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Old 02-25-2018, 09:03 PM
 
4 posts, read 9,569 times
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Hello, first timer here. I know similar questions have been asked many times and I appreciate your help and patience.

My family is preparing to relocate from central Virginia to somewhere between Philly and Wilmington. My wife's company has an office in Philly, not far from city hall, and I'll be working in Wilmington. We have two kids in elementary schools.

Where we live now commute is really easy, 30 minutes is considered a long drive so there's probably a lot to adjust mentally.

Based on the conversations I had with friends and colleagues, West Chester, Media, Garnet Valley, Swarthmore are among the places mentioned. I did some research online, looks like West Chester has most homes for sale but the commute might be the longest, while others don't have a lot of homes available on our target, at least not now.

To us a few priorities are, 1. great public school system, 2. reasonable commute, 3. reasonable housing cost (ideally below $600K with 4+ BR), 4. hopefully close to some after school resources as my kids do gymnastics and play music instruments.

I'd love to get your input on which area(s) are our best bet to look around for a home, and what should we expect for commute, driving vs. train, etc. Anything else we should consider in deciding where to live.

Thanks to all for your help!
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Old 02-25-2018, 09:45 PM
 
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
1,014 posts, read 962,671 times
Reputation: 2377
It would help if you fill out this questionnaire:
Questions For Future and Potential Residents and general information.
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Old 02-26-2018, 05:54 AM
 
977 posts, read 859,892 times
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I’d recommend Media or Swarthmore...I think you have the right idea with them. West Chester does seem too far out IMO. I have friends who do the same exact split commute as you (Wilmington and Philly), they live in Media, and they both seem very happy. Media has plenty of amenities and things to do as well. It’s a very popular suburban choice these days, so you may have trouble finding homes within your budget, and they will likely be an older stock, but I would suggest starting out there and looking up whatever homes you can find in Media and Swarthmore.
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:42 AM
 
Location: New York City
6,832 posts, read 5,992,199 times
Reputation: 3851
If you want more typical suburbia, Garnet Valley is a a good choice. It is a fantastic community, but no downtown or anything like that.

Media is quickly turning into one of the hottest areas in the region. Walkable downtown that is quickly growing, wonderful surrounding communities with tons of home options (cape cods to mansions), top schools, a lot of recreation and protected park land, close Philadelphia via train or car, and pretty accessible to the entire region.
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:29 AM
 
10,789 posts, read 6,399,816 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
If you want more typical suburbia, Garnet Valley is a a good choice. It is a fantastic community, but no downtown or anything like that.

Media is quickly turning into one of the hottest areas in the region. Walkable downtown that is quickly growing, wonderful surrounding communities with tons of home options (cape cods to mansions), top schools, a lot of recreation and protected park land, close Philadelphia via train or car, and pretty accessible to the entire region.
Media has already become that(hot area).
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,920 posts, read 12,950,555 times
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I second Garnet Valley for newer suburbia. Perfect location for commute. Reasonable taxes,Excellent schools.

If you prefer walkable communities as prevously mentioned Media and West Chester are excellent options but housing options are limited in the towns themselves.However the surrounding wooded areas are great at both locations. Keep an eye on property taxes depending where you live they can be substantial.

Towns surrounding Media + West Chester. Nether Providence,Wallingford,Swarthmore,Upper Providence,Rose Valley,Rose Tree,Newtown Square,Middletown Township, Glen Mills,Westtown,Edgmont, Chadds Ford.
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
259 posts, read 172,507 times
Reputation: 669
Hello-

As a resident of Media (inside the borough), it doesn’t take much prompting for me to give it an enthusiastic recommendation. It’s a most charming town with a great sense of community, lots of festivals and special events, a vibrant main street (State Street) with lots of shopping and dining, and great schools. That said, I’m not sure Media is quite what you’re looking for.

I don’t want to read too much into your post, but when you mention “4+ BR” , I get a mental image of new construction suburbia. That’s certainly not Media itself. Other than a handful of grand old Victorians (some of which have been divided into apartments), most of Media’s very tight inventory of houses are compact two or three-bedroom row houses, twins (duplexes) and modest single family homes on small lots. I’m not sure about actual selling prices, but at least in terms of listing prices, you would probably max out your 600K budget buying a tidy three-bedroom home from the ’20s or ’30s with some updates and renovations.

But people who live in Media are paying a premium for walkability and community—something you don’t mention in your post and which may not matter to you. Even if you expand a search to “Media” addresses outside of the borough limits, where walkability is nil, I think you’d have a difficult time finding a large new construction home in that price range. If you are looking for a large new construction home, I think you’d end up looking further westward in some of the areas that have been mentioned (like Garnet Valley).

That brings up the issue of commuting, though. I don’t know how familiar you are with Philadelphia, but I personally wouldn’t want to be in the position of commuting to Center City by car daily—particularly the area around City Hall, which is exactly in the center of Center City. Media is served by the Media/Elwyn regional rail line, and that train would drop your wife off within a block of City Hall. That train line currently ends in just past Media but is in the process of being extended out to Wawa (a town—not to be confused with the convenience store chain that shares its name), which is along US 1 midway between Media and Concordville. With all of the new construction going on in the areas around the US 1 and US 202 corridors, I suspect parking permits are going to sell out in record time when the new Wawa station opens around 2020.

If you’re used to living an easy car-oriented lifestyle, you’ll have to come to grips with an additional challenge you’ll find in the Philadelphia area—particularly in the parts of Chester and Delaware Counties where you may be looking—and that is that the roadway network is rather under-built for the volumes of population and traffic inhabiting many areas. In the entire region bounded by West Chester to the north, Wilmington to the south, Media to the east, and Kennett Square to the west, there are absolutely no freeways. Instead, freeway-like volumes of traffic are funneled through surface streets lined with copious driveways, intersections, and traffic signals. And with new developments flooding into nearly every buildable cranny, you’ll encounter maddening daily backups even on two-lane roads that appear to be in the middle of nowhere.

Honestly, if you might be willing to reconsider the “4+”, my recommendation would be to look around the Media/Swarthmore area—close enough that your wife could walk to a train station—and you would have a congested but bearable (and all-freeway) drive straight down I-95.

Last edited by briantroutman; 02-26-2018 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 02-26-2018, 07:50 PM
 
4 posts, read 9,569 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocopsonite View Post
It would help if you fill out this questionnaire:
Questions For Future and Potential Residents and general information.
Thank you everyone for the great feedback, I'm overwhelmed by the quick response and detailed information, seems that we have a great community in this area, I've filled out the questionnaire as Pocopsonite suggested and have some follow up questions/clarifications to a few posts below.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When are you moving? Somewhat flexible, targeting this summer
Where are you coming from? Central virginia
Why are you moving? Work
Where will you be working? Wilmington
Have you been here yet? No

Will you buy or rent? Buy
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? House, hopefully under $600K but can stretch

Do you have a preference of living in a NJ or PA suburb? PA
(If you answered NJ - post your answers here: http://www.city-data.com/forum/phila...-philadelphia/)

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married, two elementary kids
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public
Do you have pets? No
Do you want or need a yard? Yes
Are you keeping a car? Yes
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? Somewhere in between

What do you want to be closest to? Work and train stations for commuting purposes
Work
Shopping
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
Nightlife
Train or subway stations

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? No strong preference

Favorite Beverage - Craft Beer, wine, water? Maybe water, lol
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Old 02-26-2018, 07:56 PM
 
4 posts, read 9,569 times
Reputation: 10
Great, I've started following some searched on Zillow for Media, Swarthmore, Garnet Valley and will also look up other towns mentioned in rainrock's replay. If there's other good sites to track housing info in this area, please let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leps12 View Post
I’d recommend Media or Swarthmore...I think you have the right idea with them. West Chester does seem too far out IMO. I have friends who do the same exact split commute as you (Wilmington and Philly), they live in Media, and they both seem very happy. Media has plenty of amenities and things to do as well. It’s a very popular suburban choice these days, so you may have trouble finding homes within your budget, and they will likely be an older stock, but I would suggest starting out there and looking up whatever homes you can find in Media and Swarthmore.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
If you want more typical suburbia, Garnet Valley is a a good choice. It is a fantastic community, but no downtown or anything like that.

Media is quickly turning into one of the hottest areas in the region. Walkable downtown that is quickly growing, wonderful surrounding communities with tons of home options (cape cods to mansions), top schools, a lot of recreation and protected park land, close Philadelphia via train or car, and pretty accessible to the entire region.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainrock View Post
I second Garnet Valley for newer suburbia. Perfect location for commute. Reasonable taxes,Excellent schools.

If you prefer walkable communities as prevously mentioned Media and West Chester are excellent options but housing options are limited in the towns themselves.However the surrounding wooded areas are great at both locations. Keep an eye on property taxes depending where you live they can be substantial.

Towns surrounding Media + West Chester. Nether Providence,Wallingford,Swarthmore,Upper Providence,Rose Valley,Rose Tree,Newtown Square,Middletown Township, Glen Mills,Westtown,Edgmont, Chadds Ford.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kyb01 View Post
Media has already become that(hot area).
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Old 02-26-2018, 08:12 PM
 
4 posts, read 9,569 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks Brian, when I mentioned 4+BR, maybe I should just say 4, considering we have two kids and potentially aging parents will be staying with us for prolonged time, 3 BR probably won't do. Still, to that end, I wonder if most houses in this area have basement and if it'd be reasonable to set up bedrooms in basement. I used to live in MN and it's pretty common to have basement and bedrooms in basement, whereas the houses in my current neighborhood don't have basement.

Thanks for the detailed info about the train line, taking train to the city should be just fine, probably more preferable since so much can be done on the train vs. sitting in the car. I'd love to have some walkability around the community, but you're right, we'll see what's available within our reach,

Quote:
Originally Posted by briantroutman View Post
Hello-

As a resident of Media (inside the borough), it doesn’t take much prompting for me to give it an enthusiastic recommendation. It’s a most charming town with a great sense of community, lots of festivals and special events, a vibrant main street (State Street) with lots of shopping and dining, and great schools. That said, I’m not sure Media is quite what you’re looking for.

I don’t want to read too much into your post, but when you mention “4+ BR” , I get a mental image of new construction suburbia. That’s certainly not Media itself. Other than a handful of grand old Victorians (some of which have been divided into apartments), most of Media’s very tight inventory of houses are compact two or three-bedroom row houses, twins (duplexes) and modest single family homes on small lots. I’m not sure about actual selling prices, but at least in terms of listing prices, you would probably max out your 600K budget buying a tidy three-bedroom home from the ’20s or ’30s with some updates and renovations.

But people who live in Media are paying a premium for walkability and community—something you don’t mention in your post and which may not matter to you. Even if you expand a search to “Media” addresses outside of the borough limits, where walkability is nil, I think you’d have a difficult time finding a large new construction home in that price range. If you are looking for a large new construction home, I think you’d end up looking further westward in some of the areas that have been mentioned (like Garnet Valley).

That brings up the issue of commuting, though. I don’t know how familiar you are with Philadelphia, but I personally wouldn’t want to be in the position of commuting to Center City by car daily—particularly the area around City Hall, which is exactly in the center of Center City. Media is served by the Media/Elwyn regional rail line, and that train would drop your wife off within a block of City Hall. That train line currently ends in just past Media but is in the process of being extended out to Wawa (a town—not to be confused with the convenience store chain that shares its name), which is along US 1 midway between Media and Concordville. With all of the new construction going on in the areas around the US 1 and US 202 corridors, I suspect parking permits are going to sell out in record time when the new Wawa station opens around 2020.

If you’re used to living an easy car-oriented lifestyle, you’ll have to come to grips with an additional challenge you’ll find in the Philadelphia area—particularly in the parts of Chester and Delaware Counties where you may be looking—and that is that the roadway network is rather under-built for the volumes of population and traffic inhabiting many areas. In the entire region bounded by West Chester to the north, Wilmington to the south, Media to the east, and Kennett Square to the west, there are absolutely no freeways. Instead, freeway-like volumes of traffic are funneled through surface streets lined with copious driveways, intersections, and traffic signals. And with new developments flooding into nearly every buildable cranny, you’ll encounter maddening daily backups even on two-lane roads that appear to be in the middle of nowhere.

Honestly, if you might be willing to reconsider the “4+”, my recommendation would be to look around the Media/Swarthmore area—close enough that your wife could walk to a train station—and you would have a congested but bearable (and all-freeway) drive straight down I-95.
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