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Old 03-31-2009, 07:34 PM
 
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Chestnut Hill, Flowertown, Elkins Park, Plymouth Meeting
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:46 PM
 
Location: DC
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^^ I agree with silverspringer's descriptions. I was trying to think up good comparisons, but didn't get a chance. Also, King of Prussia is essentially Tyson's Corner (with a bigger mall). Del Ray in Alexandria also reminds me of Chestnut Hill, as does Georgetown (but on a smaller scale).

In the city, schools can be an issue (I went to private school), so it's something to think about. However, just anecdotally there seems to be more affordable parochial/private school options in Philadelphia than DC (my parents paid nowhere near $20k a year).
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverspringer View Post
Hey there! I moved from the DC area to the very-close-in Philly suburbs not long ago, and I think I can add a DC-ish perspective here.

It's helpful to know that you guys love Rosslyn. If that's the case, I would go ahead and cross off your list places like Villanova and Wayne. They are DEEP SUBURB. Wayne has a cute town center but it's very upscale, sort of like an ultra-high-end Bethesda but without the liberal politics. It really doesn't sound right for you. I don't think Glenside's right either. I would consider Rittenhouse and Fitler, and I would add to that Bala Cynwyd (particularly the stretch along Rt 1 and Presidential Boulevard, which is mostly high rises), and maybe, maybe Ardmore and Narberth. Ardmore is not urban the way you're used to, but it has the most going downtown of any of the close-in Main Line. It's walkable and more town-like than any of the other towns (I guess very very roughly equivalent to Clarendon, but older and quainter). Suburban Square is there so you can get your shopping fix, and there are other shops along Lancaster Ave. You might also check out Narberth. It's more like a village but very cute and super-family-friendly. Lots of kid activities and a great playground and sense of community. It's a mix of apartments and small houses, mostly.

For what it's worth, I would equate Fairmont more with Logan Circle or some neighborhood like that in DC. It might not be dangerous but it isn't famously safe. It's a little gritty. Rittenhouse/Fitler is probably safer but you will have to visit and see if it's what you're looking for. If you are someone who would prefer Georgetown to Rosslyn if you could afford it, you might like Rittenhouse. If Rosslyn appeals more, I think you'll be happier in the close-in burbs.

Chestnut Hill is sort of like Georgetown without the university, and Mt. Airy is maybe a little like a citified Takoma Park (I'm stretching here). Both are worth a visit.

I looked at living in the city and decided it was grittier than I wanted at this point in my life (I have small kids). I like where I am, very close to the city, and it's so easy to get to the zoo and the Please Touch museum. It's much faster for us to get there (from a burb in Lower Merion) than it is for our friends in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. The wage tax wasn't make-or-break for us, but you have to do the math for your family and see if it seems worth it. Time speeds by when you have kids, so if you think you might stay for a few years I would keep schools in ind.

I don't think, FWIW, that the other posters "get" Rosslyn. There's really no equivalent here. For the Philly posters, Rosslyn has skyscrapers and hotels and office towers but it's also pretty quiet at night. When I lived near there, there was hardly any shopping, but you could walk across the Key bridge and be in Georgetown.
Silverspringer, you pretty much took the words out of my mouth (or perhaps my keyboard.) I'm still a relative newbie down here in the DC metro so you're more knowledgeable about comparisons... but to the OP, I concur that there is no equivalent of Rosslyn in Philly in terms of its magnitude and convenience to "the big city". That is partially because since Philly is four or five times the size of DC, you don't have that dense growth on the city's edge as you do around the District.

To add to the excellent suggestions, one suburban option might be Jenkintown, near Glenside. IMO it's a scaled-down version of Bethesda with a bit of Rockville mixed in. Some parts of leafy Elkins Park are nearby its walkable downtown. I like the analogy that Chestnut Hill is like Georgetown without the university... except technically there is Chestnut Hill College. I don't know how much the school adds to community life, though.

Back to the Center City area, I believe you'll find something that appeals to you in every nieghborhood mentioned, although due diligence - and some flexibility on living space - may be required. But coming from NOVA, that shouldn't be a new concept for you.

Speaking of "NOVA", you will hear some people refer to "Nova" as shorthand for Villanova University. Don't be confused with the Northern Virginia acronym... or the local community college down there.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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Yes juniperbleu, King of Prussia is definitely the "Tysons Corner" of Philly in virtually every way. The conga line to and from will just be a little shorter.
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Old 04-01-2009, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Rosslyn (Arlington), VA
79 posts, read 223,482 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverspringer View Post
Hey there! I moved from the DC area to the very-close-in Philly suburbs not long ago, and I think I can add a DC-ish perspective here.

It's helpful to know that you guys love Rosslyn. If that's the case, I would go ahead and cross off your list places like Villanova and Wayne. They are DEEP SUBURB. Wayne has a cute town center but it's very upscale, sort of like an ultra-high-end Bethesda but without the liberal politics. It really doesn't sound right for you. I don't think Glenside's right either. I would consider Rittenhouse and Fitler, and I would add to that Bala Cynwyd (particularly the stretch along Rt 1 and Presidential Boulevard, which is mostly high rises), and maybe, maybe Ardmore and Narberth. Ardmore is not urban the way you're used to, but it has the most going downtown of any of the close-in Main Line. It's walkable and more town-like than any of the other towns (I guess very very roughly equivalent to Clarendon, but older and quainter). Suburban Square is there so you can get your shopping fix, and there are other shops along Lancaster Ave. You might also check out Narberth. It's more like a village but very cute and super-family-friendly. Lots of kid activities and a great playground and sense of community. It's a mix of apartments and small houses, mostly.

For what it's worth, I would equate Fairmont more with Logan Circle or some neighborhood like that in DC. It might not be dangerous but it isn't famously safe. It's a little gritty. Rittenhouse/Fitler is probably safer but you will have to visit and see if it's what you're looking for. If you are someone who would prefer Georgetown to Rosslyn if you could afford it, you might like Rittenhouse. If Rosslyn appeals more, I think you'll be happier in the close-in burbs.

Chestnut Hill is sort of like Georgetown without the university, and Mt. Airy is maybe a little like a citified Takoma Park (I'm stretching here). Both are worth a visit.

I looked at living in the city and decided it was grittier than I wanted at this point in my life (I have small kids). I like where I am, very close to the city, and it's so easy to get to the zoo and the Please Touch museum. It's much faster for us to get there (from a burb in Lower Merion) than it is for our friends in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. The wage tax wasn't make-or-break for us, but you have to do the math for your family and see if it seems worth it. Time speeds by when you have kids, so if you think you might stay for a few years I would keep schools in ind.

I don't think, FWIW, that the other posters "get" Rosslyn. There's really no equivalent here. For the Philly posters, Rosslyn has skyscrapers and hotels and office towers but it's also pretty quiet at night. When I lived near there, there was hardly any shopping, but you could walk across the Key bridge and be in Georgetown.
Thank you silverspringer!! Having a few people on this forum who lived in both DC and Philly has been SOOOO helpful. I think you nailed every aspect of what we're looking for, so I'll definitely take your advice and look around some of the areas you mentioned. It sounds like Bala Cynwyd, Ardmore, Narberth, Chestnut Hill and maybe Jenkintown are our best bets. Does that sound about right?

Let me add in one more nuance for those of you that know the DC area really well... the one thing we absolutely DON'T want is the Rockville Pike type of sprawl with big box stores everywhere and lots of congestion. Tyson's has that to a lesser degree as well, and while I would definitely not live in Tyson's, I can stomach the area a bit more than Rockville Pike.

We also really like the cute and high-end walk/shop/eat/live aspects of Clarendon and Chevy Chase (though Chevy Chase is a bit more congested than we would like). The things we really like about Rosslyn aren't the big buildings, but how convenient of a location it is -- door to door is 15 min for us to the Zoo, to the museums and all the great restaurants in DC. We also really enjoy the fact that there are a lot of green spaces (not obvious to people who don't live here, but there are a lot of parks and trees once you get off Wilson Blvd) and it's very quiet in the evenings and on weekend. Does that impact any of what you'd recommend?
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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Thanks, that does help. I think the list you've made is good and I would probably add to it Haverford and Bryn Mawr. They are slightly further from the city but have (to some degree) places to walk around, eat, play, etc. My gut feeling is you may not like them as much as one of the other options, but they're worth a look, especially considering your commute. Chestnut Hill certainly is cute and walkable, but the tradeoffs are schools and wage tax. Ardmore would be good but it might be a little short on green space. Any of the surrounding areas -- Bala Cynwyd, Wynnewood, Merion, Narberth -- have more and are easily accessible to each other. All these places are small and run together.

The big-box stores are mostly further out.

It's totally different from DC in terms of architecture and building materials (no brick!), and at first I thought it was so gray here, but I've gotten used to it and now like it. It's extremely convenient and traffic is so much less of a problem (though I rarely drive to KoP). Houses tend to be older, commercial areas are "vintage" rather than cute (except in Wayne and maybe Narberth) and you don't see any glossy redevelopment like that of the Wilson corridor or Bethesda or Rockville or Silver Spring.
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Old 04-01-2009, 05:41 PM
 
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aristole, if being able to jump into the culture of the city is the highest priority then Chestnut Hill/West Mount Airy on the city's edge as well as Jenkintown in the near northern suburbs may be two of your better bets. Old York Road is the main drag. The street widens to the north as it segues into Abington, somewhat emulating Rockville Pike.

Many of the Main Line towns already mentioned (Wynnewood, Ardmore, etc.) would be good as well. You'd be relatively close to King of Prussia although it would be a longer commute (~ 40 minutes on the train) for weekend trips into the city.

As I mentioned before, as the city itself covers so much land compared to DC, it's hard to find a place on the edge or in the burbs where you can get to urban areas of interest very quickly.

Last edited by FindingZen; 04-02-2009 at 11:44 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:03 AM
 
Location: DC
3,299 posts, read 10,753,702 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverspringer View Post
It's totally different from DC in terms of architecture and building materials (no brick!), and at first I thought it was so gray here, but I've gotten used to it and now like it.
Take DC's brick and replace about 85%+ with schist (gray sparkly stone, the variation popular in Philadelphia is predominantly Wissahickon schist), so I can see where it looks "so gray". It's definitely different, and something I didn't realize was so regional (went to VA and wondered where all the stone houses were).

Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy and Jenkintown are both great for access and walkable areas. If you don't want to live within the city limits for whichever reason, you can try looking at the suburbs right next to Chestnut Hill, like Wyndmoor, Lafayette Hill, or Flourtown.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Rosslyn (Arlington), VA
79 posts, read 223,482 times
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Thank you to everyone who responded on this thread. Especially all of the folks with intimate DC and Philly knowledge. It's been incredibly helpful. Both my wife and I were really stressed about the idea of leaving the DC area, which we absolutely love, but after reading all of the responses, it sounds like we can have a similar quality of life and enjoy a lot of the things we currently enjoy. I think I have my list of places to checkout down, so now I just need to accept the job offer and start spending some time in these places!

Thanks again!
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aristotlenova View Post
phillyzoo, I think these are all really good points. My wife actually went to undergrad at Penn, so she's somewhat familiar with the area. But because her experiences with Philly are from 12 years ago, it doesn't really factor in all that has certainly changed.
Your wife will be pleasantly surprised by the improvements made in University City.Its come a long way in the past 15 years.
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