Boston to Bethlehem? Seeking LV town for 20-somethings (Philadelphia, Allentown: real estate, condo)
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Boston to Bethlehem? Seeking LV town for 20-somethings
I saw one of the latest posts asked that new threaders fill out this form for advice. To preface this, I am trying to figure out which, if any, Lehigh Valley towns might be a good fit for my husband & I. We are both in our mid-20s and are looking for a town that appreciates the arts, culture, and nightlife, but that can help us ease out of the hectic Boston scene and into a smaller city/town with less traffic (!) but with some of the same history and culture New England offers. I'd say as far as things to do, a thriving downtown and a good movie theatre are on our list of must-haves. I'd like to be able to run all of my errands on one main drag. Other than that, you'll probably find the info you need below. So far, the top towns I've been looking into are Bethlehem and Emmaus. Recommendations for towns and/or neighborhoods are welcome! Here goes...
When are you moving? Summer-fall 2012
Where are you coming from? A Boston suburb
Why are you moving? We want to be closer to our families; my husband & I grew up in Central Pennsylvania. The lower cost of living won't hurt either.
Where will you be working? My husband will be working from home for the next few years. I need a job in publishing or marketing.
Have you been here yet? Many years ago, when I was a teenager.
Will you buy or rent? We will be looking to buy either now or in a year or 2
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? A house. We wouldn't want to spend more than $200k. Resale value is a concern.
Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married. No kids yet.
Do you prefer public or private schools? If the public school was a good one (unlike the one I went to), I'd prefer it
Do you have pets? Yes, a dog.
Do you want or need a yard? Would love a yard
Are you keeping a car? Yes
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? Can I say both? Haha. Something in between.
What do you want to be closest to?
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
X Nightlife X (by nightlife I mean some shops, a movie theatre maybe, a couple of good restaurants)
Near Bus stop? Please note that there is NO rail service in the Lehigh Valley.
Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? I like some diversity.
Phillies or Mets? Phillies!
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE TO ANYONE WHO RESPONDS TO THIS POST.
I think you would be happy on the West End of Allentown from 19th street west to 31st street or Cedar Crest Blvd. If you surf the web, or even this forum, in general you will find awful things about the city of Allentown. Most of the violent crime in the Lehigh Valley happens in Center City Allentown (within a mile of the 7th street and Hamilton Blvd). But the West End has some of the urban lifestyle that you are used to in Boston. There are some good real estate opportunities for the young and ambitious.
Village West Shopping Center at Tilghman Street & Cedar Crest Blvd Allentown, PA 18104 will have your grocery store, pharmacy, Chinese food, and other daily items. Almost all shopping in the Lehigh Valley is in shopping centers.
Wegman's Groceries on 3900 West Tilghman Street Allentown, PA 18104 about 8 blocks further west will have a greater selection of quality goods then Village West, and much more prepared food.
For films that are not as cerebral, there is AMC Tilghman Square 8 4608 Broadway Allentown, PA 18104 which is a few blocks west of Wegman's.
It sounds like you would be bored living in one of the boroughs. But you need a safe urban location.
Thanks a lot for this information! I had not really considered Allentown, but from the look of it, this neighborhood's personality might be a great fit. We are planning a trip to PA in April to scope out the area and I will definitely add this to our list.
I read that a lot of boutique shops have opened in the West End. Have you seen new businesses popping up despite the recession? Just curious what the general status of the businesses in the area has been. It's great to hear of a neighborhood on the upswing.
Just curious what the general status of the businesses in the area has been. It's great to hear of a neighborhood on the upswing.
I have heard that they are expecting an uptick in eateries in Lehigh Valley this year. But just staying in business in the last few years has been an accomplishment.
Technically, the West End Theater district encompasses the area bounded by 17th Street to the east, Liberty Street to the south, Washington Street to the north and 22nd Street to the west. More than 100 businesses and nearly a dozen restaurants/taverns are in that neighborhood.
Personally, I wouldn't consider east of 19th street. Even the relatively busy 15th street corridor has some questionable foot traffic.
Use the Lehigh Valley Crime Map. I suggest you set it on "all incidents" within 2 miles "for the last month". For an address use the Civic Theater
527 North 19th Street,
Allentown, PA 18104-5020
You consistently find crime reports from 15th street to the East. Among them are 10-25 murders per year, almost all downtown.
A word or two about population density.
Boston at 31,000 acres of land area is packed with 20 people per acre on average.
In Allentown the 18102 zip code (downtown) has 49,779 people in 1,880 acres or 26.5 people per acre. That is the highest density in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. Roughly 25% of the people are below poverty level, and it is demographically 60% Latino (mostly from Puerto Rico and Central America). The only "neighborhood shopping center" is Allen Street center between 14th & 15th street just south of Tilghman Street. Outside of this shopping district there are only markets.
The 18101 zip code is only about 200 acres and forms the main shopping district. It has less than 4000 residents.
I think in general you will find downtown Allentown more violent than Boston.
Last edited by PacoMartin; 01-07-2012 at 02:33 PM..
I think that you are on the right track looking at Bethlehem and Emmaus. That's where my mid-twenties kids hang out, and the ones that have stayed in the area moved to Emmaus. I am a big fan of downtown Emmaus and love their theater that has discounted movies, a little bookstore, lot's of restaurants, coffeehouses, thrift stores and a nice library.
Thanks for the reassurance. It's great to hear that your kids like those areas. My sister lived in Bethlehem in her 20s and also said she loved it (and she's a self-proclaimed "city girl"). All this gives me a lot to research and check out in person in a few months. I appreciate it.
They've encouraged ethnic restaurants (Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Arab) to open in South Bethlehem. Bethlehem certainly has a much lower crime rate than Allentown. Allentown had it's first execution style murder of 2012 yesterday (9th block between Turner and Chew), while Bethlehem has only had 1 murder in the last 5 years. But it is still pretty sleepy and there are not a lot of jobs.
If you just need an urban fix once in a while, you can pay $45 round trip and take the bus into Manhattan. For 2 or 3 it may make more sense to drive.
Stick with Bethlehem, Slightly higher prices than Allentown but with a lot less of the head aches. Allentown is starting to improve but its going to take a while. Bethlehem is the best area all around, you want to stick areas that are included in the Bethlehem Area School District. Also there are far more people in their 20s and early 30s living in or around Bethlehem, due to the area appeals to the age group more than Allentown and Easton. Bethlehem is the more centrally located of the 3 cities and has or is close to what most of the area has to offer.
Hospitals you'll be dealing with in Bethlehem is mostly St Lukes, but also Lehigh Valley Health Network.
School District: Bethlehem Area School District ( your pretty good with most of the schools here )
Northampton Community College, NCC (Bethlehem)
Lehigh Carbon Community College, (Allentown)
Things to do look up Arts Quest/Beth Works, Ironpigs, Stabler Arena, also Sands Bethlehem. Theres plenty of other things but those cover most of the larger events.
Nightlife as far as clubs and bars is decent selection but dont expect to be really blown away.
Theaters you will live within 10 - 20min max of any of the well known theaters(movie) know matter where you live in Bethlehem. Your choices would be, Carmike, Regal, Rave(Saucon Valley, the newest theater, includes imax) and the ArtsQuest movie theater is being built right now. The theaters in Allentown arent very far either.
Shopping you have:
Lehigh Valley Mall
The Promenade Shops
Airport Shopping Center
There are a lot more but those probably give you the widest range outside of just the regular grocery stores and walmarts. Also there are small boutique shops everywhere.
There are quite a bit of restaurants, especially Italian & Chinese, and more steak house/grilled style places. But there are other options those are just what you will see everywhere, most are fairly good.
Bethlehem's crime rate is dramatically lower than allentown's but if you stay away from downtown allentown and some parts of south allentown you'll be ok. Parkland area school district would be the ideal school district to get into in Allentown.
Property taxes range but stay mostly around 3k to 4 mark.
One thing though is make sure you lock down a good job before moving or you may regret it. But thats just general knowledge when moving anywhere.
Thanks for the info! We are definitely leaning toward Bethlehem, somewhere within walking distance of the downtown. It seems to appreciate the arts, which is something we can get behind. I guess we'll see what happens when we visit in a couple of months. I've been keeping a pulse on communications/publishing jobs in Bethlehem. Having Rodale down the road in Emmaus is great, but I'll be sure not to put all my eggs in one basket.
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