Housing Advice

The graduate students are working on updating their map of housing and other fun things near our department. The link to the map is here.

Here is an Off Campus Housing search page.

The Drexel Graduate Student Association has posted a useful FAQ that includes an overview of housing options.
This non-Drexel web site may also be helpful.


A forum for graduate students to praise their landlord, share the woes about maintenance, and passing on the words of wisdom about renting/owning apartments/houses!


Cindy says:

1st year apt: 3616 Baring St 3F
Landlord: Powelton Properties
Rent: $975
Neighborhood: Powelton village, 10-15 minutes walk to Disque, reasonably safe, within the Drexel and UCD walking escort service perimeter.
Maintenance: Not always the best craftsmanship, but quick to respond. They came out and caught a mouse and plugged up the holes in the wall for me, too.
Apartment: Reasonably spacious for a 1BR, narrow but functional kitchen, small bathroom, a lot of sunlight throughout the whole apartment, very hot in the summer

 

2nd year apt: 3612 Baring St 1R

Landlord: Powelton Properties
Rent: $965
Neighborhood: Powelton village, 10-15 minutes walk to Disque, reasonably safe, within the Drexel and UCD walking escort service perimeter.
Maintenance: Not always the best craftsmanship, but quick to respond. They never fixed the leak in the ceiling despite how many times they came out and there were some minor electrical problems.
Apartment: Very spacious for a 1BR, nice big backyard (or more like a jungle since I didn’t upkeep it well enough), backyard is private but that means you have to upkeep it yourself, large and functional kitchen, small bathroom, really lacking in sunlight


Joe says:

For my first year, I moved into Concord Hall, a property owned and managed by Campus Apartments. Here’s my opinions and suggestions on that management company given my current experience.

Property: Concord Hall, 4418 Spruce Street
Landlord: Campus Apartments
Contact: (215) 243-7000
Pros:
– Very professional leasing office and reasonable legal obligations.
– Clean building that allows pets for an extra charge.
– Friendly, young professionals/grad student tenants.
– Safe and ideal location; within 30 minute walk from Drexel.
– Great food in the area and 5 minute walk from Clark Park.
– Free shuttle service to most of West Philadelphia and University City.
– Located near several bus/trolly lines that’ll get you to Center City quickly.
– Laundry Unit on site with reasonable rates compared to other laundry mats.

Cons:
– Maintenance team is polite, but terrible at fixing issues and very, very slow.
– Pest problems are dealt with completely, but with little regards to the tenants
living standards and over several months of treatments.
– Units are far too small for the price; about ~900 sq.ft. 3BD for over 2K a month.
– Packages delivered by non-USPS are nearly impossible to get picked up as they
don’t have access to the building.
– Comcast is your only option for internet access.
– Lack of AC units and very spotty radiator heat.

Summary:
Overall, the building and residents are great and made the year at Concord average at best. However, dealing with the maintenance team, pest problems, high monthly rent (which is rising), move out dates on the 25th of the month, package problems, and lack of radiator heat on some of the coldest days really makes it not the best place to live in Philadelphia. I have heard good stories from some people, but on my experience I would strongly recommend trying to find another place.

TLDR: If you can’t find another place, Concord Hall is an okay place to spend a year if your standards aren’t that high going in and you don’t mind odd sleeping arrangements during possible pest problems. There are certainly worst places you could go.

Final Rating: 1.5/5.0


Kelley says:

First/Second year house: 3225 Mount Vernon ST

Landlord: Dan De Salvo

Rent: $2550 for a 4 bedroom house, no central heat or AC, water included.

North University City- If you are going above Baring St, stay east of 33rd! In general, north of Spring Garden is pretty shady, but Ginny and I were at 32nd and Mount Vernon and found the experience overall safe and pleasant. However, west of 33rd gets pretty sketchy, especially in the evening.

Also, don’t walk by Drexel park (32nd and Baring) at midnight alone. Very high chances you will be the victim of armed robbery. Call the escort service, or go home earlier. Technically, the escort service stops at Spring Garden, but they will totally still go with you if you are a few blocks further.

Dan De Salvo was our landlord for years 1 and 2, and he is great. I think he may have a few more properties in the area. He is pretty slow to respond to stuff, so you have to pester him a lot if things need fixing, but he is super easy going and doesn’t mind if rent is a few (or more) days late. He loves having grad students as his residents because we don’t trash the house with parties or children.

Dan De Salvo
desalvollc@gmail.com
484-576-9160

Third-Fifth year house: Mount Airy/Chestnut hill suburb of Philly. Two blocks from the Allen Lane regional rail train.

Rent: $2400 for a 4 1/2 bedroom house (the fifth room is not legally a bedroom because there isn’t a closet, but could easily house a person)

Neighborhood: Is majestic and wonderful and safe and pretty and RIGHT NEXT TO THE WISSAHICKON if you like hiking. It’s a 25 minute train commute to school, but this much bigger house with a yard and a sunroom + train pass cost ($101/month) is still cheaper than living in our old neighborhood. 10/10 would recommend.

Landlord: Self-rented by people who moved down a few neighborhoods over to put their kids in a better school district.

 


Angelica says:

First-Year Apartment: 213 N 35th Street

Landlord: Academic Properties (which is owned by Drexel)
Rent: $900 (including utilities: water, heat, electricity, and laundry was in the basement of an adjacent building.)
Neighborhood: (Following Cindy’s lead!) Powelton village, 10-15 minutes walk to Disque, within the Drexel and UCD walking escort service perimeter. I never had any bad experiences personally, but there are text alerts that occasionally go out for the area, and there was a car window smashed on the street in front of my apartment…

Review: Apartment was reasonably-sized for a one-bedroom apartment, they were fairly responsive to calls (although they never fixed my leaky sink despite the fact that I called multiple times). Air-conditioning is not included in the price, also the price of rent went up after a year.

I couldn’t afford to live there again the next year (but this is mostly because I got a car). I moved north of the city (Manayunk) with 2 roommates, and rent is MUCH cheaper (the apartments are also much nicer/newer up there). The drive isn’t too bad (unless you’re trying to get to a 9:00am) so it’s a trade-off.

Becka says:

1st year apartment: 48th & Pine
Landlord: Greenzang Properties
Rent: ~$480 per person (3 bedroom apartment at $1450)
Neighborhood: “Spruce Hill” – West Philadelphia
Frankly, I would say this is about as far west as it is safe to go, but probably 2ish blocks too far. Check the Philadelphia Crime Map to get an idea. The area around 40th-46th streets between Baltimore Ave and Walnut has a ton of restaurants, coffee shops, and is a generally nice neighborhood. The Penn Bus also operates in this area, which Drexel students are free to use. I felt mostly safe in this area, except for the couple blocks right by my apartment.
Greenzang Properties is pretty good. They are professional, make repairs pretty quickly and are easy to communicate with. I had no problems with them. Also, they have pet-friendly housing with no breed restrictions on dogs. There’s a one-time, non-refundable pet fee, but no pet rent. They also have secure package delivery to their offices if you need it.
I don’t really have any complaints other than about the apartment itself. Greenzang did a good job keeping it well-maintained (they professionally clean and paint and re-buff the floors between tenants), but it was in an old building with very few outlets, plaster walls, etc. which you can’t really change.
Keep in mind a lot of apartments in West Philly are in old buildings!
2nd year home: 3816 Hamilton St.
Landlord: Powelton Properties
Rent: ~$650/person (4 bedroom at $2600)
Neighborhood: Powelton Village
Powelton Properties: Straight up, don’t rent from these people. They are generally nice and sometimes try, but have way too many properties to handle. The term “slum lord” is pretty appropriate. They do not maintain their properties very well, if at all, and they do not do any upkeep or cleaning in-between tenants. They performed “renovations” on our house before move-in, didn’t finish the work, and never came by to clean up the contractor dust, etc. or the general dirt left from the home being vacant for a year. I give the strongest warning not to rent from Powelton Properties. Just look up their reviews online and you’ll see a slew of issues from past tenants.
Powelton Village: I’ve been very happy at our location. It’s a very easy walk to campus (~15 minutes), and the Drexel safety escort operates throughout the area. There are plenty of food options around. The only downside is you have to take a hike to get to a grocery store on foot. This isn’t a problem for me, since I have a car, but you’ll have to walk 5+ blocks to get to the nearest full grocery store. Parking is reasonably easy in this area (my parking pass was $35 for the year). Finally, in general, I would say this area tends to have higher rent for what you get (lots of student housing, i.e. a bit run down, at a jacked up price).

Josh says:

My first two years I rented from Chris O’Donnell at 4600 Baltimore Ave. The location was great, if a bit of a hike to school every day. Lots and lots of cool restaurants nearby and Clark Park is very close to here. So I definitely recommend the area.

O’Donnell and his sister run their own real estate business. The apt was very affordable ($975 a month for a floor of a row house), but repairs almost never happened and *he never returned my deposit OR gave justification for not returning it.* I can’t recommend him.
I tried to rent from Urban and Bye Realty on Lancaster. They took my deposit of $2,400.00 up front, and then two weeks later I still had no lease from them. I had to threaten legal action (like, actually have a lawyer for them to call) to get my money back. I would not recommend them either.
The last two years I’ve been renting a great apt at 810 S. 23rd St. from Dimtry at Spring Hill Services. The location is really nice, though rent is higher in this area (Graduate Hospital, the rent for my place is $2435 a month for 3 bedrooms). Two of my favorite bar / burger places within a 5 minute walk from there (Grace’s Tavern and SideCar Bar and Grille). Also there is a nice grocery store and pet store within about 5 minutes of there (I have a dog so thats a big plus). My current roommates are moving out though so I’m losing this place.
The people at Spring Hill Services have been awesome. Every repair call has been answered within 24 hours and they are super friendly. Also Dimtry is currently working with me on ending the lease early so I can move back to West Philly.
Now I’m currently about to move to Westwood Apts at 45th and Walnut. I like the location and the apts are all affordable for the area (I’m getting a two bedroom with a balcony for $1450). It’s reasonably close to Drexel and Fresh Grocer, as well as the Local 44 (bar with cask ale on tap!).
The folks at Westwood have been super friendly and helpful in setting up the lease and very flexible on the move in date, which they let me delay by two months. I’d recommend them based on what I’ve seen so far, though I haven’t actually lived there yet.
If you have any other questions feel free to shoot me an email!
Josh


Blake says:

General advice: Look at Trulia’s crime map
I would avoid anywhere with orange within a block or 2. Light yellow is no problem.
So north of campus (Powelton neighborhood), anywhere east of 37 is gtg.
West of campus, I’d say east of 46 and south of Chestnut in general.
Now onto my specific house:
3816 Hamilton
Powelton Properties
To put it succinctly: avoid them.
The house was in moderate disrepair and was dirty from a year of vacancy when we viewed it. The assured us it would be fixed up and cleaned. In fact, to cover our butts, we drew up an addendum to the lease that they and we signed, making it legally part of our lease. They did no cleaning whatsoever, did not fix any of the issues they promised to, and the contractor they hired to finish installing a second bathroom was behind schedule, never fully finished, and what he did do he half-hearted. We spent the first few months emailing them about issues. They kept saying someone would come, but no one ever did, so we gave up.
Issues they never addressed include:
Front door that sometimes doesn’t close, sometimes doesn’t lock (deadbolt does fortunately), sometimes doesn’t unlock, sometimes has a loose handle, etc.
Large bubbles of plaster in the wall due to water leaking in.
Mice.
Gaps between the floorboards and wall.
Piles of garbage in the basement including a broken window, food remnants, and a mouse corpse.
Graffiti in the basement.
Moldy insulation in the basement.
Lights that don’t work in the basement.
A loose stair in the basement.
Wires hanging from the ceiling in the basement.
Door handles that come off.
Doors that scrape against the wood floor.
Cracks in doors through which you can see daylight and feel cold air.
Ceilings and fans covered in dust.
Broken ceiling fans.
Leaking sink.
That’s probably everything… Let’s just say, I would not be upset if they went out of business.

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