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Old 03-22-2013, 07:43 AM
 
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My husband is in the final stages of transferring jobs and we will need to relocate from TX to the east coast for his new job. In order to prevent having to relocate again in the near future, we would like to be near NJ (without being IN it) so we are close to many job options. We have narrowed our options down to LeHigh County, or Bucks County.

My husband works from home most of the time, but will also need to drive into Bridgewater once in awhile, as well as being able to access airports to visit other areas in the region. Daily commute will not be an issue, but he needs to be able to get to the airport or Bridgewater in just over an hour.

We have two kids, seven and three, so we need great schools and really safe neighborhoods. We don't know anybody out there, so we really need a great community with a lot of chances for interaction and activities for kids and families. We also would like to be within 10 minutes from larger stores and amenities.

We were initially looking around Bethlehem, and then were targeting some of the surrounding school districts like Southern LeHigh and East Penn, but after branching out our search, realized many of the areas in Bucks county were ranked even higher in schools and were in our price range, as well as being the same travel distance for my husband. We looked at several around Doylestown, in particular, tht we liked.

I'm torn! We will obviously do more looking when we can get out there in person, but we are trying to narrow our choices, and it seems like we keep finding more and more areas that will work. What is your honest opinion on the differences between the two areas? Is the quality of life different? Safety? Traffic? Attitude?

Please help!


When are you moving? At the end of this school year
Where are you coming from? Suburb outside Dallas, TX
Why are you moving? Job transfer
Where will you be working? From home, but needing to drive into Bridgewater and access airports
Have you been here yet? Not yet

Will you buy or rent? Buy
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? House, $350-$450 range
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Walk up

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married with 7 and 3 year olds
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public for now
Do you have pets? Two small dogs
Do you want or need a yard? Yes
Are you keeping a car? Yes
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? I'm thinking pretty calm would be a nice change, but we still want a lot of activities to do.

What do you want to be closest to?
Work. Eh...
Shopping. Yes
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.). Definitely
Nightlife. Not really an issue
Near Bus stop? Please note that there is NO rail service in the Lehigh Valley.

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

We don't mind diverse, but we really want a safe area with tighter knit neighborhoods, and a lot of younger families my kids can play with.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:05 AM
 
11,791 posts, read 12,302,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmarieturner View Post
We were initially looking around Bethlehem, and then were targeting some of the surrounding school districts like Southern LeHigh and East Penn, but after branching out our search, realized many of the areas in Bucks county were ranked even higher in schools and were in our price range, as well as being the same travel distance for my husband. We looked at several around Doylestown, in particular, that we liked.

House, $350-$450 range
I believe it is the same distance, but I think that commute on US202 is much slower than on I78. If you are only going once a week to Bridgewater or the Airport it probably doesn't matter.

Saucon Valley covers two counties . Saucon Township (Lower) in Northampton County as well as a Saucon Township (Upper) in Lehigh Valley. Both school districts are excellent.

Sales in the over $400K range have been slow in the Valley. Just pulling up two recent listings with NO HOME ADDRESS OR REALTOR INFORMATION PROVIDED seems to confirm similar prices for about the same price, but the Saucon Township home looks much prettier to me (13 years newer).

Saucon Township (New Listing)
For Sale: $429,200 Zestimate®: $396,839 Last Sold: Feb 1998 for $240,000
Bedrooms:4 beds Bathrooms:3 baths 2,218 sq ft Lot:55,234 sq ft Year Built:1986
2012 $9,855 Taxes

Doylestown (almost 2 years)
For Sale: $445,000 Zestimate®: $444,041 Last Sold: Sep 2002 for $330,000
Bedrooms:5 beds Bathrooms:3 baths 2,918 sq ft Lot:55,321 sq ft Year Built:1973
2012 $6,915 Taxes

If you are flying frequently, there is an airport in Trenton-Mercer (35 miles from Doylestown) which is just getting it's full slate of flights in the next few weeks. There is only one airline (Frontier Airlines), but there are 10 destinations most at much lower cost than at the larger airports.

Frontier Airlines | New Princeton/Trenton Routes

Last edited by toobusytoday; 03-29-2013 at 01:03 PM..
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:15 PM
 
449 posts, read 918,091 times
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If you are raising children then Doylestown hands down. Allentown and its sister city Bethlehem are both in a state of rapid decline thanks to dirt cheap housing which of course spills over into the burbs.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
2,309 posts, read 3,968,160 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinE View Post
If you are raising children then Doylestown hands down. Allentown and its sister city Bethlehem are both in a state of rapid decline thanks to dirt cheap housing which of course spills over into the burbs.
Kevin,

That wasn't the question.
The question was Lehigh or Bucks county as opposed to Doylestown vs Bethlehem and Allentown.
Parkland school district in Allentown's west end is rated as one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania.

Also the Southern Lehigh School District is is a top notch rated system.
Both of these school systems are highly rated due to the tax base of the areas in which they serve.
Parkland school district derives funding from Allentown's wealthy west end and Southern Lehigh derives funding from Center Valley which is part of Upper and lower Saucon Valleys.

As was posted earlier by Paco Martin concerning statistics for both upper/lower Saucon Valley as they compare to Doyelstown the amounts are negligible at best.

As for cheap housing spilling out into the suburbs, my house's current appraisal last year was 230,000 dollars. My neighborhood is appraised at around this average. I live in Allentown.
There are many neighborhoods in Allentown proper that solidly middle to upper middle class.

My Uncle in law lives across Oxford Dr.from the exclusive private prep school called Swain.
My nephew attends this school at 20,000.00 a year tuition. This school is in Allentown and the adjoining neighborhood across Oxford Dr. is very wealthy. The neighborhood is in Allentown.

Get the point Kevin? Allentown is much much more than Center City and Bethlehem as a whole is nothing like the city's south side.

Blanket statements are not only misguiding for the OP but are also reflective of foolishness on the part of the one posting such.

Last edited by julian17033; 03-23-2013 at 01:07 PM..
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julian17033 View Post
Kevin,

That wasn't the question. Blanket statements are not only misguiding for the OP but are also reflective of foolishness on the part of the one posting such.
No one disputes that Bucks (and suburban Philadelphia in general) is one of the wealthiest areas in the state and/or country. Bucks has no cities, and no boroughs over 10,000 people, only vestiges of industry, and Bensalem Township at 60K next to Philadelphia is the largest township in the county. Bensalem was almost completely developed after WWII. It is an entire county of suburbs.

My only argument is Southern Lehigh Valley has Interstate Access to Newark Airport and Bridgewater, and may be more convenient for the OP. while the schools offer as high a level of educational quality.

My feeling (not backed by hard statistics) is that it is much easier to find an acre of land in Saucon Valley for the same money with an equivalent home. In my example I found a listing in the price range of the OP with a much more attractive designer home for only a little more money.

Persons below poverty level, percent, 2007-2011
Bucks 5.2%
Montgomery 5.7%
Chester 6.1%
Northampton 9.1%
Lehigh 12.3%
Philadelphia 25.6%
Pennsylvania State 12.6%
United States 14.3%

For those people so inclined you can also purchase a 3000 square foot 5 bedroom turn of the century Victorian in Easton in College Hill for less than $300K and send your kids to Notre Dame High school. Easton has a whopping 22.4% of it's people below the poverty level (almost as high as Allentown 25.8%), but College Hill is a safe district.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 03-23-2013 at 02:03 PM..
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:33 AM
 
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Thank you all. Considering we are targeting around Bethlehem (but now focusing in the better school districts, so more like Macungie and Saucon Valley area) and Doylestown area specifically, I really DO want to hear it all. I promise one negative post isn't going to change our minds completely, my since my husband does travel about 50% of the time and I'm alone with two little ones, we need to be in a safe area.

Not sure I stressed this enough, but a great sense of community is important to us. We are going to have to rebuild our entire support network, so we want a great neighborhood for a family with young kids. Does that change anything?

Since pricing seems about comparable between the areas, and both have great schools available, what about the rest of it? Close to shopping? Lots of activities for kids?
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:07 AM
 
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About 6.5 years Poag and McEwen developed one of their Lifestyle Centers for which they are famous in Saucon Valley called Promenade Shops. It is a relatively small half million square feet and 73 stores. The Casino has an outlet mall as well. The much older South mall is also on the Southern side of Allentown.

The largest mall in the Valley is on the North Side of the city of Allentown. Lehigh Valley Mall (LVM) is from the mid 1970's, and is 146 stores and well over a million square feet. It is surrounded by other shopping, include the oldest indoor mall in the area across the street called Whitehall Mall (owned by the same company as LVM.

Saucon Valley is also the site of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival which includes other shows besides Shakespeare. The host college, DeSales University, is well known for putting students into television and movies, and having them return to do performances.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:19 PM
 
13,002 posts, read 30,556,204 times
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Living in Southern Lehigh School District, we tend to shop at Quakertown(Kohls, Target, BJ's. Bedt Buy) much more often then we go to Whitehall. The Promenade shops are about the same distance, in the other direction.
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Old 03-25-2013, 01:37 PM
 
2,891 posts, read 5,164,729 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmarieturner View Post
Thank you all. Considering we are targeting around Bethlehem (but now focusing in the better school districts, so more like Macungie and Saucon Valley area) and Doylestown area specifically, I really DO want to hear it all. I promise one negative post isn't going to change our minds completely, my since my husband does travel about 50% of the time and I'm alone with two little ones, we need to be in a safe area.

Not sure I stressed this enough, but a great sense of community is important to us. We are going to have to rebuild our entire support network, so we want a great neighborhood for a family with young kids. Does that change anything?

Since pricing seems about comparable between the areas, and both have great schools available, what about the rest of it? Close to shopping? Lots of activities for kids?
My suggestion is to look within the following school districts (these are not ordered, but all are districts are solid). In addition, they are all close to 78 to get to EWR or Bridgewater.

Nazareth Area: Wegmans, Target, Wall-Mart complex is great. There is also a Lowe's Best Buy within 5 minutes and the Lehigh Valley Mall is 10-15 minutes away. The shopping by airport road is great.

Southern Lehigh: Quakertown has a bunch of shopping and the Promenade is the best shopping (this is a bit sad for some) in the Lehigh Valley. The exit is about 11 miles past Rt 33 (exit for NASD)

Saucon Valley School district: The Hellertown exit is still under construction and even when finished is a pain during rush hours. The area is very nice though, shopping is a bit further away (probably go to Promenade or Quakertown). The downtown area is pretty nice, though.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blazerj View Post
My suggestion is to look within the following school districts:

Nazareth Area: Wegmans, Target, Wall-Mart complex is great. There is also a Lowe's Best Buy within 5 minutes and the Lehigh Valley Mall is 10-15 minutes away. The shopping by airport road is great.
Yes, you shouldn't neglect the highly rated Nazareth area school district. Lower Nazareth is very popular as you have easy access to I78 by travelling south on route 33. You can get to Bridgewater easily, and you can fly out of ABE if convenient, or get to Newark Airport.


A comparable home to the Doylestown home is considerably less expensive. These two homes are similar in size, both priced near there Zestimate®, but the Lower Nazareth home is 17 years younger (but with less land).

Doylestown (listed for sale almost 2 years)
For Sale: $445,000 Zestimate®: $444,041 Last Sold: Sep 2002 for $330,000
Bedrooms:5 beds Bathrooms:3 baths 2,918 sq ft Lot:55,321 sq ft Year Built:1973
2012 $6,915 Taxes

Lower Nazareth (listed for sale 5 weeks )
For Sale: $354,900 Zestimate®: $350,534 Last Sold:Jul 1993 for $210,000
Bedrooms:4 beds Bathrooms: Single Family:3,260 sq ft Lot:33,976 sq ft Year Built:1990
2012 $6,740 Taxes

Generally, if the home has been owned more than 10 years the current occupant does not owe as much money on the home. If he accepts a lower offer it makes him sad. But an occupant who would have to pay cash to sell the home will often refuse the offer.
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