What It’s Like to Live in a Trinity, According to Philly Mag Readers

"What you lose in square footage, you gain in charm, lower heating bills, great neighbors, and the most interesting city in the United States."

trinity house at 2026-Tyron-Street-Philadelphia-PA-featured-image

A Tryon Street trinity house that sold over a year ago.

Ever been curious about what it’s like to live in a Father, Son & Holy Ghost, i.e. a quirky, but quintessentially Philadelphian, rowhouse with three stories and one room per floor? Well, thanks to a slew of readers who answered this Redditor’s query about what it’s like to live in a trinity, now we know.  (Too bad we couldn’t get a quote from David Lynch.)

Behold, eleven testimonials about what it’s like to live in a Philadelphia trinity house:

“I rented one at 10 & locust with 2 other grown adults. It was my first place to rent in Philly and we had a blast. Spent a lot of time outside exploring and shopping. Home was a cozy retreat from the grand city.” – Jenn Charos Poyser via Facebook

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Entertaining is difficult. We could fit four people comfortably in our living room and two on folding chairs. At that point you’re crawling all over each other to get around the coffee table. Also imagine going up to bed on the third story and forgetting something in your basement kitchen. Or eating on the first floor and wanting a refill. All those stairs get to be pretty old.” – Jack Cotter via Phillymag.com

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“I’ve lived in an updated trinity for 3 years and love it although it is starting to get little crowded with my husband and the dog. If you want a full “mini” house (no one above clanging around in high heels, no one below blasting music), no doorman/awkward elevator convo, a basement, a patio, a steep walk up to the 3rd floor that winds even the most in shape athletes, and a $35 st. parking permit for the year…then a trinity is for you!!” – Gabby Lee via Facebook

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 “I just fell in love with the little houses when we explored Philadelphia. So many are tucked away in the middle of blocks and have lovely courtyards, or are on small streets. It’s really about the entire picture, not just the house. And you find yourself exploring the city a lot anyway. It’s all about the cozy, really. There is nothing cozier than a trinity.” – Suzanne Dreitlein via Facebook

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 “I thought it was cool at first. It was hard to move anything in especially to the 3rd floor where the ceiling was lower. Fortunately my bed came rolled up but I watched my neighbors in a twin of my trinity have to hoist their bed to the top floor as well. Too small and too hot for me and they are usually very old homes needing various internal and cosmetic updates.” – Staci Washington via Facebook

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All TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach - Center City Walnut

TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

“Philadelphia’s trinities are a blessing to city living, in my opinion. Yes, the stairs are tricky, but think of the tradeoffs. For the same price as a 1br apartment or condo, you OWN YOUR HOUSE. Yes, you might have to move your bedroom furniture in through the window, but you’re gonna have to deal with elevators in an apartment or condo. At the end of the day, you HAVE A HOUSE. You (usually) have a yard. You don’t have to deal with a condo board. Not to mention, you get so much character. The only thing more unique might be a houseboat.” – “Philatonian” via Phillymag.com

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 “Loaded question! What size trinity? Answer: it doesn’t matter! I’ve rented a cook’s house which was an 800 sq ft Trinity, and I’ve owned a large 1,600 sq ft Trinity at 12th and Lombard. I loved both! I love history, I love old world craftsmanship (old pine floors, etc.), I love the fact that they figured out high-density housing in the 1700s, I love the smaller footprints, and never had problems with noise transmission between walls. What you lose in square footage, you gain in charm, lower heating bills, great neighbors, and the most interesting city in the United States. Trinities are awesome!” – Karl Valentine via Facebook

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“The charming aspects: original hardwoods, flowering window boxes, exposed brick and beams, lofted ceilings, etc. come with their annoying counterparts – extremely dangerous stairs, holes in the floor (literally, you can see through our floorboards in some spots) and some furry creatures. (Read: mice!) But overall, the convenience and quiet and charm and feeling like you are really living in a piece of history, experiencing a truly Philadelphian living experience is worth it. Also: Private outdoor space!” – Rachel Morgan Cautero via Phillymag.com

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“I’ve owned a Queen Village trinity for almost seven years. Smurfhouse, treehouse, whatever you call it, it gained me access to a neighborhood I would have never otherwise been able to afford. The spiral stairs aren’t for the faint of heart or weak-kneed (“How about I visit YOU, grandmom?”), and the coziness is a drag when I want to host company, but I adore the place for its history and charm. Best buying decision I could’ve made. You get used to it.” – Danielle Burrows via Facebook

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“I lived in a trinity house for a year. Forget about bringing a decent bed frame upstairs and be prepared to duck if you’re six feet tall. Still, I thought it was fun for two people.” – Lawrence J. Avallone via Facebook

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“We’ve lived in a Trinity in Queen Village for over 4 years now. At approx 480 sq feet, it’s not for everyone, but it’s very much for us. You quickly learn the value of minimalism and a great respect for stairs. Our house is one of three trinity houses tucked away behind a “main” house that sits on the street, which gives us an extra bit of respite from the city. It’s very cozy in the winter (we have a working fireplace!), but can feel a little claustrophobic in the summer (especially because we rely on window units). For a couple, although small, having multiple floors gives you the ability to break off and do your own thing when you want. When it comes to roomates: our 60lb pit-mix navigates the spiral stairs like a pro (better than us), but one more pup and we’d have too much of a full house!

Like any place you live, there will always be pros and cons, but we knew the second we walked in that Trinity-living was for us.

[Another thing: Ikea, Ikea, Ikea. It’s much easier to schlep flat boxes up the stairs then try to navigate full-framed furniture.]” – Ludakristen Humbert via Facebook


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