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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:07 AM
 
10 posts, read 7,821 times
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My husband is looking at an opportunity at the medical center in Hershey, PA. We originally thought that we would look at one of the Main Line towns near Philly but are now wondering if that commute is tenable. What are some other areas we can explore that are within an hour commute to Hershey? We are a liberal, bi-racial family and would love to live somewhere with some diversity, a walkable downtown, and a thriving arts and cultural scene.
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Old 06-04-2018, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
273 posts, read 199,187 times
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Unless you’re in love with the Main Line to the point that you think that it’s the only place you’d like to live, I wouldn’t seriously consider commuting to Hershey from there every day. Even from the farthest point westward on the Main Line (Malvern), he’d be looking at a roughly 90-minute commute each way.

I would say most Pennsylvania cities and towns have walkable downtowns and some semblance of an arts/cultural scene, but it’s a matter of question as to whether they're thriving enough to suit you. And I think it’s also fair to say that the downtowns tend to skew a bit to the liberal side of the political spectrum, even where the surrounding region may be fairly conservative.

For example, Harrisburg: I lived in the area for a few years and like many aspects of the city. There’s a fairly active business/restaurant district downtown—mostly on 2nd Street north of Market. The city has a nice performance venue downtown (inside the Whitaker Center) and enough of a cultural scene to sustain an alternative weekly newspaper. Harrisburg also maintains a park with a small stadium on an island in the Susquehanna River, and there's a pedestrian bridge linking the island to a beautiful riverfront biking/walking trail along the waterfront. And the city’s location puts it within a short drive of both Philadelphia and Baltimore (with the convenience of trains to Philadelphia), so when you want the atmosphere of a bigger city, you can get to it fairly quickly.

That said, the city isn’t without its problems. Despite some active business areas downtown and a few nice residential areas, particularly near the river, elsewhere large forgotten sections of the city are impoverished. Schools are ranked poorly, if that is or ever becomes relevant to you. Whenever I meet with members of Harrisburg’s young progressive/creative/entrepreneurial scene, I always get the impression that they’re filled with enthusiasm and optimism, and while the city is making strides, it still has a way to go.

But if you’ve never spent any time there, I’d encourage you to visit downtown Harrisburg: Walk around, go out to City Island, have dinner, be part of some kind of cultural event, and see if you could possibly picture yourself there. I don’t want to oversell the city—it’s not perfect by any means—but it has its charms, and it is by far the closest urban environment to Hershey.

You might also want to take a look at Lancaster. It’s farther from Hershey than Harrisburg is (about 40 min. vs. 20 from Harrisburg), but Lancaster’s downtown scene is much more active. There was another thread on the PA board discussing downtown Lancaster vs. downtown Harrisburg, and I think the consensus was that downtown Lancaster is more vibrant but also that Lancaster feels more like a large town whereas Harrisburg feels like a small city. Regardless, comparisons between the two are difficult because they feel so different from one another, and I’d recommend spending some time in Lancaster as well to get acquainted with the city. And despite Lancaster County’s reputation as a bastion of conservatism and insular PA Dutch people, Lancaster City is actually quite diverse and increasingly progressive.

If neither Harrisburg or Lancaster appeals to you or you’re looking for a smaller town feel, you might want to check out Elizabethtown. This isn’t an endorsement or recommendation—because I was only in the town once and don’t really remember it. But you might want to check it out because it is a college town and fairly close to Hershey (about 25 min.), so it might offer a reasonable combination of a vibrant downtown, a fairly inclusive and progressive population, and a pretty short commute to Hershey.

Good luck in your search. Let me know if I can be of any further help.
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Old 06-04-2018, 02:56 PM
 
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Think of commuting as hours away from your family. If you drive two hours one way, that's four hours per day missing dance recitals, ball games, etc.

Hershey itself is far from the lily-white village of yore. Shopping is somewhat limited by standards of larger metropolitan areas, but UPS and FedEx still come to your door. Dauphin County has edged into the blue column in national elections, and in the last one Derry Twp did too. Hershey Theatre in Hershey PA offerings tend a bit more to the commercial than the avant-garde, but if you select a home where the kids can walk to school, you can walk there too.

Lancaster would have an edge for both chain and non-chain shopping, and probably arts and cultural events compared to Harrisburg. Lancaster City is somewhat progressive but much more swamped by its county politically. That's adding an hour a day commuting compared to Harrisburg city though.
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Old 07-09-2018, 06:17 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,914 posts, read 1,098,442 times
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Stay in Hershey. It will not offer all that the Main Line towns offer by any means, but the ease of amenities are certainly attractive.

2nd to Hershey. Check out Camp Hill and Manhiem Twp. - Lancaster (Lancaster is a bit more vibrant than Harrisburg, but a bit further from Hershey).

https://nypost.com/2016/09/20/the-ne...to-buggy-town/

To give you perspective.

Manhiem Twp. offers

Whole Foods
Apple Store
etc.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Cashtown, PA
299 posts, read 404,351 times
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Also check out hospitals, Cancer Centers in the Gettysburg and Hanover areas. Some of the hospitals in the Gettysburg area might be looking for help - not at liberty to say Some folks have been retiring and there is a need. But doesn't hurt to look and keep an eye out.
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
273 posts, read 199,187 times
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The OP subsequently started another thread in which she makes it clear that she’s not considering any part of Central PA—“too much of a culture shock”, she says.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:16 PM
 
Location: Cashtown, PA
299 posts, read 404,351 times
Reputation: 339
Welp, some folks prefer the city for a variety of reasons, all valid. Even living in a suburb outside of a small city was too much of a culture shock for me and thus now I live in wee town outside of a large town.
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Old 08-18-2018, 07:32 PM
 
6 posts, read 5,118 times
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Check our Manheim Township near Lancaster PA. We have many ethnicities here and you would be welcome. No walkable downtown, though.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:42 AM
 
10 posts, read 7,821 times
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Thank you for all the helpful replies. We did check out some of the areas closer to Hershey but ultimately decided that we would focus on the Main Line towns bc they have more of the amenities we use on a daily basis.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:05 PM
 
561 posts, read 419,688 times
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Was driving a bit in Hershey downtown today; nice to live around downtown or no?


Like to walk to banks and parks and stores.
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