Young family seeks dynamic town (Philadelphia, Dover: employment, neighborhood, private school)
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Hatboro? No. It is a good town and it has potential but definitely not dynamic at this point. The lights don't go out at 8pm because they go out at 6pm.
Newtown is a good town also but boring. The main street is about a block long. I don't even think the movie theater is there anymore. There is a bunch of new strip stores behind the high school but that is not a reason to relocate.
I am a 30-year-old remarried mother living in Philadelphia. We planned on relocating out of state, but my daughter's absentee father suddenly jumped back into the picture to object. It is now mandated that we stay within 100 miles of Philadelphia for the next 12 years.
So now we might as well find a good place to settle. We are looking for for a hip, multi-cultural, artsy, "young", tolerant, progressive area to reside. Somewhere family-friendly but not riddled with mini-vans, and nowhere where the lights go out at 8 pm. Absolutley no suburban sprawl McMansion developments, snotty main-line attitudes, or anything way out in the boonies.
I like to be able to get around by foot or bike, at least to some destinations. I don't want to have to drive to the nearest store. Okay, so yeah, I like Philly. However, I'm not so into the school district. I need a town or area with a good public school. I'm not so worried about home prices, we can swing it. I'd prefer a mixed-income, diverse area. Good restaurants and cultural events are important to us. Is there anything out there?
Basically, I'm looking for a suburban equivalent to say, Northern Liberties. I'm thinking about something like Collingswood, Mt Airy (yes, I know it isn't a suburb, just hoping it has a secretly wonderful school option), or New Hope. What are the schools like in these areas? Ideally, I'd like something with easy city access but that can stand on it's own. Laid-back and friendly but not sleepy. Someone suggested Phoenixville or West Chester but they seem so far. In general, I'm not into the Western Suburbs. Please prove me wrong. How about Wilmington? It must be urban, but I never hear anything about it. Btw, I have work options in Philadelphia and Trenton.
Yes, we are a family and the kid comes first, but I am not ready to put on a turtle neck and start shopping at strip malls. Help me find happy medium, please!
P.S. Are there any shore towns that actually thrive all year? Nope, didn't think so.
You already hit base on some of the good towns I would recommend like West Chester and Phoenixville. I would add Doylestown and Chestnut Hill.
My first choice is Chestnut Hill. It is in still in the city but I think that is the best neighborhood in the city. Shopping, restaurants, mass transit, community theater, and a few bars. It could use a movie theater but other than that it has everything I would want.
If I was going to live year round at the shore my first choice would probably be Cape May.
I heard that Hatboro has a nice "main street" town feel. I've been to Horsham and it seemed like white bread suburbia to me, which is fine; lots of people are into that, just not me. Was I missing something?
Yes you missed the town. Hatboro has a walkable main street. Horsham is the suburbs.
Not sure of your need for proximity to Philly but Newtown, Hatboro n Horsham are a good 40 minutes by car. Schools in Bucks are all top-notch. Check out Westmont NJ and Collingswood, NJ. Close and walkable Main sts.
I like Hatboro. Don't know that i'd live there and I wouldn't call it dynamic but, so many old Main Streets around here are all boutiqued out and are starting to lose their functionality for people who live there.
Don't get me wrong, boutiques are better than boarded up storefronts, but what I liked about Collingswood was being able to walk to the hardware store, the pharmacy, for some water ice, for a gallon of milk - that sort of stuff. I don't have much need for handbags on a daily basis.
Hatboro has the basics and is short on boutiques without having the shuttered storefronts. It reminds me of my hometown in the 80s - you know, before the Starbucks, thai restaurant and sushi place hit Main St.
I've been meaning to respond but had trouble logging on. Thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts. Besides the actual town in Hatboro and the places mentioned in DE, I have been to every place that was mentioned, some more often than others. However, at the time I wasn't thinking that I'd be raising my family in the Phila vicinity so I wasn't examining the places in that light. I will look into all of them more closely.
At risk of being vague, I will say that money is not the concern. What I am not looking for is a place that screams "MONEY!" or where the locals just can't get over how elite they are. I don't want to raise my child in a bubble shielded from the real world. I want my diverse friends to be comfortable visiting. We try to live interesting, unique lives.
Byoak: I did not mean any offense. I missed the actual town in Hatboro and the area which I have been to in Horsham seemed a little "Anytown, USA". I'll check it out again; I'm certainly not here to knock anything.
A little more backround: My husband is from the SF bay area. He came to Philly for law school. I lived in Long Beach, CA for a couple of years before moving back to Philly, where I'm from originally. We were recently looking to relocate to the San Diego area. An example of our tastes (if you are familiar with SD): I talked my husband out of a 1.2 million dollar house in La Jolla because I prefered a 500k funky beach cottage in Ocean Beach.
I appreciate any other suggestions. Again, thanks!
One more thing, I can elaborate on what I like about Northern Liberties. I like the arts/music/culture aspect not necessarily the bar/party aspect. We liked it more 5 years ago before it became a destination. I also like the mixed architecture/land use and that it's still possible to find a parking spot.
I've been to Belmar dozens of times, as well as Point Pleasant. I really like Belmar and the surrounding towns a lot...for a day trip. It never struck me as a year-round livable town (although much more so than any SJ beach). I'll have to go up to Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and Manasquan. I've never been to Asbury Park, but in my head I like it. Some people say it's drug-ridden and to stay away, but I've heard some cool happenings occur there. Also, someone once told me Seabright is a cool little town, although I have no idea. Thanks, Solibs, perhaps I should fish in the NJ forum. For now, just trying to stay positive.
One thing I forgot to mention about Hatboro, there is a big loft conversion in progress in some old warehouse along the RR tracks a few blocks north of Hatboro Station. Things will definitely happen there, it's just a matter of how soon.
I only thought to mention the stuff again when you said where you had lived in California and that you were looking for a town where you could ride your bike or walk to stuff - occasionally. The area between the beach and Route 35 from Point Pleasant up through Allenhurst definitely fist the bicycle friendly bill. Some places more so than others but it's not at all unusual to see bikes and peds.
Originally Posted by OhWhereToGo?
I've been to Belmar dozens of times, as well as Point Pleasant. I really like Belmar and the surrounding towns a lot...for a day trip. It never struck me as a year-round livable town (although much more so than any SJ beach).
Belmar and Spring Lake are perhaps the two towns out of all of them that have a population change severe enough that shopkeepers change their hours. Monmouth County has a year-round population of 650,000 - which makes it bigger than any suburban Philadelphia county except for Montgomery. Once you get 5 blocks from the ocean the beach and tourist trade become irrelevant.
If you really want to get a feel for what the area is like in the dead of winter my suggestion would be to drive up there on some Saturday morning in the near future. You have to cruise Routes 35 and 71 between Belmar and Red Bank to get a sense of where the people are. Also check out Ocean Ave. between Asbury Park and Monmouth Beach. Deal is like the Beverly Hills of the Jersey Shore.
I'll have to go up to Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and Manasquan.
and Bradley Beach and Avon! Bradley is definitely my favorite out of any of the towns up there. A lot of conveniences, some memorable restaurants, very walkable, a 5 minute bike ride to Asbury or Ocean Grove, family friendly and unpretentious. I kick myself at least once a month for not buying the house I had been renting there (in the mid-90s) while I had the chance.
I've never been to Asbury Park, but in my head I like it. Some people say it's drug-ridden and to stay away, but I've heard some cool happenings occur there.
Asbury Park is divided into east and west by the train tracks. The northeast corner of the city has always been quiet, safe and middle-class. My grandparents lived there for years after they retired. The southwest corner has always been bad - still is. The whole town is changing for the better but the southeast, where downtown is, is the part of town seeing the most redevelopment. Lots of loft conversions, new condos, new shops and restaurants - that sort of thing.
Ocean Grove and Asbury have had a strong gay presence since I was a kid. I'm not trying to promote a stereotype, just making an observation, but Asbury is the only beach town that I know of with three furniture stores on the boardwalk.
Also, someone once told me Seabright is a cool little town, although I have no idea. Thanks, Solibs, perhaps I should fish in the NJ forum. For now, just trying to stay positive.
Sea Bright is OK. Parts of that peninsula are really narrow and take a beating from big storms. It's been breached (made an island) by storms twice since the 80s. It's also isolated. There are only 3 roads in and out so it can be a 20 minute drive or more to shopping areas like Red Bank, Shrewsbury or Eatontown. It's a lot more like being at the South Jersey beaches in that regard. Except, at least in Sea Bright people live on the other side of the bridge. OTOH, my cousin has been there for 4 years now and loves it. The best part for me is the high speed ferry to NYC. It's pricey but it gets you there in comfort and in 35 minutes . . . and unless you want to pay for a helicopter tour the views are unparalleled. I think everyone should do it at least once.
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