A Guide for Students Moving to Philadelphia's University City

Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love. But Philadelphia is more than that, it’s also home to University City. This area of Philadelphia encompasses three major university campuses and attracts thousands of new students to the city every year. Are you considering a move to Philadelphia for school or work? This is everything you need to know about moving to Philadelphia, University City and finding perfect apartments for rent in Philadelphia.

You’re probably wondering “what is University City”? or “how can there be a city within the city of Philadelphia”? It's not as complicated as you may think. University City is a neighbourhood in the west end of Philadelphia that gets its name from the three major universities located there. Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Sciences are the nucleus of the neighborhood.

Hence, it’s no surprise that this part of the city is very student-friendly. Finding an apartment for rent in University City is essential to having the best student experience. It saves money compared to living on campus, immerses you in the culture and allows you to find unique opportunities, and roommates are completely optional!

Finding the Perfect Apartment in Philadelphia

Finding the perfect apartment for rent as a new student in a new city can be a little scary, but ApartmentLove can make it a bit easier! First, figure out your personal budget and priorities. Once you decide what is most important to you, finding the right apartment rental will be a breeze. If location and proximity to campus is important, there are plenty of apartments for rent within walking distance.

If budget and pricing is the most important thing to you, ApartmentLove has plenty of listings for apartment for rent under $1000. Or if you really want the roommate experience, you can look for a shareable two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartment. Landlords in University City try to make renting an apartment as simple as possible for students, so utility and internet costs will often be included in rent pricing.

Student-Friendly Hangouts in Philadelphia

Meeting new people is the best part of university, but classes can make that hard. That’s why it’s so important to know all the right student hangouts and be in the right place at the right time. Landmark Americana, Smokey Joe’s and Copacabana University City are popular casual establishments serving American and Mexican-inspired dishes with laidback bar vibes.

For happy hour, Landmark Americana is the place to be! Both students and local young professionals will attend, making it a great time and place to network and meet new people. If meeting new people is important or if you have a vibrant social life, you can find an apartment for rent in University City that is also in proximity to bars and restaurants.

Of course, the high demand and prime location can make apartments for rent in this part of University City a little more expensive than the rest of the neighborhood and much of Philadelphia itself. However, most first and second year students find it worthwhile as it helps them adjust to university life and being away from their hometowns. Plus, it means less commute time to those early morning classes!

Transportation in Philadelphia

Whether you live on campus, close by or a little further out, transportation is important. Most students in Philadelphia find that driving is impractical and expensive during their college or university years. Thankfully, Philadelphia has many public transport options that provide a quick commute locally and regionally.

University City itself is incredibly walkable with lots of pathways and bike lanes. However, public transport is also a reliable way to get around the district, as the city of Philadelphia has a separate transit system dedicated to that area. The Loop Through University City shuttle, or LUCY for short, stops at every campus and major building location on its route.

LUCY is free to all university students, school employees, employees of both major hospitals and science center employees. Otherwise, the standard fare is $2.50 per person. LUCY is also fully accessible and runs every 5 to 30 minutes on weekdays.

Philadelphia’s local public transit is also reliable, with multiple bus routes, trolleys and subway lines running across the city. Local public transit also makes connections and transfers to LUCY, as the rest of Philadelphia sits almost adjacent to University City. The strength, reliability and connectedness of transit in the city makes commuting a viable option for students and young professionals. In turn, this makes it possible for students on a tighter budget to find cheap apartments for rent in Philadelphia under $750, slightly beyond the borders of University City.

For transit outside of the city, there is also an AMTRAK stop in Philadelphia. Users can go as far as Miami, New York or even New Orleans. AMTRAK is a great option for a freshman trip or a quick fix for homesickness (we don’t judge).

Cultural Landmarks to Visit

University City is Philadelphia’s hub for everything arts and culture. There are numerous attractions that can be helpful to your learning, a fun weekend activity or both. The Penn Museum offers a variety of exhibits with artifacts from ancient societies across the globe including Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt.

There is also the Institute of Contemporary Art and the historic Clark Park. These locations, and many others, have two things in common: they will help you learn more about the world, and you will make countless memories every time you visit. Many locations also have student discounts! Renting an apartment in University City gives you easy access to any of these attractions.



Philadelphia built a great infrastructure for students, and University City is a student experience like no other! If you decide to make the move to Philadelphia, ApartmentLove can help with finding an apartment rental.




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Published: November 17, 2022