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4 ways to make Philadelphia a dream city for millennials



Philadelphia may be best known as the birthplace of a nation and cheesesteaks, but according to recent research by apartment search site Abodo, it has another claim to fame. When it comes to affordability and job opportunities, it's the best US city for millennials.

According to Anum Yoon, a Philadelphian and the creator of a successful millennial finance blog, that ranking doesn't come as a surprise. She moved to the city because it offered a vibrant urban environment that still supported her financial goals.

"Everyone thinks of New York first when thinking about big-city careers," Yoon says. "But being the financially aware person that I was, I needed to move to a city that offered the same thing as NYC but without the hefty price tag."

That doesn't mean the City of Brotherly Love is a steal compared to, say, a rural town in Nebraska. Like any metropolitan area, Philadelphia comes with affordability challenges, but it also has plenty of advantages.

Here are four ways to make those Benjamins stretch. Millennials, take note.

1. Go beyond the usual neighborhoods.


Even though the average housing costs are lower than those in New York and San Francisco, Philadelphia is still 37% above the national average, according to compensation database site PayScale. Yoon says finding affordable housing in Philly is all about location and priorities.

A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Center City and the surrounding areas have the highest concentration of millennials, but the average monthly cost for furnished accommodations comes in at $2,794. So those who work in that part of the city and want to live close to the office may have a hard time finding a deal.

Yoon's thrifty solution? Explore up-and-coming neighborhoods. Yoon herself lives in the South Philly area, where she pays $800 for a two-bedroom apartment and is only about 25 minutes from Center City by public transit.

2. Find affordable transportation.


Location plays a big role in whether or not transportation is a financial challenge for young Philadelphians. Yoon says that while it might be more convenient to have a car in certain parts of Philly, the monthly costs could add up to be quite costly.

Alternatively, a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) monthly pass costs $91 — not bad if the network meets all your transportation needs. Another affordable option is a membership to Indego, the city's bike-share program, which runs $15 a month.

Living close to public transportation can be incredibly helpful for millennials. At less than $100 a month for a transit pass, taking the bus or train — or a bike — can leave room in a budget for ever-important savings and investment in a 401(k).

3. Dine within your budget.


You can't talk Philly food without talking cheesesteak. These famous sandwiches run about $9 a pop, meaning they're a fun, local indulgence but not sustainable for a food budget. For general food needs, Yoon says it's definitely possible to eat for reasonable prices in Philadelphia.

PayScale rates groceries in Philly at 17% above the national average, but that's a steal compared to other cities such as San Francisco, where groceries cost 7% more than in Philadelphia. Regional chains such as Wegmans and Wawa are great, affordable places to stock up in basics.

Philly also has great nightlife and restaurants, but drinks and dining out quickly add up. Yoon makes sure to set up a monthly budget so she knows exactly how much she can afford to put toward dining out each month.

When it comes to socializing, entertaining at home makes for a more cost-effective evening. For the times you do want to venture out, try budget-friendly options like HipCityVeg, or treat yourself to some of the best fried chicken and doughnuts in the country at Federal Donuts, where dinner and dessert come in under $10. Happy-hour specials are also the frugal Philadelphian's dream.

4. Look for free entertainment.


Despite being a smaller city, the opportunities to have fun in Philly on a budget are robust, especially during the summer months.

From free music events like the 40th Street Summer Series to hiking trails, museums, and pop-up events, the city has a lot to offer. Yoon is a big fan of these options for millennials who understand the importance of tucking money away for retirement and shorter-term savings.

For higher-octane entertainment, the city hosts a number of pricey events, such as the Made in America music festival, which charges $162 for a two-day pass.

Other cities may get a lot of credit for appealing to millennials, but Philadelphia has definitely earned its place as a smart and fun choice for young adults. By making savvy spending decisions, millennials can balance their regular financial demands — from student loans to savings — while capitalizing on the many job opportunities, recreation, and entertainment Philadelphia has to offer.

Looking for even more ways to save? With Simply Right® Checking from Santander Bank, you can waive the Monthly Fee with any deposit, withdrawal, transfer or payment each month. Sign up today.

This post is sponsored by Santander Bank.

Santander Bank does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation or warranty regarding any of the other businesses or individuals referenced in this article.

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