Moving to Main Line Area. Wayne or Malvern? (Philadelphia, Lancaster: cul-de-sac, houses)
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I recently accepted a faculty position at Villanova University, thus I need to relocate my family to the northwest suburb of Philadelphia. My wife and I have two school age children who are going to be in 8th and 1st grade this coming school year.
For finding where to purchase a home, I have done a lot of research online related to the quality of living and education for my family. Just this week, we visited the area, did an extensive house hunting, and found two potential houses, one in Wayne (Deepdale area) and one in Malvern, that we really like. The house in Wayne is much older, not as nice as the one in Malvern and quite a bit more expensive (and has higher property tax).
I am wondering if those of you who are familiar with living in the Main Line area could provide me with some insights regarding living and the quality of education in Wayne (T/E school district) and/or Malvern (Great Valley school district). Is it worthwhile to pay more for living in Wayne (higher price of the house, higher taxes) compared to living in Malvern? How big a difference (if there is any) is the quality of the schools between those in T/E and in Malvern.
My commuting distances to Villanova University from the house in Wayne and that in Malvern are 3.5 and 14.8 miles, respectively. Should I count this distance difference to be a big factor? My wife is planning to work in the city, thus she is planning to commute by taking train. Both houses are not far from their closest SEPTA train station.
Your inputs on these questions are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
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The short answer is that you can't really go wrong in any of the areas that you're looking at beyond the value of paying higher (or lower) taxes. Traffic along Lancaster Avenue/Route 30 will be slow with many stoplights delaying commuters. If it would be convenient enough for you to join your wife on the train, it would alleviate that issue as the Villanova stop is essentially on campus. Others with more specific experience there than me will probably soon elaborate.
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Last edited by Tone509; 07-15-2010 at 10:11 AM..
If you choose Exton, try to use the train. The SEPTA R5 "Regional Rail" commuter train has a stop directly on the Villanova campus, and as you found out both Wayne and Exton have stops on the R5 line. The Septa R100 line also has a stop on the corner of the campus (near an outlying parking lot), but that line does not pass through Wayne or Exton.
A drive to from Exton/Vilanova (presuming Rt 202) will have lots of stop and go traffic on both ends. As mantioned, Rt 30 has loads of stop lights, it goes through several town centers, like Wayne, so very slow going during commute times. There's no alternative without congestion, because the main North/South route, I-476, will also have traffic bottlenecks during the commute times. Like everyone else, if you drive, you just have to live with it.
On the relative home prices, and as a generalization (not considering schools), Wayne is an older, and well to do town. Exton is further out, has some newer homes, and is considered less expensive, i.e., it is thought that you get more for your money in Exton.
Wayne has a nicer, more pedestrian friendly, walkable downtown than Exton. Exton is car-centric with the Exton Mall and all the retail/strip shopping that has built up around that.
Tredyffrin Easttown schools are the gold standard around here but Great Valley is no slouch by any means. Based upon the commute and the schools, I would choose Wayne. That is a significant distance at rush hour and on the train...
I wouldn't use school district at the determining factor in this instance. both are great districts and both are nice towns (not familiar with deepdale but I do know wayne). Wayne is a bit more charming but Malvern isn't a bad little town, and there are significant plans to expand the town center. still, wayne has a lot more going on in town. the main difference, then, is
the houses themselves and the commutes to work. at rush hour it used to take me ~20+ min to go from Paoli to Radnor on backroads. 30 drove me nuts with all the lights. from malvern, I'd take the train. I even did that from radnor a few times. commutewise wayne is an easy pick, but obviously there's a financial side to it as well.
Oops, I got Exton mixed up with Malvern in my above post. I read Deepdale and thought of a similar sounding area in Exton (a farm tract turned into a cul-de-sac). And so to correct something, Malvern does have a walkable downtown, and that is where the R5 station is. In comparison, Wayne has a downtown that is a few blocks bigger, and is a litter more lively -- after business hours there are a few bars, restaurants, a coffee house and a movie theater that keep a critical mass of people coming and going into the late/later evening. Downtown Malvern is a little slower and less lively. As a generalization, I also think you'd get more house for the same money in Malvern vs. Wayne.
If I were working at Villanova, I'd definitely want to live in Wayne. Even if I weren't working at Villanova, I'd prefer Wayne, just for the convenience and "liveliness" factors. I live in Berwyn (two towns up from Wayne) and even I dread the thought of driving to the Radnor (next to Villanova) dog park because of all the traffic on 30, and we're not even talking about rush hour. Unless there's a significant price difference that would be an issue, it seems Wayne would be a win on all fronts: Easy commute for you, easy train commute for your wife, and top-notch school district for your children. Good luck, and welcome!
Thank you very much for all the valuable insights. They are very useful that they confirm what we think and sense when we were exploring the Main Line area early this week in searching for our future home. Both Wayne and Malvern seem to offer a nice quality of living for our family.
The remaining main deciding factors for us are commuting time and quality of the houses. Both houses that we consider are located in very charming, beautiful and quiet neighborhoods. Both houses are attractive, but the one in Wayne is 20 years older, $30k more expensive, and has higher property tax. Being a practical person who always wants to live in a problem-free house, my wife is set to choose the house in Malvern since older houses tend to give hidden surprises. While my heart is for the more charming and beautiful Malvern house, my mind is still debating whether I will be willing to have a longer daily commute to Villanova. Having been spoiled for many years by living in a small college town in Midwest with a 5-min daily commute, a 30 min daily commute seems to be very long.
Well, a decision will be made eventually.
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