Moving to Philadelphia
Berkeley Parents Network >
Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving >
Moving to Philadelphia
Please share any advice you might have for a family considering
a move to Philadelphia. Which areas would be convenient for
Villanova faculty? Which for a family that will have several
children in public schools? And which if one parent finds work
in downtown? Are there any that fit all three descriptions?
If you had no home equity at present, would you buy or rent
there? Is it practical to get by with one car, if both parents
hold jobs? Absolutely any inside knowledge of Philadelphia
would be appreciated.
Aside from the archived advice about Philly and surrounds, the
area that would be most convenient to Villanova is the area
right around Villanova on the Main Line. The Main Line has a
SEPTA regional rail train line that goes straight to downtown
Philadelphia. I don't know how the schools are, but considering
Villanova is next door to Bryn Mawr and Haverford, I'd guess
that there's a critical mass of faculty children for the public
schools to be really good. The Main Line also has a great yoga
studio, gymnastics classes for kids, a decent gym, etc. As
someone who misses Berkeley dearly, if I had to move to the Main
Line I would live in Ardmore (about 10 minutes from Villanova,
closer to downtown Philly). It seems to have more community with
a farmer's market and such. My husband and I get by with one car
no problem, because I take the train to work. Regarding the
buying or renting a house question, I know one Villanova faculty
member who has worked there less than 5 years and he can't
afford a house nearby. In the current national housing market, I
wouldn't buy a house in *any* urban area. You are much better
off renting and waiting for the bubble to deflate or burst. Feel
free to contact me if you want any more info, or if you are
debating the move. We did it last summer and have some serious
regrets about leaving Berkeley, but I think you have a shot at a
good quality of life near Villanova. Good luck!
Check out www.phillyblog.com and go to Philadelphia Forums. You
can read about and ask for tons of information about all areas
of Philly, schools, kids, etc. Good luck!
We're going to be moving from Montclair to Philadelphia within
the next two months or so in order to be near more job
opportunities for both my husband's and my careers. It is with
great sadness that we're leaving the bay area!!! Has anyone
lived in the Philly area before, and do you have
recommendations for areas of the city to consider that are near
parks for a baby? I have a seven-month old girl and we would
like to rent for 6 months or a year before buying a house. I
would also appreciate any info on parent or mother networks
that I can tap into, or general information on what places to
go with a baby (like Habitot, etc). I'm in a wonderful mothers
group right now that I hate to leave. Thanks for any and all
information on the area.
Hate to leave
I just moved from Berkeley to Swarthmore, a suburb 10 miles out
of Philly, for my husband's dream job. I also have a six month
old baby. Feel free to contact me when you move. Philly has some
mom's resources, but nowhere close to the amount available in
the Bay area. Living in a transitional neighborhood near
Fairmount Park will put you close to a Whole Foods (the *only*
decent grocery store in the whole area) and I know of a decent
mom's group in that area. Another alternative is to live on the
Main Line - this is where Byrn Mawr, Haverford, Villanova and a
slew of other colleges are located, so it is a little more
happening than other suburbs without being as urban as living in
Philly proper. Manayunk and Mt. Airy are funkier and more S.F.-
like, but I don't know how they are for families. You are in for
some disappointments moving here - decent affordable
restaurants, organic grocery stores, open green spaces and big
safe parks are hard to come by. But houses are cheaper, and
people are generally nice. Good luck!
Congratulations on your move to Philadelphia! I lived, taught, and directed plays in
Philadelphia for 14 years and moved to California for my PhD -- and, can you
believe it, I can't wait to move back! Philadelphia is a wonderful city, filled with rich
experiences for kids, parents, artists, dog lovers, teachers, professionals . . . oh,
people of all sorts. I lived in West Mount Airy, which I highly recommend for
Berkeley-loving folks. It's a progressive, hip, diverse, welcoming, woodsy
community that borders the largest city park in the US -- the Wissahickon, one of
my most favorite places in the world! There's an organic co-op market there
(Weavers Way), which everyone wants to move within walking distance of. (If you
visit, go to Weavers Way to read the houses for rent and sale on the bulletin board.)
And, it's only a quick train ride or a 20-minute car drive into center city. The next
town over is Chestnut Hill, a more upscale version of the down-to-earth Mt. Airy.
But there you have a wonderful walking down-town area like Solano Avenue.
Gorgeous houses, stunning Autumn leaves, to-die for Spring blossoms, big back
yards, driving distance to the Adirondaks in NY, an easy train ride to NYC, 1 hour to
the ocean, a terrific center city, great private schools (like Germantown Friends
School, the Miquon School, a Waldorf school) . . . I love W. Mt. Airy. I didn't have kids
when I lived there, so I can't really do any more than envy you and wish you luck!
You could check out the Chestnut Hill Local newspaper to get a feel for the area.
My husband was born in Philadelphia and spent a great deal of
time there and could give you some basic information. We also
have family in Philadelphia (our cousins, mother and father to
a very bright and imaginative 5 year old) who know the area
very well and could probably be very helpful with orienting
information about kid-related stuff as well. They are really
good people who feel somewhat isolated in the Philadelphia area
given the absence of an attachment parenting type community. If
you're oriented thusly, you could very well have your first new
mom friend in Philadelphia - though the age difference between
your kids might make for a challenge. Anyway, write to us and
we'll give you contact info etc.
Philadelphia is a very livable city -- Philly is also very
friendly, and once you choose a neighborhood and start getting
settled in, you'll find lifelong friends who can point you
toward great ''kid'' resources. If you like Montclair, you might
enjoy Manayunk, Germantown, or Chestnut Hill, all neighborhoods
that are fairly close to Fairmount Park. Even Center City is
quite livable with kids -- residences, business, and
entertainment are all woven together, and each neighborhood has
its own characters and liveliness, but everything you need is in
walking distance. There are lots of trees, and most Center City
neighborhoods include small parks and many neighborhood
services. North of Philadelphia is Bucks County, which is like
the Marin County of PA, but nowhere near as expensive. In Bucks
County, the schools are better than in Philly but you'd be only
30-50 minutes from Center City. You might look into the towns
that are in the Pennridge or Abington school districts. (I know,
your child is still an infant, but you'll be shocked at how soon
you'll care abotu schools, and how hard it is to change
communities again once the kid has friends.) Good luck -- and
enjoy the balmy summer evenings, which are a real treat.
Check out this blogsite
You can read all about philly, neighborhoods, etc., and ask
questions about it too. Be sure to read others' opinions with a
grain of salt, but there is a lot of great info on here. Good
I tried to move us to Philly but the husband wouldn't go for it.
Polling parents I know and realtors, most everyone recommended
Art Museum for in the city and West Mount Airy and Chesnut Hill
for a more suburban environment. There seems to be no shortage
of parents with small children so I am sure you will find tons of
activities. There is so much to do in Philly and in the east
coast in general, hopefully you will love living there!
Moving to Philadelphia/Delaware area
There's a good chance my family will be moving this year for a
job in Wilmington, Delaware. We've heard that schools are
better in Pennsylvania, so we're looking at the area between
Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. Any recommendations for
cities in this location, housing information, school
information, and just general info on the quality of life in
this area? Many thanks!
As a kid my dad worked in Wilmington and we lived in Chester
County (West Chester, to be exact.) It is a beautiful and pretty diverse place to grow up - with excellent schools. Westown is another nice spot in Chester County. Look on
greatschools.com to see how the schools are rating in Chester
County - you might be guided to a good town in that way. I miss
my PA days sometimes. Enjoy. It's a lovely part of the
Signed, A Pennsy Gal
I grew up near Chadds Ford, PA -- near Wilmington, DE. and left to go to
college 30 years ago.... While the area is more populated now than it
was, Chester County, PA, is still one of the most beautiful parts of the
country, rich in revolutionary and pre-revolution heritage, home of
Andrew Wyeth, etc. If you want to know what the scenery is like there
rent ''The Village'' (plot notwithstanding). I recognized the trees and the
fieldstone buildings from the movie's preview, then discovered it was
filmed on a farm I knew, near the Delaware border
Schools vary from place to place, with the same caveats as here...
suburbs test higher, and have less diversity. If you will work in Delaware,
you might want to consider living there. When I left they had no sales
tax and an excellent state university. At the time PA had sales tax but no
state income tax. Penn State is good, and every small town has a
University of its own. William Penn is the fellow who brought you
religious tolerance -- so PA has a history of interesting religions. I didn't
know until I left that not all counties had Quakers and Shakers and
Mennonites and Amish (well they're in the next county over -- and the
Shakers died out).
It may all be different now. If you want rural you can still find it within
driving distance of Wilmington, but probably on the PA side. It snows in
the winter, and is hot and sticky in August.... great place for gardening if
that appeals to you. I'd start with the Chamber of Commerce for
Wilmington, DE and Chadds Ford, Kennett Square and West Chester,
BTW -- I think the house I grew up in may be for sale... 7 bdrm stone
victorian summer house (built for rich Philadelphians in 1840) with 6
acres, pool and tennis court... for about a million bucks. (That's more
than my parents sold it for in 1982, I fear) Just imagine what it would
cost you here!!!
Feel free to contact me, I may be able to help you find the right people to
Check out Doylestown, PA in Bucks County. They have great
schools, a wonderful downtown, etc. My husband and I
considered moving there, but just found that it would be too
long of a commute for it to be practical.
I grew up in a small community called Arden, just north of Wilmington,
DE. It is an oasis in the middle of suburbia. I attended public schools in
the Brandywine school district, and loved them all. I really like North
Wilmington. Arden is a really special place, an artists community, built
on the Henry George's idea of single tax. There are a lot of funky friendly
people. And it is beautiful and woodsy. The community iteself is
comprised of 3 Ardens; Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft. I grew up
knowing just about everyone. There are town meetings, civic comittees,
and a great network for kids. As far as being a kid in the Ardens, it was
the best place in the area to grow up. Its safe, there's trees, creeks,
playgrounds, a pool, a summer program, Shakespeare in the summer
and other plays, trails, many dogs, a dinner theatre, a library, and even
its own town fair. And I believe only 1500 people live there; It is small.
Check out the website:
I also enjoyed growing up so close to Philadelphia, but not in it/ still in
Sorry, I know this is scattered, but feel free to email me with more
questions about the area!
I have a friend who grew up in Wilmington and just moved back
there after liiving in Boston and Bethesda, MD. Her husband
runs a foundation in Wilmington dedicated to improving the
Delaware school system and they both know a lot about the area
and its schools. She'd be happy to talk to you over the phone
or by email. If interested, contact me via email.
I went to Swarthmore College,in Swarthmore,PA. It's a beautiful
town. the schools seemed good. Seemed like most of the faculty
children went to the local public schools. it's a quick train
ride to Philadelphia. I loved it there, but that was almost 20
years ago. My guess is that traffic is now more of an issue b/c
many of the roads were 2 lanes. Feel free to email me with any
Hi -- I missed the original posting. I grew up in Wilmington
and after college worked in politics for a couple of years
there. My parents live in Newark now, and I'm going back for a
visit in a few days with hubbie and daughter. My brother and
his family (3 kids aged 1 to 9) live there too. Please feel
free to email me if want another perspective. Good luck!
Please email me about Philly/Delaware. I grew up in Lower
Merion, went to U. of Delaware in Newark, go back twice a year,
so I know a lot about local recent development, and my mom has
been in Real Estate there for years. Even if you do not settle
for the areas she represents, she'd be glad to talk to you
We are probably moving this summer to Philadelphia,
where my husband will be working at the University of
Pennsylvania. We would like to live near the university if
possible, probably renting. We were wondering if anyone
has any recommendations for neighborhoods that are good
for families with young children (or ones that are not).
Actually, we'd appreciate comments or information of any
kind about living in Philadelphia. Thanks,
I was born and raised in Philly, and go every year to visit
family for a few weeks. Email me directly and I'd be happy to
talk/email with you about that great city!
I lived in Philadelphia from 1995-2000 while I was in graduate
school at Penn and absolutely loved it. The city has changed
quite a bit since I left (for the better), but we do go back
fairly regularly to visit friends who are still there. In
general, I would not recommend living in West Philadelphia,
which is the area closest to campus, as that is where most
undergraduates tend to live. I lived in Center City just across
the Schuylkill River from campus in the Fitler
Square/Rittenhouse Square areas (approx 20-30 min walk to
campus), both of which are very desirable. They have a definite
neighborhood feel, great restaurants, shopping, green spaces.
While I didn't have children, there were definitely a lot of
people in the area who did (and friends who still live there
either now do or are expecting). There are so many things I
enjoyed about living there that I don't even know where to begin
but would be glad to share if you want to contact me.
I moved from Philadelphia to the Bay Area in 88. I grew up
there and went to college at Penn. My parents still live there,
as do some close friends. I'd love to discuss it in detail with
you. Please email me. Thanks, David.
I grew up in Philly, and though I left 10 years ago to come
here, my parents still live there. I would like to recommend a
wonderful neighborhood to live in- Mt. Airy. It is in northwest
Philly, 20-30 minutes from Penn, but as other posters mentioned,
living in West Philly (where Penn is) can be questionable. Mt.
Airy is the closest thing to Berkeley I have ever seen (and
better in many ways)- very diverse, both racially and
economically, and a very progressive, open-minded community. It
is also very beautiful with treelined streets, and even a groovy
food co-op! It is accessible to public transportation; the local
train runs through at a few different spots and takes you to
30th street station which is close to Penn. After growing up
there, it is hard to live anywhere else! And you'll be very
happy about the cost of living when coming from the Bay Area.
Feel free to email me if you have more questions.
I read the previous posting recommending Mt.Airy, and I thought
I have to write. I too grew up in Mt. Airy, and it really was a
wonderful place to grow up. Trees everywhere, and the
Wissahickon woods right there, so you can go hiking without
driving. The train to downtown is great, and the food co-op.
And ditto all the things the other person wrote-progressive,
friendly, family-oriented. the down side is there is some crime,
probably similar to Berkeley. But it is a great neighborhood.
You can email me.
this page was last updated: Jun 25, 2006
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network