Where do U Penn employees live? (Philadelphia, Willow Grove: hardwood floors, real estate, renting)
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My family and I are thinking about a move for a job at U Penn this fall. Where do employees of U Penn usually live? We are a same-sex couple with a child who will be in kindergarten next year. We'd like an educated, open-minded and walkable community that is safe and relatively affordable (probably about $200,000ish for a house if possible) with really good schools. Does this exist? Thanks so much!
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
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The short answer is "anywhere and everywhere" in the metro. Some even live right next to Penn in University City although the homes there are valued well above (i.e. at least twice) your budget.
You may like West Mt. Airy in NW Philly. It's a quiet, leafy, diverse neighborhood where your family would be welcomed. By city standards, you'd be close to some of the better elementary schools. (I'll let others elaborate on the specific schools.) The only caveat is that I'm not certain that $200K would get you an updated detached home. You may need to be open to a semi-detached/duplex home or a place that needs some TLC.
Possibly consider Roxborough as well. It may fit most of your criteria except I believe your neighbors may be ambivalent at best about your arrival.
$200K and "really good schools" isn't very synonymous out in any conveniently located 'burbs, I'm sorry to say. One example I can think of off the top of my head, since I grew up in the area, would be the Roslyn borough of Abington. Note that Roslyn largely consists of older ranch homes. I also would predict ambivalence at best here (and realistically most of the mild-to moderately socially conservative PA suburbs). On the other hand, Abington School District is an excellent value for the money, having received several Blue Ribbon awards.
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There's not much in Roslyn for $200k these days, maybe some really small stuff, but you can check Ardsley, North Hills, and Willow Grove, there would be a few in these areas, but not much, but all in Abington SD. There are also some in Cheltenham SD. If I were buying in the range, I'd prefer the homes in Cheltenham to those in Abington for the most part. There's not going to be a ton available for that price in these areas. You do better with even $225-$250k as a starting point.
Focusing on University City and Mount Airy and planning on paying for private school if the area's elementary school wasn't ideal, is a good idea as well. Since University City is out of your price range for the most part, and you'll be priced out of most of West Mount Airy, check East Mount Airy on its west side, Vernon and west of that (if you still can't find in your price range, you can go to Upsal, but wouldn't say any east of that). Mount Airy is a very nice area and convenient to catch a train into University City. East Mount Airy is definitely climbing in price, if you can't find what you are looking for there, also try Germantown, keep it to the west side of Germantown near West Mount Airy, and make sure you explore the area at different times to gauge the area for yourself.
Jenks and CW Henry are good public elementary schools in and near West Mount Airy. There are others though, these are two that have been well regarded for years and known to have students that go onto schools like Central. Good elementary schools are easier to find than high schools, the good ones are far and few between. But you can definitely try living within the boundaries of an elementary school you like and guarantee that you can forgo private school tuition for 6-8 years. If you are considering renting, look in University City in the Penn Alexander boundaries, living here would put you 5 minutes from Penn too.
As for walkable, in Abington and Cheltenham, you'll be near Jenkintown and Glenside, which have little downtown areas. In Mount Airy and Germantown, you will be near Chestnut Hill. But you probably won't find a house within walking distance of any of these, but you'll be very nearby.
By and large in Philly, I find that educated and open-minded live in neighborhoods with homes above $200k, but I don't see you facing problems in any of these other areas either. But in and near West Mt Airy, you'll find a good number of other same sex couples (ones with kids too), and just a welcoming, open minded environment in general.
Last edited by JasmineFlower; 09-07-2010 at 06:56 PM..
A lot used to live in DrexelBrook Apts. Out the El to 69th Street and the Red Arrow Trolley drops you at the door. With a good connection 30 minutes. Dick clark used to live there when he did Bandstand at the Arena
How about the SW Center City/Graduate Hospital area? Or is that too gentrified now to find a nice place in about $200k range? I don't know. It certainly would be very walkable, and there is public transit to take you to Penn, across the Schuylkill River.
Two top elementary schools that I keep hearing mention of in various places are McCall and Meredith. Both are east of Broad St, with Meredith being in Queen Village section and McCall more like Society Hill. You should check out the catchment areas for those two schools and see if you can find something there... most likely you won't be able to, because these are already well developed, walkable, nice neighborhoods especially Society Hill. But perhaps you can rent? And the other elementary school I keep hearing about is Penn's own Sadie Alexander in West Philly...the real estate in its catchment area has already zoomed up though.
But perhaps there is hope... gentrifiers are moving further south from Queen Village/Bella Vista after getting priced out there... and places like Passyunk Crossing etc.. there was a very nice article in the Inquirer recently about new/young educated professional parents there are not wanting to move out to suburbs/exurbs but instead want to stick it out and make the local elementary school a better place for their kids... it would seem those are the types of neighbors that would welcome you with open arms:
Parents work to rejuvenate a public school | Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/14/2010 (http://www.philly.com/philly/education/90813459.html - broken link)
That article is a must read for you...
Good luck! Let us know how it goes...I'd love to hear about where you end up settling, and wherever it is, I hope you and your family like it! As a recent transplant to Philly from Dallas, and a young professional myself, I'd love to hear others experiences.
obviously, more and more young professionals are taking matters into their own hands and want to shape the city's public schools for the betterment of their kids. And you know that once a school turns for the better, the surrounding area's real estate is also going to go up... so it's like an investment in your kid but also in real financial sense. I bet many of the parents in West Philly involved in this work at Penn or one of the hospitals nearby.
Hey, I don't have any great knowledge of Philly, as we're in a similar situation to yours; looking to potentially move to the city for a job at Penn next year, but we are looking for many of the same things you mentioned, and we just visited Mt. Airy last weekend.
We really liked it; it definitely had a laid back, progressive vibe and seemed very true to the way people describe it on here; we also stopped by a few open houses. There are options in West Mt. Airy available for 200k or thereabouts, though from our brief exploration it seemed like the houses in that price range were smaller, in need of potential upgrades (including having flaking lead paint, which you might not want if you have young children), or in more crowded areas of the neighborhood closer to Germantown Ave.
But, that doesn't mean there aren't decent homes available...we saw one row house listed for $209k, on a nice, quiet street a few blocks from one of the train stations, 3 bedrooms, about 1100 square feet, renovated kitchen and hardwood floors, that seemed like it would be really great for a family with one child, except for the flaking paint part - which you could probably mostly solve by replacing the particular windows in question: 7153 Bryan Street, Philadelphia PA - Trulia
whats wrong with spring garden? be aware penn has a mortgage program for those living near campus
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