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Northeastern Pennsylvania Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:19 AM
14 posts, read 57,117 times
Reputation: 18


Hi, everyone. Long-time lurker, first time poster. I'd like to get some feedback on our current situation, if you all would oblige me...

My family and I currently live in Bayside, Queens, New York City. My wife and I are in our early 40's, and we have a 3 1/2 year old son and a baby on the way. My wife is currently a stay-at-home mom, but has 13 years experience as a financial professional at a media company in NYC.

I am an attorney, and manage my own specialty small law firm (it's just me, a junior part-time attorney and a full-time secretary).

I left a "big law firm" 5+ years ago, and have had decent success on my own. I specialize in a very narrow area of commercial litigation, mostly representing large corporate clients that are located all over the world.

While I am admitted to practice in New York State, my cases are located in California, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Arizona, etc., so I can practice anywhere.

I have a steady stream of work from my existing clients, but need to travel a fair amount. Some of my clients' headquarters are located in New York City, so I travel to/from NYC about 3-5 times a month for Court appearances, client meetings and business lunches. If clients are European, they will sometimes meet me in NYC. I can also "waive" into the Pennsylvania Bar because I have practiced in good stead for 15+ years.

Consequently, I currently keep a "virtual office" in midtown Manhattan, but my larger office is located a few blocks from my house in Queens, about 1/2 hour train ride from midtown.

Our house is worth about $850,000 now. I paid $685,000 for it, and still owe about $500k on the mortgage. Therefore, we have about $350k in equity.

The public schools where we are in Queens aren't any good. The Catholic schools aren't bad.

My thinking was that, if we were to relocate to a place like East Stroudsburg, we'd be about 1 1/2 hours drive from Manhattan by car/bus, so I could jet in and out of the city when necessary for business.

With the existing equity built up in our house, we could probably buy a really nice house in East Stroudsburg, and have no mortgage, at all. Our son will be starting elementary school soon, and we'd prefer to be able to send him to a Catholic/private school, unless the public schools in the area are really excellent. (He is extremely intelligent, but has some developmental issues).

Office space in East Stroudsburg appears to be a reasonable price. We are paying $3,500/month now for 1,100 square feet (about $32/sq. foot). based on my online research, office rents in East Stroudsburg are about $12/sq. foot to $18/sq. foot), so I'd be able to cut my office rent bill in half.

So, all in all, if this move worked out, we'd be able to reduce our cost of living dramatically, I'd still be able to maintain a healthy legal practice, and we'd be able to actually start building some wealth, instead of paying $5k a month in mortgage/taxes/insurance, plus $3,500/month on office rent.

My concerns are as follows:

1. There doesn't appear to be a major airport located near this area. If I had to fly to Chicago or California, would I have to drive all the way to Newark or Wilkes-Barre?

2. If I needed to hire a good, experienced legal secretary, would I be able to find one who is qualified in the area?

3. Are the public schools in this area really good? What about the Catholic schools?

4. Being from NYC, we are no strangers to crime, but I have read mixed things about crime in the East Stroudsburg area. Is it ever dangerous?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:29 AM
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
6,974 posts, read 6,059,680 times
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Welcome to the forum!

We've lived in Shawnee (Smithfield Township) since 1993, which is just outside East Stroudsburg.

Here are my answers to your questions. Others may have other opinions...

1. Lehigh Valley International in Allentown is the closest airport. It's just down Route 33 and a few miles west on US 22, maybe 45 minutes from Stroudsburg. Closer than Newark and easier/cheaper parking though with fewer flights.

2. Not sure, but I will say Stroudsburg is the county seat, and there are a lot of lawyers in the area surrounding the courthouse.

3. Public schools in Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg (South) are pretty good, but we chose to send our sons to Notre Dame which is the local Catholic school in East Stroudsburg. I highly recommend ND! Both of them started in the Pre-K Montessori program when they were 3. The elder one graduated in 2013 (class size 47) and is attending college on a 4-year academic scholarship. The younger one will graduate in 2016 (class size about 66). The public schools are very much larger. If you want to check out Notre Dame first-hand, there is an Open House coming up on Sunday January 25 from 1-3PM.

4. My feeling is that crime greatly diminished over the last few years. There was a lot of upheaval in the area, with a flood of people moving in and houses & schools being built at breakneck speed in the mid-2000's. With the crash of 2008, a lot of the people and their problems seem to have gone away.

One other thing, when looking at houses, if the RE agent says "East Stroudsburg School District", ask whether the high school is North or South. Even if your children go Catholic school, a South address is more desirable than a North one.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:53 AM
14 posts, read 57,117 times
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Thank you, that is very helpful!!

I didn't know about Lehigh Valley Airport in Allentown. I will look into the flights in/out of there.

I had read that ND is a very good Catholic school, thank you!
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:42 PM
191 posts, read 362,601 times
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Welcome to city data, one of my favorite websites! I live in downtown stroudsburg and moved here about 2 yrs ago.Its a pretty nice area, stroudsburgs a pretty busy little area with lots of bars and restaurants, a concert venue and is an overall nice downtown.East Stroudsburgs a little. s more spread out but sort of an extension of stroudsburg.Eastburgs has a huge state university so you'll see an abund ance of college kids in the area and everything associated with college.Another thing about the poconos is that its a big tourist area so at certain times the roads can be very congested with visitors.Theirs alot of things to do up here, various ski slopes, water parks indoor and outdoor,Mt Airy casino, the crossings outlet malls, etc etc, basically anything you could imagine.The crime up here is alot different from where you live now, its pretty safe but theirs definetly crime up here like everywhere else, theirs pockets of crime in certain areas.You should come up here and get a feel of the area and see if its for you.
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:52 AM
Location: Eastern PA
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As far as schools are concerned, another option for you would be Faith Christian School, Roseto, PA. It is a nondenominational Christian school, parent-run, and my children have attended for the past 17 years now. Faith Christian School There is a bus that runs from East Stroudsburg at no additional cost to you, which makes it very convenient. Top-notch education as well as top-notch Christian values, definitely worth a look.

With reference to the crime, your home budget will help you avoid living in some of the less desirable areas. It will help you to visit the area as much as possible and spent some time really driving around and assessing the situation. There are places that I would never dream of going alone at night (East Stroudsburg Wal-Mart and adjacent areas comes to mind).

The traffic can also impact your quality of life. The college and tourist attractions can really impact this, as well as other issues such as bridge closures. Again, it would help to visit the area and take some time to drive around. Lots of luck with your decision!
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:28 AM
Location: Williamsport PA
108 posts, read 238,997 times
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I live much further west from East Stroudsburg, in Williamsport, and I usually drive all the way down to Philadelphia to use the Philadelphia International Airport when I need to travel. I've learned to be wary of our regional airport. The Williamsport Regional Airport only flies to Philadelphia International Airport three or four times a day making it highly likely that your flight will be delayed or you'll have a four to six hour layover. I know the Poconos has some small regional airports which may have the same sort of problems. It often makes more sense to drive a few hours to a major airport rather than wait even longer for a connecting flight to a rinky dink little regional airport.

I visited East Stroudsburg last year because I would like to live closer to NYC. Half the town is taken up by the East Stroudsburg University and the Pocono Health System but Stroudsburg has a nice main street with a few stores and restaurants.

Martz Trailways offers bus service to NYC. Here in Williamsport I usually use Susquehanna Trailways to make trips to NYC. You can see a Martz Trailways bus in the background of a scene in the movie Blue Jasmine.

You can also take an Amtrak train into NYC after going through Philadelphia but the Amtrak line is far to the south. I would drive down to Harrisburg and take the train to NYC which goes through Lancaster and many towns on the Main Line to Philadelphia.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:38 AM
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Thanks for everyone's input!

So, we took a drive out to Stroudsburg/East Stroudsburg yesterday in the freezing cold, and had a few observations, and follow up questions:

We liked Stroudsburg's main street. The used bookstore, small restaurants, bars and shops were nice. We popped into Starbucks around 3 pm, and it was bustling and had a nice feel to it. I also noticed that there were a decent number of small law firms located on the Main Street near the Courthouse, and so I assume that finding office space and paralegals/secretaries would be possible.

The East Stroudsburg area seemed a lot quieter. We popped into a pizza place for a slice and it was fairly quiet.

We also noticed that the East Stroudsburg area seemed to have a lot more run-down houses along the streets. Stroudsburg homes seems better maintained.

So, my follow-up question is: where do people live who work in Stroudsburg? We would be looking for a really nice home in a development that is near Stroudsburg's downtown area.

Further, we noticed that the Catholic School (ND) seemed really nice, but it was out in East Stroudsburg. So, if you live in Stroudsburg, but your kids are in school at ND, do they take a bus? Do you drive them?

By the way, the one other area that is equidistant to NYC that we are also going to explore is Newtown PA. It is a lot closer to Philadelphia, and so the housing prices are costlier. However, it is closer to the airport and to Princeton/Trenton.
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Old 01-11-2015, 02:32 PM
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Since you've also thought about the Newtown (Bucks County) area, check out the link below.

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Old 01-11-2015, 06:45 PM
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Thanks. It seems like there is a pretty big difference between the Stroudsburg area vs. Bucks County with respect to home prices.

For example, it would appear on Zillow that you can get a close to brand new home with 3000 sq. feet and a three car garage in the Stroudsburg area for around $350k. In the Bucks County area, it seems like we'd probably pay over $500k for the same house.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:49 PM
5,202 posts, read 5,362,532 times
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Originally Posted by Limelight1000 View Post
For example, it would appear on Zillow that you can get a close to brand new home with 3000 sq. feet and a three car garage in the Stroudsburg area for around $350k. In the Bucks County area, it seems like we'd probably pay over $500k for the same house.
That is probably a home built by LTS Builders, a company that does not have a sterling reputation. There are many foreclosed homes for sale in private communities in Monroe County for a lot less than $350M if cost is the main factor driving your decision.

It's a tough commute to NYC during the work week and even late at night the 16 wheelers rule I-80. There are really no good prospects in the Stroudsburg area for financial professionals aside from CPA work at a local accounting firm should your wife decide to return to work.

There are easier commutes, more reasonable home prices and good schools in some counties north of NYC like Orange and Dutchess and in New Jersey, Middlesex, Monmouth and Mercer Counties. Those NJ counties are on the AMTRAK and NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line, which is a fast and stress free way to travel to the city.
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