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Guest penn

I'm deciding between schools right now and Penn is one of my top choices. Any info about the school, area, social life, food, housing ,etc would be great!

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Guest wanderer

Hi,

even I am headed to Penn... any info about the place will be appreciated. :)

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I'll tell you what I know about Penn keeping in mind that a lot of it is anecdotal (and Ivy League gossip) so some of it might be wrong.

Penn has a great location. it's in Philadelphia, for better or worse. Some may tell you that West Philly is the ghetto or a place of violent crime or horrible or whatever but that is not true and certainly untrue of the area directly around Penn. Good housing near campus can be difficult to find but that's because it is a city with lots of residents and college students. Driving near campus can be crazy so a bike might be a good idea.

I remember seeing some cool shopping areas near campus. SEPTA (the mass transit system: http://www.septa.com) runs a great train system that connects the UPenn area with the rest of Philly and the surrounding areas (Delaware, south NJ and through NJ Transit to NYC though that takes a few hours on commuter rail).

That's all I've got. Hopefully someone else can help you out.

To the OP: where else are you considering? (personal curiousity)

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Guest Penn

It was between Columbia, NYU, or Penn. I ended up choosing Penn because it had the overall package for me (and I love the campus). Columbia was the better ranked program but I didn't like the area and as a poor grad student I feel like I wouldn't have been able to really enjoy NY (otherwise I'd probably hate it) . NYU was really cool but it was the lowest ranked of all the schools I was considering.

I'm really excited about going to Penn =).

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Guest nssg

I'd choose penn over those NYC schools, depending on the program and stipend, of course. the campus at penn is beautiful, and the city of Philly is way less expensive, especially considering rent. You may actually have some disposable income in Philly, and there's tons of stuff to do there. All of what brittdreams says is correct as well. Driving will make you miserable, get a bike.

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I'm 90% sure I'll be attending Temple, just to throw it out there. I'm not too familiar with the area, but am planning on taking a visit there next week.

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So, I've heard that the area around Temple is nasty and not very safe, but that's just second- and third-hand info. What's the story, for anyone who's been there? What are housing options like for grad students? If you want to live out a bit, how much are you going to spend getting into the city via train or bus? Or, if you drive in, what's parking availability like?

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I am not sure about housing... I have gone to the Temple area of Philadelphia many times. It is pretty awful and the crime rates have been exceptionally bad this last year. You can take the train right from a Philly suburb (Manayunk) right to Temple though.

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Taking the train is a viable option--the 'burbs are pretty nice, and while parking in the city is not impossible, it tends to be annoying. You can check out septa.org for prices/maps for mass transit.

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Keep in mind that SEPTA (Philadelphia public transit) is nearly broke, and they keep raising their rates.

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Any thoughts on where in Philly would make the most sense for us to live if I'm going to UPenn and husband is commuting to Princeton? Google tells me that I should probably focus on Old City/Northern Liberties to take advantage of: 1) easy access to I-95 (for husband); 2) stops on the SEPTA Market-Frankford line (for me); 3) nearby rock climbing gym; and 4) Orianna dog park - but are there pros/cons that I'm not aware of? Advice very, very welcome.

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University City is a great area. I interned at Penn's archaeology museum last summer and commuted since I only live 25 min outside the city. My friends though just got an apartment (for rent) that was pretty affordable for the area (900 something a month) around 41st and Spruce, which is also a nice area and is under the wing of campus security, gym is closeby, HUP is right there. In general its just a really nice area of Philly and I was surprised when my friends told me the price they were getting for the apt. Good luck with your search!

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Any thoughts on where in Philly would make the most sense for us to live if I'm going to UPenn and husband is commuting to Princeton? Google tells me that I should probably focus on Old City/Northern Liberties to take advantage of: 1) easy access to I-95 (for husband); 2) stops on the SEPTA Market-Frankford line (for me); 3) nearby rock climbing gym; and 4) Orianna dog park - but are there pros/cons that I'm not aware of? Advice very, very welcome.

Northerm Liberties is a good bet, but like any major city, parking is annoying. It's obviously not as bad as finding parking in New York or Chicago, but it's still a hassle. Also, proximity to the 95 might mean less than you think, depending on where you are exactly. The streets get packed, and just getting to the 95 is annoying at times. I personally would recommend looking for places in Ardmore. It's affordable, a nice area, you'll find parking, it's a 5 minute train ride from the city, and there is plenty to do there when you're too lazy to go into the city. I would also recommend looking at Collingswood, NJ and Haddonfield, NJ as options. There is a PATCO subway that takes you to Philly in about 10 minutes. You can transfer to the SEPTA at 8th and Market. It's more affordable to live in New Jersey, and those 2 areas are great places to live, very clean, there are good restaurants, and both are dog friendly. I lived in Collingswood for a semester and I loved it there. Your husband can take the 70 to the 295 and it'll have him in Princeton in about 40 minutes (or less, depending on traffic and how he drives).

But if you would prefer to live in the city, then Northern Liberties is definently a great place to look at. Old City is also a nice area to live if you're a couple of blocks North of Market St., but the places there are very expensive and getting to and from the 95 may be hard at times.

It's early and my mind isn't quite functional yet, but if I think of anything else later, I'll let you know.

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Thanks Ammar & N08D0! I'll take that advice under serious consideration when we decide which areas to focus our "scope out" session on.

Any other input?

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Thanks Ammar & N08D0! I'll take that advice under serious consideration when we decide which areas to focus our "scope out" session on.

Any other input?

Both me and my husband went to Penn, so I know the area pretty well. If you do live in the Old City, it will kinda suck to have to commute to Penn everyday. (Just because one of you has to, it does not mean you both do). Septa buses are not very good and the metro only takes you so far as Market and 30th: you would still have to walk 25 minutes to Wharton.

Check out Campus Apartments. They have plenty of buildings around campus, some not so great, some pretty nice. Ask me specifics when you start searching, I would love to help.

As for dog park, there is a park near Penn (38th Baltimore) which is not bad. That's what I used. It's got that West Philly feel where people stop and talk to you about your dog. Plus, most of the year there is a nice little Amish market there on Thursday afternoons and Saturdays.

Parking downtown is a nightmare, although the areas you mentioned are nice. Parking around Penn is actually not too bad, we did it all the time. Also, I think it will be much better for your husband to commute from Penn than downtown. He can talk the ramp to Jersey right from 30th Street (no traffic). (We are getting married in Princeton, so we did the Penn-Princeton route more than one time).

Seriously, consider living around Penn. It will be so much fun for you and equally easy for your husband. If I was not associated with Penn and did not need to commute, I would live in South Philly. Considering your school, the dog, the car: around Penn, I think, would be great. It's quite nice.

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so, i'm beginning to narrow my options and drexel is a serious contender for fall 2008. but of course, i could use some advice!

i'm a little bit familiar with the university city area right around campus, but what are some other good areas for a grad student (or just a general fun 24 year-old) to live? specifically, i would be willing to trade a short commute (as long as it's doable by foot, bike, or transit) to live in a more fun/"hip" area of town with decent nightlife. maybe i'm fooling myself by thinking i'll get to experience any nightlife as a grad student, but at the moment it's something i want to look into.

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NO8DO: Did your friends pay $900 per person or $900 each? I'm trying to get a sense of current pricing levels.

anav: I don't know whether you did your grad or undergrad at Penn, but as a grad student I would like to steer clear of housing that is super undergrad-friendly. The Campus Apartments website seems directed at undergrads, but what is your take on that? I'd like to find a 1BR in University City so I can walk to campus easily, but I'm just not sure what set-ups will be realistic. Coming from NY and expecting to live on the new Penn stipend I can easily stomach the thought of paying about $800/mo (or less) - but is that even realistic? Should I expect to pay more? I won't be living like the Wharton folks but I'm tired of the New York schlep and I don't want to live next to a nightly beer pong party (or karaoke, or sobbing about about high school boyfriends, whatever the cup of tea may be).

Any advice is MOST welcome!!!

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Temple: It's in the Northern Liberties section...I think. Anyways, the school has been buying up the surrounding area so it is changing, but slowly. I hear the edge of Northern Liberties is being re-done as housing needs expand, but it's still pretty rough overall in Northern Liberties. Getting better, but rough. I have friends that went to Temple and live up there, but for the most part I don't go to that area. There are a few blocks in the middle of campus that are ok, but there's a lot that Temple has bought and hasn't developed yet. So there's just lots of people around that aren't necessarily the best characters. I mean it is North Philly...that part of the city is no joke.

Penn: Beautiful campus... not as big as it looks at first. It's in University City, which also used to be a bit rough, but is getting better since Penn also started buying up everything. (they own alot of the surrounding housing) An actual Penn student could tell you which blocks not to go beyond (from what I hear, that area is still in the process of changing. By no means is it as bad as north Philly, but some people don't like to walk to far off campus alone at night.(Personally, I haven't had any problems there and I feel safe) Some students also live over in Center City or South Philly, on the edge of Center City. Housing is about the same in UC and South, but Center City takes a jump.

I would say no to NJ, simply b/c it's a half our into the city and then you transfer to the subway. I live in NJ and I wouldn't want to do that trek everyday. My friends in South Philly report that their journey is enough.

Anyways, that's a little general rundown of the neighborhoods.

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I'm actually going to attend Bryn Mawr next fall for the art history PhD program, but I am definitely planning on living in philly (I'm coming from nyc and am completely a city person). I've never been to philadelphia though, so all I know is that I have to be near the R5 septa train and possibly near upenn since I will have access to their library and that might just be more convenient as a commuter. Any neighborhoods particularly good for a young small female type? Someplace with good restaurants, interesting culture, and that is relatively affordable on a humanities grad stipend? Do such things exist? (the latter certainly hard to find in nyc...)

Any advice is appreciated!

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I lived in Philadelphia for a few years. I really liked the Queen's Village and Old City Area. If you can afford to spend a little more $$ Old City is nice. The only thing is that parking is a pain. But if you're on a graduate student's budget, I'd live in Queen's Village. It's a few blocks south of South Street and its safe, quiet, and very cute. Plus, it's more residential than living right in center city. There are lots of good restaurants as well. And there are buses that will take you to Penn, Drexel, or Penn within 20-30 minutes.

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Yay. Philadelphia is great --- if I weren't heading to NYU, I'd definitely stay around Philadelphia --- I love it here. Though I will be here on the weekends for the most part.

As for places to live, Northern Liberties and Old City are both nice; however, both of them are rather pricey for what you get. They are somewhat trendy and alas, the rent is high. Old City is rather loud on the weekends: it is the nightlife destination for lots of the city. But if you're up for a lot of bars and clubs and such, it's a nice place --- plus it's a pretty neighborhood. Northern Liberties lacks a supermarket, but as your husband will be commuting to Princeton, you'll have a car --- so that will probably not be much of an issue. Honestly, it depends on what type of neighborhood you're looking for.

You should really consider West Philadelphia--particularly University City/Powelton Village. I know some people who are in the same situation (Upenn for one, Princeton for the other) who live in Powelton. You will find the best rents, biggest apartments and most green space in those areas--apartments are often in old, beautiful victorian houses. While some places are touch-and-go, most everything west to 48th street and south of Chestnut (until Kingsessing Ave) is quite safe--that's a huge area--however, there are some great deals elsewhere. There are also pockets where tons of graduate students live (usually west of 43rd or so) --- it's quite a nice community. West Philly also has easy access to 76 which feeds right into 95 and the Vine Street (I-676) expressway. The traffic is far from ideal, but by living in West Philly, you'd save money and you'd be able to walk to class. Plus parking is easy. That said, my girlfriend and I don't live in West Philly but I work there and she goes to veterinary school at Penn. We live in an area called Fitler Square, to the southwest of Rittenhouse Square in Center City. It's a quiet residential neighborhood which has nice parks (namely an awesome dog park) and a supermarket, breakfast place, coffee shop, etc. within a block or two. Rents here are a bit more than W. Philly, but you can find deals (we did!) and we love it here. 10 minute walk to Rittenhouse, 15-20 minute walk to Upenn and 3 blocks from 76.

Other areas to consider would be Fishtown, directly to the northeast of Northern Liberties. You can get a house there for a rather reasonable rent --- and though some of it is a little bit gross looking, it's safe and there is a bunch of bars and restaurants that are springing up. It is right alongside I-95 and you can jump on the Blue Line L and be in University City within 15 minutes (we timed it when we were thinking about moving there). I wouldn't go further to the Northeast, though, as you soon hit Kensington and that gets a bit seedier.

I hope this helps! There are lots of choices: people who don't know Philly tend to give certain places bad reputations without looking at it. Around Penn is fine, as is large sections of the Northeast. Of course, Center City is also great --- but the neighborhoods I listed above usually have a fairly large residential component (with perhaps Old City being the exception).

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Thanks so much for the input! As it turns out, we're in the process of signing a lease in Fitler Square. Although it may not be the most financially or geographically logical for us (at least on paper), we absolutely fell in love with the area when we visited the city in April. I can see why you don't want to leave!

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So, my husband and I are (VERY tentatively) considering a UPENN/Princeton combo. (Me to UPENN, him Princeton) I was wondering if it was possible to do a train commute between the two locations? We would likely live in Princeton, and I would commute to Philly. If a train commute is reasonable, any ideas on how long travel time would be, and an approximate monthly cost? I'm not familiar with the east coast, so all of this is new to me! Mapquest seems to make it look do-able, but I'm sure realistically it's another story....

Any help is GREATLY appreciated!

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