Relocating to Philly? Learn about the local culture and history, and you'll be ordering cheesesteaks like a local in no time whatsoever.

Are you a new transplant to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love? Welcome! Relocating to a new place can always be disorienting, so it helps to have a guide to teach you what you need to know about your new home. Philadelphia is unique in that it’s a big city with a small-town feel, owing to the uniqueness of its 25 neighborhoods and the pride that residents take in the place where they live. Here’s a primer to The City That Loves You Back.


House and Home

When you think of living in a big, East Coast city, you probably think that expensive housing and a high sot of living are just part of the deal. Philadelphia distinguishes itself from New York and Boston in terms of its relative affordability. Costs are naturally higher in Center City (which is what Philadelphia calls its “downtown”), but the mean house value in Philly is $130,000 – not crazy at all. If you are thinking about relocating to the East Coast, Philly can be a very manageable option for big city life.


No wheels? No problem.

If you are moving here, you might want to consider getting rid of your car. Traffic is horrendous in most of the city, and finding parking can be next to impossible. If you do find a space, it’s likely that you’ll come back out to a parking ticket due to you having violated some small, partially-obscured street sign that says something like: “No Parking from 12 am – 12 pm every other weekday and on Sundays.” Philadelphia has a great public transportation system, and is very friendly to walkers and bikers. Going carless will also save you money on gas, maintenance costs, registration, and (possibly) parking.


History and Culture

Philadelphia is a city rich in history. Sure, you know about the Liberty Bell and the Constitution and Betsy Ross’s house, but did you know that Philadelphia has led the country in several other areas? The first wave of industrialization, immigration from Europe, and the Great Migration all have their roots in Philly. In terms of more recent history, hip hop was born on the streets of urban Philadelphia.


Talking Like a Local

Philadelphia has its own lingo. Sprinkles (like you put on ice cream) are “jimmies.” The sauce you put on spaghetti is called gravy. Italian ice is water ice, pronounced “wooder.” Cat got your tongue? If you can’t name it, or can’t be bothered to come up with an accurate-sounding noun, it’s a “jawn.”


Museums and Colleges Everywhere

Philadelphia is saturated in museums and universities. As a result, it is one of the most cultured cities in America. Of course, you know about the Philadelphia Museum of Art with its famous “Rocky steps,” but did you know about the Mütter Museum, which is dedicated to medical oddities? There is also the Rodin Museum, the Barnes Foundation, the Institute of Contemporary Art and many, many more. As for schools, Philadelphia is one giant college town. There’s the University of Pennsylvania, of course, along with 85 colleges, universities, and technical schools, which makes it the nation’s largest per capita concentration of higher education institutions.


Every type of “-ball”

Like sports? You’ve come to the right place. From the Smart Asset website: “The Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies are a big deal in the City of Brotherly Love. Not into football or baseball? The Philadelphia Flyers represent the city in the NHL and the 76ers rep Philly in the NBA. If you like sports, you’ll feel right at home in Philadelphia.”


The Wit Behind Wit’ and Wit’out

Cheesesteaks are forever associated with Philadelphia, and with good reason: if you are a meat-eater, they are delicious. Not exactly heart-healthy, but then again, what good food is? The tourists flock to Pat’s or Geno’s, but hit up your new neighbors: they are most likely to be able to point you at the local dive that has the best sandwiches around. Cheesesteaks are ordered by the type of cheese you want, and whether you want it with or without onions. Cheez Whiz makes for the most authentic experience, but other types are acceptable. For example: “One, Whiz, wit'” or “One, provolone, wit’out.” Sidle up to the crowd along the ordering window and you’ll have it down in no time flat.


Getting Out

Sure, you love the city, but sometimes you just want to get away. Philadelphia is serendipitously located within a couple hours’ drive or train ride away from some great destinations, including the Shore (Atlantic Ocean), The Pocono Mountains, New York City, and Washington DC. All of these can be accessed by public transportation, by the way. For a different spin on Pennsylvania big city life, there’s also Pittsburgh, but we generally like to talk about that as little as possible.

In short, if you’re relocating to Philadelphia, you will quickly realize that the city has its own culture and atmosphere. It is deeply welcoming, however, and you will likely feel right at home in no time at all!

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