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Old 07-15-2009, 12:18 PM
 
25 posts, read 54,860 times
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Still hunting for a house, and I've seen some areas in Lansdale and Harleysville where the taxes are extremely low, but the props in Lansdale were VERY run down and probably should be worth less considering not a lot of work was being done on the surrounding properties.

I would like to live in a nice suburban area (don't mind if it's a single or twin) for under $250k, but don't want to waste a ton of cash on taxes (one reason why I refuse to look at Cheltenham, even though it's pretty much a stone's throw away from my Germantown neighborhood). Are there any places with good schools where the taxes aren't more than $400/month, or is even that too much?
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Old 07-15-2009, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Lancaster County, PA
1,740 posts, read 3,918,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AvidGamer View Post
Still hunting for a house, and I've seen some areas in Lansdale and Harleysville where the taxes are extremely low, but the props in Lansdale were VERY run down and probably should be worth less considering not a lot of work was being done on the surrounding properties.

I would like to live in a nice suburban area (don't mind if it's a single or twin) for under $250k, but don't want to waste a ton of cash on taxes (one reason why I refuse to look at Cheltenham, even though it's pretty much a stone's throw away from my Germantown neighborhood). Are there any places with good schools where the taxes aren't more than $400/month, or is even that too much?
My sister in law moved last year off Norwyck Lane in Harleysville and I thought the properties were in excellent condition. It seemed like a nice development.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Dallas TX
15,424 posts, read 22,654,272 times
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FWIW higher property taxes do not mean a better living experience, which is why we moved to PA. We paid more in taxes each month than we did for our mortgage.
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:15 AM
 
1,983 posts, read 6,843,384 times
Reputation: 411
Quote:
Originally Posted by AvidGamer View Post
Still hunting for a house, and I've seen some areas in Lansdale and Harleysville where the taxes are extremely low, but the props in Lansdale were VERY run down and probably should be worth less considering not a lot of work was being done on the surrounding properties.

I would like to live in a nice suburban area (don't mind if it's a single or twin) for under $250k, but don't want to waste a ton of cash on taxes (one reason why I refuse to look at Cheltenham, even though it's pretty much a stone's throw away from my Germantown neighborhood). Are there any places with good schools where the taxes aren't more than $400/month, or is even that too much?
Well in NJ, for example, property taxes are more directly tied to municipal services and school funding. You want good schools your taxes might be higher than another town. You want good local roads, trash picked up twice a week in the summer, etc. you get the idea. Some towns, not many, in NJ farm out their police departments to the state - state troopers actually patrol the town but is that as good as a municipal police department? Probably not even close. In those towns the taxes will be lower. So, you get what you pay for in NJ. I can't really speak about PA because taxes are low in general and there is a higher commitment from the state to fund schools. But I suspect the drivers of taxes are similar to NJ's.
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Montco PA
2,065 posts, read 4,290,092 times
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Originally Posted by MoorestownResident View Post
Well in NJ, for example, property taxes are more directly tied to municipal services and school funding. You want good schools your taxes might be higher than another town. You want good local roads, trash picked up twice a week in the summer, etc. you get the idea. Some towns, not many, in NJ farm out their police departments to the state - state troopers actually patrol the town but is that as good as a municipal police department? Probably not even close. So, you get what you pay for in NJ. If you want low taxes, school quality might be low, etc. I can't really speak about PA because taxes are low in general and there is a higher commitment from the state to fund schools.

I agree with this, but I believe in PA the state funds less (both as a % and as a $ value - correct me if I'm wrong) than NJ funds its schools.

Interestingly enough, I live in a place in PA where state police patrol. While I don't think their coverage is either good or bad (I really have no idea because it's a low-crime area), a study was done to see the costs of joining a nearby local police department and it came out that it would cost the average homeowner $500/year for police coverage.

So it really does depend. An area like Upper Merion Township (King of Prussia) has low taxes (largely due to the huge amount of commercial and office space there) and a good school system. But, the infrastrucure (i.e. the local roads) cannot handle the traffic there and many of the neighborhoods have cut-through traffic. So on one hand you have a decent quality of life (schools, plenty of shopping nearby, low taxes) but you have to deal with traffic.

IMO areas that have less of a commercial base have higher taxes. Think Delaware County for example:
Swarthmore/Media area - great schools, but no commercial tax base = very high taxes
Radnor area - great schools, decent commercial tax base = somewhat high taxes
Darby/Drexel Hill area - OK at best schools, decent commercial tax base = high taxes

Certain parts of Bucks County (Yardley) have great schools, little or no commercial base, and high taxes.

Most of Montco and even the inner half of Chester County have decent or better schools, much bigger commercial tax bases, and much lower taxes.

I think it's the combination of the tax base and the relative density of the housing. To me this is one reason why NJ has such high taxes. Many places in NJ have good commercial tax bases (shopping, office parks, etc.) but the housing is more dense (i.e. the most densely-populated state) so the big revenue from the commercial stuff is needed to put tons of kids to school. Compare that to King of Prussia PA where there's a huge commercial tax base but a residential population that is not significant for the land area...less kids in the schools...lower taxes.

Last edited by BPP1999; 07-16-2009 at 08:48 AM..
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Lancaster County, PA
1,740 posts, read 3,918,553 times
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Our property taxes just went up 4.19%. This is the same school district that is spending over $4 million dollars to renovated the high school football field. The district also just hired a new Assistant Superindent who's being paid
$104,000 a year. How this benefits the taxpayer is beyond me.

Last edited by lititzman2003; 07-16-2009 at 09:45 AM..
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:57 AM
 
1,983 posts, read 6,843,384 times
Reputation: 411
Quote:
Originally Posted by BPP1999 View Post
I agree with this, but I believe in PA the state funds less (both as a % and as a $ value - correct me if I'm wrong) than NJ funds its schools.

Interestingly enough, I live in a place in PA where state police patrol. While I don't think their coverage is either good or bad (I really have no idea because it's a low-crime area), a study was done to see the costs of joining a nearby local police department and it came out that it would cost the average homeowner $500/year for police coverage.

So it really does depend. An area like Upper Merion Township (King of Prussia) has low taxes (largely due to the huge amount of commercial and office space there) and a good school system. But, the infrastrucure (i.e. the local roads) cannot handle the traffic there and many of the neighborhoods have cut-through traffic. So on one hand you have a decent quality of life (schools, plenty of shopping nearby, low taxes) but you have to deal with traffic.

IMO areas that have less of a commercial base have higher taxes. Think Delaware County for example:
Swarthmore/Media area - great schools, but no commercial tax base = very high taxes
Radnor area - great schools, decent commercial tax base = somewhat high taxes
Darby/Drexel Hill area - OK at best schools, decent commercial tax base = high taxes

Certain parts of Bucks County (Yardley) have great schools, little or no commercial base, and high taxes.

Most of Montco and even the inner half of Chester County have decent or better schools, much bigger commercial tax bases, and much lower taxes.

I think it's the combination of the tax base and the relative density of the housing. To me this is one reason why NJ has such high taxes. Many places in NJ have good commercial tax bases (shopping, office parks, etc.) but the housing is more dense (i.e. the most densely-populated state) so the big revenue from the commercial stuff is needed to put tons of kids to school. Compare that to King of Prussia PA where there's a huge commercial tax base but a residential population that is not significant for the land area...less kids in the schools...lower taxes.
PA spends about $16B a year, NJ spends about $10B. Both are near the bottom of the nation. Statewide, there is no comparison between the quality of PA's public schools versus NJ's. The difference is a direct result of NJ's property taxes. The argument has been for PA to spend more on school funding.
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