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Old 03-06-2010, 01:11 PM
 
17 posts, read 48,472 times
Reputation: 14

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OK - I have been offered a good job at Lehigh Univ. My wife and I have a 21-month-old daughter. We are native Midwesterers (me) and Southerners (her), but have spent the last six years in graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin, a city that we didn't much like at first but which grew on us by the end. My wife and I have both lived in places around the country--St. Louis, New York City, Boston, Louisville KY, Cincinnati, Asheville NC--but have yet to make a big move with our child in tow.

We just returned from a (very) brief scouting mission to the area, and I have to say, our impressions were not good. My job would be great--great boss, good salary, full benefits, everything we would need, and it's a really lucky offer in these tough times--but my concerns are whether my wife and child would find anything resembling an enjoyable life while I'm off working full-time. We toured the area by ourselves and with locals, and nobody, even people who had lived their entire lives in the area, could point us towards any decent-looking parks, playgrounds, libraries, or local shopping areas, and basically, coming in with a completely open mind, all we really saw was an industrial carcass with severe-looking homes, no welcoming atmosphere whatsoever, nobody seeming happy or enjoying themselves, and no families with children anywhere to be seen. It seemed like the primary selling point on the Lehigh Valley that everyone kept mentioning to us was its proximity to other things--but what about actually being there? What do people do? Are people friendly at all, or do they just keep to themselves?

I know the LV has had a massive influx of population in the last few years, but I suppose if 90% of those people are coming from worse (and more expensive) neighborhoods/areas further east and north, then it must look pretty good. But we're accustomed to a pleasant, middle-class sort of lifestyle, where we can talk to our neighbors and enjoy some of the simple things of life, feeling relatively safe and knowing that there are a few fun things to do.

I know that I'm basing all this on a brief, two-day impression, but gut feeling must count for something. Can locals, or anyone who has lived there in the past, help me out here and give me a different impression? What areas might we want to live in that wouldn't involve a super-long commute to Lehigh U., but wouldn't just be industrial wastelands (please, no offense intended to locals--I just want to be very clear about what we thought we saw)? Where do people have fun with their children? Are there stay-at-home mom groups around? Is it a generally open-minded and tolerant area? I know no place is perfect, we're not looking for perfect, just potentially comfortable. My wife is really good at getting the most out of a place, but if there's nothing to get out of living in the LV, I'd like to know in advance. Thanks for any advice/thoughts/ideas you all might have.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:36 PM
 
1,187 posts, read 2,595,413 times
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It sounds like you were being shown the areas immediately surrounding the university (southside Bethlehem). From what I understand, colleges and universities push their staff to live within a couple of miles if possible. Unfortunately, as you described, much of southside is old and worn looking, with a couple of less-safe streets, the abandoned steel mill, etc.

I suggest you read the "sticky" at the top of this forum for newcomers, and answer the questions in it. That way, we can find out specifically what you're looking for, how much you can spend, etc.

There are plenty of nice areas, you just have to drive more than 5-10 minutes away from Lehigh U to find them.
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:26 PM
 
135 posts, read 335,339 times
Reputation: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dobbsart View Post
OK - I have been offered a good job at Lehigh Univ. My wife and I have a 21-month-old daughter. We are native Midwesterers (me) and Southerners (her), but have spent the last six years in graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin, a city that we didn't much like at first but which grew on us by the end. My wife and I have both lived in places around the country--St. Louis, New York City, Boston, Louisville KY, Cincinnati, Asheville NC--but have yet to make a big move with our child in tow.

We just returned from a (very) brief scouting mission to the area, and I have to say, our impressions were not good. My job would be great--great boss, good salary, full benefits, everything we would need, and it's a really lucky offer in these tough times--but my concerns are whether my wife and child would find anything resembling an enjoyable life while I'm off working full-time. We toured the area by ourselves and with locals, and nobody, even people who had lived their entire lives in the area, could point us towards any decent-looking parks, playgrounds, libraries, or local shopping areas, and basically, coming in with a completely open mind, all we really saw was an industrial carcass with severe-looking homes, no welcoming atmosphere whatsoever, nobody seeming happy or enjoying themselves, and no families with children anywhere to be seen. It seemed like the primary selling point on the Lehigh Valley that everyone kept mentioning to us was its proximity to other things--but what about actually being there? What do people do? Are people friendly at all, or do they just keep to themselves?

I know the LV has had a massive influx of population in the last few years, but I suppose if 90% of those people are coming from worse (and more expensive) neighborhoods/areas further east and north, then it must look pretty good. But we're accustomed to a pleasant, middle-class sort of lifestyle, where we can talk to our neighbors and enjoy some of the simple things of life, feeling relatively safe and knowing that there are a few fun things to do.

I know that I'm basing all this on a brief, two-day impression, but gut feeling must count for something. Can locals, or anyone who has lived there in the past, help me out here and give me a different impression? What areas might we want to live in that wouldn't involve a super-long commute to Lehigh U., but wouldn't just be industrial wastelands (please, no offense intended to locals--I just want to be very clear about what we thought we saw)? Where do people have fun with their children? Are there stay-at-home mom groups around? Is it a generally open-minded and tolerant area? I know no place is perfect, we're not looking for perfect, just potentially comfortable. My wife is really good at getting the most out of a place, but if there's nothing to get out of living in the LV, I'd like to know in advance. Thanks for any advice/thoughts/ideas you all might have.

Thats a myth we did not have a massive population increase. It's was a few thousand people for the entire region. What we had was a large number of homes built during the bubble where prices more than doubled. Now you have mcmansions everywhere with subdivisions not being completed(bankrupt builders), HUD rentals in neighborhoods that homes were selling for $250,000-$350,00(now selling for $175,000 if they ever sell).

//www.city-data.com/forum/lehig...em-easton.html



The only thing that has increased rapidly over the course of this last decade was crime. Check out a few pages on this website that talks about housing and you'll see. If you want the updated daily truth then check out this website.
Housing Crash Continues
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:16 PM
 
63 posts, read 157,430 times
Reputation: 25
Yeah, the area on one side of the campus is grim, but if they had just taken you towards the stadium you'd have seen Saucon Valley, which is quite different. Hopefully you can make another trip to ease your mind. Ask the realtor to show you Emmaus, L Macungie, Bethlehem Township. All within 20 min commute and have communities with lots of young families. Even the North side of Bethlehem (West and also Edgeboro) have a lot of families. Most if not all have their own MOMS Clubs for stay at home moms, too.
International MOMS Club: Chapter Links

I have lived here a few years, and I still find it very insular. But I don't live in a subdivision, where you tend to find more of the transplants. Maybe if you fill out the questionnaire, we can help you more.

In this economy, I wouldn't turn any great job down. There are plenty of communities around here that aren't awful . . . and maybe even be what you are looking for.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:37 PM
 
17 posts, read 48,472 times
Reputation: 14
Default Here are the questions...

Thanks so far--good idea to answer the questions. Interesting that the population increase is a "myth" - I just got from a reliable local authority the information that the 2002 population # was 400,000 in the LV, and projected 2010 census number is over 900,000. Seems like a big jump to me, but maybe that number is completely inaccurate.

In any case, maybe this will help in future replies...

When are you moving? Soon - before April 1st.
Where are you coming from? We've been in North Carolina for 3 months, but before that, Madison WI for six years.
Why are you moving? Very good job offer.
Where will you be working? Lehigh Univ.
Have you been here yet? Yes - for a brief two-day visit including meeting with potential future employers/co-workers.

Will you buy or rent? Rent first - then potentially look to buy.
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend?
If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend? Actually a rental house would be ideal - but if not, a townhouse/condo situation.
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Neither, preferably. First floor (due to small child).

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married - one child (21 months)
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public, preferably.
Do you have pets? No.
Do you want or need a yard? Yes - or some accessible play area for child.
Are you keeping a car? Yes - most likely two.
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? Calm and quiet at home, bustling activity not far away.

What do you want to be closest to? In order, basic services, shopping, work, train or subway, nightlife.
Work
Shopping
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
Nightlife
Train or subway stations

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? Diverse is great - good people is what we want. Similar age would be the only possible consideration here, as well as other young families.

Phillies or Mets? Sorry...Red Sox (I'll keep it quiet).


Read more: //www.city-data.com/forum/lehig...#ixzz0hRxz7LMK
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:11 PM
 
1,187 posts, read 2,595,413 times
Reputation: 929
How much are you looking to spend on a rental house per month?
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:18 PM
 
12,870 posts, read 29,512,737 times
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Just search on this site for Coopersburg and you'll see the many posts about my favorite town. We have shopping Welcome to The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, excellent schools - Southern Lehigh School District, a library that's five years old Southern Lehigh Public Library, Center Valley, PA that is in the middle of a park with walking trails and ball fields. The school district is one of the smaller ones in the area but it's highly rated, friendly and compact so if your kids have a play date you won't have to drive 45 minutes to get to another childs house. Many of the professors from the nearby colleges live in our school district as do pilots from Newark and employees from nearby Air Products and Olympus and Lutron. You can probably get to Lehigh in about 15 minutes from Center Valley or Coopersburg.

You can check out all the schools here - SchoolMatters (http://www.schoolmatters.com/ - broken link) or here Pennsylvania Schools - Find a Public or Private Pennsylvania School - SchoolDigger.com

The one thing you will not find in the Lehigh Valley at all is rail service. We have buses and a great small airport, but no trains or subway at all. There is a bit of nightlife, but it's pretty low-key and most people mention things in Bethlehem.

Here's a thread I participated in a couple of years ago - //www.city-data.com/forum/lehig...ooperburg.html
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:20 PM
 
17 posts, read 48,472 times
Reputation: 14
This is all good - I have seen Coopersburg/Central Valley come up several times. Emmaus, too, but we drove through Emmaus briefly and it didn't seem like what we were looking for. Willing to give it another look, though.

Willing to spend on a rental house - well, under $1000 would be nice, but looking at the rental market it seems like that's lower than we can expect. So, probably up to $1200? Wouldn't want to go much higher than that unless we had to.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:43 PM
 
135 posts, read 335,339 times
Reputation: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dobbsart View Post
Thanks so far--good idea to answer the questions. Interesting that the population increase is a "myth" - I just got from a reliable local authority the information that the 2002 population # was 400,000 in the LV, and projected 2010 census number is over 900,000. Seems like a big jump to me, but maybe that number is completely inaccurate.

In any case, maybe this will help in future replies...

When are you moving? Soon - before April 1st.
Where are you coming from? We've been in North Carolina for 3 months, but before that, Madison WI for six years.
Why are you moving? Very good job offer.
Where will you be working? Lehigh Univ.
Have you been here yet? Yes - for a brief two-day visit including meeting with potential future employers/co-workers.

Will you buy or rent? Rent first - then potentially look to buy.
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend?
If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend? Actually a rental house would be ideal - but if not, a townhouse/condo situation.
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Neither, preferably. First floor (due to small child).

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married - one child (21 months)
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public, preferably.
Do you have pets? No.
Do you want or need a yard? Yes - or some accessible play area for child.
Are you keeping a car? Yes - most likely two.
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? Calm and quiet at home, bustling activity not far away.

What do you want to be closest to? In order, basic services, shopping, work, train or subway, nightlife.
Work
Shopping
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
Nightlife
Train or subway stations

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? Diverse is great - good people is what we want. Similar age would be the only possible consideration here, as well as other young families.

Phillies or Mets? Sorry...Red Sox (I'll keep it quiet).


Read more: //www.city-data.com/forum/lehig...#ixzz0hRxz7LMK

The city data website seems to be on my side of the dramatic population increase debate.

[LEFT]Lehigh County[/LEFT]
Population in July 2008: 107,250. Population change since 2000: +0.6%

Read more: //www.city-data.com/city/Allentown-Pennsylvania.html#ixzz0hTGJlWsH


Population change in the 1990s: +968 (+0.9%).

Last edited by LifetimeLocal; 03-06-2010 at 11:58 PM..
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:58 PM
 
135 posts, read 335,339 times
Reputation: 26
Default Lehigh Valley Information

Here is some more useful information someone moving here should be aware of. The city data website is filled with useful information like this. I find it fairly accurate compared to the majority of sights that seem to give false information based on donations.


Mean prices in 2008: All housing units: $181,502; Detached houses: $234,398; Townhouses or other attached units: $135,205; In 2-unit structures: $144,407; In 3-to-4-unit structures: $225,000; In 5-or-more-unit structures: $111,027; Mobile homes: $29,579


Read more: //www.city-data.com/city/Allentown-Pennsylvania.html#ixzz0hTGNfCFp

It's dropped since then so you might want to consider that while moving here. The average price of homes now around here as reported in our local paper from the local realtors is around $165k but anyone that looks at the multiple listing website or looks around because they are everywhere you'll see nice homes sitting for sale for 6 months + and thats common in that price rangle and less. I've said before there are a few fixer uppers in the East Penn SD right now for under $50. Now whatever is wrong anyone who knows would realize for another 50-60k it could all be fixed no matter what it is. I've seen the 2 for sale. I would want to know if I was moving considering it's the biggest investment someone usually makes. If you lose or have no equitity in times of serious need you can be up a creek without a paddle quick and that's why foreclosures have quadruple in the lehigh valley.



Unemployment in Oct. 2009:

Here:12.5%
Pennsylvania:8.4%
[LEFT]Here: 12.5%Pennsylvania: 8.4%[/LEFT]
Here: 12.5%Pennsylvania: 8.4%
Here: 12.5%Pennsylvania: 8.4%
Read more: //www.city-data.com/city/Allentown-Pennsylvania.html#ixzz0hTHisTBx


It's gotten worse and this is nothing in site for years until this draws itself out. YEARS!


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