Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why are creative businesses choosing Philadelphia today?

Center City, Philadelphia

Well, there are lots of reasons (as stated in this article), but as someone who also works for a local, Philadelphia-based business and lives in Philadelphia, I have reasons of my own.

As a real estate agent, people are constantly asking me what their homes are worth, or how real estate is faring. "I live in Ocean City, NJ. How's the market doing?" To answer that question is very hard, because there is technically no such thing as the market. Real estate is segmented, and broken down into many markets (or sub-markets); even more so with large metropolitan areas, where neighborhoods can change quickly due to high-density development.

As an agent, I can always go to the MLS, look at comparable sales in your area (Active, Pending, and Sold), ask a few basic questions, and get a general sense of what your home is worth (within a range). But it really isn't until I actually see your home, understand its condition, and know what features drive your local sub-market, that I can truly feel confident about a professional opinion of value. And remember, it's still an opinion; even licensed appraisers have an allowable margin of error.

The same can be said for Philadelphia.

There are still people in the US (and even the world) today that think Philadelphia looks exactly as it did in Rocky 1. Industrial, desolate, and hanging on for dear life. Philadelphia, just like any other major, industrial US city, went through deindustrialization. The changes caused jobs to leave, the population to decrease, and the city to become under served.

Well, time to wake up.

Philadelphia may still have some warts (just like Boston, NYC, and DC), but the city is changing for the better, and continues to do so everyday.

There are 3 general reasons why I feel creative companies feel strongly about setting up shop in the City of Brotherly Love (again, just a personal opinion from a local real estate agent):

1) Philadelphia has a great location. Just like in real estate (where the 3 rules are location, location, and location), one of the most important things going for cities these days is location. Modern urbanites want access to options. Whether those options are beaches, mountains, highways, trains, or just a lively downtown, location plays a huge role in a city's viability to attract new residents and businesses. Philadelphia has an awesome location, and maybe one of the best in the US, if you really stop to think about it. We have a temperate climate (to showcase all four seasons), we are close to both beaches and mountains, and we are situated in between 2 of the most important US cities (NYC and DC). This allows Philadelphians to utilize countless resources from one spot.

2) Philadelphia is a manageable city. I have used this expression numerous times with my clients, because it's very true. Whether you are from the west coast or have lived in this area your entire life, Philadelphia truly is a manageable big city. What does that mean exactly? For a metropolitan area with 6 million people, most people can get from Point A to Point B fairly easily. Need to travel? There are many airports in the area to choose from, aside from PHL. How about a train? 30th Street Station will take you anywhere on Amtrak, and local trains also provide a solid rail system. 95, 76, and 676 are clogged with traffic? Hop on Kelly Drive for a scenic tour, and save time while you're at it; or use some of Philadelphia's "back road" options, there are plenty of them. Recreational activities in the city? Fairmount Park is the largest, landscaped urban park in the US. Hike, bike, run, walk, or bring your pets to a spot that most large cities would be jealous of. Weekend getaways? There are too many to count, as Philadelphia has great access to some of the nicest (and quaintest) spots in the US. My point is, if you're tired of traffic, tired of the city, tired of being so close to so many people, there are plenty of options by plane, train, car, or bike.

3) Philadelphia is affordable. Well, maybe not if you're from Texas, but as far as major US cities go (especially in the Northeastern US), we are. Not only is Philadelphia affordable, but you can find any type of living accommodation imaginable. Single homes, twin homes, row homes, trinities, condos, lofts, you name it. And with over 100 different neighborhoods within the city alone, the odds are that you can find one that best fits your needs. Whether you are renting or buying, doing property management or flipping properties, chances are you can find something that fits within a reasonable budget. Philadelphia's affordability also goes a long way if someone is considering a move to NYC. We're only 90 miles away, and highly accessible by train and car. That's why Philadelphia was dubbed NYC's "6th Borough."

Whew!

That's a lot of optimism for Philadelphia, but I find that there are plenty of people today who agree with me (this is a great article).

For those that don't, no worries. Everyone has his/her own opinion, and as Americans, we're all entitled to one.

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