Great report coming from The Philadelphia Business Journal, "Philadelphia speeds ahead of N.Y. and San Francisco for best quality of life for the cost"

Posted on 4/29/2018 by in News


Home ownership seems to serve as a litmus test for how affordable seems to residents. "For companies thinking about relocating or opening a satellite office, these survey results provide extremely useful data."

Philadelphia has the best quality of life for the cost compared with any other U.S. city, at least according to a survey from one San Franciso-based mobile banking startup.

Most Americans said they feel New York is the best for things like cultural activities, public transportation, and restaurants and bars, but Philadelphia has got the Big Apple — and the rest of the United States — beat when it comes to the quality of life for the cost, according to the Bay Area's mobile banking startup Varo Money Inc., in a survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and over.

The fintech company recently raised $45 million in a Series B funding, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and last year made moves to get into banking — part of its 2016 goals.

The survey, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Varo Money in April, determined what Americans like about major cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and where quality of life is highest for the cost and also how residents bank.

About 56 percent of Philadelphia residents said the city offers the best quality of life for the cost, and 73 percent were most likely to say they could generally afford the lifestyle they want, according to Varo Money.

Home ownership serves as a litmus test for how affordable cities seem to residents, according to the company. About 66 percent of survey respondents said they own their homes in Philadelphia, more than any other U.S. city.

Chicago comes in second at 62 percent for home ownership; Los Angeles at 53 percent; New York at 52 percent; and San Francisco at 47 percent. The national average is 54 percent, according to Varo Money.

About 25 percent of Philadelphia residents rent, the lowest percentage of the five cities surveyed; just 12 percent of Philadelphians live with roommates; and 7 percent live at home with their parents, which is on a par with the national average, according to Varo Money.

More Philadelphia residents are dining out for dinners that cost more than $50, also called fancy dinners. About 47 percent have one fancy dinner every month, more than the national average of 24 percent. An additional 15 percent of Philadelphians splurge on a weekly basis, according to the survey.

It costs much less for a night out in Philadelphia than other cities. About 38 percent of residents said they need $50 to $100, and 34 percent need more than $100. But 28 percent of Philadelphians said they can go out for less than $50.

"Perhaps this explains why only 18 percent of Philadelphians, compared to 31 percent of Americans living elsewhere, have an entertainment budget," according to Varo Money.

Philadelphia residents also said the city offers the best:

  • Farmers markets: 55 percent
  • Microbrews: 52 percent
  • Dating scene for straight men: 32 percent
  • Public parks and outdoor activities: 31 percent
  • Dog parks: 29 percent
  • Dating scene for straight women: 28 percent, tied with New York

“For companies thinking about relocating or opening a satellite office, these survey results provide extremely useful data,” said Colin Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Varo Money, in an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“Quality of life — including financial considerations — is a huge benefit for companies across industries, and this survey hits some of the most critical factors," Walsh said. The results are also useful for tourism and permanent residents as "a gauge of where their city ranks against others," he said.

More Philadelphia data from Varo Money

About 55 percent of Philadelphia residents said they felt Los Angeles has the better weather, and 45 percent said they feel San Francisco has a better dating scene for the LGTBQ community.

About 19 percent of Philadelphia residents found issue with their bank's overdraft fees, according to Varo Money. About 18 percent noted the low savings rate.

But "Philadelphians generally have fewer complaints about their banks than people living in other cities, perhaps owing to the fact that significantly fewer Philadelphians, 41 percent, bank at big national banks than Americans living in the other four cities, 56 percent," according to Varo Money.

About 65 percent of Philadelphia residents, on a par with other U.S. residents, said they find overdraft fees more annoying than bouncing payments.

What's more, Philadelphia residents said it's harder to switch banks than it is switching jobs, doctors, hairdressers, gyms, and from iPhone to Android devices.

About "4 percent of Philadelphians feel that switching banks is even more difficult than swapping out their current significant other or spouse," according to Varo Money.

Kenneth Hilario
Philadelphia Business Journal