Philly’s A Bargain* for the Short-Term Renter

*On the whole, that is. But as is often the case, the devil's in the details. A group of data analysis pros explain them.

You could spend top dollar for a fabulous short-term furnished residence

You could spend top dollar for a fabulous short-term furnished residence like those offered at AKA’s three Philadelphia locations when visiting Philadelphia. Fortunately, if you don’t have that kind of coin, you can find very affordable alternatives, according to the Priceonomics Data Studio. It just depends on where you look. | Photo: AKA

With the presence of luxury extended-stay pioneer AKA in this market, you might get the impression that renting a residence for a short visit is an expensive proposition here.

Fortunately for your wallet, you’d be wrong.

According to the research team at the Priceonomics Data Studio, Philadelphia actually has the fourth-least-expensive short-term rental rates of any city in the country.

The study, explained in detail on the Priceonomics blog, actually examines daily rates for short-term rentals – the kind a visitor to the city would pay as opposed to what someone needing to find a place to rest their head for a month or longer might pay. But the study is nonetheless interesting for what it also reveals about data analysis: namely, the results you get depend on the data you analyze.

It’s something journalists like me often neglect to point out in stories discussing statistics, but it’s an important fact to remember.

So here’s the breakdown:

Priceonomics decided to rank states and cities according to their median price for a short-term rental using data from one of their clients, Datafiniti, a company that collects data on short-term rental listings from web sites such as Airbnb. The Priceonomics team chose to include only listings that had at least one review attached to them in order to ensure legitimacy.

After ranking the states based on the data they selected, they then drilled down to the 100 cities with the most listings on the web sites and ranking those cities based on their median short-term rental price. Using that overall metric, Philadelphia scored very well, with a median rental rate of $65 per night.

But, as the folks at Priceonomics note, that figure covers everything from, say, booking a ski lodge in Colorado or a beach house in Rehoboth to renting a studio apartment in Manhattan. So they decided to look at rents for units of specified sizes, in this case one, two and three beds.

Parsed this way, Philadelphia appears nowhere on any of the lists of least and most expensive cities. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, for it means that while the city may not be a bargain for the short-term visitor seeking a single bedroom or a small apartment, it’s not expensive either.

What accounts for the disappearance? Chances are it’s because the cheapest short-term rentals available here are larger than the ones they examined in closer detail. These might include hostel-style lodgings or large homes whose owners rent out rooms to several guests at a time.

If you’re planning on spending a little time in Philadelphia, knowing this might help you save a bundle on your home away from home. And if you have the bucks to spend on something more sumptuous, there’s always AKA.

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