Fact-Checking a Philadelphia Story


(From Wyndham)

It's that time of year again when seemingly every slow-paced hamlet from here to the equator begins bombarding New Yorkers with ads trying to lure us out of our frigid city and into the warm embrace of, say, Barbados or the U.S. Virgin Islands. On Thursday morning, yet another sleepy Southern destination added its voice to the siren song. So who was our latest geographical temptress?

In a word: Philadelphia.

In three words: yes, that Philadelphia.

To wit: Yesterday, the metro section of the New York Times included a five-page advertising section, entitled "Great Places to Live: Philadelphia." Therein, advertisers in the paper, which previously tried to convince us that Philadelphia is New York's sixth borough, made the case to actually move there. And not just for a week in February, mind you. But for the rest of our God-given lives.

Why would anyone want to do that? According to the advertising section, the fruits of Philadelphia are plentiful, the advantages over New York myriad. No longer simply a municipal fountain of cheesesteak, these days Philadelphia boasts a wide range of cosmopolitan attractions, we are told, from fine dining, to its "first-class infrastructure," to its "high-energy city trappings." Not to mention, lots and lots of enviable real estate.

To emphasize the point, the section included the real-life story of an erstwhile New Yorker, an entertainment lawyer named Rob Auritt, who recently made the leap from New York to Philadelphia. Along the way, Auritt and his family traded in their cramped two-bedroom co-op in south Brooklyn and bought a spacious townhouse in Center City.

"In New York, their last address was a two-bedroom co-op in Ditmas Park, so far removed from happening spots in Manhattan, or even his own borough, that they rarely went out," read the advertorial. "Now, their roomy three-bedroom town house is a stone's throw from the action, yet really quiet."

So how much did Auritt pay for the new digs? The advertisement omitted such details—which left us curious. After all, Philadelphia, like New York, has had a whopping run-up in real-estate prices over the past decade. Does a two-bedroom co-op in the far reaches of Brooklyn really equate to a three-story townhouse in central Philly?

As it turns out, not exactly.

According to municipal property records, this past October, Auritt sold his co-op in Brooklyn for $429,000. At around the same time, he purchased his new home in Philadelphia for…$505,000. That’s roughly a 17 percent bump.

In other words, by moving to Philadelphia, Auritt has managed to do what so many New York refugees have failed to do in times past. He actually increased his cost of living on the way out.

Our sincere congratulations! May you never grow tired of cheesesteak.

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