Looking for a walkable Philadelphia suburb with ... (details inside)
March 22, 2014 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Will be moving to Philadelphia metro soon for a new job. Looking for a place to live. Currently live in the NYC boroughs. Have a difficult list of must haves.

The only Philly suburb I've ever been to is Doylestown. Liked the walkability, SEPTA station, and good schools. Didn't like the cost of real estate and the really like train ride into Center City.

Can anyone recommend a Philly suburb that has:
(a) A "less than 45 minute" SEPTA (or Amtrak) ride into Center City.
(b) Good schools
(c) A walkable "downtown" area, especially if it's near the train.

It would also help if it DIDN'T have:
(x) extremely high real estate prices
(y) a very strong political slant (in either direction)
(z) high crime
posted by NYC-BB to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: "long train ride", not "like train ride".

posted by NYC-BB at 5:24 PM on March 22, 2014

Try Ardmore....seems to fit these criteria.
posted by foodybat at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2014

posted by rinosaur at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

You tagged the question PA, but consider New Jersey! Collingswood, Haddon Township and Haddon Heights are along the PATCO line into Philadelphia and it's a 16-18 minute ride. I can see the Philadelphia skyline from my apartment window.

Each have little downtowns (Collingswood has its own station a block from the PATCO line, Haddon Heights and Haddon Township would use the Westmont stop) and the real estate is managable, for NJ. Don't look at Haddonfield - it's super expensive.
posted by kimberussell at 6:26 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Ardmore. Maybe Media or Morton?
posted by mlle valentine at 6:32 PM on March 22, 2014

If you would consider Philly proper, you could also check out West Philly in the Penn Alexander catchment area, not sure if that would be too expensive.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:38 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing Ardmore.
posted by danceswithlight at 6:41 PM on March 22, 2014

My sister lives in Swathmore. It is one of the most awesome suburbs I have ever been in. Fits all these criteria.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:17 PM on March 22, 2014

Suburbs on the main line.western suburbs: ardmore, swarthmore, narbreth, etc

northern suburbs: abington, jenkintown

If you are interested in residential areas within the city limits that are somewhat suburban-like and fit your criteria, check out Mt. Airy or Chestnut Hill
posted by bearette at 7:21 PM on March 22, 2014

but to note: Mt. Airy is a very liberal place; the others I mentioned are more neutral but probably tend towards liberal (in general, most suburbs near Phila. fitting your criteria would be more liberal in orientation, but not necessarily overwhelming so.)
posted by bearette at 7:23 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry to keep adding, but I assume you mean good public schools, in which case Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill's may not be up to your standards (but there are many good private schools in those areas).
posted by bearette at 7:29 PM on March 22, 2014

I used to live near Ardmore and it meets your criteria, depending on what your definition of "very" expensive real estate is.

The suggestions for quasi-suburban living within the city borders are also good ones, though I should note that the Penn Alexander catchment has become so filled up with middle-class parents looking to secure good schooling for their kids that enrollment is no longer first-come-first-serve but lottery-based; you are not guaranteed a spot there if you move into the catchment.

I grew up in the Cheltenham-Abington-Jenkintown block and it's also excellent and can be pretty walkable, though without any real 'downtown' to speak of, other than a strip in Jenkintown that used to be quite downtown-ish but has been declining of late.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:19 PM on March 22, 2014

I live in Ardmore; it is walkable and far more than our neighboring suburbs, but less so than a real city. Real estate varies greatly; great schools. As easy access to Center City as Septa allows.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:18 PM on March 22, 2014

I live in Ambler and its a small town but has a big grocery store,library, indie movie theater, plays and 3 bars and couple restaurants well within walking distance of my house. The train station to philly takes about 35-40min.
posted by radsqd at 10:21 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Swarthmore has high real estate prices (what residents in neighboring townships call the "Swarthmore Tax") and a definite left-wing (if Old Money) slant.

But it is associated with the Wallingford-Swarthmore school district, which has some of the best public schools in the state. The train ride is about 30 minutes out of Center City.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:36 PM on March 22, 2014

I also came in to say Media or Swathmore.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 11:37 PM on March 22, 2014

I grew up in Chestnut Hill. Do not move to Chestnut Hill, I hated it as a child and still heartily dislike most of it. Mt Airy is great and though, as bearette said, it does lean considerably liberal, it's not, like, Portland.

Seconding Collingswood -- I have friends who live there, and they love it. I've only been there once or twice but was utterly charmed. Ignore people who make 'ewww, Jersey' noises at you.

My grandmother lived very near Narberth, which appears to have stopped in 1954, but it has an *extremely* walkable-looking central shopping area.
posted by kalimac at 6:09 AM on March 23, 2014

Oh! If you feel adventurous and have time, I recommend my grandfather's method of determining where to live: Get on a train in Center City, ride for as long as you want your commute to be, get out and look around. Repeat until you find a place you like.
posted by kalimac at 6:10 AM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Consider coming to Collingswood. We have a PATCO station at one end of the highly walkable downtown. Real estate's not outrageous. Plus you seem to be Italian-American and our town's specialty is good BYOB Italian restaurants.
posted by graymouser at 6:33 AM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doylestucky is pretty damn far from Center City. Why not consider something inside the city limits? Fishtown - which used to be a nightmare - is nowadays a great place to live. The city wage tax keeps a lot of people in the suburbs, but for convenience you can't beat living in a place like that. Mayfair, Frankfurt, and Torresdale are also quite nice.
posted by three blind mice at 9:24 AM on March 23, 2014

posted by suki at 10:28 AM on March 23, 2014

Response by poster: Wow, these responses have been more helpful than I could have imagined!

Keep them coming!
posted by NYC-BB at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2014

Narberth fits all your criteria.
posted by SlepnerLaw at 11:02 PM on March 27, 2014

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