Historically, Philadelphia has always been sort of a black sheep compared to its Northeast Corridor neighbors. It's gritty and dirty and real, filled with salt of the earth, goodhearted citizens. In this way, New York and Washington have always had more cachet than white-collar Philly.
But when it comes to the cost to rent in Philly, that second-city status is beneficial. For its size, location and all it has to offer economically and culturally, it's not a horribly expensive place to rent.
The ability to afford rent where you wish to live consists of a number of factors. Along with the average rent in Philadelphia, you need to consider the city's overall cost of living (and cost of a number of categories), as well as which neighborhoods you'd like to live in. Below we'll take a look at all these concerns, and help you calculate what Philadelphia apartments are affordable to you and determine which Philly neighborhoods are financially right for you.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia is $2,132. This figure is $515 a month higher than the national average of $1,617. While that sounds pricey — which it is — it's downright affordable compared to similar cities.
The most expensive city in the nation is Boston at $3,236 with neighboring New York City ($3,089) and Jersey City ($2,659) also among America's most expensive. Conversely, Philly's average rent does not even crack the top 10 most expensive cities in the nation.
That average one-bedroom lease price in Philadelphia rose 2.79 percent over the last year. That increase is above the national average of 0.75 percent, but far below some of the steepest increases nationwide. St. Louis, at No. 1, rose a whopping 39.5 percent. But in relation to other East Coast cities, Philly did not fare as well. Many other cities, possibly affected by the coronavirus crisis, saw their rates lessen. Nearby New York City decreased by 28.5 percent and Washington, DC fell 22.2 percent.
What a resident can afford in rent in a city is directly affected by how much money they make. So, how much do you need to earn to live comfortably in your chosen city? Experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your pre-tax income on your housing, in this case specifically your rent.
The average rent in Philadelphia for a one-bedroom unit is $2,132 a month. Multiplied by 12, that would be an outlay of $25,584 a year in rent checks. So, if you do a little calculation, that means you would need to bring home $85,280 a year to spend 30 percent of that on the rent for the average one-bedroom.
Now, here's the rub. According to Payscale.com, the average salary in Philadelphia is $69,000. This also translates to about $33 an hour, working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks. At that wage, spending 30 percent of pre-tax income on rent, the average Philadelphian making the average income could comfortably afford an apartment in the city leasing for only $1,725.
Want to know what lease price you can afford in Philly based on your income? Use the Apartment Guide Rent Calculator to determine what you can comfortably manage.
So, how does the cost of living in Philadelphia affect and compare to the average rent in Philadelphia? The cost of living index for overall expenses in Philly is 111.2, meaning it costs 11.2 percent more to live in Philly than the national average. (The national average is an index of 100.)
Again, that sounds like Philly is much more expensive than the rest of the country. But everything is relative. When you compare Philly to its fellow Northeastern U.S. counterparts, Philly is a downright bargain. In fact, Philadelphia has the lowest overall cost of living of any city in the region. It's lower than New York City (a national high of 244.7 in Manhattan), Washington, Boston, North Jersey, Providence, Hartford, Baltimore and Wilmington.
Here's a breakdown of how Philadelphia's cost of living in a variety of sectors compares to the national average.
The most affordable neighborhoods in Philly are mostly clustered in and around North and Northeast Philly in the areas around Pennypack and Tacony Creek Parks. The top 10 cheapest regions are spread throughout the city from the Near Northeast down to the extreme south.
Conversely, every single one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Philadelphia are in and around the Center City region. The top 10 priciest rents for one-bedrooms cross the central business and historical district strip from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and across into West Philly's up-and-coming second downtown.
If you know Philadelphia at all, it's no surprise to find out that eight of the 10 most expensive neighborhoods are all in the oldest parts of the city in and around the central business district.
Center City and Old City themselves are among the city's priciest. But it's the very ritzy and elite neighborhoods elsewhere downtown that carry the highest average lease prices. These include the highly desirable districts like historic Washington Square West, cultural center Avenue of the Arts, gorgeous Rittenhouse Square and diverse Graduate Hospital.
Across the Schuylkill from Center City, West Philly and University City — where Philly's second downtown is currently rising with major revitalization projects — carry the highest rents outside of the Center City core.
As well, not only are trendy neighborhoods like Washington Square West (up 40.24 percent) and Graduate Hospital (up 60.61 percent) very expensive, but they have increased in price the most by far of anywhere in Philadelphia. These regions have seen a steep boost in upscale residents and LGBTQ visibility leading to widespread gentrification, shooting some one-bedroom lease prices through the roof.
|Rank||Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|1||Washington Square West||$3,076||40.24%|
|3||Avenue of the Arts South||$2,544||-2.02%|
Conversely, the top 10 least expensive neighborhoods for renters in Philadelphia are a bit more geographically diverse. A bit. There's still a primary cluster of inexpensive neighborhoods sitting at the north end of the city.
Several of the cheapest rents in town surround an area along the Montgomery County border in extreme North Philly. The lowest rents in the city are in the Melrose Park Garden neighborhood in the Olney/Oak Lanes region where East Oak Lane is, as well. Rawnhurst and Burholme also crack the top 10, sitting in the Near Northeast.
The remainder of the most inexpensive neighborhoods is found in sundry places like the urban suburb hills of Northwest Philly (Wissahickon), the rowhouse blocks of West Philly (Cedar and Southwest Cedar Park) and airport-adjacent extreme Southwest Philly (Eastwick).
|Rank||Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|1||Melrose Park Garden||$937||-1.47%|
|4||East Oak Lane||$1,152||10.10%|
|6||Southwest Cedar Park*||$1,163||N/A|
|9||Near Northeast Philadelphia||$1,208||6.86%|
What does the average rent in Philadelphia look like where you live or where you're looking to move? Here's the full list of the rent prices for an average one-bedroom in every Philly neighborhood.
|Neighborhood||Average 1-BR Rent Price||YoY Rent Price Change|
|Avenue of the Arts North||$1,920||1.56%|
|Avenue of the Arts South||$2,544||-2.02%|
|Center City West||$1,981||-10.17%|
|East Oak Lane||$1,152||10.10%|
|Melrose Park Garden||$937||-1.47%|
|Near Northeast Philadelphia||$1,208||6.86%|
|Southwest Cedar Park*||$1,163||N/A|
|Upper North District||$1,281||21.63%|
|Upper North Philadelphia||$1,474||N/A|
|Washington Square West||$3,076||40.24%|
|West Central Germantown||$1,559||6.64%|
|West Mount Airy||$1,266||N/A|
Now that you know where the most affordable and the most expensive rents in Philadelphia are, you know what you can manage based on your income and the cost of living for a number of expenses in Philly. It's time to find an apartment that's perfect for you.
Zip on over to Philadelphia's available rental listings on Apartment Guide and find yourself your next affordable home.