Great question! I just came upon this website, Zipskinny; it is extremely useful with respect to the fact that you can compare zip codes against each other. It will let you know demographics of any neighborhood, etc. Worth checking into...
Best of Luck to You!
Lindsay A. Daley
Chartered Real Estate Consultant
I have 2 single guy friends with your budget and one recently moved to Center City (1 bedroom) condo and the other moved to Graduate Hospital area (2 bedroom).
My advice to you is to visit the neighborhoods Bruce mentions to see which neighborhood best fits you.
I also wrote about Things to Think about when Determining a Neighborhood to buy a House. You can read it at http://cmtrealestate.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/things-to-thin
I also know some local agents who can help. feel free to contact us through the blog.
Selecting a neighborhood is really a personal preference and everyone has their own opinions. But here are some things to think about, and research:
HOA vs no HOA (some people hate HOAs, but some people like having "standards" for how houses are maintained)
Crime rate (check your city's website)
Proximity to schools, shopping, work (try http://www.walkscore.com/)
Proximity to things you want to avoid (busy street or highway, powerplant, etc.)
Overall look, and feel (are there a ton of cars on the street, do people maintain their yards, exteriors of their homes)
Finally...find a REALTOR to take you out and look at homes in your price range and in your desired neighborhoods. I always tell my clients to do "drive by's" of homes they think they might be interested in, before we go look at the property. This helps eliminate a lot of homes in sketchy neighborhoods (something you can't tell from a listing on the web), and really zero in on what you want. Good luck!