Where should I move to in the Philadelphia/South New Jersey area?
May 18, 2009 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Where should I move to in the Philadelphia/South NJ/Moorestown area based on these requirements? I have read other questions and still need help.

I would like to move to some area in the Philadelphia/Moorestown/South New Jersey region. I have a few requirements:

1) Easy, relatively short commute by car or public transit, to Moorestown, NJ (specifically 111 West 2nd Street)
2) Has coffee shops/froo froo bakeries with job opportunities in at least in the $8-$10/hour range
3) Cheap--ideally could get a room or something somewhere for $600/month or less.

I'm moving up specifically to lift at the gym located at 111 West 2nd Street in Moorestown, so it is vitally important that it be easy to get to there regularly.

I have a pretty high tolerance for sketch. I'm OK with roommates. I have a car, but prefer not to use it. It would be great to somehow live in Philly itself since I think the city would be a better social atmosphere than the suburbs (I'm single and in my mid-twenties), but I'm also not going to have a lot of money to spend on tolls so if that means living in NJ so be it.

If there are job opportunities that pay at least $8-$10/hour outside coffee shops and all that, that's great too, those just happen to be where my job background is centered.

I don't know the area at all, so I'm flying blind here. Any help is welcome.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Well, Google Transit indicates that there's an NJTransit bus (the 407) that will take you pretty much straight there from Philly, as a half-hour trip. Especially if you have a sketch tolerance, South or West Philly should do fine for sub-$600 rents. I know little about the state of Philly's bookstore/coffee shop job market; I know a few folks who used to work in it, but that was before the current downturn.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:34 AM on May 18, 2009

Collingswood should have rooms/apartments in your price range, and there are plenty of froo froo bakeries and shops there and in neighboring Haddonfield. Both have nice walkable downtown areas lined with cafes and boutique stores (Haddon Ave in Collingswood and Kings Highway in Haddonfield). Housing prices are going to be higher in Haddonfield and Cherry Hill (probably out of your price range), but you could do very well for housing in other neighboring towns like Merchantville and Pennsauken. I don't have any personal experience with NJ Transit buses, everyone I know here drives.

For dirt cheap housing, you can always go into Camden, but even with a high tolerance for sketch I don't actually recommend that. No really, don't live in Camden.

Philadelphia has a city income tax, btw.

I live in this area, so feel free to MeMail me.
posted by ellenaim at 8:15 AM on May 18, 2009

Tomorrowful, the NJT 407 and 413 no longer cross the Delaware.
posted by tigrrrlily at 8:31 AM on May 18, 2009

You don't need to be somewhere sketchy, I pay $600 a month in a totally not sketchy part of Germantown, though that's kind of on the opposite side of the city from where you want to be. Since Moorestown is across the river from Northeast Philly you might want to consider Fishtown and Port Richmond, which would put you geographically closer to the gym. However, you could totally find a share in South Philly for $600 a month, and your density of froo froo joints would be much higher down there. Having a car in Philly if you need to access points outside the city is pretty crucial, especially since it sounds like you spend a lot of time at the gym. You can swing it on pubtrans, but honestly, driving will make your life a lot easier if you're crossing the bridge. Add the cost of tolls to your general cost of living figure, though.
posted by The Straightener at 9:43 AM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: I'll second Collingswood. It's quaint and is still affordable. I lived there for 2 1/2 years before moving into center city a year ago. I also lived in Camden, and I concur that even those of us with a high sketch tolerance can't stand it. The problem really isn't crime - its the fact that the city is completely dead. It isn't like you can just find a CVS to pick up a toothbrush. Half of things never open, and the other half shut down as night encroaches...at 2pm.

Nearby coffee shops to check out include Grooveground (gay), The Treehouse (christian-ish), and Three Bean (generic indy) - all independently owned.

But I'm afraid the idea of getting there easily and quickly via public transit is a bit of a pipe dream. There are no trains that will put you within walking distance of the mall area, and the bus route that you'd need you'd probably have to catch in Camden (backtracking via PATCO from Collingswood to the Walter Rand Transportation Center, a 10 minute ~$2 trip). That said, it's not a far drive from anything in Jersey. I am a notorious car hater, and even I had to admit that it was just not reasonable to try to get around south jersey without a car. Keeping a car in Philly seems outrageous to me. Esp. if you are trying to keep costs down.

I'd vote: Live in a town like Collingswood where the living is good and where keeping a car is cheap. And get to the gym via car. The good news about Philly is that it is only a 15 minute, $3 trip by train from Collingswood.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2009

Because of the rigorous hub-and-spoke train system in Philadelphia, nearly all train lines go through 30th station. To get from any one end of Philly to any other end of Philly generally requires changing through 2-3 buses. Because of this, you probably do not want to live in northeast, northwest, or southwest Philly. South Philly, maybe.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2009

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