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Old 07-20-2010, 01:49 PM
21 posts, read 26,297 times
Reputation: 11


My husband is seriously considering a position at U Penn so there's is a good chance our family will be moving to the Philly area from Bethesda MD next summer. I've been doing some research of the Philly suburbs, mainly on this forum, real estate websites, and greatschools.org. I'm still not sure which neighborhoods best fit our needs so I thought I'd get some opinions here. I'll try to lay out our priorities in order -- of course I understand no one place will hit on all points!

1. Decent commute -- not more than 30 minutes by car or train. Train would be great.

2. Great schools -- self explanatory

3. Proximity/convenience to "things" -- this one is hard to capture...where we live now, I feel like everything is only a 5-10 minute drive away. Stores of every nature, banks, restaurants, places for kids to do anything under the sun--music lessons, dance, karate, swimming. We are in the middle of it all, which we love.

4. Walkability -- A nearby little downtown area would be nice. We especially value good bakeries & coffee!

5. Proximity to Whole Foods or similar store with the specialty brands and great produce (son has food allergies)

6. Some people of Asian descent in the neighborhood & schools...ideally more than 10% of the population. From what I've read diversity is not a strong suit of the close in neighborhoods (e.g., Main Line). But scouring the demographic info on school sites, I noticed that there's a bump in the Bryn Mawr area. Does anyone know why this is?

Our price range is $800K to $1.5M -- wide range, I know. My husband and I have differing opinions on how much we want to spend. I'd appreciate any input on neighborhoods where we should focus our attention. I'm guessing we wouldn't be going for an in-person visit until mid-fall at the earliest, but it would be fun to learn about specific neighborhoods in a virtual way.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:19 PM
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You've already found the short answer: any community along the Main Line, a string of traditionally upscale suburban communities NW of the city. Wayne, Bryn Mawr and Narberth may particularly appeal to you for their walkability but there are other towns you may like for different reasons.

The school districts there are considered top-notch although others here may parse the differences.

You can easily take the Paoli/Thorndale Line of SEPTA's Regional Rail (a more frequent commuter rail compared to MARC/VRE) into town with a short transfer or walk to U of Penn, depending on exactly where your husband will be working.

I have to admit not having much knowledge of the (South?East?)Asian population in the Main Line area. Hopefully others here will be able to expound on that.

A half-hour commute door to door - especially via train would limit your options along the Main Line. It would likely get you as far out as Wynnewood, a fine community but perhaps held in quite the same regard as say, Wayne or Villanova which would be an extra 15-25 minutes.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:44 PM
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Other areas to look into with an Asian population - Blue Bell, Upper Gwynedd Twp, Upper Dublin, and Melrose Park. Melrose Park will be in the most diverse area by far overall, its demos are closer to being more like a Silver Spring. I don't think any of the areas has 10% or over, but that's a bit of a pipe dream in the Philly upper-middle class to upper class suburbs.

Between you and your husband, whoever is looking to spend less will likely come out the victor, there's no need to spend $1.5m in the area unless you are determined to, even on the Main Line.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:18 PM
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Bryn Mawr, Wynnewood, Wayne, Villanova, Merion, and if you want to spend on the higher end of your budget, Gladwyne. Gladwyne is home to Korean billionaire James Kim, who founded video game retail store Electronics Boutique (Forbes says he's from Bryn Mawr, but I'm pretty sure he's from Gladwyne).

Radnor HS, Lower Merion HS, Conestoga HS, and Harriton HS are all fine schools with a good % of Asians.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:56 PM
21 posts, read 26,297 times
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Default Family Moving to Philly area from DC Area

Thanks for everyone's comments. It sounds like the Main Line area does make the most sense from a commuting standpoint. And maybe my 30 minute commute time was too limiting. While driving more than 30 minutes can get tedious, a door-to-door public transportation commute of 30 minutes would be quite short, since you have to factor in walking and waiting.

I will check out the non-Main Line towns that JasmineFlower suggested - thank you.

Interesting responses on the Asian question. I guess I'm thinking more about Eastern Asian since our kids are 1/2 Chinese 1/2 Caucasian. I'm hoping they can grow up in an area where they are not the only Asian kids in their class.
I have read a lot about Media, Swarthmore, Abingdon and Jenkintown on this forum. Are these worth considering, given my parameters?

Thanks again!
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:26 PM
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School Districts:
Tredyffrin Easttown
Lower Merion
Unionville Chadds Ford
Central Bucks
Great Valley
Wallingford Swarthmore
Rose Tree Media
Garnet Valley
West Chester
Springfield Delco

In roughly that order...
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:41 PM
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I dont live in Philadelphia metro, but based on what I have been able to find out -- I believe the following suburbs might have the highest numbers of Asians:

Lansdale / North Wales (I think this area is called Upper Gwynnedd, as mentioned in a previous post) in Montgomery county. There is a SEPTA regional rail from Lansdale to the city, but I think it is at least 50 minutes. There is an Assi Market in Lansdale.

Cherry Hill on the NJ side. Higher property taxes. But better access to the city via PATCO.
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:32 AM
Location: Montco PA
2,057 posts, read 4,252,976 times
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Originally Posted by avalanche85 View Post
I'm hoping they can grow up in an area where they are not the only Asian kids in their class.
I went to Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School and graduated in the mid-90's, which certainly isn't the most Asian district in the region, but out of a class of about 280, there were about 10-15 Asian kids.

You could also check out the Upper Dublin SD in Montgomery County, which has a somewhat higher population of Asian students (your post office would likely be Fort Washington - 19034). Wissahickon SD is worth a look as well (Blue Bell - 19422, Ambler and Lower Gwynedd - 19002).

All 3 of these districts have homes in the $1M to $1.5M range.
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:50 AM
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I'll add that you might want to check out the Wallingford-Swarthmore school district or the bordering Media-RoseTree district. Both are rated tops in the state.

The commute to UPenn is less than 30 minutes on the R3 regional rail line. You'd probably want to concentrate your search to hit the following train stations: Swarthmore, Wallingford, Moylan/RoseValley, Media.

Both Media and, to a lesser extent, Swarthmore have nice downtown areas with shopping, restaurants, and pretty cool coffee shops. Media also has a Trader Joe's. Swarthmore is home to Swarthmore College and your family may appreciate the "academic feel" of the community.

Good luck!
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:14 AM
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In Delaware County, more asians seem to be in the Marple/Broomall area. This is not far from Media and Swarthmore, but is less quaint & doesn't have a "downtown" area feel.
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