Places to live near Newark, DE
June 21, 2010 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving soon to the Newark, DE region for a job, and I would like to know about the best places to live in the area. I don't know anything about the region; I don't even know if Newark itself is a fun place to live (is it?). I currently live in Boston and would prefer a semi-urban environment to an urban one. I'm willing to commute a bit if necessary; for example, one idea is to live closer to Philly, but if I did that, would traffic be bad? I would be going the opposite direction of most commuters, I think.
posted by Frobenius Twist to Society & Culture (18 answers total)
 
Gah! Of course, I noticed a typo immediately. I meant to say, ". . . would prefer a semi-urban environment to a rural one."
posted by Frobenius Twist at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2010


I moved to Newark about 3 years ago (welcome!), and I'm happy to answer whatever questions you might have about moving to the area. Newark has a small-town feel that isn't too bad, but it's not overly exciting, either. Wilmington has failed to impress me, and traffic between here and Philly is hit-or-miss. I don't think that it would be an awful commute.

Have you been here yet for a visit? I would recommend renting for a little while before deciding where you want to live. I'm assuming your job is here at UD; if so, there are houses you can rent from the university with a lease you can break if you buy a house. The houses aren't anything spectacular, but it's not a bad deal.

Feel free to let me know what more specific questions you might have, and again- welcome.
posted by JMOZ at 11:51 AM on June 21, 2010


If you prefer semi-urban, I'd recommend living in Wilmington. Especially the Trolley Square area, which is pretty fun. Depending on where your job is located, the commute could be pretty bad though.

As far as Newark itself goes, basically only the town and its main drag (Main Street) have that kind of feel. The University of Delaware is highly integrated into the town, and when school is in session, it's a happening place. The rest of the area is suburban or rural, and requires at least a 10 minute drive to really go anywhere. I live in the Pike Creek area, which is ~5 miles north of Newark proper. It's ok, but definitely doesn't have the urban/town feel.

Where will your job be? I can tell you more about traffic in that area if you'd like. Feel free to message me too.
posted by phrygius at 11:55 AM on June 21, 2010


Newark is a pretty long commute from Philadelphia (about an hour, one way). You might look into the R2 line to take some of the stress out of commuting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2010


The I-95/476 interchange is a mess during rush hour regardless of what direction you're going.

Wilmington is tiny and boring but parts of it are cute and it would split the difference and make Philly more accessible.
posted by The Straightener at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2010


I grew up in Cecil County, which is the portion of Maryland that Newark is closest to. It's certainly NOT happening, and the best that could be said for it is that it's roughly in the middle of Philly and Baltimore.

There are a lot of military bases in NJ that are being relocated to Aberdeen, so there are a lot of houses going into the area. I think rent is a little high, but the cost of living isn't too bad. Some areas are very rural, and the most developed it gets are a few chain stores in strip malls.

My experience with I-95 in Delaware is that it's a crap shoot, and when it's bad it's really bad. I certainly wouldn't want to make the Philly to DE commute on a daily basis.
posted by codacorolla at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2010


My experience with I-95 in Delaware is that it's a crap shoot, and when it's bad it's really bad. I certainly wouldn't want to make the Philly to DE commute on a daily basis.

Agreed. I don't commute locally near there, but whenever I drive through it, that section of road always seems like a bottleneck, even when traffic is flowing freely.
posted by schmod at 12:30 PM on June 21, 2010


The R2 only runs to Newark at rush hour, IIRC. And it's a pretty long ride from Philly, because the R2 is one of those lines that stops in Every Damn Little Town.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:11 PM on June 21, 2010


I lived in Newark on and off for ten years. I haven't lived there since 2000, so a lot may have changed since I was around (I have driven the Wilmington to Newark I-95 corridor recently, however), but I thought it was an okay place to live.

Newark is not urban at all. It's a college town/small town. That said, I enjoyed living around the West Main and South Chapel St. area, which has a small town residential feel, is very walkable with sidewalks, is not too overrun with students (or wasn't ten years ago), and is walking distance from shops, bars, and a strip mall with a grocery store (and UD if that is where your job is).

Wilmington probably meets your definition of semi-urban, and depending on where your job is located and your tolerance for commuting, might be the place for you. I second the Trolley Square recommendation. But be warned that Wilmington is really, really boring (I mean, really boring) and the commute from Wilmington to Newark can still be a pain in the ass because you'll hit that bottleneck schmod is talking about.

Just make sure you check a map (or better, check out the actual location) before you settle on a place. There are lots of areas of Newark, Wilmington, and the towns in between that are nothing but sidewalk-free sprawl filled with cookie-cutter housing where you'll have to drive if you want to leave your house for any reason - I mean, everything from getting something to eat to having a beer to buying milk. Also, if you want any info on a specific location, don't hesitate to me-mail me.
posted by jennyb at 1:18 PM on June 21, 2010


I live in Wilmington and if I had a job in Newark I would probably live in Newark. As others said parts of Wilmington are nice (Trolley Square area) but it is pretty boring.

There are back roads to get from Wilmington to Newark, but the traffic is still pretty bad. None of my coworkers who commute from Newark to north Wilmington actually take I-95.

The other drawback to the train from Philly, besides not running that often and being slow, is that the Newark train station might not be near your job and then you would have to take a bus. And the bus service in Delaware is terrible.

So I would second renting something in Newark to see how you like it. If you find it too boring you could move to Philly.

I would not drive from Philly to Newark or vice versa everyday but people do it.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:51 PM on June 21, 2010


The R2 only runs to Newark at rush hour, IIRC. And it's a pretty long ride from Philly, because the R2 is one of those lines that stops in Every Damn Little Town.

Another problem is that even living in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, the towns along the R2 are mostly grubby, nondescript neighborhoods, ranging from strip-malls and fast-food suburban towns, to locales situated within arms-reach of I-95, refineries, incinerators, prisons and casinos — and all the noise, crime and pollution that goes with it, with none of the benefits of living somewhere fun. So I'd only suggest the train, if the asker is living in Philly and looking for an alternative to driving a couple hours a day to and from work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2010


I have very little experience with Delaware, and even less with Newark in specific. But I do know this: eat at La Tolteca as often as possible. I have spent 10 years combing the east coast for good Mexican food, and I have found none better.
posted by willpie at 4:38 PM on June 21, 2010


grubby, nondescript neighborhoods, ranging from strip-malls and fast-food suburban towns, to locales situated within arms-reach of I-95, refineries, incinerators, prisons and casinos

Hey, that's my hometown! But it's true. For semi-urban near Newark your choices are probably Newark or Wilmington. Most of northern Delaware is one big suburb. You could live in Maryland near Elkton but it's pretty much the same. A bit more rural I guess. Or you could live in NJ and drive over the bridge, but I don't know much about NJ.

Or you could live somewhere in the Philly suburbs in Delaware or Chester County PA like Media or Swarthmore or Chadds Ford but that's that annoying drive down I95 again.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:01 PM on June 21, 2010


As an aside, when you get here, perhaps we ought to have a Delaware meetup?
posted by JMOZ at 6:15 PM on June 21, 2010


Thanks to everyone for great answers! Indeed, I'll be working at the University of Delaware. By "semi-urban" I mean somewhere that would be walkable, without much driving required; I have a car, but I'd prefer not to use it frequently. (My position at the university is temporary -- 2 years at most -- so I probably will pick one place and stay there). From what people are saying, though, it sounds like there isn't really much that fits that description. I've spent a lot of time in small college towns, and although it isn't my favorite place to be, it's better than Olive Gardens and Starbucks all over, so perhaps Newark is my best bet.

I'm willing to relax the "semi-urban" aspect if need be; what I absolutely want to avoid, if possible, is the strip-mall suburban type of area. Do people live closer to Baltimore and commute in?

And sure, I'm up for a Delaware meetup!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 9:20 PM on June 21, 2010


Most stuff approaching Baltimore on the 95 corridor isn't very walkable, and is very strip-mall suburban.
posted by codacorolla at 11:42 AM on June 22, 2010


From your last description, I think you're looking at either the "cooler" (a very relative term) parts of Wilmington (Trolley Square) or downtown Newark. Again, if it's a 2 year gig, you might contact the Rental Housing people and consider renting a house from the University. I know it's open to new faculty and also -- and this isn't apparently well-publicized -- postdocs on a space-permitting basis. The houses are all within walking distance of the university and downtown Newark.
posted by JMOZ at 12:31 PM on June 22, 2010


I just came back to see if there was any more info, and Frobenius, given your recent post, you definitely need to live in Newark. It's the best bet for walkable (more walkable than Wilmington, even, which should tell you something about Wilmington). For the ten years off and on that I lived there, I only owned a car for two. Sometimes that was a pain in the ass, granted, but I managed it by choosing residences that were walking distance from where I wanted to be.
posted by jennyb at 2:59 PM on June 22, 2010


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