hate. shm

    • Heh.  The crime is more locally concentrated in Bal-di-more than it is in Philly.   Transit there sucks big hairy goat nads.

      I dunno.  If Hipsters can make friends with Kenzos (if you dont know what a Kenzo is:  go to and read all about it), then maybe there is hope after all.

  17. So it’s not always sunnier in Philadelphia? Great comparison of the cities, the tradeoff of dreams for cheaper rent and accessibility…looking forward to more insights!

  18. So it’s not always sunnier in Philadelphia? Great comparison of the cities, the tradeoff of dreams for cheaper rent and accessibility…looking forward to more insights!

  19. Leizmonk

    I’ve lived in both cities and they’ve both got their pros and cons. As for the majority of comments on this blog… typical nativist chest-thumping about how your city is better than the other. Woohoo. Do you want a cheesecake or a cheesesteake?

    Philly is definitely cheaper than NYC (you can live in the “best” neighborhoods in town for as little as $1k for a 1 BR), and has a nice balance of a city and a small town in the its feel. Cultural, nightlife, and cuisine amenities comparable to NYC, just fewer options overall since it’s a smaller city. Pace of life is definitely slower, which can be nice, but could also get tedious if you’re used to NYC. Transit isn’t too great, but it’s a very walkable/bikeable city, doesn’t take that long to get between places (like how it takes 1 hr+ to get from BK to Queens on the subway). 

    A point on the crime statistics: sure, it sounds bad, but keep in mind that the majority of violent crimes are unfortunately black on black, and mostly in the neighborhoods of North Central, Soutwest, and Far West Philly. Most young professionals will not be encountering those types of crime in neighborhoods where they’re moving (Fishtown, Center City, West Philly by Penn, Art Museum/Fairmount).

    • “A point on the crime statistics: sure, it sounds bad, but keep in mind
      that the majority of violent crimes are unfortunately black on black,
      and mostly in the neighborhoods of North Central, Southwest, and Far West

      Not necessarily.  Philly had a great idea to have section 8 and projects scattered about the city to completely shit all over the neighborhood and ruin the area.  Such as Queen Village and No Libs.  I live on the edge of No Libs near the projects and have had my neighbor get tied up and robbed, a bum got stabbed by some other guy on our corner, kids on bicycles shooting at each other and the bullet going through my neighbors living room window, and my apartment almost getting robbed 2 weeks ago.

      I really do like this city but a lot of ignorant assholes ruin it for everyone.

  20. Leizmonk

    I’ve lived in both cities and they’ve both got their pros and cons. As for the majority of comments on this blog… typical nativist chest-thumping about how your city is better than the other. Woohoo. Do you want a cheesecake or a cheesesteake?

    Philly is definitely cheaper than NYC (you can live in the “best” neighborhoods in town for as little as $1k for a 1 BR), and has a nice balance of a city and a small town in the its feel. Cultural, nightlife, and cuisine amenities comparable to NYC, just fewer options overall since it’s a smaller city. Pace of life is definitely slower, which can be nice, but could also get tedious if you’re used to NYC. Transit isn’t too great, but it’s a very walkable/bikeable city, doesn’t take that long to get between places (like how it takes 1 hr+ to get from BK to Queens on the subway). 

    A point on the crime statistics: sure, it sounds bad, but keep in mind that the majority of violent crimes are unfortunately black on black, and mostly in the neighborhoods of North Central, Soutwest, and Far West Philly. Most young professionals will not be encountering those types of crime in neighborhoods where they’re moving (Fishtown, Center City, West Philly by Penn, Art Museum/Fairmount).

  21. wasting away in phila

    many of us moved to ny/brooklyn (as phila hero ?uestlove just did) for cultural reasons – the arts, music, etc – for the opportunity to see & hear the best artists/musicians/writers. to test our creativity against the best in our fields & to be inspired by our peers. whatever. if this kind of thing is not important to you & you just want to hang out at home or at a bar with your friends & not pay as much rent than phila might be a fine place for you. philadelphians have no clue what they’re missing but what they’re missing may not be important to them.
    but if you’re an artistically minded young person, ny is the place to be. cheap rents won’t make you a success. i was really pleased to get fb postings today from two artists i met in phila who moved to brooklyn &  who are in gallery & museum shows this month. i could namedrop a list of the great artists/writers/comedians/musicians i worked with or did shows with in ny , but again , whatever. some people think a life mugging people or punching people on the subway is a life better lived. fine.that’s what makes philadelphia philadelphia.

      • wasting away in phila

        maybe i developed my nasty attitude AFTER i was punched in the face. i moved here thinking it was going to be a pretty nice place but was proved wrong. by the way today a septa bus driver was punched in the face & had his nose broken by a group of kids. a bitch like myself. & the bicyclist run over by a drunk hit & run driver today. a bitch who didn’t fight back….if you want to pay off my mortgage , guitarhime, i’d be thrilled to leave.

  22. Sionnachair

    Philadelphia does not have the highest murder rate in the country. It is highest of the top 10 largest cities. It is 11th for cities over population 250,000. It’s high and nothing to brag about but not as bad as the post says. It also varies tremendously by neighborhood, as these things do.

  23. Winkel

    Couldn’t you have found a less cynical, bitter person to interview? This guy seems to think everyone is an asshole, every job is lame and life sucks. C’mon guys b

  24. Anonymous

    maube fishtown is turning into little brooklyn, but not the the rest of the city.  And the fishtown natives are not taking kindly to the influx of rich kid hipsters.

  25. Jo & angie

    Ben kinda sounds like an idiot. Of course Bushwick & Crown Heights suck. They are two of the worst areas in Brooklyn for anything. Do some research before you move/commit to an area or neighborhood.

  26. Theword

    Where you live doesn’t matter. Both cities have their things that make them great. It is ridiculous to think someone can be geographically superior. I like that people are making the move to Philly though, it makes the country less lopsided. Right now, the whole country thinks all the opportunities are only in one jam-packed city, it is nice to start spreading out and enjoying more of the country.
    If people stayed in their small towns more and built them up instead of just moving to NY, there would be so many more thriving, cool places to live. I say make the move to Philly, it has amazing potential, it’s super green and pretty and could use some building up with some new York money.

  27. It’s so refreshing to read a piece on Philly from a New Yorker’s perspective that doesn’t come off as condescending. Also, props for highlighting the Shepard Fairey wall art in Fishtown.

    Contrary to recent headlines, we are actually not even close to being the deadliest city in the country (New Orleans, for one, is considerably worse). We do have the highest rate among “big” cities, though. Our poverty rate is also high, which also has a lot to do with the lower cost of living here. Also, the very few subway lines we have shut down at 12:30am, but there are subway shuttle busses that run all night. You won’t be out that late, though, since all the bars close up before 2.

    And yeah, people do yell a lot here. The attitude does get pretty frustrating eventually if you pick the wrong blocks to walk down.

  28. Bishop203

    My good friend just moved from Philly so I have been visiting a lot; and LOVING it! rent is silly cheap compared to here. Plus he says if you work freelance and deal with 1099s for taxes you pay tons less in taxes which is a huge thing to consider. I have been wanting to open a store in Bushwick but the overhead is way too high. So I think I am going to make the journey myself in August. And I have to say, Philly has some BEAUTIFUL women that aren’t too cool for school.

  29. mayorgulliani

    New York is dead. Great things were coming out of it for a long time, when creative types could afford to live there cheaply and make things, but it hasn’t been that way for a long time. The world has since changed and the great things are coming out of the places where lofts are still considered cheap work spaces for artists, and not luxury buildings for celebrities.  It’s unfortunate, but it is true.

    That’s not to say Brooklyn isn’t a nice to place to live, it is. In the same way that Greenwich, CT is a nice place to live. But, there isn’t anything interesting coming out of it and the main culture is money. Who has it and who doesn’t. It’s okay to do that for a while, but you will always feel like you should be doing more, you never have enough and everyone else has more. It’s an unhealthy way to live. Doing what you love shouldn’t be a struggle.

  30. Choodak

    Like the Sinatra song goes “If you can’t make it there you can always blame NY and move to a second city with a lower cost of living due to high crime and unemployment raaaaaaaates. With fewer opportunities to advance your careeeeeeeeeeeeer” :)

  31. Josey

    To the jobs point, I’ve lived in Philly for 8 years and have worked consistently in the creative industry–I’ve never made over $45,000 in a year but I was still able to buy a house in a nice neighborhood with two guestrooms for friends and family to stay in (such a rarity in Brooklyn). Beyond the mortgage, I’m debtless. For the past year, I’ve been freelance and have spent about two months in Europe on my own dime.
    THIS is the beauty of Philadelphia.

  32. lil baby

    My sister’s friend is from North Philadelphia (apparently the hood?) and he adoringly refers to his hometown as “Killa-delphia.” He also says that every girl in his neighborhood is currently pregnant or has had a baby daddy at some point. I’ve lived in New York my whole life and haven’t spent a lot of time in Philly but the zoo there is cleaner and less crowded than the zoos here. The histories of Philadelphia and New York are equally fascinating, too.

    • violetquaker

      Is your sister’s friend living in North Philly too? If so, surprised he/she hasn’t opted for some other neighborhood like Northern Liberties. I doubt the intended audience for this article would be looking to move into a neighborhood like North Philly either (unless the person were going to school at Temple).

      One can always opt to live in Northeast Philadelphia. Much of it is quasi-suburban while still within city limits. It is far from Center City though.

  33. Dylon

    Cincinnati, Ohio is where I’d move instead of Brooklyn or Philly.. check out the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood! Inexpensive rents, wonderful art/ music scene, friendly people, and a decent amount of creative jobs are available. To me, it is an urban paradise.

  34. Astoria

    It cracks me up that so many people from Brooklyn would move to Philly before even considering Queens. How entitled and condescending can you get? I’ve lived in Astoria/LIC for 13 years and it’s amazing: semi-affordable rent, 5-10 minutes from Manhattan, more restaurants fill our blocks than any block in Philly, low crime, and amazing diversity.

    Go ahead snobs, please stay in Brooklyn sucking every penny out of your pocket just because you want to be cool. Meanwhile, us real New Yorkers in Queens will live the good life and eat the good food.

    • You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. Queens is nice if you want suburban living in the city. Also it’s nowhere near as cheap or accessible as Philly. This is coming from a native Brooklynite who lives in Queens. Unless you are near a train in Queens; you are screwed. You can’t even bike around the borough safely. You either have to live near a train, or own a car. Add car costs to almost as high costs of living as Brooklyn; and you have a losing combination. Oh and forget about the nightlife; there just really isn’t any there.

  35. Keith Blackwell

    It may seem that Philadelphians are pissed off here and people yell at each other. Reason, because we are fighters. For example we would not let a narcissitic tyrant like Michael Bloomberg run its citizens in a hole after 8 years of having fun. Then DECIDE to be mayor for another 4 years for a little more money and exploitation. Yeah would not happen here.
    Oh, and by the way I am writing this in an 1 bedroom apartment in a beautiful and safe Philly neighborhood known as “University City” in which we have 24 hour security on bikes and 3 police forces all for 660.00 a mo. heat included. There is Clark Park down the street which has a farmers market every Saturday. A beautiful multi-cultural neighborhood full of huge Victorian homes. There are many restaurants and shops a hop, skip and a jump away. Something similar in NY is “Clinton Hills” in Brooklyn but the rent for a one bedroom would be around $2,000 per month. When it’s all said an done, I have a lot more disposable income than I would if I lived in Brokeklyn for example. I know because my girlfriend lives in Brokelyn (and she is always broke after paying rent) she can’t wait to move here, she finally got a call for a interview.

    NYC is capitalism run amuck!

    • NYC the Greatest

      Stop comparing your little country city to NYC!! i spent time in the Philly area and you philly people can’t keep New York’s name out of your mouths. All over the internet local T.V. thats all they do down their, come up with reasons that philly is better then NYC.

      Philly the city of lossers just look at your sports teams!!!

  36. If Philly is the new Brooklyn ill be sure to avoid the place. Philly is a shithole without the hipster conformists. Adding those idiots to the mix makes Philly even less appealing.

  37. I’m a college grad, 23 and living in Philly. It sucks. The city’s got a very suburban bent, the people are astoundingly rude, the public transportation system is filthy, crime is high and it’s hard to buy booze.

    On the plus side, it’s cheap. It’s also got a high concentration of good universities and hospitals. But unless you work in healthcare or higher education, go somewhere else.

  38. anonymous

    I grew up in Pennsylvania. I moved to the west coast in 04. After living in san diego and seattle and exploring the western states I can honestly say that you are wasting your life living back east.

  39. Alejandro

    Do you realize you sound like the most annoying person of all time? I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yellow, no-good keister outta my city…

  40. Born and raised in Philadelphia for 32 years. Live in Brooklyn now for 39 years. Pleeeaasee, Philadelphia is no Brooklyn and never will be. Just comparing rents and the like does not do it. Its the spirit and the buzz you have to look at. Brooklyn alone is larger than Philadelphia.

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