Between its miles of parks and trails, quality universities, fantastic foodie scene, and breweries, as well as high-performance sports teams, Philadelphia has plenty to offer. And although it doesn’t get the love that bigger coastal towns like New York and Los Angeles tend to receive, Philadelphia has a rich history, plenty of cultural clout, and is home to many diverse communities.
With so much to offer, you may be wondering: How much does it cost to live there?
Today, we’re breaking down the average cost of living in Philadelphia—taking a deep dive into average rent prices, utilities, childcare, and more—to arm you with the financial essentials you need to truly understand this wonderful city and what it takes to live there.
The financials of Philly living
According to Livingcost, a crowd-sourced database that indexes the cost of living for cities all over the world, the monthly price tag for a single person living in Philadelphia is $2,463 (including rent). All in all, this isn’t too shabby compared to its fancy neighbor, New York City, where your typical Joe will shell out $3,723 every four weeks on average.
Of course, if these numbers feel steep, there are ways to live cheaper and bring down your average cost of living—for example, exploring coliving as an option.
So, how does that average monthly expense break down? There are a number of lifestyle factors that will affect your cost of living, including:
- Groceries and restaurants
Let’s dig into each one to build context for the average cost of living in Philadelphia.
The cost of rent in Philadelphia
If you’re moving to the city known as the Birthplace of America, you can expect to pay at least $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and depending on location, you may pay more. For example, a one-bedroom in Center City (downtown Philadelphia) may run you closer to the $1,600 mark.
Either of these numbers is a bargain compared to a city like Oakland, California, where renters pay over $2000 per month, or New York City, where you can expect to pay over $3000 per month—doubling that of the Cradle of Liberty.1
Philadelphia transportation costs
Philly is home to one of the largest metropolitan train systems in the country: the glorious SEPTA or Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Business is booming for the railway, which boasted 146.9 million rides in the 2022 fiscal year.2 So, what is the average public transportation cost? Well, A one-way pass will cost you $2.50, and a monthly pass is $96, so if you’re able to live and work near the train, you can commute for around the price of a pretty nice date for two.
Unfortunately, SEPTA isn’t particularly far-reaching, so you may still need a car to get around, especially if you want to spend time exploring all the various neighborhoods the city has to offer. On the other hand, much of central Philadelphia is packed tight—a walk from City Hall to the trendy neighborhood clustered around Passyunk Square will take about 35 minutes—not a bad way to get your steps in for the day.
Another note about the trains—SEPTA encompasses both the subway in this big city and the commuter rails that stretch into communities like Doylestown and even as far as Newark, New Jersey. So, if you have family in East Brunswick heading to Atlantic City for a couple of nights, you can wipe out part of that journey on a low-cost (and low carbon emissions) car alternative.
The cost of utilities in Philly
According to Numbeo,3 residents can expect the average monthly cost of utilities to be $176 per month. Here’s what’s included in that figure:
An FYI for the renting crowd: In some cases, your landlord will shoulder the burden of some of these costs for you. In some cases, a landlord may keep the bills in their name and forward the costs each month. But it’s also not uncommon for real estate property owners to pick up the water bill, for example, and this may even be something you can negotiate before signing your lease.4
Additionally, internet costs will come out to about $60 per month, bringing the total for a well-operating space to a clean $236.
Do I have to pay for recycling services in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia has been home to a wonderfully efficient municipal recycling program for a couple decades now, and participating is as easy as leaving your recycling for curbside pickup on the day the truck is set to come down your street. (Find your exact day by entering your address on Phila.gov.)5
Recycling in Philadelphia is single-stream pickup, which means the city will give you a spacious blue bin in which to throw all your recyclable materials.6 That’s right, there’s no need to worry about sorting plastic containers from metal cans and so on—the plant will take care of that for you.
Food and restaurant costs
If you’re wondering what you’ll be spending each month at the market, the numbers skew a little high in comparison with the national average. A gallon of milk is around $4.36 across America, but in Philly, it’s been averaging over $5 in 2023.7
According to Livingcost, Philly folks spend about $636 on food each month and that includes restaurants. Square that with the fact that eating out can run a pretty penny in Philadelphia (trust us, it’s worth every penny). Like many big cities, especially post-pandemic, the cost of dining out is soaring.8
While the price of dining out is going up, there are still ways to indulge on the cheap. The iconic cheesesteak, for instance, offers a nice way to fill up without breaking the bank. And like many urban areas, Philadelphia prides itself on a diverse, eclectic, and high-quality offering of foods from all over the world—many of which can be obtained for affordable prices. A few examples of these delicacies include:
- Roast pork sandwiches
- Tomato pie
- Water ice
If you’re thinking about moving to Philly, plan on setting aside some of your disposable income for meals. Your stomach will thank you for it.
The cost of childcare
Livingcost says the average monthly price of daycare or childcare is $1,231. But there’s good news for parents: The city of Philadelphia has a program to subsidize childcare for its citizens, and it’s fairly generous.
Those interested must fill out an application and meet guidelines around income, hours spent at work or school, and other qualifying parameters. Head to the Department of Human Services to learn more.9
The price of homes in Philadelphia
If you’re not intending to rent, you may be wondering about the price of homes. Unfortunately, houses and real estate, in general, cost a lot in Philadelphia right now. According to a study conducted by Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, there isn’t a ton of inventory out there, especially since the pandemic, and mortgage rates are high.10
This is the double-edged sword of bad times for realty: homeowners aren’t selling, and homebuyers aren’t entering the market. The study also claims that the median price of a Philadelphia home is $210,000—not terrible if you can find a home to buy. While you might be tempted to continue your search in areas outside the city like Conshohocken, Drexel Hill, or nearby Jersey, home prices, unfortunately, aren’t softening in the suburbs right now, either.11
By the way—don’t take all this blustery news too hard. A recent analysis conducted by Florida Atlantic University says that most buyers in the country as a whole should put aside their picket fence dreams for now.12
Attain your Philly living dream with Common
As you’re contemplating a move to Philadelphia, it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into financially. Considering average rent prices, the cost of groceries, and the occasional fine dining experience, you can enjoy all the city has to offer on your budget.
To help you take the guesswork out of renting, Common is here to help.
With apartments equipped with design forward furniture and amenities, like in-unit laundry, furnished rooftops and cleaning services, in all of Philly’s best neighborhoods, Common offers a range of housing options that can match your budget. Explore our selection of private apartments and coliving spaces in Philadelphia.
Find your dream home in Philly today.
- CNBC. Rent prices keep rising—here are the 25 most expensive U.S. cities to rent a 1-bedroom apartment. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/28/the-25-most-expensive-us-cities-to-rent-a-1-bedroom-apartment.html
- Statista. Annual number of paid passengers transported by the Philadelphia transit authority (SEPTA) from 2012 to 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1294588/philadelphia-septa-network-total-annual-ridership/
- Numbeo. Cost of Living in Philadelphia. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Philadelphia
- Philadelphia Inquirer. Pennsylvania landlord and tenant rights. https://www.inquirer.com/philly-tips/tenant-rights-pennsylvania-ultilities-20201007.html
- City of Philadelphia. Find your trash and recycling collection day. https://www.phila.gov/services/trash-recycling-city-upkeep/find-your-trash-and-recycling-collection-day/#/
- Billy Penn at WHYY. Recycling in Philly: How to get a bin, what to put in it, and everything else you need to know. https://billypenn.com/2022/08/01/how-to-recycle-philadelphia-blue-bin-plastic-glass-cardboard/
- United States Department of Agriculture. Retail Milk Prices Report. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/RetailMilkPrices.pdf
- The Philadelphia Tribune. National study finds that Philly is an expensive spot for brunch. https://www.phillytrib.com/news/business/national-study-finds-that-philly-is-an-expensive-spot-for-brunch/article_80f1f67e-0273-5412-98f6-7c0e4b5d7ca2.html
- Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program. https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Children/Pages/Child-Care-Works-Program.aspx
- Drexel Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. Philadelphia’s Housing Market Continues to Decelerate in Q4. https://drexel.edu/~/media/Files/lindyinstitute/HousingReports/2022_Phila_HousingReport/2022Q4_MarketCommentary1.ashx?la=en
- Philadelphia Magazine. Buyers Find Themselves Increasingly Priced Out of the Suburbs, Too. https://www.phillymag.com/property/2022/07/25/suburban-housing-affordability/
- Florida Atlantic University. Housing Index Shows Why More Consumers Should Rent Rather Than Own. https://business.fau.edu/newsroom/press-releases/2022/more-consumers-should-rent-rather-than-own.php
- Livingcost.org. Cost of Living in Philadelphia, PA. https://livingcost.org/cost/united-states/pa/philadelphia
- CBS News Philadelphia. Thousands in Philly spending half or more of their paychecks on rent. https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/news/thousands-in-philly-spending-half-or-more-of-their-paychecks-on-rent/