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Old 04-23-2013, 05:36 PM
 
16 posts, read 38,225 times
Reputation: 17

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Hey Everyone,

My Husband and I are currently living in Philly (Northern Liberties), and we're looking to buy a house within a year. We are at the very beginning stages and are still discussing where to begin our search.

Some background: I am originally from Delco, PA (Upper Providence) and he's from South Jersey. I love everything about the city and he prefers the suburbs. We already ruled out living in a rural area as I would go nuts but we both agreed that moving to the 'burbs would be best. We're open to living in NJ or PA. I grew up in PA so I am more familiar with the areas but I'd like to know more about NJ, particularly South Jersey. What are some good areas in NJ to start with for our search? We're in our mid-late 20s and working professionals. Here are some things we're looking for in a potential area:
*Close to public transportation, ideally a 5-10 min drive to the train station - we both work in Center City
*Walkable downtown area w/ shops or restaurants
*Yard, doesn't have to be large but right now we have a concrete backyard, so anything with a little grass
*Good school district - no kids yet but maybe in the next 3-5 years
*Detached single family home - $250-$300K (this would be a starter home)
*Younger families? Maybe fellow transplants?
*Safe neighborhood


Additional info:

Where are you coming from? Philly (Northern Liberties)
Why are you moving? Yard and space (but not too much space!) Mainly b/c we want to buy since we're renting now
Where will you be working ? Philly

Will you buy or rent? Buy
What is your budget ? $250-300K
What kind of place are you looking for? Suburban neighborhood with a nice downtown

Will anyone (spouse, children, pets) be moving with you ? Spouse
Do you need/want good public schools? Yes (at least elementary schools)

Briefly describe the kind of neighborhood you'd like to live in: Young couples/families, diverse but safe, a town with it's own culture. Is it possible to have a mini Philly in the burbs? j/k

List three things that are important to you in order of importance. Short commute to Philly (public trans), walkable downtown area, good school district

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:35 PM
 
Location: South Jersey
7,780 posts, read 20,829,879 times
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Excellent. This is what we did and LOVE it over here in Jersey. For you guys look at Collingswood. A a super nice walkable town with train service to CC. Very close too. Ill bet its a 15 minute train ride to cc from Collingswood. Schools are good and the area is very safe. Great restaurants too

Collingswood, New Jersey | Collingswood, New Jersey

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/re...anted=all&_r=0

Collingswood Public Schools

pictures of Collingswood

https://www.google.com/search?q=coll...w=1440&bih=733
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:36 PM
 
Location: NJ
37 posts, read 74,725 times
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Although Cherry Hill it doesn't have a walkable downtown, it's right near Collingswood and Haddonfield. For proximity to the city, what you're looking to spend, and the schools, I don't think you can beat Cherry Hill. If I were you or I could travel back in time, I'd move to Cherry Hill, west of 295. Fewer pretentious people, very, very good place to raise a family and commute to Philly. I'm 44 and live in Marlton. It's fine, too. But having lived here for 15 years, I regret not just going to Cherry Hill. Sometimes the answer is the the most obvious.
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:47 PM
 
518 posts, read 1,563,316 times
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Best school districts in South Jersey at least according to various beauty contest postings in magazines:

1 & 2: Haddonfield and Moorestown
3. Cherry Hill

Collingswood has a nice downtown, and good neighborhood elementary schools, but there are concerns about the schools beyond elementary school.

In your price range, you will have the pick of the litter in Cherry Hill. And, CH has good neighborhood elementary schools. You will have a more difficult time in Haddonfield and Moorestown due to lack of supply.

Good luck!
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:19 PM
 
16 posts, read 38,225 times
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Thanks for all of the feedback! This would be a "starter home" so in regards to school districts, we're more concerned about elementary schools, maybe even middle schools. We'll probably move again once our "future kids" are ready for high school.

I've heard that Collingswood and Haddonfield were nice. Is it true that both are dry? I heard that Collingswood was but I'm not sure about Haddonfield. Not that its a deal breaker, but we are still in our 20s and like to go out once in a while for a drink with friends. That's one convenient thing about Philly, we can have a drink or two and walk or catch the subway home.

With Cherry Hill, are there trains close by that go to Philly? I wouldn't want to be more than a 10 minute drive to a train station. If we could walk to the station too, that would be even better. What about Pennsauken, is that nice?

Stupid question, is the Riverline the same as PATCO? Or is that NJ Transit? Is it similar to the one that goes to AC? Just curious because the ride to Philly from AC seems pretty slow and long..

Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:45 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
8,700 posts, read 11,861,846 times
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Collingswood, Haddonfield, and Haddon Heights are all dry. "Wet" Haddon Township is not, but it's also easily accessible from either of the three. Cherry Hill has two stops on the high-speed line (Ashland and Woodcrest) you'd probably need to park-and-ride to, along with an Amtrak stop in the Northwestern part of town, but that goes to 30th Street--not Center City. You're not going to get a walkable downtown there, though the real estate is reasonable and the schools are good. Avoid Pennsauken, which is both pedestrian unfriendly and in consistent decline.

For you, I'd recommend Township or Haddon Heights. Haddonfield, too if you're willing to go with a small fixer-upper. Comparable options on the PA side include Jenkintown (plus parts of surrounding Abington Township in the 19046 zip code), the portions of Ardmore and Bryn Mawr close to Lancaster Avenue (Lower Merion/Haverford/Radnor Townships), and Media borough, all of which have good schools and town feels. They're a bit further removed from the city though, except for Ardmore/Bryn Mawr, which has the downside of the Main Line cost premium, which will make you get less for your dollar.

Last edited by ElijahAstin; 04-24-2013 at 01:00 PM..
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:35 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
23,806 posts, read 32,402,976 times
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Look at the Erlton section of Cherry Hill, south of 70, north of Park Blvd.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:52 PM
 
42,785 posts, read 28,988,909 times
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I would actually put Cherry Hill last, after the Haddonfield, Collingswood, Haddon Heights areas. IMO a 10 minute or less drive to the train will be difficult at rush hour in Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill is the least walkable IMO of all the places mentioned and has no central downtown. Even though Haddonfield and Collingswood are dry, Haddonfield at least is BYOB, not sure about Collingswood, and IMO you'll get to a bar faster there than you will from Cherry Hill, even though there are bars IN Cherry Hill, just because the traffic is so much worse, and there will not be a place where you can walk to and from bars in Cherry Hill. If you were in Collingswood or Haddonfield near the train, you could be in Philly in 10 or 15 minutes, and there are bars in Haddon Heights and Westmont.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:20 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
23,806 posts, read 32,402,976 times
Reputation: 10240
Quote:
Originally Posted by ocnjgirl View Post
I would actually put Cherry Hill last, after the Haddonfield, Collingswood, Haddon Heights areas. IMO a 10 minute or less drive to the train will be difficult at rush hour in Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill is the least walkable IMO of all the places mentioned and has no central downtown. Even though Haddonfield and Collingswood are dry, Haddonfield at least is BYOB, not sure about Collingswood, and IMO you'll get to a bar faster there than you will from Cherry Hill, even though there are bars IN Cherry Hill, just because the traffic is so much worse, and there will not be a place where you can walk to and from bars in Cherry Hill. If you were in Collingswood or Haddonfield near the train, you could be in Philly in 10 or 15 minutes, and there are bars in Haddon Heights and Westmont.
Erlton fits the bill, pretty much. Cherry Hill has 3 areas that are walkable to Haddonfield, 4 if you count Batesville.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Collingswood
283 posts, read 579,266 times
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Given your starter home comment, I'd focus on Collingswood and Haddon Township. I agree that you can move again later if your needs change! If proximity to the city, walkable downtown, and social options are most important to you, Collingswood or Haddon Township are your best bet.

If the longer term is a consideration for you, look in the Tatem School zone for Collingswood. Haddon Township has a more consistent school system - I hear Strawbridge is a good elementary school, but I'm sure Great Schools and the other websites have plenty of info, plus people on here.

Westmont (Haddon Township's downtown) has a few upscale bar/restaurants (Pour House, Keg and Kitchen, Treno, etc.), but if you want something closer, you can just find a place within walking distance to the train and get to the city without a car when you want to have a night out on the town (literally).

One key advantage of NJ is the ability to credit your wage tax against your NJ state income tax liability. For your situation, you may find that you owe little NJ state income tax because you both work in the city. Don't rule this out when you look at NJ's higher property taxes! It may cost you the same or even less than living in the city. Good luck!
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