A $160,000 house in Port Richmond? A quarter million dollars for a house in University City?
In recent months, I have been looking at some of the real estate ads for houses and apartments in the city, and my jaw drops every time I see the prices.
I know someone who, for that kind of money, got himself a decent house in Boca Raton, Fla. He has a canal behind his yard, is located 10 minutes away from a beach and the weather is warm all year long.
The problem with Philadelphia real estate is that many of these houses are just average row homes containing the usual drawbacks. Some of them may be renovated, but as far as space goes, urban Philadelphia residences are much smaller than the average suburban home.
Also, with a row or even a twin house, it’s very common to hear neighbors through the walls – incessant sounds of children screaming or some idiot making banging noises for an unknown reason come to mind – which also adds to the unpleasantness.
With these expensive prices, one would think that if nothing else, these houses and apartments would have some of the most amazing interiors the world has ever known.
Perhaps something fancy or ultra-modern like the house featured on the Philly version of The Real World would be worth the cost.
Common sights include tiny kitchens that are more like cubicles and dungeon-like basements with stone floors and crumbling walls.
Most row homes don’t have much accompanying land either. Back yards tend to be as small as the front lawns, if there even are yards.
For several hundred thousand dollars, it is only reasonable to become the owner of a decent chunk of land that comes with a pool, garden, basketball net, a nice patio set, etc.
Most of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods contain an abundance of expensive housing. The main reasons for skyrocketing housing costs, according to real estate advertisements, are renovations and because as a resident, you will be exposed to city life.
I’m sure the ads refer to the idea that one will be immersed in a culturally diverse area or that one can simply enjoy the hustle and bustle that is so common in metropolitan areas. Wow, I’m impressed.
I suppose it’s the city life factor that really makes Philadelphia’s exorbitantly priced homes worthwhile.
However, the many negative factors affecting life in Philadelphia seem to be forgotten. The city can be noisy to the point of aggravation and is always polluted to some degree.
Then there is traffic. There’s something about going 50 yards in 10 minutes that seems unappealing and the traffic lights and stop signs at every corner don’t help much either.
Walking around in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic is bothersome as well.
Where is the joy in being harassed by bums begging for change or people handing out fliers for something you’ll never buy or go to?
What is so spectacular about having the sidewalks constantly blocked by clusters of people moving at a snail’s pace?
All things considered, there is no way that living in Philadelphia is worth even a $150,000 investment, not by a long shot.
If anything, this city’s outrageous prices put suburban housing in a favorable light.
I am not a big fan of the suburbs, but if it is going to cost over $150,000 for a decent place in the city, it seems far more logical to use that money to live in a less congested area that is cleaner, has plenty of green spots and for a house that is not attached to others on both sides.
Be honest. If you had hundreds of thousands of dollars at your disposal to buy a house, would you spend it all on some slightly improved row home? I certainly wouldn’t.
Tim Lovett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.