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Old 09-11-2013, 02:28 PM
 
11 posts, read 25,372 times
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I recently resigned from the Navy after 6 years as a submariner and am looking at my post-Navy job opportunities. I'm expecting an offer from a company where I'd be based in Philadelphia and I'm not too familiar with the city so, while I'm fairly enthusiastic about the job I'm not as sure about the location and was hoping to get a sense of the city and the neighborhood options. I've been to Philadelphia a few times but always as a tourist for a day trip (I've got family up near Allentown), and it's been a while since I've lived in a city (school in DC, but since then I've been in smaller towns up and down the East Coast for the Navy). We're planning on renting for the first year while we get comfortable with the area before making the plunge on buying our first house.

1. Budget: Could do up to $2.5k/month, would like to keep it under $2k unless we're really getting a lot of benefit.
2. House/Condo/Townhome? For the initial renting, apartment or preferably townhome.
3. Employment Status(commute/work from home): I'd be working at primarily pharmaceutical plants, although I'm not sure which ones at this point (it's a consultant type position). From Google, it looks like they're largely NW of the city. Access to the airport would be great, too, since some of the work will involve travel. I'd like to not be spending more than 30-45 minutes each way in the car on a regular basis (and lower is better), although I know that'll be hard to control when I don't know where I'm going! But at least easy access to major highways would be helpful.
4. Children(public school vs. private): None yet; that will be a concern when we buy a house but not a big issue now
5. Suburban or Urban lifestyle preference or a mix of the two: We're coming from Charlottesville, VA, which is sort of a smallish town but with a lot going on for it's size. We're both past the point where we need to be in the center of things, but we are even more opposed to the stereotypical cookie-cutter homes and strip malls of suburbia. If there's some kind of place where there is some character, in terms of shops, restaurants, that sort of stuff, but without being really high-density urban, that'd be ideal.
6. Easy access to public transit, important or not? Would be nice to be able to get to the center city without a car. Not sure where my fiancee will be working yet, but as she's in the art and design field, I'd imagine most of those are fairly downtown and it'd be nice not to bring a car into the city (or if we lived in the city, to only need one car).
7. Preferable demographics of desired neighborhood: Reasonably safe, would like an area where there are a fair number of well-educated, cultural-minded people around (we don't know anybody so we'll certainly be looking to make new friends).

I've started looking at neighborhoods, and I'm just hoping to get a sense of which ones might meet what we're looking for. On the initial list are: Manayunk, Lower Merion, Old City, Narbeth, Conshohocken, Fairmount, Media, Northern Liberties, Queen Village, Passyunk, Lansdowne, Ardmore, Bella Vista, and Mt Airy, but that's mostly just looking at threads on here and seeing what sounds nice, so I'd happily add and subtract from the list. We'll be driving through Philly on Friday and we'd like to spend a few hours getting a feel for some neighborhoods, so any help narrowing that list down would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help.

Edit: Saw the expanded list for this forum of additional info that might be helpful, so here goes:

When are you moving? Not sure yet, but probably late September/Early October
Where are you coming from? Charlottesville, VA
Why are you moving? Job
Where will you be working? See above
Have you been here yet? Several times as a tourist, coming to look at neighborhoods on Friday

Will you buy or rent? Rent for the first year, then hopefully buy
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? Will be a house when the time comes
If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend? Townhouse preferred (would be good with a duplex, too), apartment or loft would consider. $2.5k max, with under $2k preferred
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up? Walk-up but not a terribly strong preference as compared to the townhouse over apartment preference

Do you have a preference of living in a NJ or PA suburb? It looks like PA is closer to where I'd be working but would consider NJ too

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Engaged, no kids
Do you prefer public or private schools? When that time comes several years down the line, would prefer a good public school
Do you have pets? Nope and no plans to get them
Do you want or need a yard? We'd like at least a little outdoor space (even if it's an apartment balcony). Don't want or need a giant yard, though
Are you keeping a car? At least one, maybe 2 (that will depend on where we're living, obviously)
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? Somewhere in between

What do you want to be closest to? I'd rather come home to somewhere I want to be than to live near work and then drive to get anywhere I can do anything like shopping, restaurants, etc. Don't mind driving for supermarket/clothes shopping, etc. Not big on nightlife these days, though it'd be nice to have a few decent bars around for sports and such. Proximity to public transit would kind of depend on where we wind up, but would certainly be nice
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? We're good with diversity but also don't want to completely stand out, either. We've both lived in big cities before so we're comfortable with that, but also don't want to be in a rough/unsafe neighborhood (I'd like for my 5'5" white fiancee to be able to walk around at reasonable hours without being concerned beyond basic situational awareness).

Coke or Pepsi?
Dr. Pepper (grew up in Texas)

Last edited by Grsing; 09-11-2013 at 02:36 PM.. Reason: Add more information
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:16 PM
 
1,114 posts, read 1,968,132 times
Reputation: 420
Chestnut Hill, Society Hill, Fairmount / Art Museum.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:00 PM
 
Location: The City
22,381 posts, read 33,167,919 times
Reputation: 7799
Conshy would save you on City Wage tax and has decent rail to the city.

I prefer the city but maybe getting a feel for the area would be good and more cost effective.

This also would give you pretty easy access to the airport and the NW of the city.

Best of luck in your search
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2,377 posts, read 2,696,815 times
Reputation: 1492
One thing I recommend is don't rule out center city etc because it's at the center of it all. I'd think of it more like the densest neighborhood. It has the important advantage of being in the best position for the reverse commuter. Also if you are renting for a year it will give you the best perspective of the city. $2k and less will afford any part of philly.

My wife actually takes the regional rail out to wilmington and then just drives her car which she leaves parked there to work. She is within commuting distance of the entire metro which is only possible in center city.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:47 AM
 
147 posts, read 245,955 times
Reputation: 135
if you enjoyed charlottesville you won't find anything quite like it in philly. Only place that might compare is doylestown but I'm assuming your work is near king of prussia and doylestown could be a bit of a hike? I've heard west chester is nice but I've not been over there since I moved to philly so I can't comment.

that being said if enjoy suburbia you have plenty of options. I would second the vote for chestnut hill and all of the main line is very nice especially towards bryn mawr. Another option could be out towards Ambler. The two areas I would suggest you eliminate are philadelphia the city and NJ. NJ is just too far to commute and given where you are coming from philly might be just too much at this time.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:39 AM
 
Location: a swanky suburb in my fancy pants
3,391 posts, read 7,740,351 times
Reputation: 1586
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuhusky11 View Post
if you enjoyed charlottesville you won't find anything quite like it in philly. Only place that might compare is doylestown but I'm assuming your work is near king of prussia and doylestown could be a bit of a hike? I've heard west chester is nice but I've not been over there since I moved to philly so I can't comment.

that being said if enjoy suburbia you have plenty of options. I would second the vote for chestnut hill and all of the main line is very nice especially towards bryn mawr. Another option could be out towards Ambler. The two areas I would suggest you eliminate are philadelphia the city and NJ. NJ is just too far to commute and given where you are coming from philly might be just too much at this time.
I think West Chester is a good match to Charlottsville. It has a quaint charming downtown with lots of red brick and it even has a university that sort of dominates the town. It is surrounded by lush green suburbs that have rolling hills. Rt 202 going south out of town has a lot of the same commercial development that is sort of like Rt 29. In the other direction on 202 it's a short ride to the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest and most elaborate shopping malls in the world. It is a good 45 minutes to Central Philadelphia and doesn't have a rail connection but how often would you go downtown? The airport is about 30 minutes. That's if you really like the Charlottsville area.
On the other hand you might want to try something new and.different. A lot of people get a rush from living in the heart of a big city. Look at our photo thread.
//www.city-data.com/forum/phila...to-thread.html

Last edited by bryson662001; 09-12-2013 at 07:57 AM..
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:11 PM
 
11 posts, read 25,372 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for the replies! I'll see how much we can see tomorrow and try to get a feel for it.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:29 PM
 
1,114 posts, read 1,968,132 times
Reputation: 420
As others have said, the two most directly comparable towns are probably West Chester and Doylestown. However, both are far from the city and have poor or no rail access - none in the case of west chester and an hour and 15 minutes in the case of Doylestown. Philadelphia has many great neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive feel. If I were in your situation, and if commute is not an issue, i'd look at some of the quieter, nicer neighborhoods within the city itself, like those mentioned above.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:01 PM
 
Location: back in Philadelphia!
3,260 posts, read 4,880,424 times
Reputation: 2051
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuhusky11 View Post
if you enjoyed charlottesville you won't find anything quite like it in philly. Only place that might compare is doylestown but I'm assuming your work is near king of prussia and doylestown could be a bit of a hike? I've heard west chester is nice but I've not been over there since I moved to philly so I can't comment.

that being said if enjoy suburbia you have plenty of options. I would second the vote for chestnut hill and all of the main line is very nice especially towards bryn mawr. Another option could be out towards Ambler. The two areas I would suggest you eliminate are philadelphia the city and NJ. NJ is just too far to commute and given where you are coming from philly might be just too much at this time.
Keep in mind that Chestnut Hill is part of 'Philadelphia the city'.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:42 AM
 
11 posts, read 25,372 times
Reputation: 11
We checked out most of the neighborhoods on Friday. We loved Chestnut Hill and that's definitely going to be our top pick if we move to Philly. Manayunk was nice but seemed a bit studenty/fratty, and Media was also nice although a little more small town-y (not necessarily in a bad way, just different). I was surprised by how strip mall-ed the Main Line suburbs are; the residential areas are beautiful but it seemed like they didn't have much in the way of downtowns. Anyways, thanks again, that was very helpful.
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