U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Philadelphia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 04-07-2014, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
154 posts, read 189,202 times
Reputation: 141

Advertisements

I've enjoyed casually reading posts on this forum for some time, but now would really love to hear some opinions from people with local knowledge about a specific real-estate topic. My wife and I have rented in University City for over a year now after moving from CA and, while we've really enjoyed our time here, are getting tired of renting and itching for a place in a more residential or suburban location where we can get a little more space, quiet, and especially a yard for us and our dog (and perhaps future children). Additionally, because we do not know how long before we need to move again (anywhere from 2-5 years probably depending on job), stable or appreciating home prices are important so we can cut our losses if we need to sell relatively soon. Finding an affordable home in the nicer parts of University City that meets our criteria doesn't seem likely, so what other areas might be good options?

Here's a few specifics about what we're looking for:

- Prices of about $300,000 for at least 2 bed 2 bath, although we could go a little higher for a home that is up-to-date and/or has strong resale value.
- Alternatively, we would consider buying in an area with less-stable home values if there is a good chance of being able to find renters for our property after we move.
- Size and age of homes are not as important to us as their condition and upkeep.
- Less than ~30 minute commute to UPenn, preferably by public transit to avoid parking headaches.
- Enough yard for us to barbecue and for the dog to run around.
- Close to amenities like groceries and good restaurants (walking distance would be nice, but a short drive or bike ride away is fine too).
- Schools are not directly important to us, but could matter if they're instrumental in helping homes keep their value.
- We're in our twenties but don't care much for the bar or club scene and are fine being in an area with somewhat older neighbors.
- Safe. For comparison, we feel that University City is okay safety wise but we'd still prefer less crime (since being here, people have cut our doubled-locked bikes in in the middle of the day and we know multiple victims of vehicle break-ins... I know it's the city and things happen everywhere, but a little less risk would be nice).

So far we've been looking at homes around Media/Wallingford/Swarthmore (price and community seems to fit our needs), lower Main Line (more expensive, but likely stable home values and potential to rent out if we bought near one of the schools), and Mount Airy (perhaps an outlier, but we like the homes and can perhaps get a better deal).

We're open to whatever other suggestions people can throw at us if they make sense for our situation, as well as any other helpful advice/issues we should know. Are we being too picky? Or is it possible to rent a place that will give us what we want at a reasonable price?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 04-08-2014, 01:40 PM
 
69 posts, read 52,516 times
Reputation: 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastwestcoast View Post
I've enjoyed casually reading posts on this forum for some time, but now would really love to hear some opinions from people with local knowledge about a specific real-estate topic. My wife and I have rented in University City for over a year now after moving from CA and, while we've really enjoyed our time here, are getting tired of renting and itching for a place in a more residential or suburban location where we can get a little more space, quiet, and especially a yard for us and our dog (and perhaps future children). Additionally, because we do not know how long before we need to move again (anywhere from 2-5 years probably depending on job), stable or appreciating home prices are important so we can cut our losses if we need to sell relatively soon. Finding an affordable home in the nicer parts of University City that meets our criteria doesn't seem likely, so what other areas might be good options?

Here's a few specifics about what we're looking for:

- Prices of about $300,000 for at least 2 bed 2 bath, although we could go a little higher for a home that is up-to-date and/or has strong resale value.
- Alternatively, we would consider buying in an area with less-stable home values if there is a good chance of being able to find renters for our property after we move.
- Size and age of homes are not as important to us as their condition and upkeep.
- Less than ~30 minute commute to UPenn, preferably by public transit to avoid parking headaches.
- Enough yard for us to barbecue and for the dog to run around.
- Close to amenities like groceries and good restaurants (walking distance would be nice, but a short drive or bike ride away is fine too).
- Schools are not directly important to us, but could matter if they're instrumental in helping homes keep their value.
- We're in our twenties but don't care much for the bar or club scene and are fine being in an area with somewhat older neighbors.
- Safe. For comparison, we feel that University City is okay safety wise but we'd still prefer less crime (since being here, people have cut our doubled-locked bikes in in the middle of the day and we know multiple victims of vehicle break-ins... I know it's the city and things happen everywhere, but a little less risk would be nice).

So far we've been looking at homes around Media/Wallingford/Swarthmore (price and community seems to fit our needs), lower Main Line (more expensive, but likely stable home values and potential to rent out if we bought near one of the schools), and Mount Airy (perhaps an outlier, but we like the homes and can perhaps get a better deal).

We're open to whatever other suggestions people can throw at us if they make sense for our situation, as well as any other helpful advice/issues we should know. Are we being too picky? Or is it possible to rent a place that will give us what we want at a reasonable price?
I don't think you are being too picky at all. It's important to know what you want and to ask input. The only thing I can suggest is to increase your radius and look outside of the city, as prices will be better the farther away from the city. I have sent you a private message with some information/input as well as questions. Hopefully it will be helpful.

Thanks and good luck!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-08-2014, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2,376 posts, read 2,255,613 times
Reputation: 1472
I wouldn't buy more space until you need more space. Renting seems like a waste but having a mortgage isn't owning either. You pay the majority of the interest up front so unless you plan on truely staying there 30 years and just paying the minimal then you'll actually end up spending more than ~4% in interest (for the first 5 years or so the interest portion of the payment is so high you're effectively still renting).

The way I equate it is for every $100k you spend you're essentially lowering $300/mo in what you would have spent to rent the same place. Especially if you think you might be moving, there is a lot of value in being mobile and just renting the space you need (don't want to get stuck to a small commutable range with ultimately lower paying job opportunities). Also rentals normally have what would have been the cheapest available purchases in the area.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-09-2014, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
154 posts, read 189,202 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNigh View Post
I wouldn't buy more space until you need more space. Renting seems like a waste but having a mortgage isn't owning either. You pay the majority of the interest up front so unless you plan on truely staying there 30 years and just paying the minimal then you'll actually end up spending more than ~4% in interest (for the first 5 years or so the interest portion of the payment is so high you're effectively still renting).

The way I equate it is for every $100k you spend you're essentially lowering $300/mo in what you would have spent to rent the same place. Especially if you think you might be moving, there is a lot of value in being mobile and just renting the space you need (don't want to get stuck to a small commutable range with ultimately lower paying job opportunities). Also rentals normally have what would have been the cheapest available purchases in the area.
Thanks for the reply. We do understand that this may not necessarily be a finance-positive move compared to staying in our current apartment, even with interest rates remaining fairly low, because of the chance of needing to sell again in several years. But for the increased quality of life we're willing to take a bit of a hit... and to get features like a yard, off-street parking, and no loud neighbors in the same building as us, we'd need to fork over significantly more rent than we're paying now anyway. Really, we're just looking to minimize the risk of buying in a depreciating location.

Job-wise, my wife is guaranteed funding for research for several more years and I am in a very location-flexible career field. So we're not too worried about losing commute options and if we did need to change jobs, access to University City and Center City seem to keep the most options open. We're definitely flexible with location (don't have our hearts set on any particular neighborhood) and open to suggestions for parts of the region, in or outside of Philly, that might meet our criteria.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-09-2014, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2,376 posts, read 2,255,613 times
Reputation: 1472
The philadelphia area definitely has some seriously excellent suburbs.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-10-2014, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
154 posts, read 189,202 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNigh View Post
The philadelphia area definitely has some seriously excellent suburbs.
This has definitely been our impression looking around as well, and is why we're looking to move even if it is only for a few years. I'm still just wondering if there are other parts of the Philly region worth considering that we may have missed since there are so many neighborhoods and communities in the immediate area.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-10-2014, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
175 posts, read 202,782 times
Reputation: 216
mt Airy is a great option, why do you consider it an outlier? What about Chestnut Hill?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-11-2014, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
154 posts, read 189,202 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by stylistvg View Post
mt Airy is a great option, why do you consider it an outlier? What about Chestnut Hill?
We just hadn't really considered Mt Airy much when we started looking since we weren't too familiar with the neighborhood other than knowing it was within the city limits, and therefore subject to wage tax and Philly schools. But it looks like the school issues haven't stopped property values from rising there and after spending some time in the neighborhood, we both liked it a lot... nice houses, good sized yards, quiet, good access to SEPTA, etc. Traffic between U City and Mt Airy was horrendous during rush hour though, so it looks like if we moved there we'd definitely need to be reliant on public transit. And I do wonder if the recent rise in property values in Mt Airy is sustainable or if the market has topped out.

Chestnut Hill is incredibly nice, but it is probably out of our price and commute-time ranges.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Options
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2013 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Philadelphia
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2017, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 - Top