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Old 06-09-2017, 02:33 PM
 
64 posts, read 74,424 times
Reputation: 47

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Greetings and salutations all!

My family and I are looking to relocate from the western US this time next year. We are big-time planners, and have already started doing our homework in an attempt to find the best school districts, lowest crime areas and best bang-for-your-buck in regard to buying a home. We are not bound to any specific county or area and will fortunately be able to choose where we ultimately wind up. All of that being said,I feel that talking to locals and long-time residents is the best way to get a feel for where we should and should not focus our attention.

A little background information; we are a family comprised of two elementary school-aged children, my husband, myself and my elderly/older father. We hope to purchase suburban home, as well as potential rental properties in a more populated/city area.

Our children will be attending public school when we arrive, and a "decent school" is our top priority, with low crime coming in at a very close second. Greatschools.org is helpful, but not as accurate as one would like to believe. I trust it to a degree, but am more apt to believe parents whose children are involved with the school system to give me a more accurate picture.

We had originally focused on the NEPA area, but after speaking with some of the area locals on the local forum, we were motivated to expand our search!

I am hoping to hear your thoughts and experiences living in the area! If you could help us narrow our search down further, we would be very grateful! I have filled out a survey I found to help clarify what we are looking for, but please feel free to ask any questions I may not have touched on, or that may need further clarification!

Thank you in advance for your time! Have a wonderful day!



When are you moving?- This time next year!
Where are you coming from?- The western USA/desert
Why are you moving?- It is not healthy for our family to remain or be raised here. We are originally from the east coast and do not mesh well with desert living, nor are we happy with where our state/city/county is headed. Crime, corruption in the school system and government, lack of natural resources...etc. My husband loved Pennsylvania when he went to Penn State years ago and believed it is the best state for us to raise our family and put down our roots.
Where will you be working?- Place of employment is not a concern for multiple reasons.
Have you been here yet?- My husband has many years ago, but I have not.
Will you buy or rent?- Buying a private home, preferably in a suburban area, and buying a rental property/properties in the city area. Rough price range is 200K for private home, 100K for rental. We do not mind homes that may need some "TLC" (so long as theyre not in utter chaos), and actually would find working on it some enjoyable!
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? A house with at least 4 bedrooms for our family and a multifamily house/condo/townhome/mobile home etc. for the rental property/properties
Do you have a preference of living in a NJ or PA suburb?- Philadelphia is preferred.
Are you married or single? Do you have children? Married with two children of elementary school age. They will be on the cusp of transferring to middle school by the time we move.
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public
Do you have pets? Yes. Dogs and cats.
Do you want or need a yard?-We would prefer a decent sized yard, but would be happy with one we can at least play with the dogs in, have a small BBQ in etc.
Are you keeping a car? Yes. Two cars.
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? For us, calm and quiet for us; no matter for the rental property.
What do you want to be closest to? For us, schools, hospitals etc. We do not mind driving 20+ minutes or more for shopping etc. We would like to be no more than 45 minutes to an hour to the rental property as well. As for the location of rental property, we prefer it to be in a busier area that is need of consistent renters. Close to schools and businesses a plus.
Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood? We don’t care, so long as there is a low crime rate.

Last edited by MamaDee333; 06-09-2017 at 02:56 PM..
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:55 PM
 
241 posts, read 199,706 times
Reputation: 332
Many suburban areas around Philly have low crime and decent schools, but not houses in the 200K price range. You would Have to pay at least twice that for a good suburban Philly neighborhood, a 4BR house with nice yard. Housing is very expensive here compared to what I have seen in other parts of the country. An average house in central Bucks county (New Britain, Chalfont, Doylestown, Plumstead) would be $430K. Parts of the Main Line and Montgomery County would be the same or more. Townhouses can cost the same. If it's a desirable area.

Rents are also quite high. If you see houses for $200K then you are not looking at a low crime/good schools area.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:38 PM
 
Location: Dude...., I'm right here
1,514 posts, read 1,011,747 times
Reputation: 1295
Greatschools rates schools according to standardized student test scores, while parents rate schools according to their expectations and experience. A school may have low test scores and a good community rating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDee333 View Post

Our children will be attending public school when we arrive, and a "decent school" is our top priority, with low crime coming in at a very close second. Greatschools.org is helpful, but not as accurate as one would like to believe. I trust it to a degree, but am more apt to believe parents whose children are involved with the school system to give me a more accurate picture.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:57 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
8,371 posts, read 4,104,056 times
Reputation: 5442
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ondoner View Post
Greatschools rates schools according to standardized student test scores, while parents rate schools according to their expectations and experience. A school may have low test scores and a good community rating.
What 1ondoner said. I've run across a number of parents of children in Philadelphia public grade schools who have told me they are quite pleased with the education their children are getting at their local school, and the school in question usually gets a middling to low score on Greatschools.org.

At least one adult I've run across said he put more stock in the physical condition of the school building. Do the floors sparkle, and are the hallways in order? That, this person said, is a sign of a staff that cares about the school and about the kids who come there to learn.

That said, I can also add something about crime from my own experience that might help you adjust your expectations about where to invest in that rental property if not about where to live yourself.

My own upbringing, outlook and profession - I'm a journalist who writes about real estate for our region's leading city magazine - are very much middle class, but for reasons of economy and convenience, I live in a low-income pocket of an outlying Philadelphia neighborhood (Germantown, which probably has the greatest socioeconomic diversity of any neighborhood in the city; it also has a solid housing stock that varies in size and level of maintenance/amenities, and lots of history to boot).

I know from the three instant memorials that have sprung up at either end of the block I live on over the past year and a half, two of them on the "stop 'n' go" (a corner "deli" whose main business is actually selling beer to take out) at the corner where I catch and get off the bus that takes me to the subway into downtown that my neighborhood is far from the safest in the city. I've even witnessed a fight break out at that same corner while waiting for a bus one summer evening, and once I went out at night to run a small errand to find that intersection filled with cop cars. A friend of mine who left his bike locked to my front porch railing this past weekend but never came back to reclaim it had to get another after I informed him when I came home from work Thursday that his bike and two of the posts on the porch railing were gone. (The large smoker grill, my downstairs neighbor's newer grill, and a small stone table and chair that also occupy that porch remain unmolested, however, and have for many months, years even.)

Yet the friends I've invited over to visit - many of them white (I'm not), and all of them middle class in demeanor and upbringing - tell me they've never felt uncomfortable walking from the bus or the two nearby (10- to 15-minute walk) regional (commuter) train stations to my home. In fact, one couple (same-sex) I recently had over who live in a South Jersey suburb and did that walk around 10:30 p.m. were texting me when they got home that they want to move to Germantown.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that the fear of crime may make things seem worse than they actually are. I've yet to be troubled by it personally aside from the bike theft, and I'm now in my fourth year of residence here. (I keep my own three-speed inside, however; I'm not foolish.) You might find that you will get many good tenants and a steady income with a building in a neighborhood that might be rougher than what you yourself would choose to live in.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:30 AM
 
Location: New York City
7,219 posts, read 6,307,532 times
Reputation: 4281
There are some townships in the Philadelphia area where 200k will work, but you will get a small cape cod or townhouse. Brookhaven is a town that comes to mind, basic post-war suburbia, decent schools and close to other nicer towns.


But in general, an updated colonial in a decent/nice suburban Philadelphia town is 350k++ but deals can be found!
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:45 PM
 
64 posts, read 74,424 times
Reputation: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ondoner View Post
Greatschools rates schools according to standardized student test scores, while parents rate schools according to their expectations and experience. A school may have low test scores and a good community rating.
EXACTLY! That's why I have been going to greatschools, niche, the actual PA performance website... and asking people here to discuss their experiences with certain schools/districts. Where I live we are ranked 49th in the country so... Nowhere to go but up, eh?

Last edited by MamaDee333; 06-14-2017 at 02:56 PM..
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:46 PM
 
64 posts, read 74,424 times
Reputation: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by PBToast View Post
Many suburban areas around Philly have low crime and decent schools, but not houses in the 200K price range. You would Have to pay at least twice that for a good suburban Philly neighborhood, a 4BR house with nice yard. Housing is very expensive here compared to what I have seen in other parts of the country. An average house in central Bucks county (New Britain, Chalfont, Doylestown, Plumstead) would be $430K. Parts of the Main Line and Montgomery County would be the same or more. Townhouses can cost the same. If it's a desirable area.

Rents are also quite high. If you see houses for $200K then you are not looking at a low crime/good schools area.
Yes, I have definitely noticed that... It may be too rich for our blood at this time, but I will still keep my eyes open for that diamond in the rough just in case I have a few more weeks to really pin an area of PA down so I am going to double my efforts and see where to set my sights. Thank you!
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:54 PM
 
64 posts, read 74,424 times
Reputation: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
What 1ondoner said. I've run across a number of parents of children in Philadelphia public grade schools who have told me they are quite pleased with the education their children are getting at their local school, and the school in question usually gets a middling to low score on Greatschools.org.

At least one adult I've run across said he put more stock in the physical condition of the school building. Do the floors sparkle, and are the hallways in order? That, this person said, is a sign of a staff that cares about the school and about the kids who come there to learn.

That said, I can also add something about crime from my own experience that might help you adjust your expectations about where to invest in that rental property if not about where to live yourself.

My own upbringing, outlook and profession - I'm a journalist who writes about real estate for our region's leading city magazine - are very much middle class, but for reasons of economy and convenience, I live in a low-income pocket of an outlying Philadelphia neighborhood (Germantown, which probably has the greatest socioeconomic diversity of any neighborhood in the city; it also has a solid housing stock that varies in size and level of maintenance/amenities, and lots of history to boot).

I know from the three instant memorials that have sprung up at either end of the block I live on over the past year and a half, two of them on the "stop 'n' go" (a corner "deli" whose main business is actually selling beer to take out) at the corner where I catch and get off the bus that takes me to the subway into downtown that my neighborhood is far from the safest in the city. I've even witnessed a fight break out at that same corner while waiting for a bus one summer evening, and once I went out at night to run a small errand to find that intersection filled with cop cars. A friend of mine who left his bike locked to my front porch railing this past weekend but never came back to reclaim it had to get another after I informed him when I came home from work Thursday that his bike and two of the posts on the porch railing were gone. (The large smoker grill, my downstairs neighbor's newer grill, and a small stone table and chair that also occupy that porch remain unmolested, however, and have for many months, years even.)

Yet the friends I've invited over to visit - many of them white (I'm not), and all of them middle class in demeanor and upbringing - tell me they've never felt uncomfortable walking from the bus or the two nearby (10- to 15-minute walk) regional (commuter) train stations to my home. In fact, one couple (same-sex) I recently had over who live in a South Jersey suburb and did that walk around 10:30 p.m. were texting me when they got home that they want to move to Germantown.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that the fear of crime may make things seem worse than they actually are. I've yet to be troubled by it personally aside from the bike theft, and I'm now in my fourth year of residence here. (I keep my own three-speed inside, however; I'm not foolish.) You might find that you will get many good tenants and a steady income with a building in a neighborhood that might be rougher than what you yourself would choose to live in.

So much great info and advice! THANK YOU! As I mentioned in another forum, I am coming from an area that is pretty high crime (despite being considered one of the best in the area). By that I mean my neighbors are having their cars and homes broken into on a regular basis, pets are being poisoned, homeless people attacking random citizens... things like that. And again, this is in an area where crime is considered to be lower than most other places close by.

Not to mention the school district is second to last in the nation. Greatschools and PA school performance can only give you so much information, but its the parents and students who can give you some of the best and most accurate information. There are some comments on those sites but a lot of it swing from one extreme to another... I actually saw a person give a school one star because they didn't have a vegetarian option in the cafeteria, other than salads. While that may be imperative to that particular student, we have teachers in my current district abusing/molesting/being inappropriate with students in middle school!

Everything is subjective so I am trying my best to compile as much good/bad/indifferent information about every area of PA that I can so that my kids can have the best shot at an awesome life... within what we're able to provide, of course...

Thank you again for your time and fantastic perspectives!!!
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:55 PM
 
64 posts, read 74,424 times
Reputation: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
There are some townships in the Philadelphia area where 200k will work, but you will get a small cape cod or townhouse. Brookhaven is a town that comes to mind, basic post-war suburbia, decent schools and close to other nicer towns.


But in general, an updated colonial in a decent/nice suburban Philadelphia town is 350k++ but deals can be found!
Thank you! I will definitely take a look and greatly appreciate your well wishes!
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