Center City, or the downtown area of Philadelphia, can be an exciting place to work and live for many young working professionals. A bustling metropolis of skyscrapers, high end dining, designer retail stores, and a diverse, urban environment steeped in history, Center City exudes an infectious energy.
However, with its ‘big city’ vibes, Center City can be one of the most expensive places to live in Philadelphia, especially for young working professionals. Housing in Center City consists largely of townhouses and walk-ups, which offer the most spacious living arrangements, yet come at steep prices, in many cases as much as $3,000 a month.
Center City also has a wide selection of luxury high rise apartment buildings, which offer best in class amenities, but will range in price from $1,799 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment that is less than 600 square feet, all the way up to $4,500 a month for a 1-bedroom in a building outfitted with a fitness room, rooftop deck, and luxury finishes.
As a result, it is common for young working professionals to flock to University City, just on the other side of the river, to find affordable housing without compromising their desire to live within an urban setting.
University City is a unique neighborhood in West Philadelphia that acts as a hub for academia, entrepreneurship, technology and biomedical research and development. Many of the top universities and institutions in the country and the world can be found in University City including:
- University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) – An Ivy League school with 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The very first university in the U.S., University of Pennsylvania alumni include billionaires like Warren Buffet and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
- Drexel University – A research university founded in 1891, Drexel University houses over 24,000 students, and is ranked as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans in the U.S., Best Value Schools, and Best Schools for Internship and Work Placement.
- University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (USciences) – Specializing in biomedical research and related sciences, the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia has one of the leading pharmacy schools in the Philadelphia.
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) – CHOP is the first hospital dedicated to infant and child healthcare in the country, that has earned Honor Roll year after year in its pediatric care programs, and most recently is undergoing a multi-billion dollar expansion.
- Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) – HUP is a world-renowned clinical and research hospital, consistently ranked among the best in the country.
- Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC) – PPMC is a general hospital that acts as a leader in the country in coronary care and robotic-assisted surgery.
Furthermore, in recent years, Philadelphia has been dubbed the next major capital for innovation, after the Silicon Valley, and University City happens to be the heart of that activities. As such, as a young professional, University City offers the same if not a greater sense of buzz and excitement that one can experience while living in Center City.
Alt-text: The University City Lofts in University City are the best choice of apartments near Center City for graduate students and young working professionals.
Why Professionals Love University City
The true reason young professionals love living in University City, though, is seamless balance between community, convenience, affordability, and urbanity that is achieved within its small 2.4-mile radius all within just a short distance to Center City.
First and foremost, professionals love how University City is a foodie paradise. The area has earned the number one spot as Philadelphia’s “best food neighborhood” by PhillyMag.com and for good reason. Despite its small size there are over 285 restaurants in University City, and something for everyone no matter their taste buds. An IPA from a craft brewery, vegan Philly cheesesteaks, authentic French pastries, Southern classics, to a full range of Asian fare which together create an enviable food scene professionals love.
Furthermore, University City is a paradise for walkers and bicyclists, earning top rankings by WalkScore.com. The area holds almost 25 miles of dedicated bike lanes that professionals can use to whisk anywhere throughout the city, as well as the local surrounding areas. Additionally, walking is a breeze with wide sidewalks, tree-lined streets, and a cornucopia of public parks and green spaces available for casual strolling, relaxation, or exercise.
University City is also home to the 30th Street Station, which transports millions of people through bus, rail, subway, Amtrak and trolley, to Center City, as well as the furthest destinations imaginable such as New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Manhattan, Boston, and Buffalo. As the third-busiest rail station in the U.S. the 30th Street Station provides young professionals, especially those not originally from the area world class transportation convenience.
Lastly, no matter your mode of transportation, University City is within very close proximity to Center City, providing professionals the ability to enjoy the metropolis without too stressful of a community. By bike, Center City is a mere 15 minutes away. There are multiple local transportation lines offered by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, that bring passengers to Center City in under 15 minutes. Even a nice 30-minute leisurely stroll down and along Market Street will bring professionals to the face of Liberty Bell.
Overall, this unique combination of a conveniently close location to downtown, a dense urban environment, and a culture of food, art, and diversity, is why professionals choose University City when seeking the best apartments near Center City.
Alt-text: Despite being on the west side of the river, University City is a quick 15-minute ride from the heart of Center City by bus, bike, subway, and trolley making it one of the best areas to find affordable apartments for young professionals.
Best Apartments in University City
Fortunately, compared to its Center City counterpart, there is a greater variety of housing options that young professionals can choose from in University City, each largely dependent on what neighborhood you decide to live in:
- Cedar Park, Squirrel Hill – Within these sleepier neighborhoods of University City, housing largely consists of single-family row homes and apartment buildings dating back several decades with modest renovations. Predominately working-class areas, apartments of a larger size can be found for $1,300 to $1,974 a month, however, parking, air conditioning, and appliances are not always guaranteed.
- Garden Court – As the smallest neighborhood in University City, characterized by historic row houses, gated yards, and tree lined streets, apartments in Garden Court are limited to one building: the Garden Court Plaza Apartments. While the apartments have undergone varying levels of renovation over the years, the building itself has chronic issues due to deferred maintenance, which make the average rents of $1,500 a month not palpable for the average working professional looking for the best apartment near Center City.
- Walnut Hill – A more residential neighborhood in University City with sparse big box retail stores, apartments in Walnut Hill are commonly multi-story rowhomes or pre-war garden style apartments that average around $800 a month. However, the area is increasingly undergoing gentrification, therefore, newly renovated or constructed apartment buildings.
- Powelton Village – In Powelton Village the northernmost enclave of University City, housing for young professionals is confined to mostly red brick row houses that are rented out on a monthly basis; soaring Victorian single-family homes that are subdivided into shareable living spaces; as well as a few renovated apartments. However, because they are rare in number, finding apartments in the area can be a hit or miss or a pricey average $1,500 a month for a studio.
- Campus Core – Within the core area of University City directly adjacent to the UPenn campus, housing is mostly high rise, luxury apartments, such as like Evo at Cira Centre, The Radian, The Chestnut, The Left Bank, The Axis, Domus, 3601 Market and The Hamilton. Many of the most highly rated apartments in University City are also found around the Campus Core like 3737 Chestnut, a 22-story building which offers panoramic views of the area, floor to ceiling windows, and amenities like game rooms, pools, and fitness centers. These apartments, however, come at steep prices, as studios alone can start at $1,890 a month therefore may not necessarily make the best apartments near Center City for young professionals seeking affordability.
- West Powelton – Northwest of the Campus Core of University City, lies West Powelton, the ‘hipster’ area, where warehouses converted into art galleries, coffee shops, and breweries is all too common. Housing for young professionals in this area ranges from the rental of individual townhome units or shared housing within historical Victorian homes, to newly renovated apartments in older buildings with amenities on par with what you would find in the campus core. Looking at the best buildings in West Powelton, like the Good Food Flats, Kensho, 335 Housing, and the local favorite University City Lofts, rents average between $1,400 to $1,600 a month for sizeable one bedroom apartments. More notably, unlike any other part of University City, street parking is much more readily available in this area.
Therefore, when it comes to finding affordable, yet luxurious housing in University City, the best apartments for professionals who work in Center City can be found in the West Powelton neighborhood.
Best Apartments Near Center City: The University City Lofts
For young working professionals in the Philadelphia area, the University City Lofts are the best apartments near Center City that provide superior amenities at affordable prices.
A newly renovated building offering 19 apartment homes, residents at the University City Lofts enjoy an array of features including air conditioning, windows in every bedroom, modern kitchens with breakfast bars and stainless-steel appliances, in unity washer and dryer units, as well as fully updated, spacious bathrooms with deep soak bathtubs for ultimate relaxation.
More importantly, the University City Lofts prides itself in being the best apartments near Center City that offer a close-knit communal feel. There are numerous spaces within the building, such as the co-working space, rooftop deck with views of the area, and a barbecue patio, around which past residents have been known to form friendships and bonds with their neighbors.
The convenience factor when living at University City Loft also cannot be overlooked. Within a 15-minute walking radius of the University City Lofts, residents can easily transport themselves to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Drexel University, and University of Pennsylvania.
Furthermore, steps from the building is the SEPTA Route 10 subway-surface trolley station, running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the entire year, which ensures young professionals working in the heart of Center City always have a direct, safe route home.
Situated in one of the safest neighborhoods of University City, West Powelton, the University City Lofts further invite young working professionals to immerse themselves in a diverse, artistic community. An area known to attract artists, creatives, and academics, West Powelton and resultantly residents at University City Loft have an abundant choice of bars, restaurants, and cafes to choose from when it comes to work or leisure.
Whether you are a young working professional, graduate student, fellow, medical resident, or PhD candidate, the University City Lofts are the best apartments near Center City.
Book you very own private tour of the University City Lofts today at: www.universitycitylofts.com.