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Old 07-10-2009, 10:39 AM
 
Location: The Sunshine City
244 posts, read 828,376 times
Reputation: 144

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Hi all, I am currently in the process of narrowing down a rather large list of cities that I am seriously considering relocating to. I am pursuing a PhD in Sociology with a specialization in comparative historical research on sustainable urban development. Consequently, I am looking for work in academia (either a community college or a small liberal arts college) or in the public or private sector as a researcher/analyst/consultant. I would like to live in a city that is diverse, has good public transportation, nice parks, distinct seasons, and a wide variety of amenities (everything from sports to fringe theater). I have a few friends who have recently moved to Philly and they really like it. I have previously lived in Northern Virginia (Fairfax county) and, in my mind, this area seems like it is probably relatively similar to the greater Philly area. Is this assumption correct? I've lived in Florida for the past 12 years (with a small break where I lived in Kansas City) so I really need a break. Some of the other cities that are on my list of relocation spots are Portland, Seattle, D.C., New York, and Toronto. What does Philly have that these cities don't have? I must admit that Philly's crime rate is a bit off putting but surely there must be many redeeming qualities to this great American city. So, having said all that, sell me on Philly!
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Sanford, FL
596 posts, read 1,547,637 times
Reputation: 295
My list of places lived mirrors yours, with the exception of Kansas City....so I'm pretty familiar with where you're coming from.

Philadelphia does fulfill the requirements you're looking for. The city is diverse, has an extensive public transportation system (you can ditch your car like I did), nice parks, somewhat distinct seasons though Fall has seemingly disappeared the last few years, and a wide range of amenities you mention (one of the few cities where the 4 major pro sports leagues are represented) as well as fringe/traditional theatre. The restaurant scene has become world class and is consistently mentioned in foodie circles.

Fairfax County's comparison to Philadelphia would hold true in some of the farflung suburbs (the Main Line for example), which I would NOT recommend if you're in fact keen on the maintaining the criteria mentioned above. Especially for accessability purposes.

Portland and Seattle are nice but lack the hustle-bustle city feel it sounds like you're craving.

NYC is great but horrendously expensive and always "on" which can be overwhelming to live in. Philadelphia is an hour away from NYC by train, so it's easy to zip off for a weekend if you want to.

Toronto is very nice also, but kind of isolated from the Mid-Atlantic region where you have friends. It's also *****-cold in the winter.

DC is also a great place to live, I really enjoyed my time there, but the population is somewhat transient and not exactly warm/friendly in terms of it's residents.

Philadelphia really is a happy medium between NYC and DC, has great history/architecture, excellent walkability and an overall good urban livability.

Philadelphia's crime rate I won't touch on much, as that is sensationalized much like DC was many years ago. The violent crime rate exists is areas you would never have reason to go to or live in/near. It's a non-factor.

Focus on Center City Philadelphia, especially some of the more historic areas like Society Hill, Washington Square East, Old City, Queen Village or Rittenhouse Square. All great neighborhoods that you'll fall in love with.

I'm happy to help further if Philadelphia makes it as a finalist on your list. Good luck!
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:24 PM
Status: "Thou Shalt Not Lick the Surfaces of the "T"" (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,054 posts, read 68,875,531 times
Reputation: 16643
Philadelphia > Fairfax County (By a LONG shot!) Fairfax County doesn't even know where its "downtown" is anymore because the sprawl has just blurred it from having any hope of securing a distinctive identity. I'm likely moving to Pittsburgh in several years because I miss living in an area where pedestrians aren't afterthoughts, where mass transit is praised instead of scorned, and where there is still a sense of community. Philadelphia will be taking a HUGE step up in terms of quality-of-life for what you get for your money. I'm paying 50% of my net income to rent a 1-BR apartment in Fairfax County, and for what? Chain restaurants? Subdivisions? Gas stations? Deer carcasses on the roadside? A dearth of sidewalks? Moving here was an absolute mistake! Do yourself a favor and give Philly a shot!
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:08 PM
 
183 posts, read 575,965 times
Reputation: 53
We were just in the city last night for a cheesesteak comparison at Geno's and Pat's. We had to park about twelve blocks away, so we really got to meander through South Philly. We were struck with what a great city it is. We live out in the suburbs, but if we were young and single we would want to be in center city Philly.
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:11 AM
 
Location: The Sunshine City
244 posts, read 828,376 times
Reputation: 144
Hi all, thanks for the feedback. I still need to visit Philly before making any decisions but it seems that Philly has many of the attributes that I'm looking for in a city. Relocating to the northwest is something I've wanted to do for a long time but distance from friends and family, weather, and other factors make Seattle and Portland less likely than some of the other cities in my list. I keep feeling myself drawn to the mid-Atlantic region or the greater Toronto region. I like that Philly is so close to D.C., Baltimore, and New York. Toronto is a little more isolated but it has great public transportation, tremendous diversity, great restaurants, low crime, and a bustling urban feel. Philly has all these same things (except for the crime thing). Is there anyone out there who has lived in both Philly and Toronto or is there a city vs. city thread that compares these two cities? I haven't dropped the greater D.C. area from my list but the cost of living and the congestion and overall aloofness/coldness of the people doesn't sound appealing.
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:13 AM
 
Location: DC
3,299 posts, read 10,753,702 times
Reputation: 1346
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScranBarre View Post
Philadelphia > Fairfax County (By a LONG shot!) Fairfax County doesn't even know where its "downtown" is anymore because the sprawl has just blurred it from having any hope of securing a distinctive identity. I'm likely moving to Pittsburgh in several years because I miss living in an area where pedestrians aren't afterthoughts, where mass transit is praised instead of scorned, and where there is still a sense of community. Philadelphia will be taking a HUGE step up in terms of quality-of-life for what you get for your money. I'm paying 50% of my net income to rent a 1-BR apartment in Fairfax County, and for what? Chain restaurants? Subdivisions? Gas stations? Deer carcasses on the roadside? A dearth of sidewalks? Moving here was an absolute mistake! Do yourself a favor and give Philly a shot!
Keep in mind that you're comparing a suburb to a city. If you were looking at many suburbs near Philly it'd be the same story as Reston.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:51 AM
 
6 posts, read 15,324 times
Reputation: 11
Let's see:

- Highest local taxes in the nation
- High crime
- No jobs other than medical, education, or pharma
- Unreasonable Housing prices (Better than NYC, but still)
- High cost of living

Any questions?
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia,New Jersey, NYC!
6,967 posts, read 18,558,445 times
Reputation: 2669
Quote:
Originally Posted by JProg305 View Post
Hi all, thanks for the feedback. I still need to visit Philly before making any decisions but it seems that Philly has many of the attributes that I'm looking for in a city. Relocating to the northwest is something I've wanted to do for a long time but distance from friends and family, weather, and other factors make Seattle and Portland less likely than some of the other cities in my list. I keep feeling myself drawn to the mid-Atlantic region or the greater Toronto region. I like that Philly is so close to D.C., Baltimore, and New York. Toronto is a little more isolated but it has great public transportation, tremendous diversity, great restaurants, low crime, and a bustling urban feel. Philly has all these same things (except for the crime thing). Is there anyone out there who has lived in both Philly and Toronto or is there a city vs. city thread that compares these two cities? I haven't dropped the greater D.C. area from my list but the cost of living and the congestion and overall aloofness/coldness of the people doesn't sound appealing.
and the crime thing is blown out of proportion. i don't see the crime here being any different that DC or even NYC. you just have to be aware of your sorroundings, especially at night. and i would also stay in an area close to center city. then you will be close to some awesome restaurants, bars and lounges
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:55 AM
 
Location: a swanky suburb in my fancy pants
3,391 posts, read 7,737,587 times
Reputation: 1586
Philly's "crime" problem is an urban myth. Most of the crime happens in isolated neighborhoods that you will never see, is drug related and is either thug on thug or family disputes. They are within the city limits so they affect the statistics but they don't affect the quality of life as long as you stay away from those areas.
Because the metro is so large and so diverse you can pretty much choose any lifestyle that you want. It is physicaly very much like New York and Washington except your money will go much further. Of course it isn't cheap like florida but then few places are.
The only thing I would say about Toronto is that it is filled with imigrants from all over the world on top of a city that is "foreign" to begin with so it is easy for an american to feel like an outsider, isolated and "home sick".
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Center City, Philadelphia
33 posts, read 99,182 times
Reputation: 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by JProg305 View Post
Hi all, thanks for the feedback. I still need to visit Philly before making any decisions but it seems that Philly has many of the attributes that I'm looking for in a city. Relocating to the northwest is something I've wanted to do for a long time but distance from friends and family, weather, and other factors make Seattle and Portland less likely than some of the other cities in my list.


As far as urban living goes, I think Philly is superior to both Portland and Seattle. Climate aside, as a city, Seattle resembles Phoenix or Dallas more than it does a city on the east coast. Many people in Seattle have lawns and the roads are fairly wide. As a result, Seattle seems quite spread out. Although I think one could conceivably go without one, most people in Seattle seem to have cars.

There are trade offs to all of this however. Seattle is a very green city and given its very steep roads and wet winters, driving might be the most logical option anyway. And, despite its mildly sprawling nature, Seattle does, in my opinion, have a more impressive skyline than Philadelphia. (The back drop of Mt. Rainier helps, of course!)

Speaking of Mt. Rainier, if you are into outdoor sports, such as mountain climbing, skiing, or sailing, then Seattle can’t be beat in the United States! And I hate to say it, but the beer in the Northwest is superior to that of the Northeast….

Again, I think Philadelphia is better, as a city, because of its density. There are few places in Seattle where one could walk to work, the grocery store, a host of restaurants, a world class symphony orchestra, the cleaners, etc, all within only a couple of minutes from their doorstep- and DO SO REALTIVELY CHEAPLY! This is where Philly shines. I have lived without a car in Center city for a year and a half and have loved it!

We also have better traditional architecture. Pioneer Square can’t come close to Old City or Society Hill. History? Portland and Seattle don’t even come close…. As far diversity goes… the Northwest may have more East Asians, but otherwise it is about the same as Philly, from my observations. But, surprisingly, Philly’s Chinatown is way better than Seattle’s or Portland’s!

Quote:
I keep feeling myself drawn to the mid-Atlantic region or the greater Toronto region. I like that Philly is so close to D.C., Baltimore, and New York. Toronto is a little more isolated but it has great public transportation, tremendous diversity, great restaurants, low crime, and a bustling urban feel. Philly has all these same things (except for the crime thing). Is there anyone out there who has lived in both Philly and Toronto or is there a city vs. city thread that compares these two cities?


As far as diversity goes, Philadelphia definitely has it but not to the extend that one could find it in NOVA, DC, NYC, or Toronto. We have large populations of Hispanics, East Asians, and Russians. But, unlike DC or Toronto, I feel like Philly has a very small Middle Eastern population. (Which sucks, by the way!) Also, I feel like many of the foreigners in Philly live outside of Center City. The Russians are in the Northeast and the Latinos are in North and South Philly. Only the Asians are in Center City. This is important because Center City is the real jewel of the Philadelphia area. But despite its glory- it is known for having a very provincial feel. If these ethnic communities could only increase their presence in Center City, then I think Philly could exchange its somewhat provincial identity for a more cosmopolitan one.


As far as public transportaion goes- you won't need it in Center City as everything is at your finger tips. Just reach out and grab it!


Restaurants: Although Philadelphia no longer has a single 5 star restuarant (there are only a few in the entire country), we nevertheless take dining pretty seriously here. In fact, I would put the quality of our restaurants up against any city in North America- YES, including NYC! They are that good. And with the BYO's you will save tons of money!

Quote:
I haven't dropped the greater D.C. area from my list but the cost of living and the congestion and overall aloofness/coldness of the people doesn't sound appealing.



Philly is WAY cheaper than DC. Period.

Coldnees of people: Many people on this forum talk about how rude Philadelphians are. I couldn’t disagree more. I have the found the people here to by quite warm and friendly. I have spent a lot of time in DC and I really like it there. It is the most elegant city in the country, in my opinion- but the pretentiousness of its residents are nauseating. You won’t find it here Philly…. Not to that extent, anyway.


I could go on and on about this topic....

Please feel free to PM if you have any specific questions!

Good luck in choosing your new home!
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