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Moving to Philadelphia

Philadelphia or "Philly", as the city is affectionately known, is a large metropolis just a few hours’ drive from New York City and Washington DC. While it might not have the same reputation as its illustrious neighbours, those moving to Philadelphia will find themselves in a cosmopolitan city full of opportunities.

Living in Philadelphia as an expat

The economic hub of Pennsylvania and the headquarters of hundreds of corporations, new arrivals wanting to work in Philadelphia are potentially provided with thousands of employment opportunities. It's also an intrinsically creative and cultural city with a thriving music industry and delicious cuisine.

Besides the excellent rail system connecting the city to its neighbours, there's a well-developed local network of public transport in Philadelphia, consisting of buses, trolleys and trains. That said, it also has a reputation for being one of the most walkable cities in the USA, as well as being incredibly bike friendly. Those living in the city centre will rarely need to use public transport, let alone a car.

Neighbourhoods close to Center City and in the northwestern suburbs are so well located that new residents won't need to venture further than a few miles in any direction to find everything they need in terms of restaurants, shops and entertainment. They will also have plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation in Philadelphia, from townhouses and apartments to old style family homes in the suburbs.

Cost of living in Philadelphia

Although the cost of living in Philadelphia is higher than the national average, it is cheaper than it neighbouring East Coast cities, such as New York and Boston. Many people choose to live in Philly for this exact reason.

That said, Philadelphia is not necessarily an inexpensive place to live. Accommodation is generally affordable, although prices have increased with demand, and salaries are relatively high, but new arrivals will need the extra income to cover their other living costs and their lifestyle in Philadelphia. 

Expat families and children

Philadelphia boasts a state-of-the-art children’s hospital and many excellent schools. Although new inhabitants will be able to attend public schools for free, there are also plenty of private schools that offer a high standard of education in the city. Many of these schools offer the International Baccalaureate, which could be a preferable curriculum for expat children. 

Outside of school, children will have plenty to keep them busy in Philadelphia. The abundant sunshine allows families to take full advantage of Philadelphia’s many sprawling parks and playgrounds. Alternatively, the city is home to many cultural attractions and annual events for children to enjoy. 

Climate in Philadelphia

The weather in Philadelphia varies greatly between hot, muggy summers and cold, snow-covered winters. That said, the climate is mild for the most part, making it great for expats living in Philadelphia with children.

New arrivals in Philadelphia will discover a bustling urban environment where residents are extremely proud of their city. It offers a wonderful balance of urban and suburban life and is a great destination for those looking for a busy, diverse and ever-expanding place to call home.

Weather in Philadelphia

Expats living in Philadelphia will experience hot, humid summers and cold winters. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons weather-wise. Snowfall is variable in Philadelphia but occurs most frequently in January. Precipitation is generally spread throughout the year.

The warm season lasts from May to September with an average daily high of 77°F (25°C). Temperatures can reach 86°F (30°C) in summer, and afternoon thunderstorms are common. The cold season lasts from December to March with daily highs averaging below of 49°F (9°C). Winter temperatures are frequently below freezing and cold spells do occur. 

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Philadelphia

The prospect of life in a new city can be daunting, and new arrivals should do all they can to prepare and arm themselves with all the facts in order to make the best decisions possible. A good place to start is by looking at the everyday upsides and downsides of living there.

For those considering moving to Pennsylvania's economic hub, here are some of our pros and cons of moving to Philadelphia.


Accommodation in Philadelphia

+ PRO: Some beautiful options for accommodation

As the birthplace of independent America, Philadelphia places a lot of emphasis on history and heritage. This is reflected in the city's accommodation, some of which is up to 300 years old.

Those looking for something a little more modern will also have some good options as there are plenty of newly-built lofts and apartments on offer.

- CON: Shortage of affordable housing

As the cost of living in Philadelphia rises, so does the cost of housing. There’s an ever-widening gap between low and high-income housing, leaving few options for the city’s middle-class residents.


Lifestyle in Philadelphia

+ PRO: Great location

Located just a few hours from New York City and Washington DC, Philadelphia is in an ideal spot for those who want to explore the major cities along the East Coast.

+ PRO:  A city rich in history

As a key city in the American War of Independence, Philadelphia has many attractions that take visitors back in time. For new arrivals, this is a great way to learn about American history. They can even visit the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and the famous cracked Liberty Bell.


Getting around in Philadelphia

+ PRO: Excellent public transport system 

Philadelphia is often hailed as having one of the best public transport networks in the US, and most residents find there’s no need to own a car. Philadelphia is well covered by various types of public transport, including buses, subways, above-ground trains and trolleybuses.

- CON: Drivers might find life difficult

Those who do decide to drive will find that, although the city is laid out in a neat grid system, the number of one-way streets and confusing highway on-ramps can make navigating Philadelphia a frustrating exercise. On top of this, parking in the city is sparse and expensive, and drivers will also need to fork out for various tolls.


Cost of living in Philadelphia

+ PRO: One of the East Coast's lowest costs of living

While it's true that the cost of living in Philadelphia is higher than the national average and that it continues to rise, the location of the city should be taken into account. It is a well established fact that the East Coast is an expensive place to live. Compared with other East Coast cities, especially New York City and Washington DC, Philadelphia’s cost of living is far lower.


Working in Philadelphia

+ PRO: Hub of Pennsylvania’s economy

Philadelphia has a thriving economy and is home to the headquarters of a number of prominent companies, including a handful of Fortune 500 companies. Healthcare and education in particular are strong sectors with an abundance of work opportunities for skilled newcomers.

- CON: Jobs concentrated in education and healthcare

More than a third of Philadelphia’s jobs are in the fields of healthcare and education. With such a strong presence in the city, these two industries and their workers are frequently referred to in shorthand as 'meds and eds'. The rest of the city's economy is made up of a number of smaller industries with fewer opportunities.


Education in Philadelphia

+ PRO: Excellent opportunities for higher education

Teenagers nearing college age will be well situated to take advantage of one of the world's top universities: the University of Pennsylvania. Other highly rated education options in Philadelphia include Temple University and Drexel University.

Working in Philadelphia

Expats working in Philadelphia will find themselves in the economic centre of Pennsylvania and one of the top ten largest metropolitan economies in the USA. Competition for jobs is high in Philadelphia, and while not impossible, finding employment can be difficult. Despite this, those who can secure work will be glad to know that salaries in Philadelphia are slightly higher than the national average.


Job market in Philadelphia

Major industries in Philadelphia include education, healthcare, technology, finance and tourism.The city is also home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Comcast, Crown Holdings and Aramark.

The best performing sectors in the city are medicine and education, accounting for almost a third of the jobs in Philadelphia, with a large percentage of private employers coming from those industries. The University of Pennsylvania is the region’s largest employer, with the School District of Philadelphia not far behind. The Comcast Corporation, American Airlines and Allied Barton Security Services also employ significant numbers of workers. 


Finding a job in Philadelphia

Expats looking for work in Philadelphia and who have the necessary qualifications would do well to look for jobs in the city's thriving healthcare industry or the education sector.

Expats can make use of online job portals or recruitment agencies to assist with the process of finding a job. Networking and making connections both online and in person can also go a long way to securing work. As is the case when seeking employment elsewhere in the USA, foreign nationals require a visa to work in Philadelphia.


Work culture in Philadelphia

As with many East Coast cities, people often log long hours in Philadelphia. This often comes with a "work hard, play hard" mentality. Meaning, they make up for the long hours of work with making the most of their free time. 

That said, a good work culture is important to business professionals in Philadelphia. This includes things like flexibility and benefits, such a health insurance, paid leave and paternal leave. A comfortable work environment is also important to a lot of people in Philadelphia. Due to this, companies are forced to adapt to keep their employees, meaning a lot of companies in Philadelphia have a great work culture and employees are proud to work there. 

As with the rest of the US, business in Philadelphia is also less formal and hierarchical than in many other countries. The approach to business dress and communication is generally rather relaxed, although this does depend on the company. 

Accommodation in Philadelphia

The cost of accommodation in Philadelphia is relatively affordable and there are various housing options available, which is part of the reason many people from nearby cities seek accommodation in Philadelphia. Those who intend to stay for the long term tend to buy property, although most people start off by renting.


Types of accommodation in Philadelphia

The city has been a major settlement for many centuries. As a result, there's an interesting mix of architecture in Philadelphia. The first rowhouses in the US were built here and, while the original buildings aren't around anymore, similar townhouses can be found all over.

In the more affluent suburbs to the northwest, there are historic stone houses dating back to the early 20th century, 18th-century mansions and farmhouses that too have been around since the 1700s. This area is known as the Main Line and has some of the best real estate in Philadelphia for raising a family.

Those wanting a more urban experience can choose from luxury condos in the heart of the city and trendy loft apartments in some of its safer outlying neighbourhoods.


Finding accommodation in Philadelphia

Those wanting to buy property in Philadelphia should either have a pre-approved mortgage or proof of funds before searching for accommodation. After that, the process for buying and renting is more or less the same.

The internet is a good place to start looking for accommodation in Philadelphia as there are various real estate agents, classifieds websites and local publications with property sections on their sites. New arrivals looking to rent in Philadelphia could also look up apartment management companies or building owners and contact them directly.

In Philadelphia, agents' fees are often paid by the seller or, in the case of rentals, they are paid a commission by the landlord. It's best to check with the agent upfront, though.


Renting accommodation in Philadelphia

The rental market in Philadelphia is presently skewed towards landlords. Aside from the seasonal influx of students that starts around July, the rest of the year sees many people moving from neighbouring cities where property is more expensive. Many don’t have the means to buy, which increases the demand for rentals and negatively impacts prices. That said, it's still easier and more affordable to rent in Philadelphia than in cities such as New York and Boston.

Application process

Once a new resident has found an apartment or house they're interested in, they need to submit a rental application. There is usually a small fee attached to the rental application. The cost of this application can vary, so applicants will need to check with the landlord or rental agency.

The application may require the applicant to submit proof of income, bank statements as well as references. During this time the landlord will most likely check the applicant's credit score and criminal record as well.

As soon as the application has been approved, the next step is to review the lease and sign the rental contract.

Leases

Leases in Philadelphia typically last for a year, but month-to-month contracts are also common. When signing the lease, be sure to read the entire contract thoroughly and ensure that any verbal assurances by landlords are put into writing.

Deposits

According to the Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit for the first year of renting and the equivalent of one month's rent during all subsequent years of renting. 

Some landlords may also require tenants to take out renter's insurance.

Utilities

Homeowners will have to take responsibility for all of their utility needs. The utilities that tenants are responsible for often depend on the conditions of the lease and whether it's a house or an apartment.

In general, when renting an apartment, the landlord may assume responsibility for utilities such as heating (gas or electricity) and, almost always, water. In a house, tenants are likely to be responsible for all utilities. Tenants will most often be responsible for paying for their own telephone and internet services too. Before signing a lease, new arrivals should ensure that the terms are clear when it comes to whether or not the cost of utilities is included in the monthly rent amount.

Garbage removal and recycling

Most large properties like apartment complexes have designated trash rooms for garbage and recycling. The tenant needs to find out from the landlord where to dispose of everyday trash as well as large items like furniture.

Areas and suburbs in Philadelphia

The best places to live in Philadelphia

The suburban nature of much of Philadelphia makes it seem smaller than it is. Very much a city of neighbourhoods, the variety of options available can seem overwhelming at first. That said, finding a good home in Philadelphia is far from impossible. 

Philadelphia offers many areas to choose from which serve a wide variety of needs. Below are just some of the most popular neighbourhoods in Philadelphia.


Suburban living in Philadelphia

Philly

Chestnut Hill 

Chestnut Hill used to be a popular summer getaway for Philadelphia’s upper classes and is still associated with affluence. Public transport is easily accessed, infrastructure is good and shopping in Chestnut Hill is an experience not to be missed. For those who can afford it, Chestnut Hill is an ideal location for families, offering accommodation from modest rowhouses to expansive mansions. For its excellent schools, historic architecture, its small-town-yet-vibrant atmosphere and its proximity to the city, Chestnut Hill is a fantastic area to put down roots.

Abington

Abington's schools have a reputation for excellence and it has been recognised as one of the best places to live in the USA. The Abington Memorial Hospital offers a high standard of care and is the area’s major employer. Abington contains a wide range of housing, most built shortly after WWII, from garden-style apartments to colonial-style family homes. In brief, it's the perfect area for new arrivals who want somewhere to raise their families in homes with character.  

Swarthmore 

Swarthmore offers a peaceful, college-town atmosphere that prides itself on diversity and tolerance. Anchored by Swarthmore College, it boasts the Crum Woods, a 300-acre arboretum, and a downtown area with unique and independent shops. Swarthmore’s older but well-maintained houses and its public and private schools come highly recommended. The only downside is the area’s steep property tax. If this can be managed, though, staying in Swarthmore is worth it.


Urban living in Philadelphia

Philly

Graduate Hospital

Extremely popular with young professionals and singles, Graduate Hospital has been gaining a reputation as an artistic community since the early 2000s and is home to trendy restaurants and some of the best bars in Philadelphia. Prices are moderately high, although it is worth it for Graduate Hospital’s proximity to the city’s attractions and its mix of old and new single-family homes, tree-lined streets and brownstone rowhouses. Families wanting to live closer to Center City will also find this neighbourhood to be safe. 

Fishtown

Fishtown is a burst of colour in the middle of an industrial landscape, offering the famous Philadelphia rowhouses along narrow streets which surge with creative energy. Popular with trendy hipsters, young families and up-and-coming professionals, it makes up for its lack of retail with a bustling cultural and nightlife scene. 

Northern Liberties

Northern Liberties has traditionally been popular with artists, but increasingly, more business professionals in Philadelphia are investing in the area's apartment complexes. Even with prices rising due to demand, residents love the neighbourly atmosphere which, in the heart of the city, feels as if it belongs in a different time. Art galleries and trendy boutiques line the streets, and foodies in Philadelphia will have a ball hoping between all the neighbourhood's restaurants. 

Fairmount

Leafy, spacious and close to cultural landmarks such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fairmount is popular with first-time buyers and offers a variety of options from classic Philadelphia townhouses to older single-family homes. Those who need to be close to the city but are also balancing family priorities would do well to consider Fairmount, as there are several good schools in the area and St Joseph’s Hospital is close by. Although its prices are fairly high, newcomers nonetheless pay for a piece of suburbia with the community spirit to match, a mere 10 minutes away from Center City.

Healthcare in Philadelphia

With the number of medical schools, hospitals and medical research centres in the city, residents in need of world-class healthcare will have plenty of options in Philadelphia. Many of the hospitals in Philadelphia are nationally ranked for at least one speciality, while some are nationally renowned. 

Unfortunately, medical care in the US is expensive and non-emergency care can legally be denied to a patient if they aren't able to pay. For this reason, new arrivals in Philadelphia should ensure that they have a comprehensive healthcare plan to have access to the city’s best medical facilities.

Below is a list of some of the most prominent hospitals in Philadelphia.


Hospitals in Philadelphia

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Website: www.pennmedicine.org
Address: 3400 Spruce Street

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

Website: www.pennmedicine.org
Address: 51 North 39th Street

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Website: www.chop.edu
Address: 3401 Civic Center Boulevard

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Website: www.jeffersonhospital.org
Address: 111 South 11th Street

Jefferson Torresdale Hospital

Website: northeast.jeffersonhealth.org
Address: 10800 Knights Road

Education and Schools in Philadelphia

Education in Philadelphia is taken seriously and many of the states best schools are situated in the city. Philadelphia has a number of both public and private schools that are nationally recognised for the quality of their education, from elementary schools to universities. 


Public schools in Philadelphia

All children in the US, including expats, are able to attend public school free of charge. As is the case with most large cities, the quality of public schools in Philadelphia varies. Since they are funded by property tax, schools in more affluent areas tend to offer a better standard of education. 

By law, children are entitled to attend public school in their area, a fact that parents should bear in mind when choosing where to live in the city. It's therefore recommended that parents figure out where the best schools in the city are located prior to picking a neighbourhood. 

Charter schools

Charter schools are privately run but are funded by a performance-based contract with the government. As a result, they are tuition-free but are able to have more control over their academic programmes while teaching the national curriculum. 

All children, including expats, can apply for admission to charter schools, with preference given to those who live in the area around a school. Again, if there are too many applications for the school to admit everyone, admission is determined by a lottery.

Magnet schools

Magnet schools are specialised public schools that focus on certain subject areas – for example, science, languages or the performing arts – or employ alternative teaching styles, such as Montessori. Attendance at these schools isn't limited by zoning, with the result that the student bodies of magnet schools are generally diverse and varied. If there's not enough space for all of the students who apply, they are selected by way of a lottery. 


Private schools in Philadelphia 

As is usually the case, private schools in Philadelphia have better student-to-teacher ratios, advanced facilities and a wider selection of extra-curricular activities than their public counterparts. Of course, this comes at a price, which parents should be prepared for. 

It almost goes without saying that the best private schools in Philadelphia are also the most selective. There's a high level of competition around admissions. Parents should apply early and carefully check the admissions process for each school they are considering.


International schools in Philadelphia

The only strictly 'international' school in the city is the bilingual French International School of Philadelphia. Both the French and American national curriculums are taught at the school. As with all international schools, admissions are competitive and school fees are exorbitant.

Alternatively, there are a number of public schools that offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania's neighbouring state of New York also has a larger variety of international schools.


Homeschooling in Philadelphia

Parents in Philadelphia will be happy to know that they can legally homeschool their children. It's important though that they make sure they comply with the education laws of Pennsylvania.

The person who will be acting as the educator needs to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Parents also need to file a notarised affidavit with the local superintendent before they start the homeschool programme. The affidavit should, among other things, assure that subjects will be taught in English and outline the proposed education objectives by subject area. Parents of children with special needs also have to get their education plan approved by a state-certified special education teacher or licensed clinical or school psychologist.

Children need to be taught 180 days in a year and there are various compulsory courses that need to be taught depending on the student's school level. Parents are also required to keep a portfolio that includes documentations like a log, student work samples and standardised testing. This portfolio needs to be submitted annually to be evaluated by a licensed psychologist or a teacher certified by the state.

Alternatively, parents can choose to employ a private tutor to take on the homeschool responsibilities. They can also choose to enrol their child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school. These two options still allow children to be taught at home, but it lowers the responsibility placed on parents.


Special-needs education in Philadelphia

The School District of Philadelphia provides an extensive range of educational services and support for students with special needs in public schools. These services include learning support, emotional support, autistic support, life skills support and multiple disabilities support. While all public schools are required to admit children with special needs, parents should consider the standard of facilities and support available in the schools in each area and choose a neighbourhood accordingly. 

Outside of the public school system, Philadelphia has a number of excellent private schools that practise inclusive education. The city also has several schools that cater to specific disabilities such as schools for the deaf, the blind, and students with other special education needs.


Tutoring in Philadelphia

Tutoring is common among students in Philadelphia. There are a vast number of options available to students who require extra help with specific school subjects or general school support. Some of the top tutoring companies in Philadelphia include Tutor Delphia and Sylvan Learning of Philadelphia. Parents who don't want to work through a tutoring service will find that there are also a number of private tutors in the city ranging from retired teachers to university students.

Lifestyle in Philadelphia

Philadelphia provides small-town living in the midst of a buzzing metropolis. The city's culture and lifestyle are shaped by its immigrant population as much as it is by deep historical roots that reach back to the founding of the US. This can be seen in its diverse culinary offerings, in a city that places as much emphasis on work as it does on community spirit and leisure.

Despite its blue-collar character and rough-around-the-edges reputation, the shopping and lifestyle in Philadelphia are two of its largest drawcards.


Shopping in Philadelphia

Whether in search of world-class shopping centres, luxurious boutiques or the quirky character of street-side stores, shopping in Philadelphia is always an experience. To top it off, clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free. 

The King of Prussia Mall, to the northwest of the city, has more retail space than any other mall in America, and is the largest mall of the East Coast. An attraction in its own right, it offers everything from budget to luxury retail outlets and has three food courts.

Those wanting something a bit more organic should try the Reading Terminal Market in Center City. The market has been running since the 1890s, and offers all manner of fresh produce, international cuisine and handmade crafts. 

Any major shopping excursion in Philadelphia should also include a visit to Macy’s Center City. During the 19th century, the iconic building housed Wanamaker's, one of the first department stores in the world. Today it houses the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the world's largest playable pipe organ. It is played at least twice a day, six days a week.


Eating out in Philadelphia

New arrivals will have no shortage of options for eating out in Philadelphia. The city's restaurants are a reflection of its distinctive character. Some of its most famous foods, much like other beloved favourites in the US, are a product of its adopted citizens.

The Italian population has arguably left the biggest mark on Philadelphia’s culinary landscape, pioneering the famous Philly cheesesteak and the mother of all submarine sandwiches, the Philadelphia hoagie. The Philly cheesesteak is most famously sold in South Philadelphia by Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, a cross-street rivalry that goes back more than 50 years. 


Nightlife and entertainment in Philadelphia

Whether newcomers want to dance and dine in Old City, swing with jazz musicians in Northern Liberties or watch sport and take part in the craft beer explosion, there's something for everybody to enjoy when it comes to the nightlife in Philadelphia.

There are also several venues that host large concerts, such as the Wells Fargo Center, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and the picturesque Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Parkway, which stretches from City Hall to just before the Museum of Art, hosts many large outdoor concerts and houses some of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia.


Museums and attractions in Philadelphia

A historic city, there is an abundance of museums and historical attractions in Philadelphia. Situated on the Parkway is the famous Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia, which houses a unique Rare Book Department. The historical boulevard is also a sculpture garden, containing works such as Rodin’s famous The Thinker, which greets visitors as they enter the Rodin Museum.

The city prides itself on being child-friendly and boasts the first zoo in America, the fully interactive Please Touch Museum and the fascinating Adventure Aquarium.


Sports and outdoor activities in Philadelphia

Outdoorsy residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks in Philadelphia. In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia has one of the largest landscaped urban park systems in the world. Those looking to run, cycle or even row in Philadelphia won't have to look too far for scenic routes in places such as the Valley Forge National Historical Park and Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Creek.

As much as the city's known for its natural spaces, it is even more famous for its passionate sports fans. The Philadelphia Eagles play American football at the Lincoln Financial Field and fans can be seen having barbeques outside of the stadium from dawn on match days.

See and Do in Philadelphia

The city’s unique mixture of attractions and green spaces means that there's always something to see and do in Philadelphia. Culture lovers can enjoy the wealth of museums and historic landmarks in the city, and those with a taste for the bizarre will love attractions such as the Mütter Museum. Kids won’t feel left out either as the city has its fair share of child-friendly attractions too.


Popular attractions in Philadelphia

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell with its distinctive crack is one of the most iconic symbols of American independence. The bell’s inscription, proclaiming liberty throughout the land and for all who live in it, became a rallying cry for abolitionists and then a symbol of national unity in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Throughout its history, it has inspired causes from women’s suffrage to civil rights.

Mütter Museum

Not for the faint of heart, the Mütter Museum houses a collection of unusual medical specimens, wax models and antique medical equipment. This includes slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, the mummy of the Soap Lady and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, which was used to debunk the idea that anatomy and race were linked to intelligence.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

One of the biggest art museums in the US, the Philadelphia Museum of Art was established in 1876 and houses more than 240,000 artefacts. There are collections from Asia, Europe and America, with works spanning centuries. The museum houses pieces by artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Dali, as well as more contemporary exhibitions.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo first opened in 1874. It was the first true zoo in the US. Home to nearly 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo is set in a 42-acre Victorian garden that welcomes over a million visitors every year. Visitors to this magnificent zoo will get a chance to see some of the rarest animals in the world. The zoo is committed to conservation, and displays this through their focus on animal welfare, providing quality lives for animals. They also provide experiences that aim to teach their visitors the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation. 

Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum has been helping children learn in an interactive environment that celebrates imagination since 1976. The museum is divided into themed exhibition zones, each with its own activities, such as the Rocket Room, the Adventure Camp and the Imagination Playground. The museum also hosts events for the little ones.  

The Franklin Institute

Dating back to 1824, the Franklin Institute is one of the most prominent and entertaining centres of science education in the US. Operating in the same spirit of enquiry and discovery as its namesake, Benjamin Franklin, the museum has a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions on display that will educate and entertain visitors of all ages.

What's On in Philadelphia

There are so many events in Philadelphia at any given time that can be difficult to choose which to attend. New arrivals will be spoilt for choice, whether they're in search of family-friendly fun or entertainment aimed at adults.

Below are some of the main events and festivals in Philadelphia.


Annual events in Philadelphia

Philadelphia International Auto Show (January/February)

The Philadelphia Auto Show has been going since 1902 and is held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. About 250,000 people visit each year to see the new releases, exotic models and antique cars by automobile manufacturers from all over the world. Over 700 vehicles feature in the show. 

Philadelphia International Flower Show (March)

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has been hosting its annual flower show since 1829. It's grown to become the largest flower show in the USA, attracting more than 250,000 visitors annually. With a different theme every year, visitors can expect to see a variety of displays competing for prizes and will be able to buy some plants of their own. The show also provides daily gardening activities for gardeners of all levels, as well as food and shopping experiences. 

Fireworks and Fountains (May to September)

Throughout the summer, Longwood Gardens hosts a series of displays incorporating a dazzling array of fireworks, music and fountains. Attendance at these events numbers in the thousands as people gather to watch the truly beautiful fireworks and fountains shows. 

Scarecrow Walk and Design Contest (October)

Every October, the Morris Arboretum displays the top entrants from its annual scarecrow design contest. Set in the natural beauty of the arboretum, it's a must for families wanting to get into the spirit of Halloween. New arrivals can even get in on the fun and make their own scarecrow.

The Penn Museum’s Annual Day of the Dead Festival (November)

This event is a great choice for those looking for something different. Aside from decorating sugar cookie skulls and making paper flowers, the museum also features face painting, dances, live music and a special Day of the Dead exhibition.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show (November/December)

Held at Macy’s Center City since 1956, the Christmas Light Show has more than 100,000 energy-efficient LED lights on display, which combine to create striking holiday images accompanied by music from the world-famous Wanamaker Grand Organ. The Macy’s Magic Christmas Tree, up for the duration of the show, is truly a sight to behold.

Getting Around in Philadelphia

Getting around in Philadelphia is usually easy, as most of the city follows a grid plan. Philadelphia has one of the best public transport networks in the USA and, even on the busiest commutes, the city’s historic, leafy atmosphere provides a beautifully distracting backdrop. New arrivals can look forward to a comprehensive railway system, inner-city subways and buses administered by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).


Public transport in Philadelphia

As Philadelphia's public transport is mainly operated by a single company, the network is integrated and uses a smart fare system. The SEPTA Key, can be loaded with credit online and can be used on most forms of transport in the city. Weekly or monthly passes can also be loaded onto the Key. Alternatively, fares can be paid with cash, although this is a more expensive option and only exact change is accepted.

Trains

The rail network in Philadelphia is generally considered to be of a high standard. The city’s central train station is the 30th Street Station in Center City, which provides access to all major SEPTA rail, subway and trolley (tram) routes. Most lines operate from 5:30am to midnight, every day of the week. 

The 30th Street Station also functions as a major hub for Amtrak, which provides the best means to travel to other cities such as Boston, New York and Washington DC. Train routes and rates are available at stations and on the SEPTA website.

The other major railway operator in Philadelphia is the Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) which runs a line between New Jersey and Center City.

Subway

The subway in Philadelphia is simple; made up of only two lines, some of which are above ground. The Broad Street Line, also known as "the Orange Line", which runs north-south, is entirely underground, while the partly-elevated Market-Frankford Line, also known as “the Blue Line” or “the El”, runs east-west. The subway runs daily from 5am to 1am, but on Fridays and Saturdays, there are routes that run 24 hours. 

Buses

Catching a bus in Philadelphia is easy. There are more than 100 routes that serve several city neighbourhoods and destinations across southeastern Pennsylvania. Some of the buses in Philadelphia run 24 hours a day along SEPTA’s Night Owl bus routes.

Trolleys

Trams in Philadelphia used to be a major mode of transport, and the existing streetcars are a relic of an extensive trolley system that dates back to 1923. Eight lines remain, mostly operating in the city centre, between the city's main attractions and most popular neighbourhoods


Taxis in Philadelphia

Those wanting to get a cab in Philadelphia can do so quite easily. Taxis in Philadelphia vary in appearance. While there are classic yellow cabs, others are branded according to their company and some just have a light on the roof.

Taxis can be hailed from destinations such as bars and tourist attractions, although the most reliable option is reserving a cab online or by telephone. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber and Lyft are also operational in Philadelphia.


Driving in Philadelphia

Owning a car in Philadelphia isn't essential. The closer one moves towards Center City, the less likely it is that people own cars, given that public transport is efficient and parking is scarce and expensive. Under Pennsylvania state law, a valid foreign driver’s licence will be accepted for one year, provided that it hasn't expired. After a year, expats wanting to drive in Philadelphia will have to apply for a local licence. 


Cycling in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a remarkably bike-friendly city, with hundreds of miles of dedicated bike lanes as well as a bike-sharing system, Indigo. The programme is currently expanding and will consist of 350 stations around the city and more than 3,500 bikes available, once complete. Cycling is common as both a pastime and a mode of commute in Philadelphia.


Walking in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of the most walkable cities in the USA. This is especially true of Center City because of its grid layout. New inhabitants walking around this area of Philadelphia will notice a host of quirky “Walk! Philadelphia” signs to guide them around. The abundance of parks in the city also provides many a leafy spot to rest.