I lived in University City (west Phila.) for about 30 years. I moved away about 4 yrs ago. So, I am not extremely current on the crime stats like I used to be. But, to answer your question directly, West Philly is no more unsafe than other areas. There is crime, but there is crime everywhere. When crime happens to a student (and there are a lot of students in UC) it gets front page treatment. So, it might seem to some that there is lots of crime there. But, most crimes throughout the city and suburbs are barely newsworthy -- so, it gives the impression thet the other areas are safer. I would say that the University City area is safer than the farther out areas of West Philadelphia. You did say "West Phila.", not "University City". And, yes, there are lots of "fixer-uppers" available. University City has really progressed over the past 30 yrs., and is expanding its progress outward. That's where you will find more of your "bargains". However, I would think that it is more worthwhile renovating a single family home as a single family home. It is very costly to split homes into good apartments. Best bet: convert the 3rd story of a 3-story home int an apartment, with the bottom 2 floors remaining as the larger "apartment'. The owner can live in a house, but still have income from a tenant on the 3rd floor. (You need a separate entrance, tho, and that's not always easy).