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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 11-30-2014, 05:14 PM
3 posts, read 7,855 times
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My husband has accepted a position near Middletown. We were considering moving to Lancaster - Hempfield or Manheim Twp school districts. However, they are building without restraint and the districts seem like they are getting too big too fast. So... we are considering Derry Twp Schools. The area is a little more rural than we had envisioned, but a bigger concern is whether our kids will be able to fit into a tight-knit school district. We are coming from a school district (in Bucks County, PA) half the size of Derry, so we know what small is like - for better and for worse. Does anyone have feedback on how easily new kids fit in at school? People have said Hershey HS has a lot of cliques - but that just sounds like high school to me. Is it worse than other schools? Also, are there plenty of things for teens to do in the area? The Lancaster area seemed to have a lot of teen night type activities and I haven't seen as much of that in the Hershey area.
Thanks for any info!
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:50 PM
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Personally, I would much rather be in the Lancaster County than in Dauphin County. Other than the park and the resorts, Hershey doesn't have much going on. It's surrounded by farm land and is really rural. The property taxes are also ridiculous. I get that the schools are good, but I'm not sure the schools justify the level of taxes in Hershey. There is not really a downtown Hershey and it's just a small place with little going for it other than Hershey Park. Lancaster seems to get the desirable stores and shops way before Harrisburg does (that is if Harrisburg ever gets them at all). Shopping in Harrisburg is horrific. The malls are terrible. There are very few high end places to buy things. The outlets malls in Hershey are arguably the best shopping in that area. Lancaster is the type of place that has an Apple Store and will soon have places like Trader Joes, Fresh Market, etc. --those types of places will not be coming to Harrisburg anytime soon.
I'm not sure your husband is going to like driving to Middletown from Lancaster everyday, so from a practical standpoint you may not what to be as far as Lancaster. If the commute is not an issue, then I would say Lancaster county over Dauphin county. Another advantage of Lancaster is your that much closer to Philly.
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Old 12-01-2014, 07:47 AM
Location: Central Texas. Wait, I mean South Texas. Actually, both Central and South Texas
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I can't comment on the Herhey School District but I can recommend Lower Dauphin. My daughter attended elementary school in the Lower Dauphin school district for two years. We are not from the area (I have a military background so I have been all over) and my daughter is a minority, however she quickly made friends and was accepted by other students. I have no complaints about the Lower Dauphin school district. The only reason I moved out of Hummelstown was because I couldn't afford to buy a home there.
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Old 12-01-2014, 07:53 AM
Location: Paradise
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I'm sorry I can't give you any advice on the schools in the area other than to say when my brother was moving his family to the area they chose to live in Lancaster County in the Manheim Twp area and schools were a primary concern for their kids (a then 13 year old girl and a pre-schooler). They were also going to be working in the Lancaster area so that was a big deal too (commute wise).

I live near Middletown/Hershey and I agree with what Mvmdmd said about the differences between Hershey and the general Lancaster area. It's at least a half hour drive from Middletown to the Lancaster area.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:06 AM
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The belt of farm land in Derry Twp is somewhat illusory. Nearly all of it is owned by the [Milton] Hershey [School] Trust, even out into S Hanover and Conewago Twps, although a couple of fields near the Medical Center are owned by Penn State for future expansion, and two fields near the Hershey [Chocolate] Co. West Hershey and Reese Plants are owned by that company for similar reasons. This farmland is nearly entirely surrounded in turn by residential subdivisions.

The residential zoned area in the SW corner of Derry closest to Middletown is nearly all built out. From here daily shopping in Middletown itself may be more convenient as the commercial zone along Middletown Rd in Derry Twp still has for sale signs not development proposals.

Lancaster definitely has a higher level of shopping and urban amenities than Hershey. Harrisburg collectively lacks an Eastern Mountain Sports and Apple Store that Lancaster has - although the Harrisburg metro has a Wegmans (which Lancaster does not), it is so far "out the West Shore" from Hershey that it might as well be in Lancaster.

There are some locally owned shops in downtown Hummelstown Hummelstown Business & Professional Association | Hummelstown Business and Professional Association - including Welcome to Toys On The Square, Unusual Toys & Pottery Painting - Toys on the Square which is a better bricks & mortar place than website.

If you are concerned about fitting in as a relocatee, bear in mind Lancaster area has a 150+ year head start on European ancestry settlement compared to Hershey. The Medical Center (barely 50 years old) is more prominent socially in Derry than the chocolate company, and both entities exchange professional families in and out with the larger nation. State government and lobbyist folks often live in Derry too - they often move from Pittsburgh area, or from "coal country" up I-81 an hour or two. Derry Twp collects the f/k/a occupational privilege tax from about 30,000 folks (meaning there are that many jobs in the municipality, counting of course part timers at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts), with about 23,000 residents counting the Milton Hershey School kids.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:06 PM
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He has a horrible North Jersey commute now, so commuting from Lancaster to Middletown is quite do-able. Just trying to make the right choice in terms of school and daily life for the rest of the family. Any and all insight appreciated.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:50 AM
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Lancaster Co has the same school cliques that other areas have if not more so, especially in Manheim Twnship. Thats a real prominent and 'keep up with the Jones' type neighborhood and SD.

Lanc. is very much divided by their school districts as far as what each area will say about the other areas within Lanc. Keep in mind most ppl were born and raised here, there's a very few transplants. Its not an easy area to fit into if you're not from here and even then it can be hard to form new social circles even after HS if you move out of your home town. Most ppl still run with their HS cliques even 20+ yrs later and probably most have never been outside the area much.

Taxes can be very high here too depending on the township you live.
The commute from Lanc. to Middletown everyday would be a real pain since your only way to go is 283W. Not bad on a good day but in bad weather you're in for a very aggravating commute.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:55 AM
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I will add, if I had to choose btwn any of the areas you mentioned, I'd pick Lanc. even with all their cliques and conservative ways but thats more b/c I prefer smaller cities. I will say even tho wedo have crime here, I feel safer here than those areas too.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:57 AM
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Well, we definitely can't stay here, so we have to move somewhere! It sounds from what I'm gathering that Hershey/Hummelstown area may have the best school district, but doesn't offer much to do during downtime. Lancaster has more to do, but schools not as good as Hershey? We do know a few people in Lancaster, so that is helpful there. Don't know anyone in Hershey.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:14 AM
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If Lanc is your choice I would probably pick Hempfield SD over Manhem Twp just b/c of the cost and its a less snooty area but then that depends on the type of person you are and your financial means. I dont mean that in a bad way but your kids may have a hard time fitting in MT if you're not 'well-off'. Every SD has its reputation but I rarely if ever hear anything bad about the Hempfield area, its seems like its a nice middle ground.

As far as stuff to do, depends on what you like to do. Its a very family oriented area. It is an ultra conservative with church being a big thing for most ppl. I wont say everyone is like that but most are. There are even cliques in churches too. Im not a church person myself but most here are. I dont think you can talk to too many ppl without some mention of their church.

Im glad you do know some ppl , that helps b/c like I said, there's very little interaction unless you already know someone. Its not exactly known as a friendly town. Its a very polite place tho in that ppl hold doors open for you and let you pull out in front of them but it pretty much ends there. Most pppl keep to themselves and their cliques and they can be wary of newcomers. I never really how unfriendly and introverted it was until I visited other areas.
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