Reading was once the home of one of the country’s most extensive railroad systems, the Reading Railroad, which has been forever immortalized in the board game Monopoly. Unsurprisingly, the city is, even today, inhabited mostly by mustachioed old men sporting top hats and bowties (nope, not really).
The city’s cost of living index (which takes into account things like consumer goods, utilities, groceries, travel expenses, and housing costs) is more than 15 percent lower than the national average, and it’s quite possible to find an apartment for less than $700.
Downtown Reading has made major strides attracting visitors and new residents, and area attractions now include a performing arts venue, massive art center, IMAX cinema, and numerous concert venues, museums, and a symphony orchestra. The city is also dotted with pubs and clubs to appease night owls, meaning you’ll have much more to do in Reading than sit around your apartment twiddling your thumbs and playing Monopoly. Or reading.
The BARTA city busses run 21 routes throughout Reading and the surrounding areas, but unless you live downtown, where public transit is more readily available, we strongly suggest you bring along your own set of wheels. Even in the more walker-friendly areas, like West Reading and Wyomissing, your best bet is driving, since the city’s restaurants, stores, banks, etc. are mostly spread out and not entirely conducive to foot traffic.
Absolutely! There’s no such thing as a “renting season” in Reading, so you don’t have to worry about playing the waiting game to find the best available deals. You’re extremely unlikely to encounter waiting lists or landlords who demand exorbitant move-in fees, either. Apartment specials do pop up frequently and some property managers cover tenants’ utility bills. In other words, seek and ye shall find, and don’t settle for an apartment until you’re positive it’s perfect for you, because plenty others are available (in fact, 12 percent of residences are currently unoccupied).
Landlords have different policies regarding pets, roommates, and even guests in some cases, so make sure you read and understand every detail of your lease before putting your stamp of approval on it. Also, don’t assume your apartment is in tip-top shape and ready for you to occupy it. Give your apartment a solid inspection to make sure time has treated it kindly enough. Run the furnace and air-conditioning units to make sure they function properly, check your pipes, faucets, toilets, sinks and showerheads for leaks, drips, etc., and examine the walls, ceilings, and floors for cracks, watermarks, or noticeable blemishes.
Finally, best of luck, happy hunting, and welcome to the Keystone State!