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Old Yesterday, 05:34 PM
 
1 posts, read 44 times
Reputation: 10

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Hi! So yes, looking for feedback on moving to the Philadelphia area, thanks for reading and hopefully taking a moment to throw in your perspective on the different neighborhoods and what they're really like

I'm in my 40's, my daughter is 15, our German Shepherd is 6 months. I grew up in Centre County, PA; left at 16, moved around, spent several years in Boston, and prior to moving back to PA 10 years ago, we lived outside of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Currently live in a home in a middle class neighborhood and we can't wait to get out of here.

We need diversity, a place we can walk to; a coffee shop or out for a bite and interact with people of different backgrounds, ethnicities; perhaps have a conversation about the difference between spirituality and religion at the local bookstore prior to joining a meditation or reiki circle. Ok, so that might be more geared towards my preferences; my daughter also wants diversity from all angles, people who are more concerned with the integrity of who their friends are over what label they carry (brown, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, etc.). That being said she's been in competitive cheer for 9 years, but in an alternative school within our district for the smaller classes and more personal, creative environment with an emphasis on respecting one another at the top of the list. However, she started cyber school about a month ago, which is ok, but I think she thrives on more social interaction and I can imagine she'll be ready to go back to a public school by the fall for her sophomore year and maybe even consider side line cheer so mom doesn't have to keep paying the extraordinary cheer bill and spending all our weekends at competitions.

Does anyone talk to their neighbors anymore? Do kids hang out with their friend's in the neighborhood? Does the owner of the local shop know your name? Those used to be things I took for granted and I miss them all! So ideally I'll sell my home and buy a new one around $250K, hopefully no HOA fees, or if so - minimal. I think considering a rental for a bit might be a good idea.

I work from home but being near a train would be great. We've been looking at the Ardmore area. We go to Wayne at least 4x a year for doctor appointments and then continue on for about 30 minutes to Market Street in Philly for another. So my daughter knows all about King of Prussia and I know all about the traffic! Also, my sister in NV and mom in CA so being reasonable distance to the airport is nice. Ok, so what are your thoughts? Suggestions? Know of somewhere with a cool vibe?

Last edited by toobusytoday; Today at 08:03 AM.. Reason: added paragraphs for easier reading
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Old Yesterday, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Media
168 posts, read 90,428 times
Reputation: 404
Hi-

From what you’re describing that you want, one resource I’d recommend you check out is the Philadelphia Classic Towns website. All of the towns featured are walkable communities in the greater Philadelphia area, most of which have regional rail access into the city.

My town (Media) is one such place—fairly progressive politically and quite diverse, well-ranked schools, walkable town center with frequent events, and a definite sense of community. My wife and I both work from home, and we’re able to live a car-free lifestyle, walking to the grocery store, shops, restaurants, the library, etc. so that we’re getting get out into the neighborhood daily, and we can take the trolley or train into Philadelphia for frequent city excursions. Our car sits parked most of the time—we could even live happily without it. Since I’m out in the neighborhood everyday as a pedestrian, I meet my neighbors, people say “hi”, the shopkeepers remember me, and so on.

I think your primary challenge is going to be budgetary...that is, what kind of home you’ll be able to buy in the $250K price range, particularly if you’re looking for a detached single family residence. In Media, small detached homes typically sell for $400-500K or more. Even rough old twin homes (half of a duplex) generally sell for over $250K. You may find homes within a 10-15 minute drive of Media in your price range, but once you go outside of the borough’s walkable street grid, you lose that walkability factor and you quickly find yourself in car-dependent suburbia. Maybe you’d be happy with that compromise, but I think that a lot of what you want (neighborhood kids hanging out together, neighbors know each other) happens much more readily in places where people don’t have to get into a car to get everywhere.

Likewise, I think you’ll find prices of homes in most of the Main Line towns (Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Wayne, etc.) to be a bit of a stretch, as would be the case for bustling little West Chester, too, I believe. Not necessarily impossible, but you’ll have to look long and hard at your options and maybe make a few compromises.

Phoenixville definitely earns “cool vibe” points and has always impressed me, although the biggest downside is its lack of rail access to the city. Perhaps because of that lack of transit—and also because its revitalization might be a step or two behind towns like Media—Phoenixville is a little more affordable.

Ambler is also a frequent recommendation to people looking for a walkable town in the Philadelphia area with rail access, although I’m not too familiar with home prices. I suspect they’re close to Phoenixville’s but perhaps slightly higher.

And I certainly don’t want to write off a number of city neighborhoods either—although I’ll leave it to other posters who are more versed in city home prices to identify some specific options in your price range. Don’t be put off by others’ drive-by comments along the lines of “you can’t send you child to Philadelphia public schools”. But you do need to learn a little about how the city’s school system works and how your daughter would fit into the school system. Living in the city would mean paying Philadelphia’s wage tax (about 4%), but property taxes are generally lower than in the suburbs.

I hope the above helps! Let me know if I can be of any further help. Good luck!
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Old Today, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Pocopson
109 posts, read 32,672 times
Reputation: 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by briantroutman View Post
Hi-

Phoenixville definitely earns “cool vibe” points and has always impressed me, although the biggest downside is its lack of rail access to the city. Perhaps because of that lack of transit—and also because its revitalization might be a step or two behind towns like Media—Phoenixville is a little more affordable.
I agree completely. Phoenixville checks off all your boxes, minus the train access. Phoenixville school district is 75% white, 12% hispanic, 7% black, 3% asian.

If you're looking for diversity on the Main Line, Lower Merion School District is your best bet (74% white, 10% asian, 8% black, 5% hispanic, 5% multi-racial). However, you will be hard-pressed to find anything more than a condo (with HOA fees) here for $250k.

As far as Ambler goes, Wissahickon School District is 65% white, 14% asian, 10% black, 6% hispanic and 6% multi racial. $250k won't go far in this area, but options do exist.

It all depends on how much house you need. $250k can get you a 1500-2000 sq ft place in Phoenixville, a condo in Lower Merion (plus HOA fees), or 1000-1500 sq ft place in Ambler.

Also, you'll notice on another thread that just got started, that Drexel Hill has beautiful houses for about $250k. It has public transportation into Philadelphia, and a ton of diversity. However, the school district is always poorly-ranked and the racial diversity (I'm being polite here) isn't completely embraced. I wouldn't consider it walkable or have a "small town vibe" either. You'll want to read that thread if you want to look into it further, but I'd file it under "close but not quite" for what you're looking for.

Last edited by Patmcpsu; Today at 09:11 AM.. Reason: Added Drexel Hill
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Old Today, 10:09 AM
 
601 posts, read 367,118 times
Reputation: 509
You could also look at Havertown, right next door to Ardmore but not technically part of the "Main Line," so a little bit cheaper. Your budget is still a bit tight, but there are definitely options, likely a twin (half of a side-by-side duplex). But since it's only you, your daughter, and your dog, that should be plenty of space. While Havertown doesn't have one central walkable "downtown," it has several business districts. I live in the Oakmont section of Havertown and can walk to a Wawa, several restaurants, my yoga place, my pharmacy, a farmer's market in season, and a park or two.
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Old Today, 10:46 AM
 
943 posts, read 1,088,000 times
Reputation: 350
If you are okay with the amount of space, I think living in Philadelphia city proper should be a strong consideration for you. Maybe Manayunk, East Falls, Roxborough, or Wynnefield Heights would be suitable for you.
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Old Today, 11:31 AM
 
316 posts, read 314,166 times
Reputation: 286
I would second the Phoenixville suggestions with the caveat that at it's bones, the town is historically and still remains a bit rural. They have a very cool main street with lots to do, but the broader town is more provincial with traditional rural values than you may desire.
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Old Today, 02:46 PM
 
Location: East Mt Airy, Philadelphia
976 posts, read 970,880 times
Reputation: 1702
Quote:
Originally Posted by briantroutman View Post
Ambler is also a frequent recommendation to people looking for a walkable town in the Philadelphia area with rail access, although I’m not too familiar with home prices. I suspect they’re close to Phoenixville’s but perhaps slightly higher.

And I certainly don’t want to write off a number of city neighborhoods either—although I’ll leave it to other posters who are more versed in city home prices to identify some specific options in your price range. Don’t be put off by others’ drive-by comments along the lines of “you can’t send you child to Philadelphia public schools”. But you do need to learn a little about how the city’s school system works and how your daughter would fit into the school system. Living in the city would mean paying Philadelphia’s wage tax (about 4%), but property taxes are generally lower than in the suburbs.
I'm a big fan of Ambler and, like briantroutman, cannot speak to home/rental costs but would agree that on average they're likely higher than Phoenixville (and probably less than most Main Line locations). It's relatively close to Center City (good rail access), and the downtown has restaurants, a great movie theater, etc. If I weren't such a fan of Philly proper I'd be living in Ambler.

I don't have school-age kids, so Philly schools' quality wasn't in my relocation spreadsheet. I do know that there are good public high schools and charter schools, but just how you qualify for these is for someone else to answer (e.g., Masterman is one of the best high schools in the state, so entry is very competitive). There are lots of private schools, but tuition is either a small or medium-size fortune.

With the school caveat in mind: there were some neighborhoods mentioned in another post. I'd add Mt Airy (East or West) to the list. A $250k budget is tight but workable, especially so in East Mt Airy. Both East and West are well served by rail, are close to great (and by urban standards, huge) parks, have a good and growing selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and so on. My wife and I have been in East Mt Airy for 10 1/2 years (moved here from NC) and couldn't be happier.
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Old Today, 04:32 PM
 
578 posts, read 1,179,305 times
Reputation: 223
If you're willing to consider NJ, you might take a look at Collingswood or Westmont (in Haddon Township).
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