If you ask real estate and leasing professionals in the Philadelphia Area about their business today, they will tell you New Yorkers make up a large percentage of their leads. The numbers support their experience. According to the U.S. Census, New Yorkers are relocating to Philadelphia at a much higher rate than the reverse, and while many are currently crediting COVID, the migration started long before, with Philadelphia having a net gain of 1,100 residents from “The Big Apple” between 2014-2018.
While we don’t have the 2020 migration data from the Census yet to measure COVID’s true impact on the NYC-to-Philly migration, it may be more about space than safety. “I think COVID has caused the trend to accelerate as people from New York who can now work from home can save huge amounts of money by moving to Philly,” says Adrian Ponsen, Director of Market Analytics – Philadelphia, for CoStar Group, who owns Apartments.com.
“I think COVID has caused the trend to accelerate as people from New York who can now work from home can save huge amounts of money by moving to Philly,” says Adrian Ponsen, Director of Market Analytics – Philadelphia, for CoStar Group, who owns Apartments.com.
Adam Boxman, a Realtor with the High Performance Real Estate Network at Realty One Group Legacy in Doylestown, is working with several clients from cities since COVID started – his agency has seen a significant increase in leads overall from urban dwellers, specifically New York City. “They’ve been cooped up for so long,” shares the seasoned agent of 15 years serving Bucks and Montgomery County. “They are seeing how much square footage they can get in the Philadelphia Area, and they are enamored by it.”
Philadelphia County’s average rental rate was $1,405 and $1,705 for a 1- and 2-bedroom apartment, respectively; whereas, it was $2,890 and $3,965 for NYC’s five boroughs at the end of Q3, according to Apartments.com. They report locals make up 69% of the Philadelphia Area’s active rental market, but 10% of the search sessions are coming from New York City.
Andrea Desy Edrei, Managing Partner and Co-founder of BlackLabel Keller Williams, who has been serving the Philadelphia market since 2003 and both Philly and NYC since 2014 says while most New York City transplants love the quality of life in Philadelphia and the lower cost of living, they are not moving due to COVID or cost savings alone. “They have roots here – family or friends, there’s a college or job connection. The people who are moving to Philly have some connection to Philly,” Edrei says.
“They have roots here – family or friends, there’s a college or job connection. The people who are moving to Philly have some connection to Philly,” Edrei says.
When you talk to new Philadelphia residents by way of New York City, it seems all these factors combined played a role in their reason to relocate from New York City to Philadelphia.
Tamar Wolinsky, who now rents an apartment at The Franklin Residences in Center City Philadelphia with her husband Alex Ettinger, relocated to Philadelphia from New York in June because she was matched for her internal medicine residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. “We loved living in New York during our 20s, but for this next phase of life, we wanted to live somewhere that had the food and culture we loved about New York City, but also felt more manageable and more affordable,” Wolinsky says. “We were also looking to be closer to family in the Philadelphia Area.”
After living in New York City for five years, Paige Welton was craving more green space and decided to finally make a move when she was approved to work remotely. “I started apartment hunting in February, but I waited until April when my lease expired,” she says. “It was a coincidence I moved during the pandemic because I decided to do so long before that.” Welton now rents an apartment in Montgomery County, PA. “I already had really close friends living in Philly, and it was close enough that I could go back and visit my friends in NYC,” she says.
“I already had really close friends living in Philly, and it was close enough that I could go back and visit my friends in NYC,” Welton says.
Despite COVID, Wolinsky and Welton are getting out a little and safely enjoying their new neighborhoods. “We love spending time outdoors in the many parks in Philadelphia, going to great museums like The Barnes Foundation, and trying new restaurants – we especially love Morimoto right across from The Franklin Residences,” Wolinsky says. “I’ve mostly been enjoying the abundance of nature,” says Welton. "Taking my dog to play in the dog park or for walks around the track across the street or over the foot bridge. We've met a lot of nice neighbors – human and dog.”