POLL: Allentown's West End vs. Bethlehem vs. Emmaus (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh: 2013, crime rate)
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POLL: Allentown's West End vs. Bethlehem vs. Emmaus
Hello Lehigh Valley sub-forum!
My partner and I are both 25 and both currently reside in the City of Pittsburgh. Both of us work full-time but are underemployed in our respective fields of Accounting and Statistics/Mathematics (we aspire to be a "Big 4" CPA and Actuary, respectively). While we both really love living here in Pittsburgh I'm now stretching out my "feelers" to a potential relocation to Eastern PA. His family is from Lancaster County and my family is from Luzerne County so I'm thinking the Lehigh Valley may be a better fit for us in the long-term (we both come from close-knit family backgrounds). As I understand it most parts of the Lehigh Valley are under two hours from either the Lancaster or Wilkes-Barre areas (as well as being close to NYC, Philadelphia, and the Jersey Shore).
We both prefer the convenience that urban living has to offer. Being able to step out our front door and walk to get a gallon of milk, a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza, to the laundromat, to an ATM, etc. are very important to us. He grew up in an outlying suburban area whereas I grew up in an inner (yet still sprawling) suburban area. We've both acclimated quite well to life in the "big city".
Considering we're a same-sex couple (albeit not the "out" and "proud" types) and have an affinity for living in a walkable neighborhood I've narrowed down this preliminary Lehigh Valley search to Bethlehem and Emmaus as both seem fairly tolerant of diversity and offer plentiful amenities within walking distance of residential neighborhoods. I added the West End of Allentown after seeing another recent thread in which it was also recommended.
We don't anticipate adopting children (at least not in the near-term) so public school quality is not important to us. While neither of us is very religious I would love for us to start attending a Protestant church that is accepting of people of all walks of life. I grew up near Wegman's and loved it. We both drive, but we're used to jockeying for on-street parking here in Pittsburgh and wouldn't necessarily need to live somewhere with ample parking.
We're not fearful of being "urban pioneers" although I feel as if Downtown Allentown is a bit too "urban" for us, given its high violent crime rate, if you catch my drift. My uncle lived in Fountain Hill while attending Lehigh University, and I quite liked that area and neighboring South Bethlehem.
This potential move wouldn't be until 2013, and as of right now it is still just a "potential" move. Pittsburgh offers everything I want in a community; however, every time I go to Lancaster to visit my partner's family I see how much he's missed there, and every time I go back to visit my own family my mom is in tears when I leave. We both feel very guilty living so far away from our families, especially as our parents age, and that is the primary motivating factor that is pulling us back towards Eastern PA.
With that vignette out of the way what recommendations would you have for us? While we don't exactly wear our sexuality on our sleeves I do admit that I worry about how well-received same-sex couples are in Emmaus, given its relatively diminutive size. While I'm willing to give the West End of Allentown a chance it seems like just one poster in particular "boosts" it while everyone else advises potential relocaters to avoid Allentown. I've visited Bethlehem before (and even posted a photo tour of it on this sub-forum), and while I loved the community I'm most certainly open to other suggestions. We are not interested in a sprawling area like Lower Macungie Township, Upper Macungie Township, Saucon Valley, Bethlehem Township, etc.
Hello Lehigh Valley sub-forum!
My partner and I are both 25 and both currently reside in the City of Pittsburgh.
While I'm willing to give the West End of Allentown a chance it seems like just one poster in particular "boosts" it while everyone else advises potential relocaters to avoid Allentown.
Allentown has the highest violent crime rate in Lehigh Valley, but it's still lower than Pittsburgh. Only about half the people on this site live in an urban environment, so by comparison center city Allentown is next to Hades.
That said, the 18102 zip code (roughly 50K people in less than 2000 acresw) is rough. Two of the more popular gay bars, Candidas Bar (http://candidasbar.com/default.aspx - broken link) which is now 30 years old on 12th and Stonewall on 10th are in the 18102 zip code.
I think you will find your pleasant urban environment combined with reasonable safety if you live from 19th-30th street in Allentown.
While you are unlikely to meet with overt hostility in Emmaus, I don't think you will find what you want there.
Paco, I like the houses in the West End, but is there really a walkable area there, except to some strip shopping centers? What I like about both Bethlehem and Emmaus, and really many of our small towns, is how one can easily walk to a coffee shop, bookstore or a library or in the case of Emmaus, a movie theater. I go to church in the West End and drive around there but can't picture an area that has what I'm talking about.
Emmaus is probably your worst option. But yes the area is pretty tolerant and accepting of same sex couples, its not so much as people will need to know so they know as much as most people wouldnt care if you were or werent. The area continues to grow more and more diverse. Bethlehem or where Paco stated in Allentown and you'll be fine.
Knowing you and your posts over the years, I am thinking that you would be happiest in Bethlehem I was just down there walking around tonight and just love the city very much. Lots of cool homes and great businesses to frequent. Wegman's is just a short drive up Route 512.
I would count West End Allentown (deep West End like Paco suggested) as your next best choice. I also love to walk around Allentown, but do not feel as secure there. My best friend lives down there and walks around all hours of the day and night and is fine with that, so take this small town gal's advice with a grain of salt in that regard.
Because I have kids the same age as Steelcity, I think of what my own kids and their friends do for fun. A clump of them live in Emmaus and often go to this place - events (http://blindwillowbookshop.com/events - broken link) where they often have live music. They seem to keep busy and be happy. None of them are married. They often go into Bethlehem, but I've just never once heard of them going into Allentown. So, my own perception is that that's not a place to live. They're not gay though, so I can see where that would might make you look for different things, and at least a gay bar for friendly vibes. When my daughter is home, she and her friends that live around here will go into Bethlehem or she'll meet up with friends in Philly or NYC, or hang out with the gang in Emmaus. She's only lived here full time for a year since she graduated from HS 9 years ago, so maybe her contemporaries do indeed go into the West End, and I just don't know about it.
I think Bethlehem has a lot more going on in general but it's also a bit more dangerous and expensive. Emmaus, to me, is vibrant enough to be in the running and also affordable. I'll defer to Paco about the West End of Allentown's appeal.
Because I have kids the same age as Steelcity, I think of what my own kids and their friends do for fun.They seem to keep busy and be happy. None of them are married. They often go into Bethlehem, but I've just never once heard of them going into Allentown. Emmaus, to me, is vibrant enough to be in the running and also affordable. I'll defer to Paco about the West End of Allentown's appeal.
There is nothing equivalent to Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh in the Lehigh Valley.
I didn't dismiss Emmaus. But it is small town. You can easily walk the entire 37 miles of streets in Emmaus in two weeks. And to be fair, Steelcity did not mention the gay bars. It was an assumption on my part. In any case Emmaus is only 5-6 miles from the bars in downtown Allentown.
Some people like to be a mile or two from the bars. That way they can walk there, and take an inexpensive taxi home. That way they can be safe without breaking the bank.
I grew up in Bethlehem, and I don't mean to dismiss that either. But the Theater District in West Allentown seemed to be much closer to the atmosphere that they were saying that they liked. It's far enough away from the crime centers, but still urban enough to be walkable.
But since I am neither gay nor 25, I have to make some assumptions based on what my gay friends in the big city liked to do. It seemed there was big priority on having places to go where they could dine and dance and not feel like straight people were staring at them.
I caught this article in the police report which happened in the block next to Candida's Bar. I just want to re-iterate that I did not recommend moving into the neighborhoods near the bars. I was talking about living to the west of 19th street. The center city neighborhood is not a safe place to live.
Originally Posted by Manuel Gamiz Jr., Of The Morning Call
Woman forced to watch as armed robbers ransack her home
January 16, 2012
Two men armed with guns barged into a 22-year-old woman's Allentown home Sunday night and robbed her of money, police said. The two men knocked on the door of Maria Diaz-Rodriguez around 6:30 p.m. in the 1200 block of Chew Street, police Captain Keith Morris said. When she went to open the door, two armed men in dark clothing forced their way into her home, he said. The men made Diaz-Rodriguez sit on the bed as the men ransacked the home, Morris said. The men fled in an unknown direction after taking money, he said. Morris said the only description of the robbers is that they were wearing dark clothing and one was Hispanic and the other was black.
If you don't mind the crack dealers you can get a 5 year old large house for as little as $65K.
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