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Old 03-01-2007, 01:01 PM
 
33 posts, read 76,158 times
Reputation: 14

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Hi we are a 50ish couple, currently live in Detroit and would like to move to a more vibrant city with good public transit. My husband is a painter (artist) and I am a community college teacher and freelance writer. Our home is paid for and easy to sell. We live in one of the few up and coming areas of Detroit. We'd like to live in a city with walkable areas, convenient to public transit. We'd like to have just one car and use it occasionally. We are open to city or close in suburbs with some density. We'd like to initially rent an apartment and then buy either a townhouse or condo or two family flat (and we could rent out the other flat). We have one cat.

The advantage of Chicago for us is that it is close to Detroit to visit our family by Megabus or a drive. Philly would require that we fly. My husband also has allergies to pollen and I keep reading that certain places are the "allergy capital of the world". Also, we both like to go out to clubs and go dancing but we don't like to breathe cigarette smoke so we'd like to live in a place that has banned smoking in public places.

Our criteria:

walkable, reasonably safe city
good public transit
homes affordable for middle class
job opportunities, solid economy
good market for artists

thanks, any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Old 03-01-2007, 01:48 PM
 
8,048 posts, read 18,476,341 times
Reputation: 2738
Quote:
Originally Posted by justine View Post
Hi we are a 50ish couple, currently live in Detroit and would like to move to a more vibrant city with good public transit. My husband is a painter (artist) and I am a community college teacher and freelance writer. Our home is paid for and easy to sell. We live in one of the few up and coming areas of Detroit. We'd like to live in a city with walkable areas, convenient to public transit. We'd like to have just one car and use it occasionally. We are open to city or close in suburbs with some density. We'd like to initially rent an apartment and then buy either a townhouse or condo or two family flat (and we could rent out the other flat). We have one cat.

The advantage of Chicago for us is that it is close to Detroit to visit our family by Megabus or a drive. Philly would require that we fly. My husband also has allergies to pollen and I keep reading that certain places are the "allergy capital of the world". Also, we both like to go out to clubs and go dancing but we don't like to breathe cigarette smoke so we'd like to live in a place that has banned smoking in public places.

Our criteria:

walkable, reasonably safe city
good public transit
homes affordable for middle class
job opportunities, solid economy
good market for artists

thanks, any suggestions would be appreciated.
I won't knock Chicago at all. From what I've seen and heard, it's a great city and I think you'd generally find what you're looking for there. Personally, the only thing that would keep me from going there are those cold winters but as you're coming from Detroit, that would be nothing new. Also with Chicago being the "capital" of the Midwest, I'm thinking the cost of living would be higher for you.

Center City aka downtown Philly is a walkable two square mile section of town. The SEPTA transit system - www. septa. org - consists of commuter rail, elevated and subway trains, light rail "trolleys" and buses. Some locals complain about the cost but I believe it's one of the best in the country in terms of coverage.

You might be able to afford an apartment in Center City but probably not a house (unless you take a chance on transitioning neighborhoods such as Brewerytown, Northern Liberties and Fishtown). Some interesting in-town neighborhoods that are relatively affordable and a short commute to downtown include: University City, Powelton Village, Mount Airy, East Falls and Manayunk. Outside the city, consider Drexel Hill, a somewhat upscale "oasis" in an otherwise unsexy Upper Darby just west of the city. (I can say that; I lived in Upper Darby for seven years. )I'm a bit out of the loop on exactly pricing on all those areas so you may want to some research or ask others here.

The art scene is pretty lively in Philly. Your husband will want to network with people in the Old City neighborhood downtown. Some of the "starving" younger artists have moved north of Old City to Northern Liberties and maybe even Fishtown.

Job opportunities... hmmm. Well, the Community College of Philadelphia is pretty big, if you wanted to stay in that type of venue. Healthcare is probably the top industry in the city proper. Biotech seems to rule in the far-flung suburban office parks. Otherwise, the industries here are diverse but job competition is competitive.

We get all four seasons here. Winters might be a week or two shorter than in Detroit and snowfall will be somewhat less abundant and frequent. Summers can be humid. 100-degree days are slightly more common than zero-degree days.

If/when you come visit, pick up a free Philadelphia Weekly from the yellow honor box or a free Philadelphia City Paper from the orange honor box. (Or you can google for the websites.) Both papers will give you an overview of city culture and nightlife and may give your husband some professional contacts. Oh, and Philly just banned smoking in restaurants and bars.

I think Philly would probably fit your needs as well as Chicago's except for the distance from your hometown. Come check us out!
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:02 PM
 
4,101 posts, read 7,871,497 times
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I think it's a win-win situation. Center City Philly is very vibrant. The suburbs like Chestnut Hill are exclusive and further away from the less desirable West and North Philly neighborhoods. Chicago is also a happening artistic city.
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Old 03-01-2007, 10:00 PM
 
468 posts, read 2,168,079 times
Reputation: 226
Chicago and Philly are fairly similar for your criteria.

I think Chicago has better public transit than Philly, but Philly is more walkable. Chicago's more spread out.

Really, as somebody already mentioned, the big difference for me would be the weather. I can't take those long, cold winters in Chicago. Both Philly and Chicago have hot and humid summers, although Philly's might be a little bit longer.

Philly for me is much more convenient location-wise because you're always a relatively short bus/train/drive away from New York, Baltimore, and DC. The opportunities are endless. Chicago's great but it's just so isolated.
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Old 03-03-2007, 08:50 PM
 
Location: .N6 A4
3,653 posts, read 4,625,405 times
Reputation: 3012
Most points have been covered, but I would like to emphasize that Philadelphia is a rough city for allergy sufferers. (I am hoping to move to Albuquerque in the next couple years primarily to escape the high levels of mold in the air here for much of the year.) I've repeatedly talked to transplants who said they never had allergy or sinus problems before they moved to Philadelphia. (On the other hand, judging by comments on these boards, people say that about other cities as well.) It certainly feels like our winters are getting shorter and warmer, overall, which may make some people happy, but it translates into more growth of things that cause allergic reactions.

The smoking ban at least eliminates one sinus irritant.

I'm not familiar with Chicago, so for all I know, it could be just as bad as Philadelphia for allergy sufferers, but I still think the Philadelphia region has a bad reputation for allergy and sinus problems.
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Old 03-15-2007, 06:43 PM
 
33 posts, read 76,158 times
Reputation: 14
Default Thanks for the feedback

I appreciate the feedback you have given us. I think it will come down to weather. Philly's is a lot milder than Chicago and jobs. I'm researching the job market for us now in both places.
I'm a little confused about the transit though. It seems there is one system for Philadelphia called SEPTA which the tourist guide's say is somewhat unsafe at night. Then there is the New Jersey Transit system. What about living in the close in suburbs of New Jersey and using the Jersey transit?

Thanks for all the responses. It has been really helpful.
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Old 03-15-2007, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,910 posts, read 12,774,932 times
Reputation: 2635
The patco(Port Authority Transportation) line is the regional rail which comes in from South Jersey. Septa serves southeastern Pa. and is immense.

www.ridepatco.org
www.septa.com

Regarding South jersey towns Haddonfield,Moorestown,Voorhees,Merchantville,Gibb stown,Cherry Hill,Woodbury Heights are very nice small towns all very convenient to center city Philly. Easily accessible by Patco.

Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, mainline suburbs of Philadelphia,and center cityPhiladlephia are a must see if you come this way for a visit.

Good luck
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Old 03-16-2007, 12:12 AM
 
468 posts, read 2,168,079 times
Reputation: 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by justine View Post
I'm a little confused about the transit though. It seems there is one system for Philadelphia called SEPTA which the tourist guide's say is somewhat unsafe at night.
If you currently live in Detroit, I can't imagine SEPTA being any more dangerous for you, as compared to taking transit in almost any neighborhood in the city of Detroit. People around Center City of many social classes take transit-- it's not like Detroit where only the poor are forced to deal with a lousy bus system.

It is true however that all SEPTA rail ends at midnight, and it's buses and trolleys from there on out. People are more likely to walk or take cabs home from bars late at night. The PATCO line to South Jersey is the only rail in the region that runs 24/7. That is a small advantage.

If you're looking at South Jersey, Collingswood is a hip town with a bit of an arts scene and nice neighborhoods around the train station. They have a "Second Saturday" (or is it First Friday?) and a nice business district.
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:32 AM
 
1 posts, read 4,168 times
Reputation: 10
I'm having to choose between Chicago and Philadelphia as well. I'm from Asia and have never been to US. In my country, sun shines every day of the year. So I'm a bit scared of winter in Chicago and Philly. But I heard that winter in Philly is a bit better. So could you please make a comparison of winter in Philly vs Chicago?
Many thanks.
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Old 04-23-2007, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
33,076 posts, read 61,908,019 times
Reputation: 55506
Quote:
The advantage of Chicago for us is that it is close to Detroit to visit our family
This statement in your original post stood out for me. You may well indeed love Philadelphia, but the ability to pick up within a moment's notice to visit family can't be matched by better weather or public transit.

Just my two cents ... My sister lives in Michigan, and when I lived in Ohio I could pick up the phone and say "Be there in a few hours!" Now I have to plan ahead weeks at a time. Something to think about.
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