Looking for roommates in Philadelphia? Check the single-family houses. That’s right: Contrary to the idealistic image of roommates stacking up in a chic little apartment or flat, one in five renters in Philadelphia are living the spacious life in a single-family house, according to a new study by the NYU Furman Center. In fact, the trend of renting single-family homes has increased sharply as the vacancy rates nationwide plummet and rent climbs steadily. So it’s no surprise roommates in Philadelphia are catching on. Here are some of the benefits you’ll experience when you switch from an apartment to a house and what roommates in Philadelphia know that you don’t.
Roommates in Philadelphia and Single-Family Homes
According to the Furman Center’s 2016 National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape report, 70 percent of houses that changed hands between owners or renters were single-family homes that were converted to rental units between 2005 and 2013. That basically means that houses were converted into rentals more often than they were sold. It’s not surprising, with the growing demand for rentals, and the incentive for homeowners to rent their house out rather than live in an increasingly crowded metro. It’s not surprising when you consider the growing demand for rentals. Plus, there’s an incentive for homeowners to subsidize their income by renting their houses to a swelling population of urban dwellers.
“Philadelphia in total is seeing an influx of renters on multiple levels in every asset class,” says local property manager Benjamin Oller. “Philadelphia proper, specifically Center City is extremely hot.”
Oller, who works at Rent Philly pairing renters with landlords, says the growing demand isn’t anything to worry about in the City of Brotherly Love.
“We see no shortage of inventory among any asset class,” he says. “In real estate the old adage was and will always be location, location, location, and we can attest that that is still true. Philadelphia proper is the place to be and renters are competing to live here.”
Despite local opinion, the Furman Center study shows vacant rentals are disappearing fast in Philadelphia as more people move in. The city saw a 14-percent increase in rental units and a 23-percent increase in renters between 2006 and 2013 — meaning demand outpaced supply. The long and short of it? Vacant rentals are a hot commodity, and homeowners and renters, alike, have something to gain from renting single-family homes.
So, you’re looking for roommates in Philadelphia. Pay close attention to those open rooms in single-family homes. If you’ve lived the apartment life for years and find comfort in your small organized spaces, keep on doing you. But imagine the possibilities if you check into a house in Philadelphia instead. Here are just a few benefits you can expect renting a house in Philly.
So. Much. Space
You remember that two-bedroom apartment you were paying an arm and a leg for in that other metro you called home? Imagine having an entire house between you and your roommates living in Philadelphia. It could be a two-story house, with plenty of room to stretch your legs between the kitchen and your very own bathroom. In a single-family house, you’ll actually have the chance to have things you’ve never dreamed of as an apartment dweller. Granted, you’re unlikely to have everything you want, but things like garages, storage sheds, basements, and yards don’t come standard with an apartment. And just think about how happy your four-legged roommates will be.
Sure, you’re still rooming with other people, but at least you know everyone (or, at least, you’ll get to know them). Even a small house is still a house. It’s separate from other houses nearby and only subject to the whims of the people living there. No more having to share a communal area with 50 other renters; no more awkwardly having to make forced small-talk in the mailroom; no more having strangers pass by your door in the middle of the night; no more brooms knocking on the floor or dance parties on the ceiling. And even if there are (it’s probable your roommates will get rowdy every now and then in a house), it’s nothing a calm conversation and open communication can’t fix.
A Worthwhile Price
Roommates renting in Philadelphia can expect a warmer market than some other expensive metros. The average home sells in Philly for $121,200, according to Zillow. Compared to Boston at $480,000, or NYC at a shocking $614,500, it’s considerably cheaper to be a property owner in Philadelphia — and the rent shows it. Boston rent averages around $2,300 for an inner city one-bedroom apartment, and Philly rent is an average of $1,470 for a similar one-bedroom in the city center. If the suburbs are calling your name, you can rent a three-bedroom house in the Philadelphia suburbs for $1,570.
All in all, The City of Brotherly love is a pretty awesome place for Philadelphia roommates to rent. (Just be cautious of a deal too good to be true.) Whether you’re a current resident or are moving there soon, keep your eye on the housing market for single-family homes as more Philadelphia homeowners jump ship in favor of renting. Or don’t; they’ll find something for you.
“To each their own, which is what makes Philly, Philly,” says Oller proudly.