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Old 12-01-2018, 02:50 PM
 
72 posts, read 19,362 times
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Hello, it is time to move on and SEPA looks like the place. We will visit first but nowhere else ticks all the boxes: Large East coast metro. Reasonable real estate. Favorable tax treatment for retirees. Milder winters than where we are now. Decent proximity to NYC for monthly visits.

All of your insights and your collective wisdom are greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

When are you moving? 2019, Q3 or Q4.

Where are you coming from? Rochester, NY

Why are you moving? Want to be in a larger East Coast metro with reasonable real estate, favorable retiree taxation, better winter weather, proximity to NYC.

Where will you be working? I will get a transfer and can pick the area, my wife will have flexibility.

Have you been here yet? No


Will you buy or rent? Initially rent, then buy within a year or so

If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? Townhome/ rowhouse or condo with 1500-2000 ft2. We want to live on one or two levels only and don't want a narrow rowhouse-type layout. Our budget is around $350k, depending on taxes and HOA costs.

If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend? Budget for a 2 BR rental initially is around $2k/month.

Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Prefer low floor high rise or a walk up.

Do you have a preference of living in a NJ or PA suburb? PA all the way.


Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married, the nest is empty.

Do you prefer public or private schools? NA

Do you have pets? 2 small dogs, one cat

Do you want or need a yard? A small plot would be nice, not much more than that.

Are you keeping a car? Yes, at least one.

Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? We want some energy, are not exurban types by any stretch. That does not have to mean city center, the right burb could work.

What do you want to be closest to? Restaurants, a place to run outdoors, highway access, maybe SEPTA accesss.

Work I am a Certified Financial Planner, wife is a Master's Degreed Nurse.

Shopping Not a huge concern but don't want to go far for Target or the like.

Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.) Would be nice to walk to these, but not essential. Do not want to drive more than 5-10 minutes for the basics.

Nightlife That generally means getting a decent meal from a number of non-chain options. An occasional cultural event like a play or museum exhibit should not take more than a half hour or so to get to.

Train or subway stations Jury out on this one. Depends on where she works.

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? We prefer a mixture of all the above if possible. Not our first choice but we could do a semi-Waspy area if need be.

Favorite Beverage - Craft Beer, wine, water? Water, or coffee drinks.

Thanks, everyone!
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Old 12-02-2018, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,892 posts, read 12,255,860 times
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Chesterbrook is a nice development of older townhomes . This might be a good central location to get a feel for the area while you rent . Quick commute to Main Line,King of Prussia,Valley Forge National Park. Western side of the metro.

If you want to be closer to NYC maybe Bucks County . Doylestown,Newtown are very nice towns. New Hope , Yardley are nearby. Bucks County has a more quaint feel , rustic, quieter, less traffic than the rest of the metro.


West Chester + Media are similar to Doylestown , these towns are on the western side of the metro.


Good luck.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
3,853 posts, read 1,858,285 times
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My assessment of your overall preferences would lead me to recommend to you:

In the city itself, Mt. Airy, the northwest quadrant of Germantown, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park.

In the suburbs, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Narberth, maybe Swarthmore, and above all Media.

The four city neighborhoods will top the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity scale. Ardmore in the 'burbs will rank next on this scale.

You will find a few detached homes in the first two city neighborhoods I listed, but most of the homes you might want are semi-detached twins. Most also have three floors, however.

Most city rowhouse blocks have narrow rowhouses because the standard city house lot is 17.5 feet wide. There are some wider rowhouses out there, especially in the two University City neighborhoods (Spruce Hill and Cedar Park), but you'll have to hunt for them. You'll find rowhouses of similar width in the rowhouse blocks of Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.

Media is IMO the suburb that checks off the most boxes in your collection. Its Main Street, State Street, has a very lively dining scene and a performing arts center in a converted movie theater. You can find some spacious houses in the borough, all within walking distance of State Street. You'll find big-box shopping, supermarkets and a shopping mall that's being converted into a mixed-use "town center" just outside the borough in the townships surrounding it. Granite Run (the shopping mall conversion) is to the southwest, and there's an Acme on the property; Marple Crossing is to the northeast, at the other end of the Media Bypass (US 1).

The challenge will be finding a suitable house within your $350k budget. You might have better luck finding one of those in Lansdale, another very walkable suburb with a Regional Rail station and a decent Main Street.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:52 PM
 
72 posts, read 19,362 times
Reputation: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainrock View Post
Chesterbrook is a nice development of older townhomes . This might be a good central location to get a feel for the area while you rent . Quick commute to Main Line,King of Prussia,Valley Forge National Park. Western side of the metro.

If you want to be closer to NYC maybe Bucks County . Doylestown,Newtown are very nice towns. New Hope , Yardley are nearby. Bucks County has a more quaint feel , rustic, quieter, less traffic than the rest of the metro.


West Chester + Media are similar to Doylestown , these towns are on the western side of the metro.


Good luck.
Thank you for your insights, I was also thinking somewhere in the vicinity where 76l, 276 and 476 all converge would be a good central location to get a feel for the area. I'll definitely keep Chesterbrook in mind.

Are there any towns or villages in Montco that you can suggest that will have a similar vibe to the others you mentioned?
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Old 12-03-2018, 09:40 PM
 
72 posts, read 19,362 times
Reputation: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
My assessment of your overall preferences would lead me to recommend to you:

In the city itself, Mt. Airy, the northwest quadrant of Germantown, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park.

In the suburbs, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Narberth, maybe Swarthmore, and above all Media.

The four city neighborhoods will top the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity scale. Ardmore in the 'burbs will rank next on this scale.

You will find a few detached homes in the first two city neighborhoods I listed, but most of the homes you might want are semi-detached twins. Most also have three floors, however.

Most city rowhouse blocks have narrow rowhouses because the standard city house lot is 17.5 feet wide. There are some wider rowhouses out there, especially in the two University City neighborhoods (Spruce Hill and Cedar Park), but you'll have to hunt for them. You'll find rowhouses of similar width in the rowhouse blocks of Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.

Media is IMO the suburb that checks off the most boxes in your collection. Its Main Street, State Street, has a very lively dining scene and a performing arts center in a converted movie theater. You can find some spacious houses in the borough, all within walking distance of State Street. You'll find big-box shopping, supermarkets and a shopping mall that's being converted into a mixed-use "town center" just outside the borough in the townships surrounding it. Granite Run (the shopping mall conversion) is to the southwest, and there's an Acme on the property; Marple Crossing is to the northeast, at the other end of the Media Bypass (US 1).

The challenge will be finding a suitable house within your $350k budget. You might have better luck finding one of those in Lansdale, another very walkable suburb with a Regional Rail station and a decent Main Street.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful and well considered reply. You really thought it through and it shows.

I am sorting through a lot of information here and elsewhere trying to get this right. For now, the burbs look like the right move but that could change. Those 17.5 foot wide lots make for some narrow homes. I've seen listings for Trinity's with 900 square feet - that's mighty tight and narrow. Now that I know twins exist (I know them as duplexes), that will nelp. The key is finding the right city neighborhood if that is the route we go.

I am finding plenty of townhomes available with what we are looking for and at our budget in the city, and in Chester, Montco and Bucks counties. Media and the Main Line towns have few options at any price that I can find. Either it's overwhelmingly single family housing stock in those places or Redfin isn't showing everything.

Media seems everyone's favorite town and I will defintely investigate it. A little non-chain shopping and some good and varied food options and we are pretty happy overall. Add rail access to city center and we will be home.
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Old 12-05-2018, 06:16 AM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,892 posts, read 12,255,860 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownDweller View Post
Thank you for your insights, I was also thinking somewhere in the vicinity where 76l, 276 and 476 all converge would be a good central location to get a feel for the area. I'll definitely keep Chesterbrook in mind.

Are there any towns or villages in Montco that you can suggest that will have a similar vibe to the others you mentioned?
Media's location cant be beat. Close to airport, center city, stadiums, and you are right on the edge of Ridley Creek State Park which offers an abundance of outdoor activities.

The Main Line towns are leafy walkable towns with train access into the city and along Rte 30. Merion,Narberth,Wynnewood,Ardmore,Haverford,Bryn Mawr then you have Villanova which revolves more around the university. As you continue heading west on Lancaster Ave(rte 30) the towns pick back up Wayne,Stafford,Devon,Berwyn,Paoli,Malvern. Challenge here is going to be finding the right home. Think the market has peaked so you may be able to find a decent home in your price range its just going to be a bigger challenge compared to rest of the region.


Conshohocken is more of a small city than town. May be worth a look.


Jenkintown,Glenside,Ambler, are nice walkable towns maybe a bit grittier than previous mentioned towns.


One of the best neighborhoods in region is Chestnut Hill which is located in the NW corner of city of Philadlephia. Plus is the property taxes in Philadelphia are low compared to rest of region but that's offset by having to pay Philadlephia wage tax which is around 4% for residents.

Last edited by rainrock; 12-05-2018 at 06:32 AM..
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:27 PM
 
72 posts, read 19,362 times
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Thanks for the information. From what I've seen, the NW side of the city area looks like the best city fit. West of Germantown, near the river or up on Chestnut Hill.
The housing stock has off street parking, there are some nicely updated twins with 2 baths, there is a range of dining options and good access to rail.

In the burbs, there is more to sort out. Main line homes are pretty expensive compared to the rest, especially when they are up to date. I'm seeing higher tax/HOA fees, too. Are they really that much more desirable?

The city tax will probably apply to my wife, regardless where we live. It won't apply to me unless I live in the city. That evens out the lower city property taxes to some degree.

Are you also familiar with the Lansdale/Montgomery area? It's probably the farthest out I would consider and seems to have decent rail access.
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Old 12-07-2018, 12:29 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
3,853 posts, read 1,858,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownDweller View Post
Are you also familiar with the Lansdale/Montgomery area? It's probably the farthest out I would consider and seems to have decent rail access.
You can start with this article on the section I produce on Phillymag.com:

Why You Should Take a Second Look at Lansdale | Philadelphia Magazine

It has one of those walkable Main Streets - this one's actually called Main Street; the only other one of these I know of in this area is Manayunk's - that's come back from the undead. You should also be able to find houses in your price range there; it's one of the more blue-collar walkable suburbs in this region historically. But the new shops and restaurants should tell you something.

I definitely recommend Smokey Daddy's BBQ - best burnt ends I've had in this area yet - and Round Guys Brewing as places to dine and drink, but Stove & Tap, pictured in the article, is also very good.
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:14 AM
 
Location: Florida Gulf Coast
4,146 posts, read 5,575,585 times
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I've lived in several of the areas mentioned:

Upper Gwynedd Township (Lansdale post office) in a lovely townhouse, although I am not sure but they might be >$350 at this point. Anyway, it's a nice area but I found it too far from the city.

Berwyn, which is right near the convergence of the Turnpike and Expressway and not far from 476. I'm sure the houses are way more than $350K but I lived in an apartment at the time. This was my favorite area, because of its convenience and the fact it was on the Main Line. Beautiful, safe area and nice people.

Chesterbrook would be good too...that's in the same vicinity. I had considered Chesterbrook at one point but many of the townhomes have electric heat-pumps, and having lived in a house with one, I vowed never to have one again. They just are not a good fit for the types of winters we have in Philly, and I could never get warm.

I also lived in a town that's not far from Media. Media's a great little town, not sure how many townhouse developments there are or what you can get for $350. I still would prefer to be a bit closer to the city, but that's because many of my social events were in the city or over the bridge in NJ.
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:40 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
3,853 posts, read 1,858,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalon08 View Post
I also lived in a town that's not far from Media. Media's a great little town, not sure how many townhouse developments there are or what you can get for $350. I still would prefer to be a bit closer to the city, but that's because many of my social events were in the city or over the bridge in NJ.
Speaking of over the bridge, if you are willing to consider Southern New Jersey, Collingswood has everything you want in spades, and then some.

Haddon Avenue, its Main Street, is the liveliest of all this region's suburban Main Streets (and it should have by now dawned on you that there are plenty of good ones here). It's chock-full of great restaurants, including two Phillymag "50 Best." It has several really cool boutiques, including one store where you can get clothing, vintage vinyl, and coffee and sandwiches. Its Saturday farmers market under the PATCO viaduct, which runs nine months out of the year, was the first of its kind in South Jersey and remains, if not the best, one of the best - it helped spark Collingswood's Main Street renaissance. There's also a grocer and deli on Haddon Avenue, which means you can pop in and pick up something to eat without having to run to the supermarket or dine out. It has four very nice parks, all within walking distance from downtown, and its Shriners Auditorium - attached to the back of a large house on the borough's south side - has an active calendar of music and theatre performances. The Ritz in next-door Oaklyn augments the artistic side.

And if your wife lands a position at one of the hospitals in Philadelphia itself, especially Jefferson but also Pennsylvania, Hahnemann, HUP, CHOP or Penn Medicine Rittenhouse (no longer a hospital, but it provides specialty services including hospice care), PATCO gets you to 8th and Market in just 15 minutes.

The downside: Property taxes in New Jersey are significantly higher than in Pennsylvania. But you will find houses there that fit your purchase budget.

Why Young Homebuyers Should Consider Collingswood | Philadelphia Magazine
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