Albert Rober…, Home Buyer in Fairmount/Art Museum,...

With 100-120K income (wage tax $366/mo or $4400/yr), is there ANY financial rationale for living in Philly, like lower property tax or SOMETHING?

Asked by Albert Robertson, Fairmount/Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA Fri Dec 10, 2010

I'm vaguely interested in living in Philly, just because I kind of like the City vibe. However, I just don't understand how anyone with a significant income can justify $400 extra dollars per month out the window! But so many people are doing it, I'm curious if there's something I just don't understand...? Is everyone living in Philly just a little crazy, or am I uninformed?

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Eileen Gray’s answer
Of course the smart people are living in Philadelphia. I never understand why people enjoy paying real estate taxes that range from as little as $3,000 to as high as $12,000 per year for property taxes outside of Philadelphia. The people in the burbs justify these outrageous taxes by stating that the schools are better. Yes the schools might be better but children grow up but the taxes don't go away. People in Philly either utilize the public schools (not good) or they send their children to private school. The taxes are low and when the children graduate, the tuition in Philaelphia goes away and the taxes are still low. The extraordinary taxes in the burbs only continue to go up. So when you no longer have children in school in the burbs you are still stuck with the crazy taxes and not really getting the services for it. Philadelphia has always had low real estate values for a major city. We are still undervalued so buying in Philadelphia enables the buyer to still enjoy appreciation in the future. If you have an interest in the suburbs, go for it but please be careful of the taxes. Bad taxes only cause future depreciation of your property and eventually if the taxes become too high virtually unsellable not to mention putting you in the poor house. Good luck in your deciding where to live. If you need an agent who knows the region both the burbs and Phladelphia, please feel free to call. Eileen Gray 215-603-8484 or 610-260-4049
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010
It depends on your lifestyle. There are people who like the lifestyle of city living. There are others who do not mind the commute to work and live in the suburbs. We have good public transportation with Septa regional rail. If you work in the city , and live in the suburbs you still have to pay city wage tax but it is not as much. There is earned income tax in many suburbs. It is an individual choice.The best thing would be to look at homes in your price range in the city and suburbs and look at overall picture including costs for home and car insurance, cost of transportation etc.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
I have actually answered this before....there is a bias about wage tax. so, lets debunk these issues. First, I really don't lmow where you like, so I am going to make assumptions....all of which are not specific. first, if you live in the burbs, you may or may not have a 1% income tax. the next is your 400k home will have taxes from 4,000-8,000. thats 350 to 650/month. that same home in the city will cost 2500-4000/year.
second, in the burbs, you might have 2 cars. in the city, you will likely have one. that saves 400/month conservatively. next, the amount you spend on gas will likely decrease. your property insurance will usually decrease. You property maintenance costs (yard, pool, etc) will also likely decrease.
the final answer is what was explained below. its a very different lifestyle and to those who like it, its worth 100s or more per month.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 23, 2011
Living in the city is a lifestyle choice. If the activities that surround your life, from work, socializing to shopping and culture, are centralized in the city, then proximity to those venues makes sense. Financially, low property taxes (for now) are offset by the wage taxes you mentioned; unfortunately, the looming reassessments and soon-to-be expiring tax abatements will affect your bottom line moreso. Good Hunting!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010
Hi, Cityburb,

You've already seen this, but I will repeat it in a different way....The extra $400 per month would equate with the difference in R.E. Taxes in the may even be less. Why not find a place which still has the tax abatement? Then you will really hit a home run!!!!!! Want info on communities, prices, etc? Just check out and you'll get instant access to everything you need to know.

Good luck with all

Carol Cei
ReMax Action Realty
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010

I've lived in Philadelphia Center City for the past 10 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Yes, the wage tax is higher but the property taxes are much much lower. It actually balances out owning a home in the suburbs and having the property taxes you get there. Also, the conveniences of living in the city I'm willing to pay for that.

If it makes sense to consider the wage tax as paying for the convenience of living in Center City then take a closer look at making the move.

No obligations but check out my site. You get all the information just like I do on the MLS. The only company in the city that has this information at your fingertips.

Also, check out some great information about the city and demographics here:

If you have more questions please feel free to ask away! With interest rates still lower around 5.25% it's an interesting time to be looking for a home and some homes in Philadelphia have an average $1,000 per year taxes with a 10 year tax abatement that freezes that tax rate for 10 years.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010
You can move where you want to it's just that philadelphia is one of the most attractive city on the east cost right now . it has one of the best public transportation system's and plenty of recreational activites that go on throw out the city.
but if you rather be on the outside of the city jenkintown abington delaware all these places are nice as well
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010
Hi, Cityburb.

As stated already, the most obvious financial advantage to living in Philadelphia versus the surrounding suburbs is the property tax rate. If you own a home in Philadelphia, property taxes are usually much lower in Philadelphia proper as opposed to the suburbs. That will probably be your only major financial advantage on paper.

Where else can you save? It depends. Do you work in the city? If so, you can probably save on your travel expense. Philadelphia has great public transportation, and if you live in a neighborhood or downtown (and work downtown), chances are that a car will not be necessary. This will save money on a car payment, insurance, gas, and overall maintenance. Also, Philadelphia is very walkable in many of its neighborhoods. This can save you money in a number of different ways.

If you look at major US cities nationwide, it is almost always more expensive to live in the actual city than it is to live outside of it. Why? Because cities typically offer more. They are most often the central business, entertainment, educational, and cultural districts of a particular region. Some people like this, and some don't. There are pros and cons. Basically, that's why you pay extra; for the amenities.

Please read these 2 posts that I wrote about urban living (they should help):……

I hope all of this information helps you make a more informed decision. Best of luck!


Timothy M. Garrity | Brown McKinney Real Estate, Co.
Real Estate Professional & Consultant Email| Website
215-825-2250 x 1007 Office | 267-879-2716 Mobile | 267-519-5490 Fax
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 11, 2010
Poor public school system, high crime rate, high car & homeowners insurance
Rates, 7 % sales tax, high wage tax, highest property transfer tax in country
At 2% to buy OR sell, 10% increase in property tax. All for the vibe of living in the city.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
Hi Cityburb,

How are you? Thank you for your inquiry. The number one thing with Philly is that its property taxes are much lower than the surrounding suburban areas. And I'm not quite sure what do you mean by "$400 extra dollars per month out the window", so if you could elaborate a little bit more on that aspect, that'll be great.

And it really all comes down to what type of lifestyle does the consumer wants to live in (depending on WHERE you are planning to live at in the city). It's really convenient to travel between the Tri-State areas (Delaware, Philadelphia, and New Jersey) and it has a City Life in Downtown Philadelphia with the restaurants and shopping centers, as well as all the tourist attractions and plenty of site viewing.

And one of the differences in buying in Philadelphia than in the suburbs is the 1% EXTRA of Transfer Tax from the Purchase Price at settlement that buyer and seller have to pay on each side of their closing costs. In other words, the transfer tax is 1% for the State & 3% for the city, which equates to a total of 4% transfer tax and will typically be divided evenly between the buyer & seller as part of their closing costs. Therefore, it will be required for the buyer to pay 2% of the purchase price for transfer tax in his/her closing costs and seller will have to pay 2% as well for his/her side of the closing cost. Unlike the suburbs where each side would only need to pay 1% for their transfer taxes.

Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, please feel free to email or call me at (267) 918-1880.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
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