Renting is a great way to get to know a new city and familiarize yourself with a neighborhood. It’s especially suited for people who prefer the convenience of city living and don’t want to deal with the maintenance of owning a home. In Philadelphia, renting has become increasingly popular, especially with higher mortgage rates and an uptick in home prices. However, like home buying, finding a rental has gotten very competitive in recent years. How do you navigate the increasingly complicated rental market? Here is a rental guide with some tips to make it easier.
Create a budget and stick to it
Looking for a rental is like looking for love. Sure, sparkling hardwood floors and new appliances may make your heart race, but it won’t last if monthly payments gobble up your savings. For most renters, spending 30% of their monthly income on a rental is the sweet spot. But if you have student loans, are saving to buy a home, expecting a baby, or paying down debt, consider looking for an apartment that only takes 20% of your income. Make sure to include one month’s rent for a security deposit, another $200 to cover utilities, and then throw in additional expenses such as pet fees, parking, and laundry. Not sure? Use an online rent calculator like this one.
Do your research
Come prepared with a list of must-haves. Know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you require as well as the amenities. For some, that will mean off-street parking, a roof deck, and an on-site fitness center. Are energy-efficient appliances a must? How flexible is your budget? The clearer you are about what
you need, the better able your rental agent will be able to help you find your dream apartment. Don’t forget your ID and checkbook. You’ll need to act quickly to avoid losing the chance at the ideal rental.
Come with a checklist
- Look for signs of roaches or mice in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Check for smoke detectors.
- Are the hallways and stairs clean and well-lit?
- Is the front door secure or can anyone enter?
- Is there a fire escape or fire safety plan in place?
- Will noise from the street or adjoining apartments be an issue?
The Best Philadelphia Neighborhoods for Renters
At one time, having a quick commute to work or easy access to public transportation was a priority. Now, with many people working from home, rental options have expanded, as well as the allure of many former “bedroom neighborhoods” that are now teaming with popular restaurants, nightlife, and shops. Here is a primer on a few of the most popular neighborhoods for renters.
Rittenhouse is considered one of the most desirable parts of the City due to its historic park, elegant architecture, restaurants, shops, theaters, and concert halls with easy access to the airport and trains. Rentals are available in a range of older and new hi-rises, townhouses, and, on smaller streets, in rowhouses and trinities.
Fitler Square is a quieter neighborhood situated near the Schuylkill River with charming small streets and its own lovely park. This area attracts professionals, families, and graduate students who frequent the neighborhood’s many restaurants. You can read more about the history of Fitler Square in our recent “neighborhood histories” post.
Located east of Fitler Square, between Bainbridge Street and Washington Avenue, and between the Schuylkill River and Broad Street, this neighborhood offers a choice of apartments in new and older buildings as well as on smaller streets, within walking distance from Center City.
South of Washington Avenue, west of Broad Street, this is a former working-class neighborhood experiencing a lot of growth. While there are some hi-rise luxury apartment buildings, most apartments are located in former row houses. The axis of Broad & Washington is a focal point of new buildings and shopping.
Bordered by Vine Street to the north, Walnut Street to the south, 7th Street to the west, and the Delaware River to the east, Old City is a former industrial/factory area that has been renovated into residential dwellings. Filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques, it is a popular hangout for the under-thirty set and contains the first factory conversions in the City.
South of Washington Avenue, on the east side of Broad Street, East Passyunk is the “Hippest street in town.” Once a solid Italian neighborhood of Mom & Pop eateries and shops, it now boasts some of the most popular restaurants and bars in the City with Passyunk Square as its focal point.
Located between Callowhill Street and Girard Avenue, and between 6th Street and the Delaware River, this was one of the first areas of the City to experience rapid development. Filled with bars, restaurants, cafes, and parks like Liberty Lands, it is popular with young professionals and families wanting an urban feel with quick access to Center City’s attractions.
Just north of Northern Liberties is a former working-class neighborhood that has shifted into high gear, attracting young professionals and families, to its burgeoning array of restaurants, boutiques, and beer gardens. This area offers a mix of renovated row homes, as well as new construction homes and condos in a lively neighborhood.
Located north of Fishtown, East Kensington is the home of Philadelphia Brewing Company, a brewery, and community gathering space now located in the former Weisbrod and Hess brewery, a restored 19th-century brewery complex. Another former working-class neighborhood, East Kensington has become a popular area for artists, families, and young professionals. Nestled around rowhomes and converted factory buildings, restaurants, tattoo shops, cafes and community gardens abound. This neighborhood also boasts its very own cooperatively-owned grocery store, the Kensington Community Food Coop (KCFC.)
These are just some of the many neighborhoods we serve. Other popular neighborhoods for rentals include Washington Square, Society Hill, Bella Vista, Queen Village, Art Museum, Brewerytown, and Pennsport.
If you’re looking to make Philadelphia your home and are looking for a great rental, visit our rent page to view our current listings. Solo Real Estate manages 450+ units across the city and we are committed to finding the right tenants to settle in and become active members of their community. For property management inquiries, please reach out.