Moving to Philadelphia area--off topic help please

swarminaApril 10, 2008

I am in the process of moving with my family to the Philadelphia area. We have been in Asheville, NC for several years and I am very sad to leave. My husband was in the military until we got to Asheville and I hoped our moving days were over! He now will be working at CHOP in a job he adores, so that should make me happy, but my heart is still so sad. Can you please give me some pros and cons to living there, any suggestions, and also ideas of towns that have good schools for my middle school and pre-K daughters? I obviously love to garden and am hoping that will help me connect, but am worried about what I foresee as more severe weather/conditions and probably high price for any appreciable space. We have been looking up there a few weeks ago and found a few houses we liked -- Jenkintown is the one we liked the best and the public school seems very nice and interesting (why the heck are private schools so crazy priced?), also Rydal, Berwyn, Bala Cynwyd were a few others. Can anyone help me out with any info? A nice walkable downtown would be great... Safe. Friendly. Am I looking for Oz??? Thanks for any help!

Best, Sheila

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Hi Sheila!
Welcome to Pennsylvania!
I hope you will research and ask a realtor about Bucks County.
The I-95 runs through gorgeous parts of Bucks county that you will definately be happy with.(Main highway to take to CHOP)
Our schools are excellent(like private schools in the south)and we are the northern suburbs of Philly, where almost everyone loves to garden, outdoor events and it is very family oriented.
Your hubby will have to take the I-95 to work, and our weather in the winter isn't great, but it's really not that bad. Must be global warming I guess.(LOL)
I went to Cheltenham High School, which I think Jenkintown people go.
Personally, I like Bucks County better.
I think it's prettier. Newer homes, (although we do have many historical areas, I live in one now)more shopping,and we are friendlier.
Now I am going to have people from Montgomery county say that they are friendly also, but I think you should at least look at a few homes in Bucks before you make your decision.
A few places to check out are Doylestown, New Hope, Churchville,and a realtor will also have suggestions for you.
The public school systems in Bucks and Montgomery counties are like private schools to people in the southern US.
We pay very high real estate taxes here per year, I'm sure you noticed that since you have been looking.
Our schools are excellent.
I went to both private school and public schools in PA, if you don't move into the city of Philadelphia, you will be impressed with the suburban school systems.
In any case, welcome.
You won't miss North Carolina that much once you are settled in.
Home is your family and I am sure you will make plenty of friends.
Good Luck to you!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:19AM
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I second the Bucks COunty suggestion. Along with the towns mentioned, consider Yardley, Langhorne, Newtown, Richboro, Solebury, Jamison, etc. All are lovely and have excellent schools.

Keep us posted on where you are headed!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:13PM
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I agree with Caliloo------Lots of great little towns with good school


    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:43PM
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Lots of people who work in Philadelphia live in South Jersey. We live in Wenonah, an area of nice homes, decent size lots, great school system and close to everything. About a 30 minute drive to CHOP. Best of luck with your move.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 12:57AM
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You will love it here.

Many people who work at or near Penn live in Lower Merion. Bala Cynwyd is one town there. Narberth is an adorable town with a cute "Main Street" and you can walk to the train. Take the R5 to 30th St and then the R-something to within a couple blocks of CHOP, or get on LUCY, small bus that runs from the station all through the Penn area. Narberth is a very friendly community. Lower Merion schools are among the top in the state, and nationally.

Another nice thing about LM is that if you drive, you never have to get on a highway. Just cross City Line Avenue and pick up Chestnut (or maybe take Haverford or Lancaster)and follow it into University City.

Berwyn is very nice but pretty much farther out so your husband would have a long commute.

If you can get a copy of today's (4/13) Inquirer, there is a comprehensive review of all the schools in the greater Philadelphia area.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 3:32PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

We lived in Berwyn when my DH was going to Drexel. The commute never bothered him because he always took the train. We were an easy walk from the station, and the grocery store, and the hardware store, and the library, and the cheesesteak place.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 2:58PM
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What about up towards the Perkasie/Sellersville area? A longer commute but I am told that the school district is phenomenal. If you get a map of the local transit system, SEPTA, check out the R5 Doylestown line. Each stop is listed and what town they are in (or at least they used to list them). Lots of little towns with great school districts.

If you want something closer, Jenkintown or Abington is a real good area as well.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:14PM
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gerania(zone 7 NJ)
    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 11:43AM
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I work at one of the several hospitals that are a few blocks from CHOP, but this summer I am moving to Upstate SC, about an hour from Asheville. Depending on your husband's schedule and possible need to get to the hospital quickly, you have many options as to where to live. All of the suggestions, so far are good, and all have advantages and disadvantages. I95 is a good road, except when it backs up, and the trains are reliable, except when they aren't! I live in the western suburbs (Chester County) and ride the R5 train into the city. It takes about an hour each way, more if you drive during rush hour. It can also take an hour to commute from Northeast Philly! A surprising number of people who work in University City come in from the western suburbs, and I have met quite a few people on the train who work in the nearby hospitals. How far you are willing to travel and how much time you are willing to spend commuting is a very personal matter that should not be taking lightly. South Jersey is a quick commute, except on Friday evenings from about May to October!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 10:03PM
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I live in Langhorne Bucks County. The SEPTA R3 regional rail line (see stops in Yardley and Langhorne, and goes through the city to stop one block away from CHOP. It is a very efficient and environmentally friendly way to commute.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 1:26PM
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"South Jersey is a quick commute, except on Friday evenings from about May to October!" I second that but I love living in So Jersey. Although my property tax is up the roof but I guess it balance off with the great schools we have. I work in Philly and do not mind my commute.

Anyway, welcome to PA.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 12:37PM
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demeron(Zone 6)

Bala Cynwyd and Narberth will have good public schools. Narberth in particular is gorgeous, walkable, charming, awesome people, but $$$. I find gardening in PA very satisfying, so don't worry about that. Plymouth Meeting also has good schools and not too far out. To me south Jersey has traffic problems, auto insurance is high, but not to knock it as I have not lived there-- DH worked in Cherry Hill for a few years. Good luck, I do hope you like it!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 6:24PM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

The good news is that you are buying a house at a time when there are good real estate deals to be had. The other good news is that gardening is easy out here. (Digging a hole for a tree is like a hot knife through butter, in my neighborhood.) With global warming, our climate is down right temperate. And this area is rich in history. The bad news is that traffic is terrible. If your husband commutes by auto he will be frustrated by the fact that his commute will be slow, congested, and expensive (gas and parking are a ridiculous expense). No matter where you buy, you will want to live very close (within 5 miles) of a train station. New Jersey is very suburban (which is to say it looks like anywhere USA, and it does not feel like home to a Southerner), and taxes are quite high. Montgomery County also has high taxes. (I live there, nonetheless.) You might want to take a look at Elkins Park, Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, and that area of Philadelphia. (My husband is a Southern boy, and he really likes these areas.) The houses are large, old, and lovely (if you are living in one of the oldest settlements in the country, you might as well enjoy one of its perks). Be warned, however, garages are a rarity in this part of the country. And neighborhoods can get dodgy, in Philadelphia, fairly quickly. Also living in an old house means a lot of maintainance. (In four years we've replaced windows, a water heater, installed central air, and revamped our kitchen. This summer, we are putting up a new fence.) And the bigger the house, the more it will cost to heat in the winter. (A friend lives in a 7,000 sq ft stone Victorian and pays $1000 a month to heat his house in the winter.) The yards are often large. The soil is rich and gardens easily. There are nice private schools nearby. Neighborhoods in Philadelphia can get dodgy quick. But if you find yourself looking at a stone or brick single family house (or a large twin) with a large yard, you can rest assured the neighborhood is a good one. (Don't buy an old frame house.)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Lots of gardening traditions. When you get settled, join a garden club and The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society. Take in the Philadelphia Flower Show next March.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 6:15AM
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You will really love it in time this area and state steals your heart! Philly is a bit warmer than say the northern part of the state so it is not too too cold but it can get there. but don't be sad philadelphians love where we live because it is an amazing place to be. Especially where you are looking for one we are riddled with american history it is every where you look! I live in Montgomery county Collegeville area it is a philly suburb which is what I think you want. School district is Perkiomen Valley there is the elementary, middle and high school all very close to one another and the surrounding schools to this one are also good. This area is pretty, it is not as wooded as say bucks or berks county but you really are in the middle of everything. Close to philly and king of prussia but also has its own attraction and shopping.
Check it out

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 4:24PM
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Berywn has a really good school district I think. Also have you considered Delaware county? I want to move there that's why I asked.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 6:41PM
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I live in Berwyn and have a son in the high school here, and also substitute teach in a neighboring district. The schools here are very good and I would be happy to answer any questions.

I moved here from NYC and love the emphasis on gardening in the area.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 7:18AM
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Delaware County has a train that goes direct to near HUP/CHOP (the R5).
There are areas with good schools, and you should definitely check it out.
Media/Swarthmore is the area I know, though I do not live there, it is very appealing.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Sorry, but the R5 does not go directly to CHOP or HUP. It goes to 30th ST Station where you can transfer to the R1 or the R3.

However, the R3 (Media / Elwyn)goes through the lower part of Del County and stops at University City. Yes, Swarthmore is lovely.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 1:58PM
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What do you mean by neighborhoods in Philadelphia can get dodgy fairly quickly? You mentioned that twice in the same posting. While certain parts of the city can be a little questionable, there are many neighborhoods which are tight-nit and rich in a ton of tradition! I think saying a neighborhood can get dodgy fairly quickly can be said for any neighborhood or town in ANY part of the area, even the entire United States! If you read the loacl papers, it is not just Philly with all the crime, there are plenty of Philly-suburban areas with their fair share of problems, if not worse problems than Philadelphia. The burbs have their problems too! They are not immune!

Just my $0.02.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 1:57PM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

You are correct, neighborhoods in Philadelphia are most often kept with pride and remain extremely stable over a period of years. My post was unclear. I meant that an extremely stable (read well kept, and inhabited by actual homeowers) neighborhood can be bordered by a less than stable (read not so well kept, and often inhabited by renters) neighborhood and that transition can occur in a matter of city blocks. I was sharing with an outsider to look to the margins of their neighborhood, and not to be suprised or overly concerned about dodgy borders. I should have added that in areas where there is a renewed interest (read renters are replaced by new home owners, often young families with resources), those dodgy borders tend to clean up, very nicely.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Moved to Media. Getting settled in, yes, dedtired, thanks! The gardening is very similar to Asheville in many ways. The humidity is much more annoying. : / Loving making my mark on our 3/4 acres. :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 2:16AM
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Media is lovely. Be sure to visit Tyler Arboretum and the Swarthmore College campus. Yes, humidity can be a killer at times. Just be glad you did not move to Washington DC area.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Loved the old discussion here. My son and his family are in Oreland and my DIL is a discharge coordinator at the hospital in Abington. Now I miss them and want to go visit!

This post was edited by sushipup on Sun, Mar 23, 14 at 19:29

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:21AM
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Swarmina, or anyone near the far eastern part of Pa. What was your ultimate low temp this past, YES THIS PAST!!!!!!! Winter? Just so happy it IS PAST. Still cold here but winter is gone and soon it will be warmish, then warm. I am in western Pa where the winter was brutal, perhaps not as bad as the mountain regions, but brutal also.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:03AM
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