Even though I have lived in Philadelphia for more than a year, I still go back home to New York City at least two weekends every month.
Thanks to the folks at New Century Travel (a.k.a. the Chinese bus, $10 round-trip from Philly to Manhattan, the broke student’s best friend), I travel to NYC often and end up defending moving to Philly nearly every time.
And you know what?
Philly can compete with New York just fine. Here’s why:
1. Cost of living – I am 21 years old, putting myself through school by working a big bad 24 hours a week.
My roommates and I pay $720 a month for a gigantic three-bedroom near the Italian Market.
My protion, $240 a month, means that I have enough money to pay rent, pay bills, buy groceries and go out three times a week.
Not bad, considering $240 in NYC won’t even buy half of a studio apartment.
2. Yuengling – In New York, Yuengling is a premium beer that costs as much as Yards or Red Hook costs here.
So, when you buy a few 6-packs to sneak into your underage dorm room at Temple Towers to share with the kids from your Anthro class, just think, people in Brooklyn pay $15 for the privilege.
3. Bikeability – One day I biked from Cecil B. Moore Avenue and 12th Street, to Baltimore Avenue and 42nd Street, and from there to Snyder Avenue and 3rd Street.
Total time? Three hours.
I crossed half the city on uncrowded streets, took bike lanes most of the way there and never had one near run-in with a car or pedestrian.
Manhattan bikers would kill for how easy we have it.
4. Murals – We’ve got murals.
Lots of them.
Patty Labelle in West Philly gazing benevolently upon you.
The peace mural in Greys Ferry to makes you say, “Aww.”
The history of feminism mural under the Market Street bridge.
Even a Frank Rizzo mural in South Philly for you to shoot paintballs at.
5. Other Stuff – Ed Rendell.
The feeling of living in a half-college town, half-slum.
The never-ending quest for a decent bagel.
Cheap ethnic grocery stores you don’t have to ride the subway to.
Smoking in restaurants.
Not paying $6.50 for a pack of smokes.
Cheesesteaks, carnitas tortas and Vietnamese subs – all on the same block.
When considering these things, Philly ain’t so bad.
Not bad at all.
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org