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Old 04-04-2018, 04:20 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
7,719 posts, read 3,709,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by souixie View Post
I'm feeling so overwhelmed! Thanks for the feedback. We made a long weekend trip to check out neighborhoods a bit more. Our house just went on the market, so we're not ready to get inside the houses yet. I don't want to find the perfect place and not be able to do anything about it. Although there are some great homes in the Jenkintown area, I didn't really get that neighborhood/"Main Street" feel that we're looking for. We have also ruled out Springfield for the same reason, more or less. We've adjusted our buying price to $400k. Still on our radar...Swarthmore (but those taxes!!), Wallingford (ditto), Media, Havertown, Ardmore. What about Broomall? Still close enough to transit for my husband to commute daily to Jefferson? It seems to me that there are several very good school districts in the area. I think we'd be happy with any of them. Is the general consensus that the Drexel Hill area would be a significant step down in schools?
Most would say Yes to that last question, but the Upper Darby (Township) School District is probably the most racially and socioeconomically diverse in the Philadelphia suburbs, and it does do a good job educating its students and managing that diversity.

Generally speaking, the most highly regarded school districts in the region are, roughly in this order:

Tredyffrin-Easttown
Radnor Township
Lower Merion
Wallingford-Swarthmore
Rose Tree Media[*]
Haverford Township
Abington Township

* in this space go several Bucks County school districts: Central Bucks, Council Rock, New Hope-Solebury. The Central Bucks School District includes the county seat of Doylestown, which also checks off all the boxes on your Main Street Checklist, including the presence of a train station, but is much further away from City Hall than the others listed here: your train trip from Doylestown to Jefferson Station will take you close to 90 minutes. Along the same Regional Rail line is Lansdale, which also checks off those boxes and has twice the amount of train service; it's 30 minutes closer to Jeff Station. I forget what school district it's in, though.

I should also caution you that there are two Springfield Townships in this region: the one that usually goes by that name, in Delaware County, and the one that often gets referred to by the names of some of the communities in it (Flourtown, Wyndmoor, Erdenheim), in Montgomery County. The latter is close to Cheltenham Township, which has a few Main Street-ish communities within it, most notably Elkins Park and Glenside on the Cheltenham/Abington township line; Cheltenham schools are on par with Upper Darby's, and the district is similarly diverse. It's also close to Chestnut Hill, the suburb-in-the-city that's one of the toniest Main Streets in the region. I might want to point out that two of the 10 best high schools in the region, one of which usually makes the U.S. News honor roll of 50 best high schools in the country, are in the School District of Philadelphia. However, both are highly competitive academic magnet schools which one must pass an exam (and in the case of the higher-rated one, endure a lottery) to enter. I suspect you want public schools you don't have to clear hurdles to get into.

Last edited by MarketStEl; 04-04-2018 at 04:31 AM..
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:04 AM
 
377 posts, read 355,528 times
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Are there any suburban "downtowns" (with good schools) as quaint/historic/nice as Chestnut Hill?

I think Doylestown is the closest I've been to. You could probably count New Hope/Lambertville as well.

I don't think Media, Ardmore, Narberth, Bryn Mawr, or Swarthmore are the same.
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Old 04-06-2018, 01:03 PM
 
567 posts, read 496,344 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timeEd32 View Post
Are there any suburban "downtowns" (with good schools) as quaint/historic/nice as Chestnut Hill?

I think Doylestown is the closest I've been to. You could probably count New Hope/Lambertville as well.

I don't think Media, Ardmore, Narberth, Bryn Mawr, or Swarthmore are the same.

West Chester? Keswick village is very quaint and is a good Abington district. It is, however, quite a bit smaller than CH.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:55 PM
 
2,203 posts, read 6,944,852 times
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Is there a reason you don't want New Jersey? As long as you are near the PATCO High Speed Line, your husband can be at 8th and Market or 9th and Locust in about 20 minutes and the trains run much more frequently than SEPTA Regional Rail. I would start by looking in Cherry Hill.

Here are some listings of homes, many in your price range.

https://www.zillow.com/cherry-hill-nj/houses/
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Old 04-07-2018, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
7,719 posts, read 3,709,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmarlig View Post
Is there a reason you don't want New Jersey? As long as you are near the PATCO High Speed Line, your husband can be at 8th and Market or 9th and Locust in about 20 minutes and the trains run much more frequently than SEPTA Regional Rail. I would start by looking in Cherry Hill.

Here are some listings of homes, many in your price range.

https://www.zillow.com/cherry-hill-nj/houses/
Um, if it's a good suburban downtown, right on PATCO, with a highly regarded school district - I think it's actually a notch above Cherry Hill's - that you want, try Haddonfield.

I'm not sure you can find something for $400k or less in that borough, though.

Two stops closer in is Collingswood, a community that's made a dramatic comeback over the last 10 years or so. I don't know how good its schools are, but I'm pretty sure you could find something in your price range there. It has a very good Main Street too on Haddon Avenue, with several good eateries and small boutiquey shops.

The one downside, or so I hear, is that property taxes in New Jersey are a good bit higher than in comparable Pennsylvania communities. But I do know a couple who moved from East Passyunk to Pitman and love their new digs, so I wouldn't rule out Jersey.
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:27 PM
 
2,203 posts, read 6,944,852 times
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I think Haddonfield is out of OP's price range.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:44 AM
 
Location: Maine
13 posts, read 14,389 times
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You guys have been amazing. We're making the trip this weekend to (hopefully) pull the trigger. We decided against NJ mostly after driving around. Nothing tangible, just didn't feel right for us. Quick question. Newtown Square and Broomall are not near any train stations, correct? I know my husband would rather not sit in his car for 15 minutes before getting on the train. Houses our realtor has on the list to see are in Havertown, Wallingford, Media and Wayne. Also Newtown Square and Broomall, but they look out of the way. Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:30 AM
 
48 posts, read 50,628 times
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Dear Souixie,

I want to provide a different perspective of Springfield than some of the other participants on this forum. I grew up in Springfield in the 70's and 80's. After spending 20 years in Florida I returned to Springfield and bought a house.

The forum members are correct in assessing Wallingford-Swarthmore and Rose Tree-Media as the best school districts in central Delaware County. But, as you realized, the taxes in Wallingford - Swarthmore are very high due to the lack of commercial development in that school district thereby placing the full burden upon the homeowners while Rose Tree-Media housing prices are steeper than other townships.

Contrary to Mr. Troutman's opinion, the Springfield, Marple-Newtown, and Haverford School districts are fairly similar in quality, demographics and student performance. Haverford township has a significantly wealthy area in its northern portion. Newtown Square is also very wealthy. Broomall is a "neighborhood" and part of Marple Township. Springfield will begin construction on a new high school in August. Ridley School District and Upper Darby School District (which includes the "neighborhood" of Drexel Hill) are not as favorable and their taxes relative to assessed property values are high (google "delaware county municipal tax rates" and check out the very informative tax chart which pops up first).

My house in Springfield is two blocks from Swarthmore Borough and two blocks north of the Morton Regional Rail station. There is an area where Morton boro, Springfield township, Rutledge boro, Ridley township and Swarthmore boro connect. There is a part of Swarthmore which is technically Springfield township so you can get the benefits of Springfield taxes while still being very close to the quaintness of Swarthmore and the college. I walk three times a week through Swarthmore to enjoy the campus. I would ask your real estate agent to show you houses in those areas of Swarthmore which are part of Springfield township (if the agent gives you a quizzical look it would be advisable to get a different agent).

While Springfield does not have the cache' of Media or Swarthmore or Ardmore, it definitely is a strong, stable community with a highly ranked school district and many family-oriented activities. It is a middle to upper-middle income demographic (check out "esri - zip lookup" for great data on towns). There are three small "business districts" which are slated for improvements to hardscaping with new sidewalks, lights, etc. There are also 23 parks and strong youth athletics.

In my opinion, the best part about Springfield is the proximity to so many great things while minimizing the tax burden (at least compared to the other towns & school districts in central Delco). Regional Rail (the train) gets you into center city within 30 minutes. The trolley/EL are also a great way of getting downtown (the transfer at 69th street is not that difficult to do). You are two miles away from Media, a mile (or closer) from Swarthmore, great public transit, close to the airport, and right next to 476 which takes you to King of Prussia in no time. You have a 120 acre wooded county park (Smedley Park), another 110 acre county park (Rose Tree Park) and a huge State Park (Ridley Creek) surrounding the township. It is a very walkable town when viewed as a whole with sidewalks throughout and parks in close proximity to every neighborhood. With a budget of $400,000 you will have a good selection of houses from which to choose.

I would advise to not discount Springfield during your search. It would offer many of the items on your checklist.
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