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Old 08-30-2013, 03:37 PM
4 posts, read 5,148 times
Reputation: 10


Hello there!
I've been lurking in this forum since I found out we would be leaving our beloved home in Portland, OR to move to Philadelphia this January '14. I would love some neighborhood advice and you guys seem to be a great resource! We will be doing much of our home search from afar but will be making two visits before we move. My family lives in NYC and Jersey City and we visit often so we are familiar with the east coast but not with Philadelphia. Myself and my little girls will be visiting Philadelphia on 9/10, 9/11, and 9/12 with my mom to "get a feel" for a few neighborhoods and try and narrow down our search. We will be staying in Rittenhouse square.

I think I will get the most useful advice if I describe us so here goes:
We are looking to RENT a home.
My family consists of myself, my husband, and our two daughters ages 7 years and 3 months old. My husband's job will be in Horsham. He knows he will have some sort of a commute but our happiness in our neighborhood is the most important factor in our choice - (within reason - he now commutes about 30 minutes so would be okay with that in Philadelphia too). We definitely want to live IN the city of Philadelphia - not suburbs. We do not necessarily need to live right in Center City - we are open to other neighborhoods but not opposed to Center City either. My husband drives so we will have a car but I do not drive so will be carless with the children most of the time. Location is the top priority for me in terms of our new home - I would like to be very close to good grocery stores, restaurants, library, parks, entertainment and cultural attractions. My 7 year old and I are fit and walk everywhere here in Portland and we really enjoy that. I would also like to be close to reliable public transportation so that we can easily travel to other parts of the city. I homeschool our children and, here in Portland, we use the city as our classroom. I would like to continue this in Philly so being near museums and other great resources is a must. I have heard there is a great homeschooling co-op in Mt. Airy, and while I think, from my research, Mt. Airy is too suburban for us, I would to be able to commute there on public transportation once or twice a week for my daughter to attend homeschool get togethers. Because we are homeschoolers, we are probably less concerned than other folks about the neighborhood schools in our potential neighborhood but other kid-related things - safety, great parks,other families, are, of course, still important to us.

As far as what we are looking for in the actual home: We can spend around $2000 a month on rent. We'd prefer less since that wouldn't necessarily include all the utilities and parking but somewhere between $1500-$2000 is where we are looking. We need a two bedroom/one bathroom. More bedrooms/bathrooms would, of course, be awesome. We are open to all different types of housing - apartment, condo, townhome, loft, ect... Currently we have what I feel is the ideal situation of a bi-level condo in a gated (but not locked) small complex which surrounds a shared green space. I am currently sitting in my dining room with the front door open while my 7 year old plays with the neighbor kids outside and my baby sleeps upstairs. I can hear/see my 7 year old playing and know the other moms and dads are watching as well. I feel very safe doing this and my daughter loves having kid buddies so close-by. I would love to eventually find a similar situation in Philadelphia if one exists. That said - the home we are looking for will not be our "forever home" yet so we are also cool with doing the apartment/high rise thing for a year or so until we discover our favorite neighborhood. But I would love for my kids to have a little green space to play!

Other information: We would be considered kind of "crunchy" in Philadelphia since we homeschool, like to garden, I breastfeed my baby and practice attachment parenting. We are outdoorsy and enjoy hiking and wooded areas. I am a runner - just getting back into long distance running after the birth of my baby. We LOVE great food - have no food restrictions - just love trying new restaurants and different sorts of food. We are very friendly and community oriented - like to become part of the families living around us and are ready and willing to lend a hand to our neighbors, attend potlucks/block parties, ect

So, given all of that information, what neighborhoods would you encourage me to spend time in next week when we visit?

Hopefully this has not been too much to read but I wanted give you a good idea of what we are looking for. This is a difficult move for us as we love Portland and raising our children here but we are open our new adventure and life in Philadelphia and looking forward to living close to my east coast family.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:27 PM
Location: Pennsylvania
5,673 posts, read 10,245,988 times
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Mount Airy or possibly Chestnut Hill are the areas that sound right for you, but house rentals and gated communities are in short supply. You may need to get lucky in that regard.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:00 PM
Location: South Jersey
7,780 posts, read 18,921,816 times
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Center city is way further then 30 minutes to Horsham. Plus you may have to add another $300+ a month for parking for you car there.. Keep that in mind.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:08 PM
1,616 posts, read 3,321,877 times
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You can definitely fine something in Center City in that budget. Go for it. Be in the center of everything if only for a year. You have plenty of time to figure out where you want your forever home to be.

Stay away from North Phlliy. It is not a very safe area. NE Philly is safe but far from the city center and probably too suburban for you (think Gresham without too much meth dealing).

South Philly is cool if you want a townhouse. Super old school feel to it. Lots of history and tradition. Your neighbors might be loud and crude but they will give you the shirt of their back if you need it.

Being crunchy is cool. The city has Whole Foods and lots of coops. Nothing really like Fred Meyer but we do have a giant Ikea in South Philly. But shopping is much more fun going to the Italian Market, then to the baker, butcher and fish monger. Not much space to garden though. Everything will be in pots.

Homeschooling REALLY helps. The city schools are in trouble so private school is really the only option.

Good luck and keep us posted. We are the opposite. We are probably going to move entirely out to Portland in the next year instead of going back and forth every other month.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:13 PM
2,189 posts, read 6,852,431 times
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West Mt. Airy is definitely not too suburban. I think it would ideal for you. Just be sure you are close to public transportation, which shouldn't be a problem.

West Mt. Airy Neighbors, Philadelphia: Home
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:25 PM
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,910 posts, read 12,771,485 times
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Sounds like the Art Museum Area might be a good fit for you. Lots of new apts recently built and going up. You should like Rittenhouse Square neighborhood as well.

You can catch a train from Philly to Willow Grove and take a bus to Horsham. That would not be a fun everyday commute from Center City to Horsham.

Good luck

PHL: Modern Renaissance City - YouTube

Art Museum Area Living

Art Museum Area Condos Philadelphia 19130 - YouTube
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:58 PM
Location: Midwest
1,283 posts, read 1,881,190 times
Reputation: 970
Originally Posted by paulinegnesin View Post
and while I think, from my research, Mt. Airy is too suburban for us
Mt. Airy is suburban compared to much of central Philadelphia. It's not suburban compared to the typical American city, though. It may be worth a serious look on a visit. Overall, Philadelphia is a much, much denser city than Portland. I currently live in Germantown, right next door to Mt. Airy, and it really rates pretty favorably to my time living in a relatively *very* urban section of Minneapolis, except we have better public transit options.

Mt. Airy also has access to Philadelphia's greatest park, the Wissahickon, and it certainly sounds like the *kind* of neighborhood your family would fit into personality wise. You can have a garden, a yard, and be within walking distance to the woods and restaurants. There's a lot to be said for that.

As far as getting by without a car, you just have to pick the right location, which is what I did when moving to NW Philly. Mt. Airy has two train lines serving it, and there is a section of Mt. Airy where you can be within walking distance of both of them, as well as the route 23 bus which runs 24 hours per day, and possibly another bus or two. And have a main street that looks like this. Which isn't Center City, but is still perfectly livable. If you find somewhere on the fringes of the neighborhood you can still take a nice walk, but actually getting by without a car would be a tougher.

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Old 08-30-2013, 06:56 PM
25 posts, read 37,517 times
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I would say, coming from Portland, Mt Airy would be perfect for you! It's really not suburban. It's plenty urban! And it has nice green space.
Ortherwise, Art museum area would be a good option too. Or East Falls.
We just moved from Passyunk Square which might interest you. It has some crunchy granola mixed in with old school South Philly and hipsters. And there are a lot of families that live in the area too.
Good luck!
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:27 PM
25 posts, read 37,517 times
Reputation: 29
I forgot to mention West Philly/ university city. That also might be an area worth checking out.
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:30 PM
Location: a swanky suburb in my fancy pants
3,391 posts, read 7,737,587 times
Reputation: 1586
I guess Mount Airy or maybe Roxboro or East Falls are not so very far from Horsham, maybe an hour but that is the distance between Horsham and Philadelphia with street traffic and no freeways to get across the city. Those neighborhoods would fit the bill for what you want. Unfortunetly Horsham and Center City are not even on the same planet and the train isn't practical unless you keep an old car somewhere near the Willow Grove train station for him to get the rest of the way to his office. Otherwise maybe an older, established suburb like Abington, Elkins Park, or Glenside with frequent train service to Center City but within a half hour drive of Horsham. It would be a place like Beaverton.
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