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Old 12-26-2010, 01:52 AM
 
19,486 posts, read 8,860,287 times
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Our daughter and son-in-law will be moving about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. We're nearing retirement age and are looking to move north (we're in VA now). Plus we'll be downsizing to a condo. Ideally, we'd love to move to the NYC area but would consider Philadelphia.

It is our hope to once again be car-free because we don't want, as time goes by, to find ourselves unable to drive and not be able to get around. Where we live now, you really need a car.

We've vacationed in Philadelphia and either walked or took the subway to get around. However, I know living somewhere and vacationing there are two different things.

Everytime I watch "House Hunters" or "My First Place" on HGTV, in every case when a couple is house hunting in Philadelphia, they all have cars and are concerned about the parking situations at potential property. With this in mind, that's why I'm posting here.

So...is it possible to live in Philadelphia, go grocery shopping or go to the doctor without having to drive? If the answer is "yes", then what parts of the city would be good for a car-free lifestyle? We figure that we could rent a car if we want to take a road trip or need to go any distance.

Thank you!
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:55 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
192 posts, read 400,797 times
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You definitely wouldn't need a car in Center City. When I lived there, I knew plenty of people without cars - some used PhillyCarShare and that worked well for when they needed a car (apparently now ZipCar is there too).
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Old 12-26-2010, 07:20 AM
 
Location: Toronto
359 posts, read 927,766 times
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Most of the House Hunter episodes in Philadelphia that I have seen are actually in the suburbs. A car is really unnecessary, evena burden, in Center City and the adjacent neighborhoods. I highly recommend Center City for retirement. I walk everywhere or take public transportation which is free if you're 65.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:04 AM
 
Location: a swanky suburb in my fancy pants
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It is a trade off. In center city you definetly don't need a car. You can rent a car one day a week and still spend less then the cost of owning the car. Also storing your car in CC gets very expensive unless..... you buy a condo or co-op in one of the many buildings that offer discounted parking in their garages to residents ie my building only charges $80 per month to residents. On street parking is not an option. Of course renting a car requires some planning and depending on where you live it can be a pain to pick up and drop off. The car share companys have their good and bad points but should be considered as well. If you do a lot of shopping then you will want a car to reach the better supermarkets, shopping malls and big box stores for better selections and better prices. CC itself has a Macy's, KMart, Ross, plenty of rite aid type drug stores, Staples, 2 whole foods and 2 A&Ps and a trader Joe plus hundreds of mom and pop stores, produce stores etc as long as you are healthy and can walk long distances or you are still limited to what you can carry on the bus or you can take a cab home. Also supermarkets deliver for a charge. I lived in CC for five years without a car but as my health started to decline it became a hardship to get by without a car which fortunatly I can afford. It just makes my life much easier.
BTW the young people you see on house hunters probably need a car to reach their employment and all the ones I have seen were somwhat on the fringe of center city where it isn't quite so congested.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:40 PM
 
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Thanks all for the helpful answers. FWIW, I have seen a "House Hunters" episode where the couple was looking for a condo in Center City and/or the Rittenhouse Square area. They were really fretting over parking when they saw a row house in Rittenhouse Square. Actually, I've yet to see an episode of HH or My First Place where someone who was looking right in the city didn't have a car. That's why I posted here. Philadelphia always struck me as being walkable---but watching too much HGTV I started to have my doubts LOL.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:52 PM
 
Location: North Jackson
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Philly can be walkable, but you then are making a decision that you will not travel outside of the neighborhood you live. So if you move to Rittenhouse Sq, you can have a fine car-free life. But what if you have a friend that lives in Mt Airy? Would you never visit them?

The public transportation system in Philly relies on buses more than subways, much more so than Chicago or NY. So traveling to the farther-flung areas of the city takes a long time, and often requires a transfer to a bus.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Philly
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you dont need a car to live in center city. south philly as well...at least near the subway but cc sounds like the right place for you if its in the budget.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:44 PM
 
8,353 posts, read 19,308,253 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacksonPanther View Post
Philly can be walkable, but you then are making a decision that you will not travel outside of the neighborhood you live. So if you move to Rittenhouse Sq, you can have a fine car-free life. But what if you have a friend that lives in Mt Airy? Would you never visit them?

The public transportation system in Philly relies on buses more than subways, much more so than Chicago or NY. So traveling to the farther-flung areas of the city takes a long time, and often requires a transfer to a bus.
I think you may be discounting the Regional Rail system. (Our VRE/MARC, for the OP.) While it's true that some places have less rail coverage (i.e. NE Philly), most other places in the city that the OP may want to visit, including Mt. Airy, are easily accessible by rail. Even a trip out to the affluent Main Line (NW suburbs) wouldn't necessarily require a car. On the other hand, a shopping trip to King of Prussia (our Tysons Corner) would definitely be easier with a vehicle.

Center City's neighborhoods comprise two square miles with other surrounding areas expanding the walkability and ease of transit even more.

So basically, I respectfully disagree that the OP would have a tough time getting around without more than occasional car renting.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:54 PM
 
2,230 posts, read 7,092,554 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone509 View Post
On the other hand, a shopping trip to King of Prussia (our Tysons Corner) would definitely be easier with a vehicle.
Not necessarily true. I live in center city and King of Prussia is my mall of choice easily reachable from center city via the 124 or 125 bus. It starts at 13th and Market with various stops going to the Expressway at 30th Street.
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Old 12-26-2010, 09:18 PM
 
19,486 posts, read 8,860,287 times
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I've always been aware that the SEPTA commuter system is far better than what we have in NoVA. As the Moderator mentioned, there is VRE in NoVA. However, it only runs on weekdays and goes south of DC. Metro is scheduled to go beyond Dulles Airport but still has quite a ways to go before that happens. Even though a Metro stop is scheduled to be about a mile or so from where we live, the irony is that it would be impossible to walk there due to lack of sidewalks plus there are no streetlights at night.

Once again, I thank all of you who took the time to answer my question. When we young and child-free we did the car-less lifestyle in Boston---and managed just fine. Yes, it's true that you are limited in that you can't just hop into your car and get out of town. However, that's what rental cars are for .

We aim to get back to that car-free lifestyle. I've seen too many elderly people who live in areas where you need a car to go anywhere. When they reach the point where they can't drive anymore, they have to depend on taxis, friends or relatives to get anywhere. We're trying to avoid that happening in the distant future.
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