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ribbentrop
April 5th, 2007, 10:28 PM
Hi all,

I currently live in Philadelphia and I am thinking of moving to Seattle for a potential job opportunity with a well-established company in the Seattle area.

The problem is that I like Philadelphia. It is an underrated city with a lot of potential. It's not as mighty or glamorous as its neighbor 100 miles to the northeast. But it has an exploding restaurant scene, an attractive arts scene that enjoys city government support, and lovely historic sites. If you ever been to Society Hill and saw those brick townhomes on quiet cobblestone streets, you feel like you're being transported back in time.

I think Philadelphia has a lot of potential in accumulating real estate value as the city says goodbye to the idiotic John Street administration, and the city sees more gentrification beyond Center City. It doesn't hurt to have a great educational institution in the University of Pennsylvania.

The only concern I have about Philadelphia is the crime. Recently Philadelphia was named the murder capital of the US. So far this year's murders to date surpass the number of murders in the same period last year. Center City is quite safe. But Northeast and North Philadelphia are particularly scary. Even parts of Center City has bits of crime here and there.

Do you think that Philadelphia's future potential far outweighs its current disadvantages like a high murder rate, high wage tax, business privilege tax, and poor public schools?

Now comes Seattle. I love Seattle. I visited the city last summer and it was absolutely gorgeous. Of course I can't make a good judgment on living in Seattle based on just one visit. But my initial impression was positive. However I would appreciate some feedback on what it's like living in Seattle from those who have lived there. How does it compare to Philadelphia? The people in Seattle seem quite friendly, but not genuinely friendly as Chicagoans. Polite, laid back and proper, is a more accurate description.

Companies like Starbucks, Nordstrom, Amazon.com, Costco, Boeing, Microsoft, and Washington Mutual are headquartered in Seattle. I heard the weather is not as rainy as its reputation suggests. New York City gets more rain per year than Seattle.

Of course Seattle can't compare with New York when it comes to ethnic food, but Asian ethnic cuisines are a plus in Seattle. I love Korean food (which hardly exists in Philadelphia), and Seattle seems to have plenty of Asian culinary flavors (can't beat New York of course). Uwajimaya in Seattle has a nice Japanese market.

The only pitfall I have with Seattle is the high cost of living. It's certainly more expensive than Philadelphia, but cheaper than New York or California. There's no state income tax in Seattle, but high sales and property taxes make up for that.

I heard it's hard for singles to meet new people in Seattle, as there seems to be a workaholic vibe in the city. Perhaps Philadelphia has a better environment for singles than Seattle.

Based on your experiences, what are your thoughts on living in Philadelphia vs. Seattle?

Schadenfrau
April 5th, 2007, 10:55 PM
Based upon the interests you express, I think you've got nothing to lose in Seattle.

Honestly, I'm not a fan of the place. I've found it to be very corporate, somewhat soulless, and generally populated by fans of all things "new."

Charm comes with scuff-marks, and I tend to view anything lacking those marks with a greater suspicion. I like Philadelphia, and taxes don't bother me like they probably should. If you feel otherwise, you'd probably like Seattle, and I'm sure you'll find many other singles who feel the same way.

ribbentrop
April 5th, 2007, 11:08 PM
Charm comes with scuff-marks, and I tend to view anything lacking those marks with a greater suspicion. I like Philadelphia, and taxes don't bother me like they probably should. If you feel otherwise, you'd probably like Seattle, and I'm sure you'll find many other singles who feel the same way.

I actually prefer the directness of the East Coast over the "so-called" friendliness of Seattlelites and West Coasters in general. I like the blunt, in-your-face attitude. During my visit to Seattle last summer, I was treated courteously by the people I met. But it's difficult to get beyond these courtesies to a level where you can more intimately connect with them.

Seattlelites appear friendly on the surface, but I am not sure whether that translates into a genuine, sincere interest or a superficial friendliness. I found that New Yorkers or many East Coasters in general are more direct, but they warm up to you once they get to know you after a lengthy time. In other words, they will express interest in you if they find you genuinely interesting.

Schadenfrau
April 5th, 2007, 11:24 PM
I agree, but be careful in calling anyone Seattleites or East Coasters: most people you'll encounter will be transplants. Still, a lot of judgments about a city can be made by observing the sort of person it attracts.

Where did you grow up? And what did you like/dislike about that place?

Personally, I grew up in Washington state and moved to New York for college, back in 1994. I had never been to NYC before the move, but always suspected I would do well here, and was (fortunately) correct. I do miss the Northwest sometimes- notably when I went out for a funeral in December. I found a certain peace there that's rare in NYC, and for the first time in my life, considered moving back. But after after a few weeks back in reality- taking the subway, working, arguing at bodegas etc.- I pretty much lost the fire.

The Northwest is quite charming, especially if you're not there for work. Otherwise, I'm still iffy.

antinimby
April 5th, 2007, 11:44 PM
^ Yeah, NY will do that to you.

When you're here, sometimes you just want to get out but after you leave (and I mean very soon after) you miss it like crazy and think about getting back.

Now, for Seattle and Philly. What you've said so far is pretty much right on the mark as far as Seattle is concern since I've lived there before but I wouldn't know too much about Philly despite it being only an hour's drive away from NY (well, without traffic anyway).

I just want to add one more thing that you might have overlooked: transportation and commuting.

Seattle and its suburbs are really horrible when it comes to traffic. There are very little mass transit options other than buses (if that's your cup of tea).

I know Philly does have a subway system so that's one advantage it has there.

If I were you and everything is pretty much equal, I'd go where the $ is...but that's just me. :D

pianoman11686
April 6th, 2007, 05:08 PM
Seattle has amazing scenery, and the summer weather is phenomenal. Loads more things to do on days off, especially if you're outdoors-oriented. Do you have a particular locality in mind?

ryan
April 6th, 2007, 05:35 PM
If you like being outdoors, the Northwest has the Northeast beat.

ribbentrop
April 6th, 2007, 11:01 PM
Seattle has amazing scenery, and the summer weather is phenomenal. Loads more things to do on days off, especially if you're outdoors-oriented. Do you have a particular locality in mind?

Anywhere that is close proximity to water. I'm particularly interested in kayaking.

Belltown, Pioneer's Square, International District, and the area by the water just north of Pike's Market seem appealing. But I assume these are expensive properties. Any recommendations?

I hate to leave Philadelphia and then find out 10 years later that home prices in the city have drastically jumped due to an urban revival/expanding gentrification. Seattle's home market seems pretty saturated, while Philadelphia's has plenty of growth potential. You can buy a condo right now in some parts of the Center City area for less than $300,000.

Pennsylvania itself is starting to become a haven for NYC, Connecticut, and New Jersey refugees who complain about the high cost of living in their own states. Taxes in Pennsylvania are quite low compared to other states.

Seattle's sales tax is ridiculously high, at 8.8%, with restaurant food incurring a 9.3% sales tax. But I assume this is chicken feed by NYC standards. If you can make it in NYC earning $60,000 a year on a frugal budget, you can make it anywhere else, let alone Seattle.

Overall the quality of life seems better in Seattle (outdoor activities, nice summers, and an educated populace). But rather expensive to live in. Philadelphia has "race issues" with a segregated culture that is noninstitutionalized.

Perhaps I should consider other areas in PA like Scranton or Allentown, before deciding on Seattle. If you were offered the same salary in these PA locales (+ Philadelphia) as Seattle, where would you rather live?

pianoman11686
April 6th, 2007, 11:41 PM
Wow, those are all very close to city-center. Out of the four, I think the area just north of Pike Place (I think it's called the "Edge") was my favorite, although I doubt you'll find anything affordable. The market itself is amazing; I'd never get bored going there.

I found Pioneer Square a little seedy/decaying at times. Belltown is definitely on the up, with lots of new construction. You might want to look at some of the more residential-heavy neighborhoods, like Queen Anne. I especially liked Capitol Hill:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Capitolhill2.jpg

If it's kayaking you're really into, have you thought at all about living on one of the area's many islands?

dragonslayer
April 8th, 2007, 01:08 AM
As a fan of Frasier, i have to say Seattle. But then i don't know anything about Philadelphia so i guess my opinion isn't very reliable.

Azazello
April 10th, 2007, 05:36 PM
Perhaps I should consider other areas in PA like Scranton or Allentown, before deciding on Seattle. If you were offered the same salary in these PA locales (+ Philadelphia) as Seattle, where would you rather live?

I normally wouldn't respond to such threads. I'm a native of Philly and still visit there a few times a year. I've made my feelings known about the values, lows and highs, of Philly in another thread, so I won't go into that again.

At first I thought your thread was a joke, as it should be a no-brainer. Then as I read your statement above, I feel like we're getting baited for a setup, as there is no way you can compare Scranton/Allentown/etc to Philly to Seattle. You might as well ask if you should live in Billings(, MO) vs. Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta. [Hint: I wouldn't take Pittsburgh. No offense.]

Even if this is a setup, I'll bite. A little.

Philly does have some really good points, especially because it had massive population shrinkage in the last 10 years. It finally reached a population level which made it a liveable, likeable city, its infrastructure and transit system not over-burdened by too many citizens. It has shockingly large amount of good housing stock, sitting empty as there are few buyers, and ridiculous growth in "luxury" condos in the center city region, which makes sense which I'll explain below.

But there is a lot that is wrong, some of which you have already related. It lost the majority of its middle class tax base through yet another white-flight wave, and a significant part of its corporate tax base, and what remains is not enough to sustain the city beyond maintenance mode. It has high crime rates, mostly in low-level type crimes, due to - surprise - the remaining low/lower economic class that are the majority of residents in the city proper. Isn't the public school system still collapsed, being managed by the State? And let's not talk about its local politics and self-imposed racial segregation mentality. Let's end by saying, it is laughable to be worried that real estate prices will soar over the next 10 years. In Center City, maybe; in the city as a whole, not on your life.

So, the answer to your original question should be obvious, right? Well, maybe not. I just read to about how Philly's tourist board is actively courting artists from New York to move to Philly. I love the title of the pointer-link: If hipsters close their eyes, is Philadelphia like Williamsburg? (http://www.curbed.com/archives/2007/04/10/tuesday_am_linkage.php) (The answer is, yes, there are several sections of the city that can be the "New Williamsburg".)

I like this idea because artists do desperately need affordable housing to pursue their craft, and NYC has made it very clear that it does not support this need. Artists also can kick-start vitality into even the most dead and dying neighborhoods. They could just be the next best thing to come to Philly in a long time.

The other reason you can live a good life in Phila. is because of the racial divide. It is very possible to live a white life and a black life, and ne'er the twain need to meet or mix. And that is just fine for "luxury" real estate developers. For those of you who 'oooh' and 'aaah' about the "new" architecture being developed in the Center City, you do know who will NOT be moving into/near them, don't you? You can live a very privileged lifestyle from the Delaware River to 40th Street, and the only black faces you'll see is in low level services job, on public transit, or homeless. And possible as housekeepers in your condos, and babysitters for your children.

Look, if that's your thing, ok, then Philly is for you. But for me, I've seen this before, grew up with it. My main fear is that just one racial hate crime has to occur, and the city will be in flames. Again.

I know very little about Seattle, I've only visited there once. But I'm gonna assume it doesn't have the baggage and 'issues' that Philly has. So my vote, and $0.02, is gonna go with Seattle.

ribbentrop
May 6th, 2007, 10:55 PM
I have decided to stay in Philly, and help make it great! Azazello, I disagree with your pessimistic assessments of Philly.

Although you are correct to a certain degree regarding the self-imposed racial segregation mentality (residents in Philly neighborhoods do tend to avoid those with different socioeconomic statuses, and mingle more with their own), that's not happening in the current mayoral election. Michael Nutter is preferred by more white voters than black voters, while Tom Knox is preferred by black voters over Nutter. John Street was one joke of a mayor. Both Nutter and Knox have the potential to move Philly forward in ways that Street completely failed to do.

There is already gentrification occuring in the Fishtown area. Northern Liberties has become quite expensive. People maxed out of Northern Liberties have begun expanding into Fishtown. Who knows, even Kensington may one day receive the brunt of this domino effect.

Although Seattle is beautiful and doesn't have the problems that Philly has, that doesn't warrant moving to Seattle just because of current conditions. I rather take the underrated city that has a lot of potential (like a small, underperforming brother who wants to achieve greatness like his older brother, but wants to be great on his own terms, rather than live in his older brother's shadows).

Philadelphia does have its ugly and rough spots, and this grittiness character is kind of appealing. But nevermind that. What I'm talking about is a flourishing shopping scene that is developing (Shops like Sephora are coming to Walnut this July, while Barneys is in the process of setting up shop in Philly). Taxes are currently high, but with the current mayoral election underway with Nutter and Knox as the frontrunners, overhaul of the tax code looks promising.

NYC successfully climbed out of its hole from the 1970's. Who said Philadelphia can't do the same? I've very optimistic about Philly's future, and there's nothing more contagious than migrants coming into Philly and believing they can shape the city for the better by investing in the city.

I figured that if I live in Philly, I have the chance to live in an affordable living environment (compared to Seattle's expensive housing costs) while enjoying the luxury of being so close to New York City. Basically I'll be living in New York City (not in the literal sense of course), but taking advantage of the affordability, proximity, and growth potential that Philly offers by living in the Next Great City.

Also Philly is a very walkable city. It doesn't have the traffic nightmares that the Seattle area has. With Philly, you're in close proximity to the Poconos, Lancaster County, the scenic Pennsylvania countryside, the Jersey shore, Washington DC, and of course an hour's train ride to Manhattan. Ever been outside the city limits of Seattle? Probably the most boring piece of land you ventured into.

A lot of neighborhoods in Philly resemble what SoHo was prior to the late 80's and early 90's. SoHo previously was a wasteland (remember when city officials wanted to build an expressway through SoHo and raze its tenement buildings in the name of city-sanctioned development). But guess what? The artists and yuppies moved in and singlehandedly transformed the neighborhood. I predict that some of Philly's blighted neighborhoods may face this same possibility. Of course we're not talking about North Philadelphia or Southwest Philadelphia anytime soon. However the gentrification in Fairmount is starting to spread north.

Azazello, no offense, but perhaps you're envious or afraid that one day 10 years later, those who live in Philadelphia are reaping the benefits of an improved city while you are jumping in circles regretting your move from Philly.

Chi2NYC?
May 7th, 2007, 11:22 AM
I actually prefer the directness of the East Coast over the "so-called" friendliness of Seattlelites and West Coasters in general. I like the blunt, in-your-face attitude. During my visit to Seattle last summer, I was treated courteously by the people I met. But it's difficult to get beyond these courtesies to a level where you can more intimately connect with them.


i agree with this statement when it's also applied to chicagoans (as the op suggests and other people have suggested). chicagoans are often courteous to strangers, but they tend to only talk to each other when they must (like if they bump into each other). they stay guarded, and apparent gestures of friendliness don't seem sincere. saccharine civility.

and the most annoying thing is that panhandlers here expect you to talk to them. you can't just walk by and ignore them when they ask for money. if you do, they might start following you to harass you more. you actually have to look at this person you've never met (and is often trying to hustle you--"my car ran out of gas", "i need two dollars for the train to get back to the homeless shelter", etc.) and reply with a sympathetic look "no, i can't." effin' ridiculous.

Azazello
May 17th, 2007, 06:24 PM
No offense at all! Actually your comment...
Azazello, no offense, but perhaps you're envious or afraid that one day 10 years later, those who live in Philadelphia are reaping the benefits of an improved city while you are jumping in circles regretting your move from Philly.made me laugh!

I am not worried --at all-- that a place like Philly will ever trump a place like New York City, in my lifetime or that of my children, much less in 10 years. Presuming this forum is still here in that time, let's come back and compare notes.

And although my "pessimistic assessments" may not be to your liking, they are factual. You didn't really addressed the points I made but gave us side-issues, only marginally related to mine. That's okay because you're not a native and don't know the city intimately. If you're staying to make a difference, God Bless You -- Philly needs all the help it can get. Still, your main theme, that gentrification is the city's salvation, I agree with, even support. More on that below.

The upcoming mayor race is not a good indicator of the nature of racial divisions because even Blacks know the Street was not a good mayor. Everyone's looking for good leadership and innovative ideas - racial politics will not play as large a factor in this race as in earlier ones. It'll be the job of the new mayor to inspire all of the neighborhoods with a positive sense of inclusion and empowerment in the city's development. The initiatives must be effective and substantive -- not just lip-service. Listen to the candidates and determine who understands this and has ideas on how to pursue solutions.

Philly's best salvation is through gentrification... I must say I agree with that, as it will not come from the current society that has made roots there and have been there for generations. I already know about the gentrification waves that have and are going on throughout the city. They have been going on for at least 15 years. As NYC became increasingly unaffordable even for middle-class families, the seeking of more affordable locations was predictable. As I already noted above, there is prime, newly-built real estate already built just begging for these new residents.

If the new mayor can get the taxes down (very hard; I don't see where the revenue will come from), bring in more businesses especially small ones, cleanup the school system, and as noted above rally the long-term residents, we will see a positive turn for the city.