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Old 04-09-2007, 02:38 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 618,303 times
Reputation: 51

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Got a general question for you all...can anyone outline the major pros/cons of picking NJ or PA to settle in and commute into Philly? I understand the real estate and state income taxes are higher in NJ (as well as car insurance)...how about sales tax? We would be looking in the $500-600,000 range for a 4 bedroom home in a family-oriented neighborhood with good schools. As far as NJ goes, it looks like Riverton and Moorestown are both great places to live but the high taxes are intimidating. Anyone have any insight on the two states that would shed more light and help us narrow down areas?
Thanks!
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:19 PM
 
Location: Villanova Pa.
4,910 posts, read 12,771,485 times
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Commute:

South Jersey is easier to get into Center City via highway but there is a $3 dollar daily toll to cross one of the bridges. Both South jersey and the PA towns have excellent mass transit options. Slight edge to South Jersey overall.

Taxes:

PA much better property taxes overall but at 500-600K not going to be cheap. The sales tax is 6% in PA. 7% in NJ. I'm going to recommend an area in Pa.(with great schools) that will put you within a 5 minute drive to Del.which has no sales tax. Edge to Pa.

Landscape:

Edge to Pa here. Beautiful rolling valleys and streams whereas South jersey is flat. Nice and green but very flat. edge PA.

Schools:

Both are excellent. You'll have a bigger,better range in Pa suburbs only because its bigger + wealthier to the South Jersey suburbs.

Towns/quality of life:

South jersey has done a great job with its nicer towns. Moorestown,Haddonfield,Woodbury Heights,Medford,are outstanding mainstreet usa towns. Voorhees,Cherry Hill,Williamstown, are nice suburbia USA type towns with the big box outlets, malls and chain restaurants. 45 minutes to the Beaches.


Pa suburbs are also very nice.
The Main Line towns are a mixture of families, lots college students, young professionals. There are several mainstreet USA towns like Doylestown,West Chester,Media, Jenkintown,Glenside,Chestnut Hill. The residential mcmansion developments are done very nice and its almost tolerable to see a new
upscale development built on a hillside as opposed to a flat track of 50 acres.
King of Prussia is the retail giant of the entire state.

Some Pa towns to check out.

West Chester is a nice town, check out the surrounding area if you get the chance(Birmingham Township,Westtown,Thornbury,
Pocopson,Edgmont,Willistown, Chadds Ford) beautiful area, expensive.

Media is a nice small town, close to the Center City Philly and also has a great surrounding area(Upper Providence,Springton,Newtown,
Rose Valley,Rose Tree, Nether Providence, Swarthmore, Gradyville,Glen Mills.

The Mainline towns are where alot of the wealth resides. Outstanding schools.
These towns border Rt 30 running west out of the city. Route 30 itself is nothing spectacular so you have to navigate yourself back into the side roads to get a grasp of the residential areas.

Narberth
Penn Valley
Gladwyne
Merion
Bryn Mawr
Wynnewood
Haverford
Ardmore
Villanova
Radnor
Wayne
Berwyn
Devon
Paoli
malvern

I'll throw out one sleeper family area in Pa. with outstanding schools and reasonable taxes. Its a newer growing area called Garnet Valley. GV includes Concord Township and Bethel. Great bargain area, family oriented but more on the mcmansion line then towncenter area.



I would advise to come up and check out both areas. You are going to have excellent choices at both locations.
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Old 04-10-2007, 05:20 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 618,303 times
Reputation: 51
Default Thanks!

Wow Rainrock...thanks so much for such a detailed and informative response! It was exactly what I was looking for and you included topics I hadn't even thought of. Thanks so much--I really appreciate it! Will print off your reply and bring it with me during our trip up there. This board is such an amazing resource!
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:56 AM
 
20 posts, read 96,273 times
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Jess, hard to contend with rainrock's consistently outstanding responses, but I'll chime in nonetheless. I was in your position a less than a year ago, moving from VA (Northern VA, Reston area) to the Philly region, and had very similar options.

We decided on South Jersey, primarily for access into Philly, and the beaches. Plus, your dollar goes a little further for a home, though the taxes can make up the difference. We chose a little more rural area of South Jersey, East Greenwich Township, but it is only a 30 min commute to center city. 500K could get you a 4-5 bedroom (plus an office) 4500 sq ft home on half-1.0 acre of land here. Yes, the taxes are about 10-12K a year on that home, but in many areas, such a property would be 800K+. And to top it off, schools are top notch. I couldn't imagine anything better, personally. I've been pretty specific here, but I can be more specific if you care to PM.

Good luck!!!
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:37 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
130 posts, read 618,303 times
Reputation: 51
Thanks Moneyguy for adding your thoughts too. We're currently in NOVA too (Woodbridge) and are eager to get away from all the cookie cutter developments and strip mall shopping. Any other towns (with a walkable downtown) we should consider (NJ or PA) that weren't mentioned above? While we were hoping for a short commute, Dh currently has an hour commute minimum each way, so anything better than that will be an improvement.
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Old 04-13-2007, 09:06 PM
 
12,767 posts, read 28,906,844 times
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Interesting topics. We actually lived in rainrocks "sleeper" town for 6 years. I was sad to leave, but more for the people then the area. In the two years before we left, we saw 10 acre parcels of farmland and woods clearcut over and over again for mcMansions on 1/2 acre lots and it didn't stop after we left. Schools ARE good. Shopping is great but if you don't want cookie cutter developments then you might want some of the older towns that rainrock mentioned.

The sprawl that is eating South Jersey (my folks live down that a way) is going at a bit slower pace then the one in PA. I like Media and West Chester for walkable kinda quirky towns on the PA side. Media has Trader Joe's and West Chester has a college - adds the opportunity for entertainment and education. I think West Chester schools are better too if that's a concern.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Boston Metrowest (via the Philly area)
4,745 posts, read 7,845,060 times
Reputation: 4700
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessnboys View Post
Thanks Moneyguy for adding your thoughts too. We're currently in NOVA too (Woodbridge) and are eager to get away from all the cookie cutter developments and strip mall shopping. Any other towns (with a walkable downtown) we should consider (NJ or PA) that weren't mentioned above? While we were hoping for a short commute, Dh currently has an hour commute minimum each way, so anything better than that will be an improvement.

I don't mean to discourage you, because you can certainly find what you looking for in some of the places mentioned before, but a lot of the Philly area is becoming the same way -- a continuous stream of strip malls and McMansions. However, you will find a lot of older, close-in suburbs with much more walkable downtowns. These are areas that have hundreds of years of history, so they have much more character than any tract housing ever will. Another point that should alleviate your commuting concerns is that traffic around Philly is really not as bad as the DC area. I've been in DC for about 8 months now attending college, and I'm just starting to get used to the traffic here. Of course, you'll find plenty of congestion during the morning and evening rush hours, but you wouldn't spend hours on end driving just 20 miles, like you could here on the Beltway. My advice is to go and look for yourself and get a feel for the different towns. Good luck in your search!
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:55 PM
 
Location: New Holland, PA (20 minutes from lancaster)
71 posts, read 330,168 times
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i don't know if anyone mentioned Norristown, it has great schools. the only problem is that Norristown doesn't have much of a downtown, but that doesn't mean there aren't towns near or a mile away that don't have a downtown or great shopping. many new townhouses are located and are still being built in Norristown. the drive shouldn't be too long if your used to a 1 hour drive. hope i helped.
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Old 04-14-2007, 01:44 PM
 
12,767 posts, read 28,906,844 times
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phillyphan, Perhaps it's a matter of what one considers good but I would not say that Norristown has "great schools". Better then some in Philadelphia but if you check them out on www.schoolmatters.com, you'll see that the district is performing below the avg. for the state and did not make the NCLB goal of having adequate yearly progress. http://www.schoolmatters.com/app/loc...id=-1/site=pes

I have nothing against Norristown, in fact, we lived in nearby Jeffersonville when our daughter was born, but I wouldn't want someone to seriously investigate it thinking it's schools were good.
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Boston Metrowest (via the Philly area)
4,745 posts, read 7,845,060 times
Reputation: 4700
I'm going to have to agree with toobusytoday. Norristown does not have the same issues as Philadelphia does with public education, but there are certainly plenty of better school districts in the area. Norristown also has some notable crime/drug issues, so it really isn't the optimal place to raise a family.
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