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Old 06-22-2020, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Newark, NJ
700 posts, read 404,212 times
Reputation: 966

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I bought a house in Bucks county in 2008 that I still own (because I couldn't sell it) and is now rented out. In 2014 I moved to South Philly (Passyunk Square) but I moved to New Jersey (NYC Metro area) for work in 2015. Now my job is giving me more location flexibility for Covid and I'm wanting to return.

I'm fairly familiar with the city East of the Schuylkill river and South of Girard with the exception of a few neighborhoods like Point Breeze or Grey's Ferry, but I don't know what's changed in the last 5 years. I guess my ideal would be a neighborhood that's what Northern Liberties and Fishtown were 10 years ago.

When are you moving?
Probably in the fall, but I have a lot of flexibility

Where are you coming from?
New Jersey

Why are you moving?
Because I love Philly

Where will you be working?
Remotely and occasionally to an office in Pennington, NJ.

Have you been here yet?
Yes.

Will you buy or rent?
Prefer to buy, willing to rent.

If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend?
Prefer a house, budget up to $400k, but would spend a lot less than that if I can find a good value in an "up and coming" neighborhood.

If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend?
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up?

Not a big high-rise guy, but it' not a deal breaker. Classic Philly row-house is ideal.


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

I actually wouldn't mind living in Camden, but I don't think there's much housing stock there that isn't totally dilapidated. I'm pretty handy, but I'm not a GC or anything like that.

Are you married or single? Do you have children?
Single, no children. A neighborhood that had other singles around my age (late '30s) would be ideal.

Do you prefer public or private schools?
Public

Do you have pets?
No, but would get a dog if I could

Do you want or need a yard?
Would love to have a small yard

Are you keeping a car?
Yes

Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet?
Somewhere in the middle, I definitely want to be close to shops and restaurants.

What do you want to be closest to?
Work
- Not a concern
Shopping - Not a concern
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.) - Not a concern
Nightlife - Not a concern
Train or subway stations - Yes, would like to be able to get around without a car, even though I'll have one.

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood?
Diverse neighborhood

Favorite Beverage - Craft Beer, wine, water?
I like to be able to walk into a bar and order a lager and the bartender gives me a Yuengling.
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Old 06-22-2020, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia Pa
845 posts, read 529,236 times
Reputation: 820
Right there with you Man. I loved the Northern Liberties of 10-15 years ago. Unfortunately, i can't think of any comparable neighborhoods these days that aren't somewhat removed from the city proper. Passyunk Square actually might be the best fit for you. Other options to at least check out are: Bella Vista, the 19125 zip code (realtor-branded Olde Kensington), possibly southern Port Richmond (but that's pretty far-removed from the city proper and it's still very much a work in progress).

The 400k budget puts you in a tough spot, as that's right around what I refer to as the "bubble number" in Philly. It won't get you anything in a top neighborhood, but also elevates you above the tiny rowhomes in less than optimal neighborhoods. You've got to think long and hard if it is more advantageous for your QOL and investment to go to a proven/stable, fun, upscale neighborhood (i.e. Fairmount, NL, Queen Village), where you'll be able to afford a one-bedroom condo, or if you would prefer to live in a moderate area and get a decent rowhome with outdoor space and multiple bedrooms.

Or, you could make your life easier and reduce your budget to say 290k which puts you in a different category, but is very doable to get a nice house in pretty decent areas. At least there's no buyer's remorse at that level and you can always rent that and upgrade in a few years once you've lived in the city again and see neighborhoods first hand every day.

EDIT: sorry, just re-read your post and you state clearly that you're open to reducing budget and buying in an up and coming area. if that's the case, add Dickins Narrows to your list.
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Old 06-22-2020, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Newark, NJ
700 posts, read 404,212 times
Reputation: 966
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennsport View Post
Right there with you Man. I loved the Northern Liberties of 10-15 years ago. Unfortunately, i can't think of any comparable neighborhoods these days that aren't somewhat removed from the city proper. Passyunk Square actually might be the best fit for you. Other options to at least check out are: Bella Vista, the 19125 zip code (realtor-branded Olde Kensington), possibly southern Port Richmond (but that's pretty far-removed from the city proper and it's still very much a work in progress).

The 400k budget puts you in a tough spot, as that's right around what I refer to as the "bubble number" in Philly. It won't get you anything in a top neighborhood, but also elevates you above the tiny rowhomes in less than optimal neighborhoods. You've got to think long and hard if it is more advantageous for your QOL and investment to go to a proven/stable, fun, upscale neighborhood (i.e. Fairmount, NL, Queen Village), where you'll be able to afford a one-bedroom condo, or if you would prefer to live in a moderate area and get a decent rowhome with outdoor space and multiple bedrooms.

Or, you could make your life easier and reduce your budget to say 290k which puts you in a different category, but is very doable to get a nice house in pretty decent areas. At least there's no buyer's remorse at that level and you can always rent that and upgrade in a few years once you've lived in the city again and see neighborhoods first hand every day.

EDIT: sorry, just re-read your post and you state clearly that you're open to reducing budget and buying in an up and coming area. if that's the case, add Dickins Narrows to your list.
Thanks! Sounds like the neighborhoods right around where I used to live (Dickinson and Broad). I was in a decent apartment there, 1st floor of a modest row house.

Edit: I also loved parking my car in the middle of Broad Street. That was a riot. I tell that story every time I talk about living in South Philly.
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Old 06-22-2020, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
7,602 posts, read 3,648,829 times
Reputation: 4836
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennsport View Post
Right there with you Man. I loved the Northern Liberties of 10-15 years ago. Unfortunately, i can't think of any comparable neighborhoods these days that aren't somewhat removed from the city proper. Passyunk Square actually might be the best fit for you. Other options to at least check out are: Bella Vista, the 19125 zip code (realtor-branded Olde Kensington), possibly southern Port Richmond (but that's pretty far-removed from the city proper and it's still very much a work in progress).

The 400k budget puts you in a tough spot, as that's right around what I refer to as the "bubble number" in Philly. It won't get you anything in a top neighborhood, but also elevates you above the tiny rowhomes in less than optimal neighborhoods. You've got to think long and hard if it is more advantageous for your QOL and investment to go to a proven/stable, fun, upscale neighborhood (i.e. Fairmount, NL, Queen Village), where you'll be able to afford a one-bedroom condo, or if you would prefer to live in a moderate area and get a decent rowhome with outdoor space and multiple bedrooms.

Or, you could make your life easier and reduce your budget to say 290k which puts you in a different category, but is very doable to get a nice house in pretty decent areas. At least there's no buyer's remorse at that level and you can always rent that and upgrade in a few years once you've lived in the city again and see neighborhoods first hand every day.

EDIT: sorry, just re-read your post and you state clearly that you're open to reducing budget and buying in an up and coming area. if that's the case, add Dickins Narrows to your list.
19125 is Fishtown.

South ("Old[e]") Kensington is 19122. That area is currently on the rise, and the further north you go in it, the more likely you are to still find a decent housing value.

How far away from City Hall are you willing to live? Germantown, on whose east side I live, is a bit of a commute on public transit (15-25 minutes on Regional Rail if you live near a station, 30-45 on the subway and buses), but the houses and yards there are a little bigger than they are in South Philly, and you might be able to find a house with off-street parking for your car. House prices there have risen smartly in the past year — 9 to 15 percent per the Zillow Home Value Index — but you can still find many houses in great condition, including recent rehabs, or that need only minor improvements in the $250k-$400k range.

Germantown's west side is nicer (and more affluent) than its east side, but there are parts of the east side that are pretty nice too (including a pocket of mostly-African-American affluence four blocks southwest of me). Crime is an issue on the east side especially, and the neighborhood amenities (save for some really great coffee shops, the harbinger of things to come, we hope) aren't on the level of East Passyunk or NoLibs or Fishtown yet, but there's a great deal of diversity (racial/ethnic, age, socioeconomic), a countercultural vibe that stretches back to the 1980s, and loads of history.

if you're willing to consider the neighborhood, I'd be happy to show you around. Especially once Uncle Bobbie's reopens.
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Old 06-22-2020, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Newark, NJ
700 posts, read 404,212 times
Reputation: 966
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
19125 is Fishtown.

South ("Old[e]") Kensington is 19122. That area is currently on the rise, and the further north you go in it, the more likely you are to still find a decent housing value.

How far away from City Hall are you willing to live? Germantown, on whose east side I live, is a bit of a commute on public transit (15-25 minutes on Regional Rail if you live near a station, 30-45 on the subway and buses), but the houses and yards there are a little bigger than they are in South Philly, and you might be able to find a house with off-street parking for your car. House prices there have risen smartly in the past year — 9 to 15 percent per the Zillow Home Value Index — but you can still find many houses in great condition, including recent rehabs, or that need only minor improvements in the $250k-$400k range.

Germantown's west side is nicer (and more affluent) than its east side, but there are parts of the east side that are pretty nice too (including a pocket of mostly-African-American affluence four blocks southwest of me). Crime is an issue on the east side especially, and the neighborhood amenities (save for some really great coffee shops, the harbinger of things to come, we hope) aren't on the level of East Passyunk or NoLibs or Fishtown yet, but there's a great deal of diversity (racial/ethnic, age, socioeconomic), a countercultural vibe that stretches back to the 1980s, and loads of history.

if you're willing to consider the neighborhood, I'd be happy to show you around. Especially once Uncle Bobbie's reopens.
Thanks! Will definitely consider Germantown, pretty sure I've been there before and liked it.
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Old 06-22-2020, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia Pa
845 posts, read 529,236 times
Reputation: 820
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackjack2000 View Post
Thanks! Will definitely consider Germantown, pretty sure I've been there before and liked it.
If the last neighborhood you lived in was Passyunk Square and that's what you associate with city living, then Germantown is going to be WAY too far out of the city for you. Take a look - it's certainly an attractive area with cool architecture and a unique style, but it might as well be a suburb of Philly. Sandy is a big Germantown booster, but he's also a seasoned Philadelphian who can navigate all forms of public transit and doesn't mind jumping on a train for 40 minutes to get downtown. If you want to leave your house and walk a few blocks to you favorite local pub and restaurants (which I imagine is what you're envisioning), you're going to need to be in the city proper.

And Sandy, thanks for the zip correction. 19122 is it...
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Old 06-22-2020, 03:49 PM
 
Location: Newark, NJ
700 posts, read 404,212 times
Reputation: 966
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennsport View Post
If the last neighborhood you lived in was Passyunk Square and that's what you associate with city living, then Germantown is going to be WAY too far out of the city for you. Take a look - it's certainly an attractive area with cool architecture and a unique style, but it might as well be a suburb of Philly. Sandy is a big Germantown booster, but he's also a seasoned Philadelphian who can navigate all forms of public transit and doesn't mind jumping on a train for 40 minutes to get downtown. If you want to leave your house and walk a few blocks to you favorite local pub and restaurants (which I imagine is what you're envisioning), you're going to need to be in the city proper.

And Sandy, thanks for the zip correction. 19122 is it...
How does access from Germantown compare to "Olde" Richmond? I'm willing to live a little further from the core than Passyunk square, but 40 minutes might be a bit much. IIRC it took me around 30-35 minutes to get from Morrisville to Philly.
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Old 06-22-2020, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia Pa
845 posts, read 529,236 times
Reputation: 820
Sandy can answer this better than me, but I believe the train from Germantown to Jefferson Station (downtown Philly) is about 35/40 minutes. Of course, you have to factor in your walk, uber or bus from your house to the Germantown Station and subsequently the walk, uber or bus from whatever station you arrive at to your final destination. Basically you're probably looking at an hour or more to get downtown door to door. I'm not sure about driving, but I would think it would about the same most times of the day. You'd have to take 76, or Lincoln/Kelly Dr./676 or back roads. All of which have serious traffic congestion.

If you did decide on Germantown, you could make Manayunk your home base for entertainment. That's the closest area that feels like the actual city. It's still not around the corner, but a lot closer than downtown.

All of the neighborhoods I suggested in my initial post, including "Olde Kensington," are part of the city core. You're walkable, bus, El, or 6 dollar uber away from just about everywhere you'd want to go.
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Old 06-23-2020, 04:59 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
7,602 posts, read 3,648,829 times
Reputation: 4836
First:Pennsport's description of Germantown as "like a suburb in the city" is pretty much accurate. This is a quality all but one of the neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia (both sides of the Wissahickon: Roxborough, Germantown, Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill — but not Manayunk, which is an old mill town and feels like an Italian hill town) share. The difference between this part of the city and the other "in-city suburb," Northeast Philadelphia, is that the Northwest above the Wissahickon developed earlier thanks to the two commuter railroads that serve it to this day, while much of the Northeast didn't develop until World War II or later.

In terms of dining and entertainment, Manayunk is indeed the closest spot for nightlife, but there are a couple of venues in Chestnut Hill that also offer live entertainment, including a jazz grotto in the basement of a restaurant co-owned by the Bynum brothers (South, Relish, Warmdaddy's) and the restaurant's eponymous chef, Al Paris. (Yes, it has a French menu.) If Manayunk is an adult playground for Main Line college students, Chestnut Hill is where the grown folks go, and you don't have to cross the best urban wilderness in the city to get to it from Germantown either.

As far as the commute is concerned: I happen to live just off what may well be the most accessible intersection in all of Germantown from a transit standpoint — I have many options close by. I'm a 10-minute walk from Washington Lane Regional Rail station and a 13-minute walk from the next station in on the same line, Germantown. (A fare zone line separates the two stations, making the ride in from Germantown cheaper.) Germantown to Jefferson Station is 15 minutes; add three minutes for Washington Lane.

Three bus routes pass through the intersection of Chew and Chelten avenues. Two of them, Routes 18 and 26, pass through Olney Transportation Center, the original northern terminus of the Broad Street Subway. The Broad Street Line is one of only two four-track local/express rapid transit lines in the US not located in New York (the other's in Chicago), so you get a speedy 14-minute ride to either City Hall or 8th and Market streets (via the Ridge Spur subway) when the expresses are running. The buses make the trip from Chew and Chelten to Broad and Olney in 8 minutes.

My 40-45 minute figure for the subway/bus commute is based on total door-to-door time from my apartment to the Curtis Building, where the offices of Philadelphia magazine are located. Door-to-door from my apartment to City Hall subway station is 30 minutes when the expresses are running (5 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. weekdays), 38 minutes when they're not. (Ridge Spur trains operate from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, no Sunday express service at all).

Since almost every part of Germantown is served by bus routes that pass through either Olney or the next express stop south, Erie, travel times from most of Germantown to City Hall station are about the same (the bus ride to Erie from Central Germantown or its west side is a little longer than the ride to Olney from East Germantown). Those who live within a 5-minute walk of a Regional Rail station will get to Center City faster if they live along the Chestnut Hill East line; the Chestnut Hill West line has to pick its way through the Northeast Corridor line and Zoo Interlocking on its way to 30th Street Station and thus takes a little longer.

Transit connections from Center City to Germantown are a little better than those from Old Richmond, but total travel time from the latter to Center City is a little shorter, for the quickest route follows Girard Avenue through Fishtown to Girard station on the Market-Frankford Line. And you do have Fishtown lying between Old Richmond and Center City — it has more of the bars, restaurants and nightspots it appears you enjoy.

Do keep Pennsport's admonishment in mind when weighing your decision. If you don't mind the commute, Germantown is a better choice than many outside it would know or admit. But if you want those sorts of amenities within an easy walk of your home, it won't fill the bill.
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:37 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
1,084 posts, read 437,334 times
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It is notable that the "suburban" feeling of the Northwest (especially Germantown-Mt. Airy-Chestnut Hill) is relative to the highly urban built environment of the majority of the city. When my friend from out of town first visited me in my Germantown abode, she was complimenting the neighborhood and I replied something to the effect of, "yeah, the neighborhood has a nice urban-suburban hybrid feel to it." She laughed and said she felt like she was smack dab in a central neighborhood of a major urban city. Most of Philadelphia feels more urban than Germantown, but its built environment is more urban than the core of many major American cities. It is all about perspective.

In regards to Pennsport and MSL's warning, one adjustment for me moving from Mantua to Germantown was the relative lack of dining and nightlife options in the Northwest. You do have to think about whether you are okay driving or taking transit into the core for these amenities, or if you want them within walking distance. What the Northwest lacks in these amenities, it makes up for in distinct architecture, greenery, and community feel.

The commute time on regional rail really isn't bad. As MSL noted, it really depends on which line you are taking and from what station you begin. The Chestnut Hill West line is slightly more convenient for University City commutes, and the Chestnut Hill East line is slightly more convenient for Center City commutes, but neither are bad for either final destination. Since google maps is no longer showing ride times because the lines are still shut down re: COVID (I can't believe they haven't reopened these lines!), check out the Chesnut Hill West line schedule here for an estimation on ride times: https://www.septa.org/schedules/future/rail/pdf/chw.pdf The SEPTA website also has a schedule for the East line. You've just gotta be willing to adapt your ride time to the train schedule.

Last edited by Muinteoir; 06-23-2020 at 06:11 AM..
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