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Old 01-09-2008, 07:00 AM
 
2 posts, read 6,132 times
Reputation: 11

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The main line is not only for the rich and elitist. And no, not everyone is a member of a country club and most kids go to the excellent public schools. It is a beautiful area with fantastic schools and low taxes. In fact, the taxes in Lower Merion are significantly lower than nearby Delaware County (Havertown, Bromall). I moved there with my family when I was a freshman in highschool (15 years ago) and have since moved around and now live in Northern New Jersey. Compared to NJ, the home prices in LM are very affordable for the size house and property and there is very little congestion comparatively. When I go home to visit my folks, I feel like I'm on vacation! There is also great shopping and transportation into the city and it is extremely safe.
I think you could find a very nice home for under 500k, especially in Ardmore, Narberth or Wynnewood. Bala Cynwyd seems to be more pricey and Gladwyne properties are generally on large pieces of land, which makes them more expensive.
I would say that if you find a house you can afford anywhere in LM, you can't go wrong.
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,910 posts, read 12,771,485 times
Reputation: 2635
I dont think the western suburbs of Philly are for the rich only. There is a healthy mix of different socio economic classes, middle class included.

You can find 4 BR 2 Ba houses for $300-$400 K in very good school districts e.g. Rose-Tree Media, Wallingford-Swarthmore, and Garnet Valley.

Towns to research where you would not need private schools.

Media
Nether Providence
Wallingford
Middletown Township(Delaware County)
Swarthmore
Glen Mills
Concord Township
Bethel Township
Garnet Valley

The Mainline area itself seems to have a pretty defined dividing area. Lancaster Ave on South seems to be middle class, as you move north towards Montgomery Avenue you get into upper middle class and then north of Montgomery Ave its just obscene wealth.

Good luck
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Old 01-09-2008, 10:42 AM
 
20 posts, read 96,990 times
Reputation: 17
kilbillrain is right - there are some great neighborhoods in the city, everybody I know out here in suburbia has great memories of the strong neighborhoods they grew up in. (unfortunately you can walk 2 blocks and be in a war zone.) City lifestyle is certainly a choice, you can't beat the culture, convenience, and there's so much to do.
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:32 AM
 
10 posts, read 67,625 times
Reputation: 24
Thank you for the responses/discussion- based on what I've heard it looks as if it may be possible to find what we're looking for within our budget. There are lots of neighborhoods to check out- I'd better get going!
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:40 AM
 
271 posts, read 1,306,275 times
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Don't forget Springfield, Delaware Co. Good school district and older established neighborhood with good home choices in your price range.
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:56 PM
 
1,623 posts, read 5,965,113 times
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I'm in the same boat as you - 3 young kids, first one will start school in the fall, if I can just figure out where we're going to be living.

I've been looking for the best public schools around and Tredyffrin, Great Valley, Radnor, Swarthmore, Rose Tree Media, Lower Merion, and Garnet Valley are the best.

Tredyffrin's HS has been ranked 8th in the country, 2nd in the state so that's where I'm currently looking to buy. The district encompasses parts of Wayne, Berwyn, Devon, Paoli and parts of Malvern so...I think all but Malvern would meet most of your criteria save maybe the totally walkable part.

For that, look to Media, or nearby Wallingford and Swarthmore, from which you can walk or take a short drive to Media. Media meets ALL of your criteria but houses are pretty expensive and the houses and taxes in Wallingford/Swarthmore are very high as well, but you get what you pay for I guess.

Radnor and Lower Merion gets you places on the Main Line below Wayne, so a bit more snooty, and Lowre Merion SD is a bit too old city/dirty/congested/grungy/higher crime looking in my opinion. Add in the super high cost of homes and its not an area I would personally consider but it does get you that half hour commute.

Haverford/Havertown are supposedly nice little burbs, but the schools while good, aren't quite as good as all but maybe Garnet Valley listed above.
And again you pay a pretty penny for a little plot of land with a little house on it, in an older burb with little else going on, a bit too close to the grungy areas for my liking.

For information sake, I grew up in Drexel Hill and would recommend it to someone like Leigh who is looking for a down to earth, fairly low rent, safe area, very close to the city, but I would also recommend Aronmink elementary or Catholic school only.

Having said that, I am so burnt out on Delco for the most part (save the areas mentioned above), the slowly worsening of the population (ie going to the same crappy mall and restaurants with the same unpleasant people who get ruder and dumber by the minute), and its lack of decent restaurants, nightlife etc, that I'm looking for something different, dare I say, better, for my family.

Most of Delco is fine as an interim solution but if you have a college degree or two and have traveled anywhere at all, appreciate the arts, etc, you will hate it and/or your neighbors in fairly short order; not that they won't be nice, but that they or their friends may party til all hours or drop the f-bomb incessantly, expound their racist, sexist, homophobic opinions like its their job etc etc etc...its just like hanging out with my mom's side of the family 24/7 and it gets old real quick.

But if you spend the coin for the Media area, West Chester, Wayne and environs, you will get a smaller house, a decent sized piece of land, the walkable downtown you're looking for, and you will be safe and your kids will have the quality education you never thought you could afford.

And to answer your question, yes, going up to $500k really opens up the possibilities; you can definitely find a 4br 2ba place around 2,000 sq ft give or take based upon condition in most of the areas I mentioned above. Just make sure you find out the yearly taxes on each house you're looking at to make an apples to apples comparison.

As yet another side note, you may want to consider renting for a year to see how you like whatever area you choose, get a better handle on budgeting to see what kind of mortgage you can swing, and to wait some time to see if housing prices will fall as predicted through this year into next.

We are currently renting and I'm debating whether we should move to Wayne etc and rent for a year (rent would be about $2,000-$2,400) or just bite the bullet and buy now in the hopes housing prices are fairly stable around here...
Good luck!

Last edited by orrmobl; 02-03-2008 at 10:21 PM..
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