Few U.S. cities rival Philadelphia as a center of American history. Our republic’s original capital was the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. One of our nation’s most iconic symbols, the Liberty Bell, is here. So are a U.S. Mint and a division of the Federal Reserve. But there’s a lot more to like about the City of Brotherly Love. If you’re a sports fan, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to root for an NFL, MBL, NHL or NBA team, not to mention the horse and dog racing. There’s no shortage of cultural attractions, either. Philadelphia has an excellent orchestra, a leading ballet company, several major art museums, two zoos, the nation’s fifth largest aquarium, and many public parks and gardens. There’s a diverse economy, too, built around biotech, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, petroleum refining, food processing and tourism. With all that and the Philly Cheesesteak, it’s an exciting place to live and play. If you’re considering relocating to Philadelphia, this city guide is a great place to learn some basic info about where to live, along with helpful tip about essential insurance policies you’ll need.
The Philadelphia Story
William Penn founded the city in 1682 to be the capital of Pennsylvania Colony. By the 1750s, it was second only to London as the largest city in the British Empire. It was a meeting place for the nation’s founding fathers, and the capital during America’s War of Independence and while Washington D.C. was being built. The city became a major industrial center and railroad hub during the 19th century. Throughout its history, Philadelphia has been a center of economic activity. Today, it is the country’s fifth-largest city, with more than 1.5 million residents, and home to its own stock exchange and several Fortune 500 corporations.
It’s Not Always Sunny In Philadelphia
On average, there are about 207 days of sunshine each year in Philly. But you can also expect about 44 inches of rain and 20 inches of snow, for an annual average of 119 days of measurable precipitation. July is the hottest month, averaging 88 degrees. January lows average 26. Expect a lot of humidity, too – it ranges from 47% to a miserable, muggy 93%, often reaching as high as 100% in July.
Not surprisingly, flooding – seasonal and flash — is the most prevalent natural disaster in Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania. Over 94% of the municipalities, including Philly, are designated as flood-prone. A lot of flood damage is the result of hurricanes, such as the record damage caused by Diane in 1955. Tornados and similar windstorms are common occurrence in Pennsylvania, especially in summer months. In 140 years of recordkeeping, Philly has had 11 confirmed tornados, although none ranked F4 or above. All areas of the city are susceptible to severe winter storms. Sink holes have also been identified in six areas of the city. While standard homeowners insurance covers damage and loss from wind and hail, it doesn’t cover flood damage. That must be purchased separately.
Driving and Philadelphia Car Insurance
WalkScore.com give Philadelphia a 77, calling it the fourth-most walkable large city in the U.S., and many errands can be accomplished on foot. The public transportation system is good and the city is somewhat bike-friendly. Still, given the weather, a car (especially one with good air-conditioning) can be a great convenience. Here’s what you need to know about registering and owing a vehicle in Philadelphia.
You have 20 days from the time you establish residency to apply for a Pennsylvania title and registration. You have 60 days to get a Pennsylvania driver’s license. There are several hoops you’ll need to jump through, so the first and easiest thing to do is to insure your vehicle. Pennsylvania minimums include $15,000/$30,000 bodily injury, $5,000 property damage and $5,000 medical benefits coverage (unless combined first-party benefits coverage is on your policy). You can shop online for competitive quotes for Philadelphia car insurance here. You can also learn more about Pennsylvania driving laws here.
Now it’s time to register your vehicle. According to the state BMV:
“Pennsylvania title procedures require that the out-of-state title be surrendered to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when applying for a Pennsylvania title. The current lienholder of an out-of-state title may require that the vehicle owner refinance the balance of the outstanding lien through another lending institution and pay the out-of-state lienholder in full. A Pennsylvania certificate of title will only be issued when the out-of-state title is submitted with the completed Form MV-1, “Application for Certificate of Title.” Likewise, a temporary Pennsylvania registration plate may only be issued when the out-of-state title is submitted with the application for Pennsylvania certificate of title.
Form MV-1 is not available online. This form must be completed by an authorized agent of the Department. Most notaries, dealers, and messenger services are authorized agents and will be able to complete an application for title and issue you a temporary registration. Some authorized agents are online with the Department and are able to process your title and/or registration request on the spot. To locate an On-Line Messenger in your area that processes new resident title and transfers online, visit the Locations Information Center.“
You’ll need to show the following items to the authorized agent:
Valid title for the vehicle, issued in your name, from your previous state
Proof of Pennsylvania insurance
A tracing of your VIN or verification of the VIN by an authorized inspection mechanic, issuing agent or dealership notary public
A valid Pennsylvania photo driver’s license (or PA ID card or exempt PA Driver’s License or ID card, or valid US Armed Forces Common Access Card – Dependents must provide valid US Uniformed Services ID and Privilege Card)
Your check book
Once your vehicle is registered in Pennsylvania, you must have it safety inspected within 10 days at an official inspection station. Inspection checks: lights, brakes, horn, tires, safety belts, exhaust system, mirrors, tag mounting, suspension, turn signals, steering, glazing, wipers and other major parts of your vehicle. And yes, you will be charged for the inspection. Find a Philadelphia inspection station near you.
No matter where you live in America, you are now required by federal law to have a qualified health insurance plan that covers the essential benefits mandated by ObamaCare (also known as the Affordable Care Act). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has additional mandated benefits that insurers must provide. You can learn more about them and the health care law here. You can get quotes online for Philadelphia health insurance for individuals or small business here.
Should you need a doctor or medical care in Atlanta, you’ll have a variety of excellent facilities to choose from. These include Piedmont Hospital, Northside Hospital-Atlanta, Emory Clinic, Atlanta Medical Center, Grady Memorial Hospital and Kindred Hospital.
At just over 134 square miles in area, Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While there are dozens of neighborhoods, it’s often hard to tell where one begins and another ends. Residents are more likely to identify with their section of the city. For a newcomer, it’s probably easier to use the city’s planning sections to find your way around. There are 12 of them: Center City, South Philadelphia, Southwest Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Lower North Philadelphia, Upper North Philadelphia, Bridesburg-Kensington-Richmond, Roxboroug-Manayunk, Germantown-Chestnut Hill, Olney-Oak Lane, Near Northeast Philadelphia, and Far Northeast Philadelphia.
On the other hand, real estate agents are just as likely to use neighborhood names such as Bella Vista, Fairmount, Graduate Hospital, Fishtown, Washington Square West and Queen Village, to name a few of the hotter spots in 2013. In a city this size and this old, you’re quite likely to find everything from Main Line mansions to Left District lofts, Society Hill colonials and new construction in the fast-growing Northern Liberties section. Trulia.com lists the median sales price for all Philadelphia-area homes at $133,000 during the first quarter of 2014. Zillow.com notes that the market has cooled, meaning bargains are out there. Zillow also puts the median Philly rentals at $1,250, or about $1.16 per square foot. What you pay for a mortgage or monthly rent will range greatly depending on the area you choose.
Also keep in mind that some Philadelphia neighborhoods are safer than others. NeighborhoodScout.com puts the Philadelphia property crime rate index at 37.04, significantly higher than the statewide rate of 21.00 and the national median of 28.6. You chances of being a victim of property crime in Philadelphia are about 1 in 27. Before you decide on a location, you might want to check the Philadelphia Police Department’s crime map statistics. Once you’ve found your spot, protect it with insurance. A renter’s policy, which many landlords now require, will cover losses or damages to your personal possession. A homeowner’s policy will cover possessions and your structure. There are basically two types of Philadelphia homeowners insurance: all-risk (or open perils) and named perils. You’ll also be able to choose your deductible and whether you want a replacement cost or actual cash value policy. You can get competitive quotes online for Philadelphia homeowners insurance and Philadelphia renters insurance here. But before you decide on your level of coverage, take into consideration some of Philadelphia’s weather-related risks.
In terms of healthy places to live, Pennsylvania ranks thirty-second among the 50 states and Washington D.C. for life expectancy. Anyone born in Pennsylvania today can expect to live an average of 78.5 years according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a 65-year-old Pennsylvania resident, the Centers for Disease Control gives you another 18.9 years on average. But before you start feeling too secure, the WorldLifeExpectancy.com wants you to know that accidents are the fifth leading cause of death for all Pennsylvania residents. Given the ever-present possibility of an accidental death, you might want to put life insurance on your list of things to consider when you move to Philadelphia. There are four good reasons why:
To pay for funeral and other final expenses.
To replace your income if you’re leaving behind a spouse.
To help cover your children’s needs.
To help your survivors pay off debts and estate taxes.
If you purchase whole life, your insurance can also be a means of setting aside money for retirement, college and other needs. You can learn more about the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance, and shop for competitive life insurance quotes here.
While manufacturing once provide half of all jobs in Philadelphia, the city has diversified with government, education, biomedicine and health care emerging as major drivers of the local economy. Philadelphia has also become one of the country’s major corporate centers, with many companies locating or expanding facilities here. Philadelphia’s reputation as a good place to live and work is growing and attracting entrepreneurs. There are many incentive programs in place for small and large businesses to encourage growth and retention. You can learn more about Philadelphia business licensing, permitting and resources here. If you’re planning to start your own business in Philadelphia, protect your investment and your assets with small business insurance. You can get quotes for a variety of Philadelphia small business insurance coverages here.