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Housing Overview

This section provides you with an overview of some of the housing options in Philadelphia. The 2009 Wharton Housing Guide.pdf provides neighborhood descriptions, housing option pros and cons, listings of useful resources, and a detailed review of the apartments most popular among Wharton students.

We have some photos of popular Center City buildings and a few brownstones available here:

There are many students who are leaving who would like their apartment and furniture to be taken over by an incoming student. Please check here for details: Apartment and Furniture Sales

Also, WharTown is an online maps guide to help incoming Wharton MBA students prepare for school life in Philadelphia. It contains Wharton student generated content on housing and city essentials.

Center City Map

Most Wharton MBA students live in Center City, the downtown neighborhood that surrounds Rittenhouse Square. Most students who live in Center City live west of Broad Street (14th – 25th), though a small minority does live east of Broad. Other neighborhood options include University City/West Philadelphia (near campus), the Art Museum area (north of Center City), Antique Row/Old City (east of Center City), and the surrounding suburbs.

Student decision regarding which area to live in is largely based on commuting times. Students in the city will primarily walk or use public transportation. Students in University City are more likely to walk. Students living in the suburbs will either drive or take the train to campus.



Typical Ways of Commuting to Campus

 

Walk

Bus/ Train

Taxi

Bike

Car*

All Students

29%

43%

10%

13%

1%

 

Commuting Time (in min)

 

 

Walk

Bus

Subway

Bike

Car*

Center City - West of Broad Street

10-35 5-25 5-25 10-20 3-15

Center City - East of Broad Street

35 - ? 20-30 15-30 15-25 10-20

University City - On campus

1-10 N/A N/A N/A N/A

University City - Off campus

3-15 N/A N/A 2-5 N/A

Art Museum Area

30-35 15-30 15-20 12-20 10-15

Suburbs

N/A N/A 30-60 N/A 15-60




TIPS

As you begin your housing exploration, keep in mind a few things:

Timing

The Philadelphia rental market usually allows bookings 60 days in advance; however, high-rise apartments sometimes know their availability sooner. At some of the more popular buildings, you may have to place your name on a waiting list two or three months in advance of your move-in date. The best advice is to be persistent. Call the rental agents often because things change quickly.

Connecting with Current Students

If you know first or second years, talk to them! They can give you candid advice regarding different housing options (city vs. suburb, apartment building vs. brownstone, etc.), how to best negotiate leases, as well as any information about second years’ apartments which will be coming available. Graduating second years are known for selling furniture, books, and even plants to incoming students at great discounts. Welcome Weekend will give you multiple opportunities to speak with current students and view apartments.

Above all – DO NOT PANIC!

Many students find their housing in June, July, or even August -- there are always good apartments to be found, if you do a comprehensive search.





NEIGHBORHOODS

On Campus Housing

The single Penn housing option available to Wharton students is Sansom Place West, located at 36th and Chestnut Streets.

Sansome Place West

Advantages:
24 hour security
Very close to school
On-site computer center
Option to rent for just 9 months
Fully furnished

Disadvantages:
Few MBA students in such housing
Distance from social scene in Center City
Dorm-like feel
Aesthetics - cinder block
Per-month rent is relatively expensive









University City/West Philadelphia

University City is the area between the Schuylkill River and the University of Pennsylvania. West Philadelphia is the area immediately west of the University of Pennsylvania. This area has become more popular in recent years as Penn has focused on developing the area around the University. A new movie theater and grocery store have both opened at 40th and Walnut, as well as several restaurants. Additionally, The Left Bank, a loft-style apartment building, opened a few years ago at 3131 Walnut, draws around 30 Wharton students each year. Some students have also bought houses in West Philadelphia, viewing it as a good investment.

Advantages:
Potentially inexpensive housing option
Convenience - close to school
More street parking available

Disadvantages:
Few MBA students in such housing
Distance from social scene in Center City
Quality and safety of housing varies from block to block







Center City

For our purposes, Center City is defined as the area bordered by the Schuylkill River to the west, Broad Street (14th Street) to the east, South Street to the south, and JFK Boulevard to the north. (The black square area above.) This area includes one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Philadelphia and includes a number of Wharton haunts. In addition, Center City includes Rittenhouse Square’s high-end shopping and restaurant district. The greatest density of Wharton students is clustered around Rittenhouse Square, which is marked by Walnut Street, 18th Street, Rittenhouse West, and Rittenhouse South.

There are a variety of both apartment buildings and brownstone options to choose from, and virtually any building that you choose will also house other Wharton students. The streets south of Walnut (Locust, Van Pelt, Spruce, Delancey, Pine) are more residential than the streets north of Walnut (Chestnut, Market, JFK). Center City locations are about a 25-40 minute walk or 10-15 minute public transportation or bike ride to campus.

Center City

Advantages:
Most Wharton MBA students live in Center City
Serviced by Penn’s night shuttle service
Proximity to shopping, social, and cultural activities

Disadvantages:
Distance from school
Parking can be difficult and expensive
Can be more expensive closer to Rittenhouse Square







Art Museum Area

The Art Museum region extends along the Ben Franklin Parkway beginning near City Hall and ending at the Philadelphia Art Museum. There are some nice high-rises and houses in this area. It is slightly farther away from school than Center City, but is a nice place to live if you want a little more space and easy access to Fairmont Park. Travel time to campus is 20 minutes by bike and 20 minutes by bus or subway.

Advantages:
Possible to get more value for the money
Proximity to Art Museum and Fairmont Park
Most buildings offer parking, but check prices
Most high-rise buildings provide shuttle services

Disadvantages:
Distance from school
Distance from social scene/team meetings in Center City
Not serviced by Penn’s night shuttle service
Fewer other MBA students in such housing









Old City

Old City is the area from Vine Street to Chestnut Street, 5th Street to the waterfront. Housing in the area is primarily brownstones, with shops, galleries or restaurants on the bottom floor. First Friday takes place in Old City – an event that takes place the first Friday of every month in which galleries open their doors to the public offering free wine and snacks. While this is a fun area to explore, and an appealing area to live if you were simply a resident of Philadelphia, the distance of Old City from Wharton reduces its appeal considerably.

Advantages:
Urban, artist neighborhood
Lots of galleries, boutiques and great restaurants
Close to Philadelphia nightlife scene
Historic neighborhood

Disadvantages:
Fairly far from school
Very few other MBA students in such housing
Distance from social scene/team meetings in Center City
Not serviced by Penn’s night shuttle service









Antique Row

Antique Row is the area around Locust, Spruce, Pine, and Lombard bordered by 12th Street on the west and 6th Street on the east. While this area is slightly further from campus, Antique Row is an appealing option for students who seek a charming neighborhood setting with small shops and cafes. Prices in this area may be lower than those in Rittenhouse Square.

Advantages:
Charming neighborhood feel
Relatively cheaper than Rittenhouse Square area

Disadvantages:
Distance from school
Very few other MBA students in such housing
Distance from social scene/team meetings in Center City
Not serviced by Penn’s night shuttle service









Philadelphia Suburbs

Some students, particularly those with families, those with spouses who work outside of Philadelphia, and those who plan to remain in Philadelphia after graduation, decide to live in the suburbs. The towns in the western suburbs along the Main Line such as Bala Cynwyd, Narberth, and Wynnewood are close to campus (20 minute direct commuter train ride) and can be particularly attractive because the public school systems in these towns are very good. Germantown, Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Roxborough, Overbrook, Cityline, Narberth, and Wynnefield are close to campus as well. It is also possible to find apartments and houses for rent in these areas.

Advantages:
Good value and lots of space
High quality public schools
Given priority for Penn parking spaces

Disadvantages:
Few other MBA students in such housing
Distance from school
Distance from social scene/team meetings in Center City







Chestnut Hill

With a charming country village atmosphere and located in the northwestern corner of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill today is one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods and is registered as a National Historic District. It also enjoys the sophistication of ‘big-city’ cultural events and institutions. Chestnut Hill has a symphony orchestra, art museum, local theater group, park concert series and Bach Festival.

There are several train stations throughout the Chestnut Hill area. A one-way train ride into 30th Street station on the SEPTA regional rail system R7 or R8 lines takes about 25 minutes. If you plan to drive, allow 40 minutes to get to campus during rush hour, about 25 minutes at other times.

The Main Line

The residential Main Line area extends northwest of Center City and includes the towns Wynnewood, Narberth, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Villanova, and Devon arranged along Lancaster Avenue, northwest of City Line Avenue. This is an especially attractive area for families due to the number of nice parks and convenient shopping areas. The drive to campus takes about 15-20 minutes from Wynnewood and about 45-60 minutes from Devon, plus a 10-minute walk from the parking area to class. Alternatively, you can take the SEPTA R5 line to 30th Street Station (about a 20-40 minute ride depending on where you get on), then switch to the R1, 2,or 3 to University City (for free) or take the subway to 37th Street and Spruce.





HOUSING TYPES

For the most part, Wharton students live in either professionally managed apartment buildings (high, mid, low rises), brownstones, or houses.

Professionally Managed Buildings

Professionally-managed apartment buildings (High-, Mid-, and Low-Rises) can be found in any neighborhood, though there are more buildings available in Center City.

High Rise Building

Advantages:
Easier to secure leases in advance
24-hour doormen
No/fewer surprises when moving in
Proximity to other Wharton students
Centrally located and/or shuttle service

Disadvantages:
Tend to be more expensive
Less space for the money









Brownstones

Finding a brownstone takes a little patience. You can find listings in local Philly papers or craigslist, by contacting individual landlords (some will be listed in the WWW Housing Guide 2006), or by contacting realtors. Be prepared to act fast if you see something that you like - they go fast. Don’t get frustrated though. Traditionally, many students don’t find anything until June and sometimes even August.

Brownstone

Advantages:
Historic buildings w/ high ceilings, hardwood floors, etc.
Potentially more reasonable rents
More space for equivalent or cheaper rent

Disadvantages:
No doormen; potential safety concerns
No elevators; problematic bringing bikes up stairs
Street parking difficult; few have garages







Houses

If you are interested in a house for rent versus an apartment, your search will be a little harder, but not impossible. Again, you can find houses in all neighborhoods, but most are in University City/West Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Real estate agents and the Philadelphia Weekly are the best sources for information. Like with brownstones, you will need to move fast in order to get a good place. Expect to pay more for a home that has a garage. Another way to find a single-family home is to find a Wharton second year student who is leaving. This can be done by going online through the Wharton e-talk room, or going on the housing tour during Welcome Weekend. Some second years will open up their homes to those desiring takeover of the lease. If you plan to do this, make sure you bring your checkbook!





RESOURCES

Please visit these websites for useful information on apartments and utilities.

Wharton/Penn

Off-Campus Housing: Penn’s Office of Off-Campus Living (OCL) assists students and serves as a liaison between the University and those living off-campus. The Office maintains an interactive database of available rentals, updated daily. Roommate searches can also be performed. Other resources include consumer information about leases, utilities, safety, transportation, temporary housing and finances. OCL also reviews leases and counsels tenants who have questions or are involved in landlord/tenant disputes. When serious problems regarding your tenancy and the condition of your apartment exist, you can file a complaint with OCL.

On-Campus Housing: Penn's Department of Housing and Conference Services has all the information you need to apply for on-campus housing at Sansom Place West.

Wharton Partners Club: Find information specifically for Wharton Partners including a Survival Guide as well as a Moving Guide.

Wharton Kids Club: Information for Wharton students with children with its own guide to surviving Wharton with kids.


General Classifieds/Apartment Websites

Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Inquirer
Craigslist
The Daily Pennsylvanian
RentNet
The Apartment Guide
Apartments.com


Student Perspectives

"Philadelphia is a great city. It's a wonderful mix of the colonial history in Old City and the modern and chic places to hang out in Center City. You're near DC and New York but on the flip side, you don't need to leave here to do something fun."
-- Lee Bressler, WG'10


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