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Old 10-18-2018, 01:14 PM
 
Location: New York City
6,836 posts, read 5,994,505 times
Reputation: 3851

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
My parents are both from Delaware County (Mom is from Springfield, Dad is from Drexel Hill) and I have lots of aunts/uncles/cousins who still live there.

There is a racial tension throughout Delco that's undeniable. Its eastern border is against west-Philly and its southernmost portion *is* Chester. Because of this, all the "white" school districts are paranoid about "outsiders sneaking their kids into our schools". If you look at the Media/Swarthmore/Wallingford proximity to Chester, the contrast between race and education is so vivid you can draw a line through it.

That racial tension doesn't exist on the Main Line, but that's primarily because racial diversity doesn't exist. I'm not saying that's an acceptable solution, but it's more of an ignorant bliss.

In short, Delco could use its diversity to turn it into a special little melting pot. But they don't.

*For the record, I live in a school district in Chester County that's 81% white, 13% asian and 1% black, so I'm just as guilty as the Main Liners.

**I'm always nervous writing about racial stuff on the internet, but just to be clear, my message is pro-diversity.

EDIT: It also doesn't help that my old high school principle became the superintendent at Upper Darby, only to get fired for being too progressive about race: Some see racial overtones in Upper Darby superintendent flap - Philly
I grew up outside of Media so I 100% have seen the racial tension, but I would not call it a Delco stigma. Its more of a divide, plain and simple. I have seen instances growing up where residents in Aston, Brookhaven and even Bethel and Concord will literally snicker if they see a black person walking down the street, especially if they fit the "inner city" stereotype.

You mention the point of Delaware County becoming a melting pot, the problem is, you have Chester which is in an absolute disgraceful state, then you have Swarthmore, Upper Providence, Newtown Square, etc. that have are white playgrounds for the upper middle class (and lately upper class). Those two do not mix and never will.

Areas like Upper Darby and Drexel Hill have the ability to remain stable diverse communities, it just comes down to making sure the district doesn't go further downhill, and the new residents arriving have the communities best interest in mind.

I don't think the Main Line deserves any credit (or Chester County), because as you mentioned, most of those communities have a big enough buffer where its not even evident in their lives, but I assure you they would react the same away if in the situation. A good portion of Delaware County is very aware of the vast socio differences, how residents handle it is another story.

I do believe Delaware County is one of the most jarring examples of the economic and general QOL divide. Radnor and Chester in the same county and everything in between.

Back on topic, not to scare the OP, most of Delaware County is a wonderful place to move and raise a family, these are just some historical problems of the county, just like any other county.
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:16 PM
 
7 posts, read 14,181 times
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^^^^ Thank you so much for your honest answer. We are coming from Toronto, Canada which is arguably one of the most multicultural cities in the world. My children attend a racially diverse school now and have friends who are white, hispanic, black, asian, East Indian and Muslim. We are white and are concerned with the kids attending a school that is all white. Some sort of diversity is definitely preferred and if it can't be found in the area we choose, we want to be sure there is at least an acceptance and understanding of diversity and multiculturalism. We have no interest in landing in a township that has racist under currents!
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Chadds Ford
416 posts, read 204,227 times
Reputation: 428
If you're intentionally looking for diversity in the schools, consider Lower Merion School District. It's on the Main Line but closer to the city, so it has more of a diverse mix. According to Niche, the student-makeup in the district is 71% white, 12% black, 11% asian and 4% hispanic.

Bala Cynwyd, Narbeth, Wynnewood and Ardmore are in this school district and has a lot of cute (but old-school, for better or worse) houses in your price range. It puts you extremely close to the city, and it's a good value because most Main Liners feel it's "too close" to the city.

A word of warning though, the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) would be your main thoroughfare and it is the most congested highway in the greater-Philadelphia region.

Last edited by Patmcpsu; 10-18-2018 at 06:30 PM.. Reason: Added extra Main Line stops in Lower Merion
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:45 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
7,477 posts, read 10,485,349 times
Reputation: 4768
Quote:
Originally Posted by adrihurley View Post
Hey Philly Friends,

We are relocating to the Philadelphia area. My husband will be commuting to Suburban Station daily and we have 3 children under 6 who will be entering the public school system.

My question to you is:

Q. Of all the towns, townships and school districts in and around the Greater Philadelphia Area, where would YOU choose to live if you had $650,000 to spend on a house? Why?

Thanks!
I know this is a real inquiry, but it's a perfect hypothetical, too! As you may have gathered, Philadelphia, while not bargain basement cheap, is fairly affordable for a major metropolitan area and is probably the best value in the BosWash corridor. $650,000 is enough to get at least what most people would consider a "decent" house just about everywhere in the region (and that's what makes it such an interesting exercise).

I'll bury the lede a bit and respond to other posters' commentary first. If you want to skip through all that, just scroll to the bottom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
Media (19063) zipcode.
Excellent choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
Offers the same if not better lifestyle compared to the Main Line
I understand what you're getting at, but the OP could probably use more background information to know what you mean by "the same if not better lifestyle." That's a purely normative question, so I neither agree nor disagree with it. IMO, in terms of infrastructure, demographics, and reputation, the Media Area is more like the outer Main Line. The inner Main Line is more akin to (but not quite like) Wallingford-Swarthmore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
easy commute to Philadelphia
The Media-Elwyn Line is a good regional rail route, but the commute gets a bit on the longer side (though by no means "long") by Media Borough. The Paoli-Thorndale Line, Patco High Speed Line, and anywhere on Septa's "trunk" in the inner Northern suburbs provide the best Center City Commutes, with the Eastern Main Line stations (up to/around Bryn Mawr) taking the cake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
and your budget will take you a bit further.
This is true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
And schools are equally excellent.
Not quite as excellent as far as Philly Mag rankings and Blue Ribbon awards go, but in terms of educational outcomes for individual children? Absolutely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
Delaware County has a stigma about it that I have trouble shaking.
I'm not sure I follow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
That racial tension doesn't exist on the Main Line, but that's primarily because racial diversity doesn't exist.
That's not really true. The Main Line isn't a bastion of diversity, but parts of the Route 30 corridor have had historically black neighborhoods going back to the Great Migration--particularly Ardmore. There are also fast-growing East and South Asian populations. Lower Merion and Radnor are more diverse than all of the well-regarded non-Main Line school districts in Delaware County (Wallingford-Swarthmore is the only one that comes close).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
I'm not saying that's an acceptable solution, but it's more of an ignorant bliss.
Ignorant for some, not so ignorant for others, but it's a balancing act for families looking for well-regarded public school districts. It all depends how much you buy into the idea of well-regarded public school districts. I do, to a degree, but hardly in the extreme. The school district my wife and I just moved to is merely upper middling, but barring unusual circumstances (which we don't expect to have), a motivated and high-achieving child would have modest additional marginal returns in, say, Lower Merion. That doesn't mean top districts are "wrong" or irrational choices. Top districts can offer specialized programs the middle-of-the-road districts lack, and there are other considerations, like home appreciation and resale value, location, community amenities and quality of life, and peer group. When I say "peer group," that's not a racist dog-whistle (though people sometimes do invoke it as racial code). In my case, my parents chose in Lower Merion, out of the other top districts, because it's close to the city, a sound real estate investment, and home to a substantial Jewish population.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
In short, Delco could use its diversity to turn it into a special little melting pot. But they don't.
That's not solely a Delco thing. Few places are "special little melting pots." And even the "special little melting pots," like Cheltenham Township and Mt. Airy, are not free of racial strife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
*For the record, I live in a school district in Chester County that's 81% white, 13% asian and 1% black, so I'm just as guilty as the Main Liners.
Guilty of what, exactly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
**I'm always nervous writing about racial stuff on the internet, but just to be clear, my message is pro-diversity.
You sound nervous, alright.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
EDIT: It also doesn't help that my old high school principal became the superintendent at Upper Darby School District, only to get fired for being too progressive about race: Some see racial overtones in Upper Darby superintendent flap - Philly
As you know even better than I do, Upper Darby is a fascinating case study in diversity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
I grew up outside of Media so I 100% have seen the racial tension, but I would not call it a Delco stigma. Its more of a divide, plain and simple. I have seen instances growing up where residents in Aston, Brookhaven and even Bethel and Concord will literally snicker if they see a black person walking down the street, especially if they fit the "inner city" stereotype.
I got called a k*** for the first time by some mouth-breathing piece of white trash in Brookhaven. Think Dwight Eisenhower's nickname preceded by the letter "k."

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
You mention the point of Delaware County becoming a melting pot, the problem is, you have Chester which is in an absolute disgraceful state, then you have Swarthmore, Upper Providence, Newtown Square, etc. that have are white playgrounds for the upper middle class (and lately upper class). Those two do not mix and never will.
I can see Newtown Square diversifying as Broomall/Marple Township continues to do so slowly (but steadily). Swarthmore has a (smattering) of diversity already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
Areas like Upper Darby and Drexel Hill have the ability to remain stable diverse communities, it just comes down to making sure the district doesn't go further downhill, and the new residents arriving have the communities best interest in mind.
I think one of the biggest issues facing Upper Darby public schools is that lots of people in Upper Darby Township, particularly the white ethnic old guard, will send their children to parochial/Archdiocese schools, regardless of how good the District is, because they believe in a Catholic education. So you have a lot less community buy-in in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
I don't think the Main Line deserves any credit (or Chester County), because as you mentioned, most of those communities have a big enough buffer where its not even evident in their lives, but I assure you they would react the same away if in the situation. A good portion of Delaware County is very aware of the vast socio differences, how residents handle it is another story.
Credit in what sense? I'm not sure I follow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
I do believe Delaware County is one of the most jarring examples of the economic and general QOL divide. Radnor and Chester in the same county and everything in between.
I agree. Montgomery County and Bucks County have some isolated pockets of semi/urban decay (namely Norristown in the former and Bristol in the latter), but Delaware County is the only suburban county on the PA side that has large swaths of just about every community ranging from upscale rural to underprivileged urban. Camden County, NJ is a good example of this, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
Back on topic, not to scare the OP, most of Delaware County is a wonderful place to move and raise a family, these are just some historical problems of the county, just like any other county.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrihurley View Post
^^^^ Thank you so much for your honest answer. We are coming from Toronto, Canada which is arguably one of the most multicultural cities in the world. My children attend a racially diverse school now and have friends who are white, hispanic, black, asian, East Indian and Muslim. We are white and are concerned with the kids attending a school that is all white. Some sort of diversity is definitely preferred and if it can't be found in the area we choose, we want to be sure there is at least an acceptance and understanding of diversity and multiculturalism. We have no interest in landing in a township that has racist under currents!
You may like Lower Merion or Radnor on the PA side or Moorestown on the NJ side for communities with top school districts, charming and walkable areas, easy access to the city, and a smattering of diversity. Wissahickon School District (Whitpain Township, Lower Gwynedd Township, and Ambler Borough) is a little further from the city, but more diverse and with nearly as good schools. Ambler Borough is an up-and-coming area with a great suburban downtown.

Last edited by ElijahAstin; 10-18-2018 at 06:56 PM..
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:50 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
7,477 posts, read 10,485,349 times
Reputation: 4768
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
If you're intentionally looking for diversity in the schools, consider Lower Merion School District. It's on the Main Line but closer to the city, so it has more of a diverse mix. According to Niche, the student-makeup in the district is 71% white, 12% black, 11% asian and 4% hispanic.

Bala Cynwyd, Narbeth, Wynnewood and Ardmore are in this school district and has a lot of cute (but old-school, for better or worse) houses in your price range. It puts you extremely close to the city, and it's a good value because most Main Liners feel it's "too close" to the city.

A word of warning though, the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) would be your main thoroughfare and it is the most congested highway in the greater-Philadelphia region.
Credited recommendation, and the District is continuing to grow steadily more diverse. Which Main Liners think Bala-Cynwyd, Narberth, Wynnewood, and Ardmore are "too close" to the City? The ones who decamped further out two generations ago when the Jews began moving across the city line from Overbrook and Wynnefield? And while $650,000 will still get you a decent house, as far as good values go, you could have fooled me with real estate prices now exceeding $300/square foot.

It's also not hard to bypass the Sure-kill Distressway by taking the back-roads. Besides, the train commute to Center City is unbeatable, so driving during peak traffic conditions shouldn't be a big issue in the first place.
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Old 10-19-2018, 06:41 AM
 
Location: Chadds Ford
416 posts, read 204,227 times
Reputation: 428
To reply to some of ElijahAstin's critiques, I need to say that I only intended to give a high-level summary to somebody unfamiliar with the area. I did not want to get into the nitty gritty, and of course there are exceptions to every trend.

I made it clear that Media/Swarthmore/Wallingford are, in fact, nice towns. There is no disagreement there. I also pointed out that there's racial problems east, west, and south of this pocket. I believe we agree on that too. The racial tensions in these surrounding areas are a valid point and it seems OP places a priority on it.

As ElijahAstin points out, the areas in Delco north of Media/Swarthmore/Wallingford are more accepting of diversity than the areas east/west/south. I didn't say this explicitly in previous posts, but it is true. However, it doesn't change the fact that 3/4's of Media/Swarthmore/Wallingford's surroundings are racial hotbeds. Fair or not, the racist parts of Delaware County is a black eye on the county as a whole.

ElijahAstin also expressed disagreement with my statement that the Main Line is not diverse. The Main Line has diverse pockets, but they are the exception and not the rule. I went ahead and pulled the demographic information on every school district which contains a Main Line stop:
  • Overbrook (Part of Philadelphia School District) - N/A for this purpose
  • Lower Merion (Merion/Narbeth/Wynnewood/Ardmore/Bryn Mawr): 71% white, 11% asian, 12% black, and 4% hispanic
  • Haverford (Haverford): 85% white, 5% asian, 4% black, 2% hispanic
  • Radnor (Rosemont/Villanova/Radnor/St Davids/Wayne): 73% white, 17% asian, 5% black, 4% hispanic
  • Tredyfferin/Eastown (Strafford/Devon/Berwyn/Daylesford/Paoli): 73% white, 19% asian, 3% black, 3% hispanic
  • Great Valley School District (Malvern): 72% White, 15% asian, 2% black, 7% hispanic,
  • West Chester School District (Exton): 80% white, 7% asian, 5% black, 7% hispanic,
  • Downingtown (Downingtown): 79% white, 11% asian, 3% black, 5% hispanic,

Aside from Lower Merion, you'll see that the black + hispanic total hardly ever goes above 10% of the student body. Yes, black and hispanic students attend these schools, but I wouldn't call it a diverse atmosphere. And yes, affluent asians gravitate towards the Main Line.

Again, I hate getting into race and/or voluminous details , but people's responses have drawn me into it.

I won't pull statistics about home values throughout the Main Line, but I've always been under the impression that the homes in Radnor School District were the most expensive, followed by Tredyfferin. "Value" is a subjective word, but when there's a nice neighborhood that's the closest to the city and not the most expensive, I see comparative value.

To conclude, if I had a budget of $650k, no personal ties to Delaware County, and wanted to take the train regularly into Philadelphia, I would opt for the Main Line.

Last edited by Patmcpsu; 10-19-2018 at 07:05 AM..
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Old 10-19-2018, 07:21 AM
 
2,203 posts, read 6,937,484 times
Reputation: 867
I would think about Haddonfield, New Jersey. There are beautiful homes, highly rated schools and the PATCO High Speed line runs much more frequently than SEPTA and will give your husband easy access to Center City in about 20 minutes.
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Old 10-19-2018, 07:24 AM
 
2,203 posts, read 6,937,484 times
Reputation: 867
I would think about Haddonfield New Jersey. There are beautiful homes, excellent schools and the PATCO High Speed line runs much more frequently than SEPTA, and will get your husband to Center City in about 20 minutes.
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Old 10-19-2018, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Chadds Ford
416 posts, read 204,227 times
Reputation: 428
I am wary of the New Jersey real estate market because of the recent tax reform. I believe that once people do their tax returns in a few months, they'll realize how much the game has changed due to the state-and-local-tax (SALT) limits. If this happens, NJ residents near Philadelphia will flock to PA.

Or maybe people will simply pay whatever number TurboTax spits-out without looking into why it is what it is.

A $650k house in Haddonfield has about $15k/yr in taxes. A $650k house on the Main Line will usually be about (or even under) $10k/yr in taxes. A $650k house in Media/Swarthmore, for reference, would be over $15k/yr in taxes.

Maybe I'm wrong and the tax-rates are already priced-in. All I know is that there haven't *yet* been any major price-corrections from the SALT limits going into effect.
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Old 10-19-2018, 08:44 AM
 
7 posts, read 14,181 times
Reputation: 17
Patmcpsu,

Wow, I can't thank you enough for pulling those stats and breaking it down for me. And again to break down (estimate) the property taxes in each township for a $650,000 house is very helpful. I am going to show my husband these and I am certain it will allow us to narrow down our focus. There is a lot to consider with property taxes, school performance, real estate appreciation, diversity and commute.

ElijahAstin, Thank you as well for you input. You guys ran away with my original question and I got more quality feedback than I anticipated.
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