Philadelphia suburbs?
September 30, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Where in the Philadelphia suburbs should I live for two months?

So, here we go again, new temporary job posting, and I'm counting on mefites out there familiar with the Philly area to help me out. I'm going to be working two days a week at or very near Bryn Mawn College, and two days a week in Harrisburg, PA. Extra time working will probably be spent in as yet unknown parts of the Philadelphia suburbs. So I need to find housing, where is the coolest/best place to live for someone like me? Here's the consideration:

Employer's budget is not set in stone, but probably maxes out around $1500. I will have a car. I like to bike and to walk, access to parks is nice. I am not scared of any but the very worst neighborhoods. I am cool with an apartment, or a small house if they are available for cheap. I would like an area that would help me avoid heavy traffic on the commute to Harrisburg (which will occur near the evening rush hour). Access to trains would be a great bonus, but not necessary.

What neighborhoods should I look at? I've only been to Philadelphia once in my life and have no experience with the suburbs there, so I really have no idea.

Also, of course, any general advice for someone new to the area would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by bluejayk to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You know that Harrisburg is nowhere near to Bryn Mawr, yes? Like two hours away?

You'll probably find that anything closer to Philly than Haverford on the Red Line can be pretty cheap (i.e., Ardmore inwards). Also, if you live further out than City Line Avenue, I don't think you have to pay Philly taxes (not tax advice, IANYL, consult an accountant and/or tax advisor, etc.). I'd look on CL. You're probably going to be limited by the short lease, particularly as there are a lot of colleges (e.g., St. Joes, or maybe Nova) that may have students also looking for cheap off-campus housing around the same time you would be moving in.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:43 PM on September 30, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, I know Harrisburg is halfway across the state, but it's only two days a week so I'll have to just deal with it.

I'm definitely looking on CL, I have a sublet wanted ad, forgot to mention. Just not sure what neighborhoods I should be looking at since I don't know the area at all. Thanks.
posted by bluejayk at 2:50 PM on September 30, 2009

Best answer: Ardmore would be pretty livable, I think. It's not really tony Main Line living, but they have some nice enough stuff--Suburban Square Mall for shopping (I think it has a grocery store), and you can find pretty much everything you need on Lancaster Ave. (Rte. 30) on the way to Bryn Mawr. Haverford College is a good place to run / walk / bike. Fairmount Park is not far (but you would need to drive). Honestly, I think there are a lot of livable options, none terribly expensive. None of the little towns out that way are unsafe (City Line Avenue and inwards is sketchy, though).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2009

If you're in Ardmore, there's an Amtrak that stops there on the way to Harrisburg.
posted by dmd at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2009

Best answer: Most of the Philly suburbs is bike trail friendly - through parks (Fairmount Park and Valley Forge) as well as many others.

You'll probably be taking the PA turnpike to Harrisburg, so I first thought of Plymouth Meeting. Nice burb: Plymouth Meeting Mall (LOTS of shopping nearby too), good neighborhoods, rent in your range for apts, only no direct train access, probably a 10 minute ride to a train station though, which would be in.....

Conshohocken. It's next door to Plymouth Meeting, but more urban. Good if you like the bar scenes. Some neighborhoods are iffy, but overall, not too bad.

There's too many others to mention, but those are the first two that come to mind.

Stay Away From: King of Prussia. A commuter's nightmare. Between several major roads meeting there and the mall, I'd steer clear.

If you have some luck on CL and have questions about a specific area, feel free to memail me and I'll help as much as I can.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:28 PM on September 30, 2009

AFAIK all the suburbs except for inner Norristown are safe.

Driving to and from the turnpike during rush hour could be a pain unless you live near an exit.

The older grid-layout neighborhoods are much more walkable than the newer culdesac neighborhoods and maybe slightly hipper.
posted by malp at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2009

You could even live in downtown Philly and take the train to both Bryn Mawr and Harrisburg.
posted by pantsonfire at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2009

I'd go with Conshy, especially if you're driving to Harrisburg, it will put you right on 76 and also close to Bryn Mawr.
posted by The Straightener at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2009

Best answer: N-thing Ardmore: nice park within walking/cycling distance (Haverford College grounds are open to the public and have pleasant rambling trails). Relatively cheap, safe neighborhoods. Haverford is also a possibility. Anywhere north or south on the Main Line will probably be out of your price range. Ardmore has easy access to the I-476, which will make your route to Harrisburg easier.
posted by Susurration at 7:08 PM on September 30, 2009

Best answer: You've already lived in Fairfax, so it's not like the Philadelphia suburbs are going to freak you out with traffic. That said, I second avoiding the King of Prussia area--including Phoenixville. The 422 and 202 corridors are a mess during rush hour traffic. And 76, around the Conshohocken/Gulph Mills exit can still be very congested. Ditto 476 South (the Blue Route).

If it were me, I would be inclined to live between the two places, like Malvern and Frazer, and take the PA Turnpike to Harrisburg, then take the R5 to Bryn Mawr (about a 25-minute train ride). Your Harrisburg commute will be a reverse commute (most traffic heading east into Philadelphia), so I don't think the traffic will be quite as significant. Malvern and Bryn Mawr are regional rail hubs, so they will give you the most flexibility with train times.

I live in the Bryn Mawr area (as a guide, my rent is very comfortably inside your employer's budget, but it's for about 700 sq. ft.) and grew up in the far western suburbs (Downingtown/Coatesville) so I'm familiar with most of the towns in between. You're welcome to MeMail me.
posted by gladly at 8:52 AM on October 1, 2009

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