When I first moved to Philly, I had a month of free corporate housing. After that, I had to move into my own place. Thirty days/4 weeks sounds like a lot of time, but it flies by when one has moved to a strange city thousands of miles away.
A casual survey of my co-workers concluded that I should live in either Center City or South Philly. If I was feeling particularly brave, I could move to Northern Liberties. Since I did not have a car at that point, I decided on Center City. This was not the best decision. I paid a lot of money for a room in an apartment with others (strangers from Craigslist). I lived just off of South Street, which meant nonstop drunken mayhem outside my window. On the positive side, public transportation wasn’t terribly inaccessible (the orange line–necessary for getting to the Navy Yard–was a 13 block walk from my front door). I could ride my bike into the most central part of Center City fairly easily. Walking around at night wasn’t too creepy. But after my boyfriend moved in, I realized just how terrible my apartment was. We were crammed into a tiny room in an apartment without comfortable common areas. Even after he moved out, I knew that it wasn’t going to work for me.
And so, I moved to Port Richmond (Northeast Philly). Whoa. My house is great–completely cheap for its size and niceness. But the neighborhood is well, not so nice. Dangerous. Prone to fires. Broken glass everywhere. My block really isn’t that terrible (minus the huge fire last week). My block captain keeps a close eye on everyday activities. And every other weekend, the entire block is cleaned. In fact, the houses that burned down last week were the residences of the loudest, most violent people on my block. And they are gone now.
But still, I feel isolated from the rest of the world. Trees are few and far between (at least I have that peach tree in my backyard). I have to use my car a lot more than I want.
I’ve been hanging out in West Philly lately, and I realize that it is a good match for me. Trees, vegans, bicycles…it sounds great. Plus, a huge house can be rented for cheap. Janelle and I discussed this last night (while playing Boggle at the Satellite)…it just seems like a logical fit for both of us. Center City is a lot closer and more accessible in West Philly than it is in Fishtown/Port Richmond. We could take the trolley/train to work. Bicycling at night seems safe there (not the case where we live). There are lot of places to hang out and new people to meet. A survey of listings on Craigslist proved that we could afford a nice 4 bedroom house without paying more rent than we pay right now.
Schemes are gaining momentum. Look for us to be relocating to West Philly in late fall. Expect super-fun house parties and Bogglympics.