Philadelphia vs Seattle: Where do you want to live in 2023?

Many people consider Philadelphia and Seattle to be mirror cities. They have a similar feel, values and offerings on opposite sides of the country. Philadelphia is an eastern city, while Seattle is considered western. But, do they mirror on all the things that matter most if you're a renter? If you are planning on making a move, but cannot decide between the east or west coast, ApartmentLove can help.

We're here to answer the five most asked about comparisons between Philadelphia and Seattle. We'll be looking at the rental market, the general cost of living, the weather, education and the quality and diversity of local eats.

Rent Prices and Popular Unit Types Side by Side

Though they may be considered mirror cities, the rental markets in Philadelphia and Seattle couldn't be more different. In Philadelphia, 47% of residents are renters and the average monthly rent cost is just over $1,800. While this is slightly higher than the national average, it is still considered fairly reasonable. In Seattle, 53% of residents are renters. It's not much of a difference, but it still means that renters take the housing majority here. The average monthly rent in Seattle is a fair bit higher, sitting at $2,300 per month.

It is possible to find accommodations below the average rent cost in both cities though, especially for a single person in search of an apartment for rent. Apartment hunting on a budget is actually quite manageable in both cities. There are many beautiful, clean and safe apartment rental options under $1,000 per month in Philadelphia. While it is possible to find an apartment for rent under $1,000 per month in Seattle, that budget isn't recommended, as the options are so few. Instead, ApartmentLove's rental experts recommend increasing your budget a bit. There are plenty of stunning and affordable apartments for rent in Seattle that are in the range of $1,200 to $1,300 per month. It may be a bit more expensive than new Seattle residents were hoping for, but it is still quite affordable and almost half of the city's rental average.

The most popular type of apartment rental is different in both cities too. Philadelphia is full of students and young professionals, so much so that there is even a neighborhood in Philadelphia named University City. So, it's no surprise that studio apartments and one-bedroom apartments for rent are the most highly-sought after. On the other hand, Seattle is a city of established young people looking for larger spaces or grow themselves as families. Hence, two-bedroom apartments for rent are more common in Seattle.

Cost of Living Comparison

There are other expenses besides rent. How do these costs compare in Philadelphia and Seattle? Let's have a look. The first comparison is salary. The average annual salary of a Philadelphian works out to be $72,000 annually. By contrast, Seattle's average annual salary is $86,000.

Next, utilities and basic food costs need to be looked at. In Philadelphia, basic utility fees are around $166 per month. In Seattle, the typical cost is about $221. Grocery basics are roughly 14% cheaper in Philadelphia than Seattle. Basics includes staples like bread, milk, apples, eggs and cheese.

As for transportation, a monthly bus pass is about 3% cheaper in Philadelphia than Seattle. At quick glance, we can see that the cost of living in Philadelphia is much lower than Seattle. However, with such a large difference in annual average salaries, Seattle is manageable, especially with ApartmentLove helping users find the most affordable apartment rentals.

The Weather

While this may not always be a consideration that is top of mind, the general climate of a region matters. Some people like the snow and rain, some people do not. It's important to consider what you can handle.

While both cities rank very highly on the climate comfort index and are fairly moderate in climate, Philadelphia gets a lot more snow than Seattle and is a few degrees colder. On the other hand, Philadelphia gets less rain than Seattle in the fall and spring. It's really up to you and what you prefer.


Philadelphia is well-known for its longstanding commitment to postsecondary education. There is a whole city neighborhood that is almost entirely dedicated to internationally-ranking, centuries old academic institutions. University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, La Salle University and Thomas Jefferson University are all located in the University City neighborhood in Philadelphia.

There are a variety of programs and skills offered by each institution, and a great student and young professional culture. Additionally, finding apartments for rent near universities in Philadelphia is simple and affordable compared to campus life.

Seattle is also an education hub for its own state, as the city is home to over half of Washington State's top colleges and universities. The top schools include University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, the Seattle Film Institute and Seattle University. Seattle also has an area of the city that is largely dedicated to student life and housing. It's known as “the U District”, or University District. Much like in Philadelphia, apartments for rent in Seattle's University District can be on the higher end of the average rent cost, but still comparatively inexpensive to campus life.

Both cities are great options for students looking for strong academic cultures, valuable degrees and student experiences that offer lasting personal and professional enrichment.


Who doesn't love a great bite to eat? A strong food scene is important, so let's compare what Philadelphia and Seattle have to offer. Philadelphia's food scene is a mix of comforting favorites like the famous Philly cheesesteak and exciting exotic fusions. The Northern Liberties Neighborhood, lovingly known as NoLibs, is the center of it all.

Popular spots include SET NoLibs, Silk City Diner Bar and Lounge, and Honey's Sit N' Eat. The large variety in restaurants gives locals a little bit of everything.

As for Seattle, while they are well-known for their coffee shops and cafes, they also have a very strong restaurant culture, with a focus on meats. Many of their top restaurants have starring dishes that highlight savory American steaks and international delights like Filipino chicken or Mexican tamales. There are even opportunities to try Native cuisine!

So, which is better, east or west? Philadelphia or Seattle? It is truly up to your needs and wants. Either way, both cities offer plenty of opportunities for learning and growth, personally and academically. Whether you start looking in Philadelphia or Seattle, ApartmentLove will help you find the perfect apartment for rent and the feeling of home.

ApartmentLove | Apartments For Rent Near Me  

At ApartmentLove, we make it easy to find the feeling of home, with thousands of listings across the United States and Canada. Browse listings today.

Published: January 19, 2023