Philadelphia, known for its rich history and cultural vibrancy, presents an attractive economic landscape for those considering moving to the city. Ranked 46th out of 226 destinations and 11th within the US by the 2024 Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking, Philadelphia boasts a relatively moderate cost of living, especially compared to other major American cities. The city's living expenses are approximately 5 percent above the national average, slightly surpassing the state average by about 6 percent.

Whether considering a move for its bustling arts scene or its historical charm, understanding the economic nuances can offer new arrivals a smoother transition.

Cost of accommodation in Philadelphia

For newcomers eyeing Philadelphia as their next destination, the cost of accommodation offers a mix of pleasant surprises and a few challenges. Although the median home price in Philadelphia sits below the national average, the story doesn't end there. While lower than many other major US cities, rental prices can still significantly dent one's budget.

Of course, the price of accommodation heavily hinges on one's choice of neighbourhood. Philadelphia is a tapestry of diverse districts, each with its unique charm and price tag. Neighbourhoods like the luxurious Rittenhouse Square or the trendy Fishtown may come with a heftier price tag. In contrast, areas like Manayunk or West Philadelphia's University City have a variety of housing options that can offer a better bang for their buck.

For those operating on a tighter budget, the city also offers a variety of cost-effective options. Prioritising locations that are farther from work, being flexible about apartment size and opting for slightly older buildings can lead to substantial savings.

Cost of transport in Philadelphia

When weighing up the transport options in the City of Brotherly Love, newcomers will discover myriad choices, each with its own cost implications. Firstly, the city's public transport system provides an affordable way to navigate its streets, making it a favourable choice for many who'd prefer not to get behind the wheel. Philadelphia's extensive and integrated network plugs buses, trams and trains into an eminently walkable city, catering for various commuting needs.

For those considering driving, Philadelphia presents a unique challenge. Despite the attraction of cruising down its historic streets, drivers should brace themselves for traffic delays higher than the national average. From parking fees to licensing, the expenses can quickly add up. On a broader scale, it's worth noting that the US remains one of the more affordable places to own a car.

Alternatives such as taxis and ride-shares abound, offering more convenience at a slightly higher cost. For the budget-conscious, bike-sharing schemes and carpooling can be economical choices.

Cost of groceries in Philadelphia

For newcomers settling into life in Philadelphia, understanding the cost of groceries can be paramount for managing monthly budgets effectively. Most Philadelphians find grocery costs to be roughly 14 percent higher than the national average. The city boasts a wide array of grocery shops, ranging from high-end organic outlets to more budget-friendly chains.

Several strategies can be employed for those looking to stretch their dollar further. Buying in bulk, especially when it comes to non-perishable items, can lead to considerable savings in the long run.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Philadelphia

When it comes to enjoying all the experiences that Philly has to offer, newcomers will find a plethora of entertainment and dining options. Philadelphia is not just renowned for its historical significance but also for its vibrant arts and culture scene. Museums, theatres and sporting events are but a few of the countless entertainment avenues one can explore.

For those who revel in gastronomic delights, Philadelphia promises a dining scene that's as varied as it is flavourful. Dining out frequently can quickly add up, so it's worth noting that the city's eateries, much like its entertainment scene, present a broad spectrum of price points.

From the iconic Philly cheesesteak joints to upscale restaurants, the cost can range significantly based on the establishment's location and reputation. As for nightlife enthusiasts, they'll be pleased to know that Philadelphia's after-dark scene offers both splurge-worthy experiences and budget-friendly alternatives.

Cost of education in Philadelphia

New arrivals relocating with families will need to understand the educational landscape in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has a mix of public and private educational institutions. Generally, public schooling is more cost-effective than its private counterparts, though the quality and resources may vary from one institution to another. The School District of Philadelphia offers a range of curriculums and programmes to meet the diverse needs of its students.

Regarding private education in Philadelphia, there's a wide selection, each with its own fee structure. Though limited, international schools are another option, catering primarily for expat students and offering global curriculums. While offering diverse cultural exposure and global curriculums, these schools can come with a premium price tag, although there are several charter schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme in Philadelphia.

Cost of healthcare in Philadelphia

One of the essential considerations for newcomers to Philadelphia are the city's healthcare costs and options. Philadelphia boasts a range of medical facilities, each varying in the cost of services provided. It's worth noting that Philly hospitals have been mandated to disclose prices for care. However, navigating this information might prove a tad challenging for new arrivals, given the complex presentation of the data.

As for health insurance in Philadelphia, this, too, exhibits a range in costs. It's imperative for newcomers to assess the best insurance plans that fit their health needs and financial situation, ensuring that they're well-covered while staying within their budget. It's worth attempting to negotiate health insurance costs into one's employment contract.

Medication costs in Philadelphia are primarily determined by the type of medication required, its branding and the pharmacy providing it. It's also worth checking if insurance covers specific medications, which can substantially reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

Cost of living in Philadelphia chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Philadelphia for September 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreUSD 3,200
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreUSD 2,090
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreUSD 1,930
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreUSD 1,320
Food and drink
Dozen eggsUSD 3.75
Milk (1 litre)USD 1.18
Rice (1kg)USD 4.56
Loaf of white breadUSD 4.07
Chicken breasts (1kg)USD 5.43
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)USD 12
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantUSD 75
Big Mac mealUSD 10
Coca-Cola (330ml)USD 2.45
CappuccinoUSD 4.73
Bottle of beer (local)USD 4.68
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)USD 0.18
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)USD 46
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)USD 190
Taxi rate/kmUSD 3.42
City-centre public transport fareUSD 2.50
Gasoline (per litre)USD 1.01

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