When we mention our plans to return to the US in early March and settle in Philadelphia, the reactions split on predictable lines with family and friends. Europeans say, “Great choice, I love Philadelphia. That’s my favorite US city.” While the Americans (at least those who elect to say anything) generally ask in a concerned voice, “Philadelphia? Why Julie? Why Philadelphia?” Others helpfully suggest, “Have you considered D.C? Boston? New York?”
Pat and I have decided over the last three plus years of living in European cities – and assimilating both the good and the bad – that we want to settle in a place with the following criteria: walkable – no need to own a car, artistic, diverse, great food – both markets and restaurants, accessible to an international airport and affordable. It’s that last one which discounts Boston, D.C. and New York. Considering all those criteria, Philadelphia is the best fit of the US cities we would consider.
As I type this, we are staying in one of the lesser desirable, South Philadelphia neighborhoods in a two bedroom, furnished row house which rents for $1350 per month – all expenses included. We are a short walk to the much more trendy East Passyunk neighborhood. And beyond that, we can cut through the Italian Market and be in Center City after an easy 30 minute stroll.
Living in Central Europe, we are immune to litter, graffiti, and the general seediness of gritty, city living. Yesterday, we walked by a store front where a woman fed sheets of freshly made noodles through a pasta cutter. As I watched her work, the litter on the street became inconsequential. Pat’s immediate reaction was, “Wow, if we live here, I’ll walk down to get fresh pasta whenever you want it.” To us, that is what the city is all about.
Philadelphia has become the affordable alternative for Brooklyn wannabees. And it is, as my son tells me, the fastest growing city over the last eight years for millennials. As a Mr. Mom, Pat has always been comfortable with a diverse range of friends – from 20 something ski bums to 80 something retirees. Among all the flavors of diversity, age diversity is something we value.
Bottom line, Philadelphia is the city I will refer to when I use the moniker, “home”.
All that said, we stopped by an open house at a Trinity home in Center City. And we might spend a few hours with a realtor before we head back to Budapest in mid-January. But I am not yet ready to move into a permanent base. Philadelphia will be that city we return to when we have no place else to be, or we just need to regroup. It will be the city which collects our mail. This apartment has worked well for us. I am relieved to have found a base which we can rent for a month or two at a time.
In 2015, we will be back for March and April, perhaps a bit of August and September and definitely next Christmas. Yet while I am glad we found a base, and I love our new city, I am not yet ready to turn that base into an anchor.
Categories: The United States