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Old 09-05-2013, 03:11 AM
5 posts, read 8,947 times
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Hey All,
Just to give a little background first, my wife and I are both in our 20s, and an interracial couple(Black and shes Filipino)both from Virginia Beach/Norfolk area of Virginia, though we currently live in Jacksonville, FL where we've spent the last three years. We loved Florida minus the excessive heat, though we found that jacksonville really lacked the sense of identity that other Florida cities had. Locals even said Jacksonville isnt really Florida, its basically South Georgia! though we loved our roadtrips to tampa and miami, our love for jacksonville has run dry. Not to bash this place though, there are many things to love about this city, its just not well suited for a young couple such as ourselves. If we had kids I could definitely see ourselves here long term, but i feel as though our youth is wating away and there is so much more we could be enjoying.

With that said, our time has come to an end, and we will be moving to Philadelphia in January 2014 due to my job transfer. We have mixed feelings about it seeing as it is a drastic change from the type of environment we are used to. I've lived in urban environments before in Norfolk, VA/Flint,MI/DC area/Jacksonville, FL, but never in a city remotely as large as Philly. My wife was born in an urban part of the Philippines, but was raised in Virginia Beach since age 9, so this will be a new experience for us both. Though we havent the slightest idea what to expect, we are very open minded and excited for a new experience.

I will be working in Northeast Philly off Robbins Ave. and my wife will be finding work when we get there. We arent crazy party-goers, but we definitely like to go out for drinks on the weekends, dining, dancing, festivals, and visiting parks and beaches. Our main concern is where to live. I'd prefer to not hide away in the suburbs. I want to at least be in somewhat of an urban environment where we can get a genuine feel of Philly, while still having a sustainable parking situation for two cars, even if we have to pay a little extra as long as its not too inconvenient (I know its a lot to ask). Also we have a dog, so we would prefer some type of fenced in yard no matter the size, just to avoid the hassle of apartment living when its time to take the dog out to relieve itself(lived in a dowtown high-rise for a year when the dog was a pup, and it quickly became a headache!).

As far as price range I'd like to rent a 2BR for under $1400, but can handle a little more if we must. With that said, we arent too picky as we understand a lot of sacrifices come with city living, but of course we want to be comfortable as well, so rowhomes are fine with us. Duplexes are less desirable, but like i said im open-minded and willing to sacrifice some things. We've done a lot of research and are interested in Mannayunk, East Falls, Fairmount/Art Museum area, Old City, Fishtown and Northern Liberties though we have gripes with all of these areas.

Mannayunk appears to be perfect for what we are looking for, but it seems so far from everything, and I get the feeling we would feel trapped there. Art museum and old city are both very appealing but everything seems a lot more expensive that close to center city, and I worry about the parking situation that deep into the city as we have never had to live without cars, and couldn't imagine not having them even if they won't be used much. Fishtown and NoLibs were our first choice, but I was deterred by so much negative input on the safety of those areas and the apparent lack of clear boundaries separating them from less desirable areas.

I'd prefer my wife to be able to walk alone than to be close to nightlife. We dont mind traveling for nightlife and dining on the weekends we mainly just want a couple local bars, a few restaraunts to choose from on nights where we choose not to cook, and maybe a park where i can catch a pick up basketball game or take the dog for a walk from time to time. I figured I'd get some input from some Philly residents to maybe point us in the right direction. Thanks in advance!

Last edited by FindingZen; 09-05-2013 at 06:45 AM.. Reason: Separated into paragraphs for easier reading.
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:35 AM
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:12 AM
Location: a swanky suburb in my fancy pants
3,391 posts, read 7,737,587 times
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As you have pointed out Philadelphia is a huge city and your choices are endless. The neighborhoods I am Recommending are urban but not downtownish, car friendly and not too far from your job in the Northeast section of the city. Go to Trulia - Real Estate, Homes for Sale, Apartments for Rent, Local data and using the rent option, plug in these zip codes 19114, 19136, 19152, 19115 which represent Torresdale, Holmsburg, Rhawnhurst and Bustleton. These shouldn't overload you with culture shock I believe and it's just a start. Also as per your request Mannayunk 19127, East Falls 19129, Fairmount 19130, Northern Liberties 19108 and near Mannayunk is Roxboro 19128 but these are further from work, rent may be higher and it may be harder to park. Because of your dog I guess a house may be a better choice. Philadelphia landlords aren't too dog friendly but you can always ask.

Last edited by bryson662001; 09-05-2013 at 07:45 AM..
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:13 AM
Location: Silver Spring,MD Orlando,Fl
640 posts, read 1,122,365 times
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I would say try to live near your job in the northeast. coming from florida the far northeast is similar car centric feel to it.

If you want urban then yeah east falls and the other areas you mention.....further from your job though
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:00 AM
Location: Philadelphia
221 posts, read 320,472 times
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Originally Posted by Phil_from_VA757 View Post
We've done a lot of research and are interested in Mannayunk, East Falls, Fairmount/Art Museum area, Old City, Fishtown and Northern Liberties though we have gripes with all of these areas.

If you're choosing between Manayunk and East Falls, I think Manayunk has a lot more to offer for the price as you would probably feel equally trapped in both locations in terms of not being in Center City. Fairmont/Art Museum is in my opinion one of the nicest sections overall in Philadelphia but would be the least convenient to your job and probably the most expensive of those areas you're looking at.

Like Bryson mentioned, if you're looking for a cheap spot with parking, you may want to consider neighborhoods in the Northeast closer to your work. Rhawnhurst (19152 zipcode) is a fairly diverse, safe neighborhood with a lot of rentals. Most of the Northeast neighborhoods are relatively quiet and family oriented though, definitely not the exciting or up-and-coming locations in the city. They're still close to shopping, parks, and have some local restaurants and bars that you can walk to if need be.
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:53 PM
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Wow, thanks for all of the speedy replies. I will look into all of the areas recommended. Also I did the survey below as requested:

To help the members of the Philly forum guide you more quickly towards a compatible neighborhood and lifestyle, here are "just a few" starter questions to choose from.

(Thanks to solibs for "borrowing" this from another forum.)

When are you moving? January 2014
Where are you coming from? Jacksonville, FL
Why are you moving? Work
Where will you be working? Northeast on Robbins Ave
Have you been here yet? Not long enough to know much about the city

Will you buy or rent? Rent
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? NA
If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend? [b]Preferably a townhouse, but will remain open to all possibilities. Looking to spend under $1400 but will go as high as $1700 if need be.
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Walk up because we have a dog and don't want the hassle of a high-rise when its time to take the dog out.

Do you have a preference of living in a NJ or PA suburb? PA because I'm a Gun owner.

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married no children
Do you prefer public or private schools? NA
Do you have pets? Dog Shiba Inu under 25lbs
Do you want or need a yard? would like one even if its small, just to eliminate the hassle of constant dog walking, but we are willing to sacrifice on the matter.
Are you keeping a car? Two cars actually. Considering getting rid of one, but its not a comforting thought.
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? I'd prefer a decent amount of activity nearby, but not a 24/7 party. Would like to feel relaxed still when at home.

What do you want to be closest to?
Basic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
Train or subway stations
"Don't mind traveling 30 mins to work, prefer to be near some nightlife and definitely basic services, and a train station would be nice."

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? I'd prefer a diverse neighborhood, but I would also prefer to not be the only young couple in the area as well.

Coke or Pepsi? Coke!
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:48 PM
2,394 posts, read 3,051,801 times
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I would look in East Falls (up the hill, not down near the river) and adjacent areas of Germantown, East & West Mt. Airy and Roxborough. You might also want to check out Jenkintown. I say this because the other neighborhoods aren't going to work with 2 cars and places like Fairmount would be difficult with just one car.

Other neighborhoods in the northeast might be worth a look too. The Northwest Philly neighborhoods will be pushing the envelope for a 30 minute commute and in some cases will be more like 45 minutes during rush hour. Less commuting during the week gives you more energy to get out for the weekend.

If you're interested in NoLibs and Fishtown and you can see yourselves only having one car (it's really not difficult to do) you can find a place that's affordable I would put it at the top of your list. They seem to cover most of your criteria and would be right on the edge of a 30 minute commute to work in the Northeast. No matter where you are in Philly you're never that far from a bad neighborhood. Violent crime in the city has a lot more to do with you hang out with than who you live near.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:31 PM
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Makes a lot of sense. Sounds like Northeast is my best option. I'll focus my search to that area as I haven't the slightest clue how we could make it work with one car, despite giving it ample thought, I just see it being too inconvenient. Thanks
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:52 PM
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I would forget about all of those neighborhoods that you mentioned in your original post, and concentrate on neighborhoods very close to your work. The rent will be less per square foot, you will get a yard with grass (not concrete), you won't have a parking problem, and you won't have an awful commute. Manayunk could easily be a 45 minute commute, one way. A long commute will wear you down, and you will have less energy in the evenings and on the weekends. Besides, everything you could possibly want is in that area of Northeast Philadelphia, or close by. I will repeat a few suggestions from the above posters by telling you to look at zip codes 19114, 19136, 19152, 19115 which represent Torresdale, Holmsburg, Rhawnhurst and Bustleton. There are plenty of safe, well-maintained row house neighborhoods in that area. I have no preference; I like them all.

Consider bringing both cars, then make the decision on what to get rid of, if any, after you have adjusted to your new surroundings.

Philly is a great city, better than any you have lived in, including DC, and there is more to do in Philly than in any other US city except NY.
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Old 09-06-2013, 12:36 AM
5 posts, read 8,947 times
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james777: I like it! Great advice, I 100% agree that living anywhere other than Northeast is hardly worth the trouble. Thanks for helping me narrow down my search, that should make my house-hunting a lot easier. With that said I'm looking forward to the move, I hear great things about the city. On another note how bad are the winters? Are we guaranteed an over abundance of snow? That's the one thing I'm not looking forward to dealing with.
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