Moving to Southeastern Pennsylvania
August 29, 2011 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Where to live outside Philly?

Wife and I might be moving from Illinois. Mid-twenties, no kids. I would work in Chadds Ford. Wife is a teacher and still hunting for jobs. We both have cars. There seems like so many housing options between Penn, New Jersey, and Delaware. We're planning to rent and would like rent to be less than $2000/mo. I'm comfortable with a 45 minute commute or so.

Given that we have no familiarity with the area whatsoever, and my job in Chadds Ford, where would you recommend living and why? Could we rent a Victorian? Could we rent a house on a river? Any reason to live in one particular state over another? Would you go rural or urban? How is the SEPTA 111 bus? Could we live somewhere with train access to Philly? We've got few restrictions and would love to hear from the experts! Thanks so much!
posted by gocubbies to Travel & Transportation around Pennsylvania (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the closest SEPTA lines to Chadds Ford are the R3 Elywn and the R2 Claymont (Delaware) terminus stations, and those terminals are pretty far away (cf. SEPTA). Wherever you are, you'll likely take a bus or drive.

If you prefer suburban living, for $2000/mo you could rent a quiet Victorian in Swarthmore, which is a stop along the R3 between Elwyn and downtown Philadelphia. For that money, you could very easily live in a Victorian in Ardmore, which has an R5 stop between Ardmore and downtown Philly. I would say the pace and style of life in Swarthmore and Ardmore are similar, but Swarthmore would be a bit more "stuffy" and Ardmore a bit younger.

In any case, from downtown Philadelphia you can get to 69th and from there to Chadds Ford by way of bus.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on August 29, 2011

Swarthmore's really beautiful but there's not a lot going on in town, though there are plenty of events at the college. Philly is quite accessible from there, about 20 minutes by commuter rail. Train only comes once an hour off-peak, though, and I believe it stops running fairly early at night. Media, a couple stops farther out on the same formerly-known-as-R3 train line, is a larger town and seems quite nice, at least to this former college student who'd go there for a taste of city life (sushi! Trader Joe's! bookstore!).

If you would consider living in Philadelphia proper, though it may be too far away, I'd recommend West Philadelphia which is full of Victorians and coffee shops and greenery. My boyfriend (we are both in our mid-twenties as well) lives there and I've spent a lot of time in the neighborhood. There is what I would call a hippie/hipster vibe in the more gentrified areas south of 49th Street, and I don't know if that's what you want, but I really like it. It's also within easy distance of the R3 (stop at 49th Street) and 69th Street station. I'm pretty sure you could pay less than $2000/month for a nice place.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:39 PM on August 29, 2011

Chadds Ford has a river/creek, the Brandywine. I know nothing about renting out there, but I think the area around Chadds Ford is beautiful.

Media may not be too bad a drive (not sure what it's like at rush hour, normally is close), is a cute small town and has both a trolley and a train that go into Philadelphia. It also has plenty of Victorians.

West Chester is larger than Media but is otherwise similar. It has a bus that goes to 69th street, like Media's trolley, though personally I think the trolley is a nicer ride.
posted by sepviva at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2011

While NJ is a great state, not sure why you'd want to live in Southern Jersey and work in Chadd's Ford -- perhaps someone could correct me....but I think the commute across to there is pretty bad unless you're working weird hours. Plenty of nice places in suburban/semi-urban Philadelphia that would be better for you.
posted by skepticallypleased at 7:14 PM on August 29, 2011

Chadds Ford is a very car-oriented place. I'd honestly recommend looking within 15 miles of where you're going to be working for a place to live. It's a nice area, and though the immediate area is pricier, looking in nearby towns would give you some less expensive options while still being close.

I know you say you're okay with a commute, but just to give an idea of what it would be like if you live in the city proper: I live in West Philly (really the closest part of Philly to Chadds Ford). I go to school in West Chester (relatively close to Chadds Ford). Driving to school would cost about $40 a week, and be a 45 minute to hour and a half commute. During rush hour (when you'd be driving), it would be on the hour and a half plus side. I am taking public transportation, which is $25 for a weekly pass. I take 2 busses and the El to get to school. From leaving my house to arriving on campus, it's between 1 and a half and 2 hours.

I'd definitely stay in Pennsylvania. That's really a nice area with good schools, so if your wife can find a position, it'll be easier on her. My cousin student-taught in the Philadelphia school district and it changed her mind about teaching as a career. I think I'd go with somewhere around Media. It's convenient to both Chadds Ford and the city, it's a nice area, and there is access to public transportation as well.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:17 PM on August 29, 2011

Off the top of my head, West Chester, Media, maybe Kennett Square. Charming older towns, beautiful area. Trains and trolleys are far preferable to buses for commuting.
posted by desuetude at 11:10 PM on August 29, 2011

Personally, I would be most concerned about living near a Wegmans because they are essentially the best grocery store ever.

Also, if you live up near Audobon, you can go to Zwahlen's on a regular basis. They make some of the best ice cream (actually, it's technically frozen custard) I have ever had (and I've certainly eaten more than my fair share of ice creams!) The fact that they have a flavor of the day just makes it that much better...
posted by StarmanDXE at 12:01 PM on August 30, 2011

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