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Old 04-21-2022, 03:28 PM
 
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Thanks everybody, that is all great and useful information to consider. We will have to plan a family trip down to the area to explore a bit and get a feel for the different towns. Fortunately we are not under time pressure (at the moment, anyway), so after we get a better idea of which towns we prefer, we can sit back and watch the real estate listings for awhile to see if a really good fit appears.
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Old 04-22-2022, 08:55 AM
 
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Mainline has a large Jewish population anywhere you go although Bala Cynwyd is home to the Conservative/Orthodox population.

Asians/South Asians are concentrated at the Radnor end and westwards. The general rule of thumb is that people of Asian heritage tend to prefer newer bigger houses (the McMansions) than older historic properties.

Diversity is usually a cue word for wanting more black people rather than genuine diversity (based on observation from IRL where areas with large Jewish, Asian, and South Asian populations and widely varied white national origins are still not considered diverse by many people due to the paucity of African Americans). If that's important to you I'd be looking at West Mount Airy and kids in private schools.

Probably the best combination of everything you may be looking for is Lower Merion feeding into LMHS. The areas of Ardmore north of Ardmore station/Lancaster and walkable to Ardmore and its amenities are handsome. Parts of Haverford and Wynnewood also fall into this zone. Narberth is more modest as towns go but perennially popular and with a small village center of its own.
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Old 04-22-2022, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
12,136 posts, read 6,723,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Mainline has a large Jewish population anywhere you go although Bala Cynwyd is home to the Conservative/Orthodox population.

Asians/South Asians are concentrated at the Radnor end and westwards. The general rule of thumb is that people of Asian heritage tend to prefer newer bigger houses (the McMansions) than older historic properties.

Diversity is usually a cue word for wanting more black people rather than genuine diversity (based on observation from IRL where areas with large Jewish, Asian, and South Asian populations and widely varied white national origins are still not considered diverse by many people due to the paucity of African Americans). If that's important to you I'd be looking at West Mount Airy and kids in private schools.

Probably the best combination of everything you may be looking for is Lower Merion feeding into LMHS. The areas of Ardmore north of Ardmore station/Lancaster and walkable to Ardmore and its amenities are handsome. Parts of Haverford and Wynnewood also fall into this zone. Narberth is more modest as towns go but perennially popular and with a small village center of its own.
Some Mount Airy parents would like to have a word with you about that private-school assumption. (Note that one of them is Jewish — and one-half of a lesbian couple.)

And I'm afraid that while the presence of (East or South) Asians or Jews tends not to rattle many whites, many do get rattled by a non-trivial Black presence, which is why Mount Airy is such an outlier. This is the very thing Integrated Schools (which I mention in the article) seeks to combat.

The research I've read on student outcomes in school has found that the single strongest correlating factor with student performance in school is the household income of the pupil's household. Chances are also that those higher-income households have two parents in them, and that also improves outcomes.

Promoting intact families would probably make enough of a difference to close those performance gaps enough so that skittish white folks would not automatically dismiss a neighborhood public school in the city.
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Old 04-22-2022, 05:56 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
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Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Mainline has a large Jewish population anywhere you go although Bala Cynwyd is home to the Conservative/Orthodox population.
Lower Merion is close to 40% Jewish, and all denominations are well-represented. Of course, there is a distinctive Orthodox community within the confines of the eruv, including parts of Bala Cynwyd, Merion, Wynnewood, Penn Wynne, and Penn Valley. Radnor is in the 10-15% Jewish range. Tredyffrin and Easttown are more like 7-10%.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Asians/South Asians are concentrated at the Radnor end and westwards. The general rule of thumb is that people of Asian heritage tend to prefer newer bigger houses (the McMansions) than older historic properties.
Tredyffrin/Easttown is around 20% Asian (plurality Indian with Chinese just a shade behind). Radnor is a little over 10% and is plurality Chinese, with Indian and Korean close behind. Lower Merion is a little under 10% and is plurality Chinese, especially around Penn Wynne.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Diversity is usually a cue word for wanting more black people rather than genuine diversity (based on observation from IRL where areas with large Jewish, Asian, and South Asian populations and widely varied white national origins are still not considered diverse by many people due to the paucity of African Americans). If that's important to you I'd be looking at West Mount Airy and kids in private schools.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Probably the best combination of everything you may be looking for is Lower Merion feeding into LMHS. The areas of Ardmore north of Ardmore station/Lancaster and walkable to Ardmore and its amenities are handsome. Parts of Haverford and Wynnewood also fall into this zone.
I agree with this. Narberth and Wayne are also worth checking out. Lower Merion to Malvern is around 25-40 minutes, depending on where in the greater Malvern area and where in Lower Merion. Of course, Radnor Township will be closer, and Tredyffrin and Easttown will be closest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DXBtoFL View Post
Narberth is more modest as towns go but perennially popular and with a small village center of its own.
When comparing prices per square foot, Narberth is even more expensive than Lower Merion these days. The sociocultural distinctions between the Borough and surrounding Township are increasingly blurred.
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Old 04-23-2022, 08:55 PM
 
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Thanks again, everyone. When I say diversity, I mostly mean that I don't want my kids growing up in a community where everyone looks the same or comes from the same cultural background. I want a variety of people to be part of their daily life experience so it is normal to them. Our family is white (half Jewish but non-practicing), but my son's best friends in his preschool class were Black (Jamaican-American), Brazilian, Iranian and Japanese, with parents who were themselves immigrants/foreign service workers, and I love that.

It sounds like Lower Merion is probably the best fit for us, if we can wait for the right house to come along and pounce on it. I think we would seriously consider Swarthmore as well—my husband went to college there so is really attached to it, and I've seen some nice houses within walking distance of the elementary school and the Ville. We probably won't be seriously planning a move for another year, but it's good to know what the options will be.

Regarding Narberth/Lower Merion, is Narberth a separate municipality? But the same school district as Lower Merion, right? We have some weirdness here with towns/villages/unincorporated hamlets and postal codes that don't match the municipality, so I am used to it, just trying to figure things out.
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Old 04-23-2022, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
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Originally Posted by Chrysanthe View Post
Thanks again, everyone. When I say diversity, I mostly mean that I don't want my kids growing up in a community where everyone looks the same or comes from the same cultural background. I want a variety of people to be part of their daily life experience so it is normal to them. Our family is white (half Jewish but non-practicing), but my son's best friends in his preschool class were Black (Jamaican-American), Brazilian, Iranian and Japanese, with parents who were themselves immigrants/foreign service workers, and I love that.

It sounds like Lower Merion is probably the best fit for us, if we can wait for the right house to come along and pounce on it. I think we would seriously consider Swarthmore as well—my husband went to college there so is really attached to it, and I've seen some nice houses within walking distance of the elementary school and the Ville. We probably won't be seriously planning a move for another year, but it's good to know what the options will be.

Regarding Narberth/Lower Merion, is Narberth a separate municipality? But the same school district as Lower Merion, right? We have some weirdness here with towns/villages/unincorporated hamlets and postal codes that don't match the municipality, so I am used to it, just trying to figure things out.
That's a New York State thing — I wouldn't understand.

Postal districts don't always match single municipalities; here in Pennsylvania, they may cover two, three or four.

Narberth Borough is a separate municipality completely surrounded by Lower Merion Township, whose schools Narberth children attend.

In Pennsylvania, there are no such things as nested municipalities (like the villages contained within New York State towns). There are four types of municipality: city, borough, township and home rule municipality (which may be styled as city, township or borough, or as none of these [cf. Municipality of Norristown, the Montgomery County seat]; it was added to the municipal code in the early 1970s).

If you see a PennDOT place name sign reading "Village of [place name]", that does not identify a municipality but rather a commonly recognized place — what the Census Bureau would call a "Census designated place". Ardmore in Lower Merion and Haverford townships (the community straddles the Montgomery/Delaware county line) is one such example.

You may also from time to time see the old keystone-and-lozenge wrought-iron signs placed at municipal boundaries in the 1920s. These have, from top to bottom: The distance to the next community (unless the municipality is the last one on that road in the state), the name of the community, an explanation of what its name means or how it got it, the date the municipality was founded.
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Old 04-24-2022, 05:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
Media is also a wonderful community.

Media Borough is relatively small, and nice singles or townhomes are limited and come at a premium. Teardowns are becoming more common in the borough though.

Media is the county seat of Delaware County, State Street (main street) is full of shops, bars, restaurants. There is a Trader Joe's and even an active theatre featuring various plays, musicals, and community events. And any big box store you can think of is within a 15 minute drive.

Media is part of the Rose Tree Media School District, a highly ranked district. Media Elementary School is located downtown.

The surrounding communities in the district (though not walk-able) are wonderful: Middletown, Upper Providence, Edgemont. All have tons of housing variety at various price points.

Media area to Philadelphia is easy via driving or the SEPTA regional rail, accessed by several stations in the area. (think metro north).

Swarthmore is another wonderful community in an excellent school district (Wallingford-Swarthmore), but it's not as lively, and the "downtown" area is much more limited.


For the Main Line: Wayne, Devon, Radnor, Villanova, Bryn Mawr, and Ardmore are great communities with their own downtown areas (especially Ardmore). Again, housing in the walk-able areas is usually limited, and the surrounding communities are more spacious with a great variety of housing stock. All school districts along the Main Line are nationally renowned (Lower Merion, Radnor, Tredyffrin-Easttown).

Diversity is a mixed bag in suburban Philadelphia, mostly white in these communities, but certainly open and accepting all of all types of people (from my experience).

I'd expect to pay $600k-$1M+ for a nice single in or around the downtown centers.

Let me know if you have any more questions!
To the bolded: If you move into Media or Swarthmore boroughs, their stops on the Media/Elwyn line are three stations apart, and in the same fare zone. (The Media station is actually in Upper Providence Township.)

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Me...387693!5m1!1e4

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/&#39...22!3e2!5m1!1e4

And that Media trolley stops at the Springfield Mall. It's a bit of an uphill walk from a) the Media Regional Rail station to State St. and b) from the Springfield Mall trolley station to the actual mall.

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.9170...8i8192!5m1!1e4
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Old 04-25-2022, 07:40 PM
 
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If you're looking in Malvern just know that some is covered by TE School District and some is covered by Great Valley SD.
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Old 04-26-2022, 01:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Chrysanthe View Post
Hi everybody,

Our family is debating a move to the Philadelphia area for my husband's work—he is currently working remotely, but may need to be on-site in the future.

We are currently in the New York suburbs, and there is a lot I really like here, so I am reluctant to leave unless we can find something comparable. We live in an excellent, very small school district; we live across the street from the elementary school, so our kids can walk by themselves and also use the playgrounds whenever they want; the middle/high schools are under a mile away, with sidewalks, so also walkable. Because the school district is so good, all of the neighborhood kids are in school together—very few go to private school. And it is relatively diverse, more than 40% POC (big Asian & Indian communities in particular), with a large Jewish population as well. We are also less than a mile with sidewalks to the nearest village downtown, with supermarket, restaurants, pharmacy, etc. Our house is modest-sized, about 2000 sq ft (I would ideally like something at least a little bit larger), but our lot is about 0.5 acres (a decent-sized lot is important to me, as I am a gardener, and I need space to work with).

I already know that our money will go farther in the Philadelphia area, even on the Main Line, and our budget is pretty generous, so I'm not worried about that. But does this type of housing stock and community even exist anywhere in the area? (Generous-sized lot, walkable to excellent schools and downtown, a diverse, progressive community?) Or is it either/or, big lots/houses but not walkable vs. small lots/small houses but walkable?

My husband will be working in Malvern. I have read that the Tredyffrin-Easttown school district is the best, and that would be convenient in terms of his commute, but I am honestly not enthusiastic about the housing stock that I am seeing right now—a lot of it looks very McMansiony and totally car-dependent, which is not really our taste.

I like what I see of Lower Merion better, but would the commute to Malvern be a pain? And what neighborhoods specifically should I look at for that balance of lot/house size and walkability?

And Radnor? Same questions.

Do the Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Villanova faculty tend to live pretty locally? Do the neighborhoods have a college-town feel to them? We have spent a lot of time around academia and so would feel comfortable in that type of community.

Are there any other suburbs other than the Main Line that we should consider? Swarthmore, Media? I suggested West Chester to my husband, but he wants to be closer to the city. Schools are our top priority.

Thanks in advance!
Just to circle back to some of the questions that weren't answered yet. First, almost all of the Philly suburban school districts are excellent and highly rated enough for anyone's purposes. It doesn't matter if you're in TE or Radnor or LM or Rose Tree Media or West Chester (or Council Rock or Pennsbury up my way). They are all good schools. However, for the most part, the Philly suburban school districts are almost all large districts. If you're looking to stay in a very small district, I'd recommend looking at Jenkintown. That is one of the very few very small, very good school districts. As a result, Jenkintown is a pretty close knit community as well since the kids all know each other really well. Unfortunately, Jenkintown is not too convenient to Malvern (at least 45 mins to an hour depending on time/traffic). Jenkintown is a cute little town itself, and the next town over is Glenside, which has one of the best town center areas in the region.

The commute from almost anywhere in Lower Merion to Malvern isn't terrible. You learn the back roads to avoid Lancaster Ave during the peak times. This shouldn't be a concern, especially if he's only going a limited number of days.

Yes, the faculty from the Main Line colleges tend to live in those towns, at least for Haverford and Bryn Mawr for sure. There are Villanova students all up and down that part of the Main Line from Wayne to Ardmore.
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Old 05-02-2022, 08:10 AM
 
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Chrysanthe

A few things about West Chester to consider.

Lived in rural NJ, with few restaurants and entertainment and retired in 2015 and moved to West Chester Borough, we love it. People are very friendly, the town has a community spirit, downtown is alive with always something going on, tons of places to explore, live theater, 75 plus restaurants and many shops. The Halloween and Christmas parades are amazing and not to be missed. It seems they always have something going on downtown where they shut down the streets and have a great time. Here is the Borough Parks and Recreational web site to give you and idea of the things happening.

https://west-chester.com/139/Parks-Recreation


If you love gardens Longwood Gardens is 20 min drive, amazing place a must see. We are members and visit many times during the year. https://longwoodgardens.org
Just a short drive away are more gardens are in Delaware

https://www.visitwilmingtonde.com/th...tions/gardens/

With a tradition of horticulture going back 300 years, Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital.
Visit more than 30 public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes, all located within 30 miles of our landmark city.

Philadelphia is America's Garden Capital

If you like mansions more in Delaware with many DuPont family homes and other attractions.

https://www.visitwilmingtonde.com/th...o/attractions/

The area around West Chester has many walking and bicycle trails.

https://www.chescoplanning.org/resou...circuittrails/

Delaware the place with no sales taxes(think liquor, stoves, tv, washer/dryer, etc.) is 20 mins away. Train service to Philly is 15mins away in Exton, local train you are in center city in 55 minutes . You can be in the country in 10 mins. Schools are rated very high. Tons of shopping nearby, King of Prussia mall is 20 mins away, largest mall in the east. Many others malls in the area. The Philadelphia Airport is 40 minutes away.

West Chester is a university town, West Chester University with about 13K students on and off campus, if that bothers you may not like it. You have to be careful not to live near student housing, this website from the borough lists all student housing
http://www.west-chester.com/DocumentCenter/View/34
With that said we have had no problems living near the university. We take advantage of the many free concerts, lectures, etc the university has to offer. The University has a large music program with many talented students. We attend quality concerts 2-3 nights a week, all for free.

https://www.wcupa.edu/music/eventsCalendar.aspx#/?i=1

The local police and campus security keep close tabs on the students and pretty much do not put up with a lot of stuff. Our encounter with students have been great, we were moving in a couch and struggling when all of the sudden it got lighter, a few big guys saw us and stopped and helped and would not take anything for their time.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center http://uptownwestchester.org provides live theater, and concerts.

Also the University has live theater, concerts and lectures for a fee. https://www.wcupa.edu/oca/wcuLive/

Some streets parking can be a problem so look for homes with off street parking or where parking is not restricted. They love to give out $25 parking tickets! Here is a map http://www.west-chester.com/DocumentCenter/View/764 of where parking is controlled.

Homes can come on the market and be gone in a few hours or a day or so.

When we were looking to move out of NJ,we looked at Media, Chestnut Hill, Phoenixville, Doyestown and several places in Delaware and settled on West Chester a decision we do not regret at all.

More info here
http://www.visitphilly.com/towns/west-chester/

Great blog on West Chester

https://hellowestchesterpa.com


Good luck in your search.
Everyone has good information on here, but I think TLC1957 hit the OP's post the most.

All of these areas: "Media, Chestnut Hill, Phoenixville, Doylestown and several places in Delaware and settled on West Chester" are not too uppity in my opinion.

Lower Merion is quite uppity from my experience.
Doylestown and Delaware are probably too far a commute from Malvern. Housing would be cheaper in Delaware, and that would make it "worth" the commute monetarily, but that's a lot to take on for a commute. You get more bang for your buck considering the other places.

It's not possible for you to have the type of diversity you might be used to without sacrificing on having additional commute time or less diversity. Another schooling idea you can consider, especially if your kids are in high school, is cyber schooling instead, which is included in your tax dollars no matter where in PA you live. Many people down cyber schools, but if you have academically motivated children or if they are like a child prodigy athlete or movie actor for instance, this is a great option to consider.

West Chester I think is also the best for you overall. There's some diversity with the university nearby and it's a nice place to live. Media fits your requirements the best overall, but the commute is longer. Phoenixville has diversity, but not as much. Malvern proper is worth considering if you're considering Phoenixville based on what your budget probably is around.

If you do Chestnut Hill, look into private or cyber school for the kids.

Doylestown is too far from Malvern.
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