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Old Yesterday, 12:11 AM   #1
racer187x OP
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Philly area housing help

Hello NE comrades. Greetings from sunny and warm California!

TL/DR:

Need advice on good neighborhoods. Requirements:

- apartment/town home/condo
- 2+ bedroom
- 1+ bath
- private garage
- commute ok


TL part:

I'm in the final stage of interviews for a promotion. The gig is in downtown Philadelphia and my wife and I will be moving from Los Angeles.We have no friends or family that live on the East coast so no frame of reference on where to live. We live in a nicer part of LA in a tiny 2 bedroom with a (technically) one car garage (wife's Cobalt didn't fit). So it's a motorcycle garage. We're looking for advice on where to search for apartments. Not looking to buy. We pay $1400/mo for our 750 sq ft place so we are pleasantly surprised by our initial craigslist searching. We just don't know where the good neighborhoods are.

Currently, commute time varies from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the lunacy. It is LA after all. The commute doesn't really bother me too much. Especially if it means we find a nicer place for less $. We moved to LA from Salt Lake City 5 years ago so looking forward to seasonal change again. Although not so much the snow. We're 27, no kids or pets so pretty flexible on where to live. We like to explore and we're stoked for the opportunity to check out somewhere new. Thanks in advance for advice!
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Old Yesterday, 03:13 AM   #2
tjzondrz
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North of Phili.would be your best bet.Lehigh Valley area is nice.Allentown,Bethlehem,Easton.Western Lehigh Valley is better.I hate telling this to you as I was raised in this area.It was farm land mostly.Now it is getting crowded.(for me anyway)
Good luck.
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Old Yesterday, 03:47 AM   #3
SnoDrtRider
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We live in South Jersey between Philly and Atlantic City my wife commutes to Plymouth Meeting (West of Philly) her average commute is 1hr. Don't let the need to cross the bridges rule out living in Jersey.
We are actually in Salem County... Mostly farmland and backroads. Look for a place along the Route 55 corridor if you decide on down here (check a map you will see why)

Here is our back "yard" you are not going to get this with an apartment (I could never live that close to other people but to each his own)

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Old Yesterday, 04:41 AM   #4
Just Max
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Stay out of NJ, sorry guys, your property taxes are off the chart. They are either on the list, or the top of the list for every bad tax clickbate site on the internet.

I would HIGHLY suggest, finding the septa line that runs due west out of the city. It's the Paoli/Thorndale line.

Here is the schedule. http://www.septa.org/schedules/rail/w/PAO_1.html. From Thorndale to Center City is ~$9, and 60 easy min.

The further east you move on the map, the shorter the train ride, cheaper the ticket, and more expensive the house.

With LA Money, I would shoot for Malvern.


Edit. I just saw the rent thing. Advice on the train remains. NJ taxes part not so much.
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Old Yesterday, 06:03 AM   #5
SnoDrtRider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Max View Post


Edit. I just saw the rent thing. Advice on the train remains. NJ taxes part not so much.
That's why I even suggested here in Jersey. If they are renting taxes really don't figure into the equation. Taxes can be mitigated IF you have enough property. Most of our property is under Farmland assessment... Farmer around the corner comes and hays the field a couple times a year.
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Old Yesterday, 08:51 AM   #6
Bikehigh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Max View Post
I would HIGHLY suggest, finding the septa line that runs due west out of the city. It's the Paoli/Thorndale line.

Here is the schedule. http://www.septa.org/schedules/rail/w/PAO_1.html. From Thorndale to Center City is ~$9, and 60 easy min.
I'm with Max about finding a place along one of the commuter rail lines. My girlfriend uses the Paoli-Thorndale line every day to get to work. Beats the hell out of driving a car into the city and paying for parking.

I don't commute, but I am a 5 minute walk from the same line, and used it today after dropping my truck off for transmission work. Convenient as hell.

I don't think apartments with garages are very common, but I know there are some near me that have storage units where you could keep your bike. Anywhere from Wayne, where I live, and west would probably be the place to look. To the east, there's Villanova and a number of other very affluent colleges that tend to eat up the housing.

Looking to the north of the city there's the Lansdale Doylestown area that's also served by commuter rail, a nice place to live, and on the edge of some terrific riding.
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Old Yesterday, 10:22 AM   #7
robert110411
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All the good neighborhoods..............

.................are not in Philadelphia.

I live in the Lehigh Valley (Allentown) and commute to Philadelphia. My drive is an hour to the North East part of Philadelphia. To go all the way down town? Add another hour.

If you don't mind a little commute? The New Hope/Lambertville area can be pretty nice. It's fairly easy to get to the City from there.

The area from Lansdale to Quakertown isn't bad and are all along 476 (North East Ext of the P.A. Turnpike) which makes a quick commute.
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Old Yesterday, 12:05 PM   #8
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There are in fact a lot of nice places to live within the city IF you want urban life. Finding a garage in the city will be more difficult (but not impossible) than the suburbs.

Commuting to downtown Philadelphia can be an unpredictable bitch from any direction.

If I were to move back to that area, I would prefer to live in the city or along The Main Line. These suburbs can be quite diverse and you should be able to find something likeable with a little effort. Also if you want to commute from the suburbs this train line is pretty good. Not great but not bad.

PM me if I can help you with a bit more information.
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Old Yesterday, 06:48 PM   #9
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Delaware County

A lot of nice areas in Delaware County (DelCo) that are close to Philly.
Haverford Township, Broomall, Springfield, and Drexel Hill to name a few with access to public transportation.
Then you have some nice areas in Bucks County, but you'll end up taking i95 into the city, which can be a nightmare.
I'd avoid Jersey all together.
If you do move into the city, there are some nice areas, but you pay a slightly higher wage tax.
Sales tax in the city is higher than outside of the city.
Montgomery County also has nice areas.
If you venture further out from Delaware, Bucks and Montgomery County, you have a longer commute and public transportation become a little tougher to deal with.
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Old Yesterday, 10:20 PM   #10
racer187x OP
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Thanks for the tips and PMs!

Seems like we'd rather live in the suburbs and commute in to the city.

http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/apa/4898997951.html

^^^ something similar to this I suppose. The Roxborough area looks pretty nice (on paper). This one is near the train line to the city. Suggestions on where to search outside of craigslist?

RE: wage tax, I read that it applies to those working in the city, not just those who live there. Is that the case? Is it a big deal or not really? It's still gotta be much better than CA taxes.

Anything weird we should be aware of? CA has the whole earthquake thing down. I'm vaguely aware of something called a nor'easter. Tornados? Hurricanes? Hail? SLC averages about 40" of snow in winter. On paper Philly shows 23". Not worried about snow necessarily.

How about riding? I'm selling our VStrom 1000 as we just don't ride it like I thought we would. I've already sold off two XR 250's. One was the wife's (will replace with something electric start). Have my Baja prepped XR650R. Wonder if I should re plate it and dual sport? If there's not much that the pig is suitable for I might just leave it at my dad's in Utah and fly and ride for Baja trips. Is there much/any riding thereabouts? I imagine a lot of woods riding. Maybe pick up a KTM 250/300 and learn how to ride in the tight stuff. Strange to think about growing up desert racing!

Thanks again everyone! We appreciate the pointers.
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Old Today, 04:40 AM   #11
docgonzo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer187x View Post
I'm in the final stage of interviews for a promotion. The gig is in downtown Philadelphia and my wife and I will be moving from Los Angeles....
I'm gonna assume that this is a pretty good job, considering your willingness to leave California and the proximity to the desert and Baja. With that assumption is the belief that money will be available for a decent place.

Philadelphia is a great town, and living within would be almost as much fun as living in NYC, if you can afford it. Down in the Society Hill area there are plenty of decent places with garages. For less money, the area around South Street is pretty cool. I came very close to buying this place on Fitzwater street:



Of course, that was back in 1970, and the price was about $200,000!
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Old Today, 05:25 AM   #12
mra32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer187x View Post
Thanks for the tips and PMs!

Seems like we'd rather live in the suburbs and commute in to the city.

http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/apa/4898997951.html

^^^ something similar to this I suppose. The Roxborough area looks pretty nice (on paper). This one is near the train line to the city. Suggestions on where to search outside of craigslist?

RE: wage tax, I read that it applies to those working in the city, not just those who live there. Is that the case? Is it a big deal or not really? It's still gotta be much better than CA taxes.

Anything weird we should be aware of? CA has the whole earthquake thing down. I'm vaguely aware of something called a nor'easter. Tornados? Hurricanes? Hail? SLC averages about 40" of snow in winter. On paper Philly shows 23". Not worried about snow necessarily.

How about riding? I'm selling our VStrom 1000 as we just don't ride it like I thought we would. I've already sold off two XR 250's. One was the wife's (will replace with something electric start). Have my Baja prepped XR650R. Wonder if I should re plate it and dual sport? If there's not much that the pig is suitable for I might just leave it at my dad's in Utah and fly and ride for Baja trips. Is there much/any riding thereabouts? I imagine a lot of woods riding. Maybe pick up a KTM 250/300 and learn how to ride in the tight stuff. Strange to think about growing up desert racing!

Thanks again everyone! We appreciate the pointers.

Wage tax is indeed higher if you both live in the city and work in the city as opposed to do just one. Some municipalities have started their own wage tax too, so keep that in mind.

Manayunk and Roxborough are part of the city of Philadelphia, just so's you know. Alot of people who have lived around here their whole life arent quite aware of that fact.

There is not a ton of off road riding in what I would consider the "Greater Philadelphia Area" but there are the Pine barrens about an hour to the south east and thats mainly sand with minor elevation change (but dont rule out the tight and skinny stuff here either), and Reading Coal country about an hour and a half to 2 hours to the northwest, which really runs the gamut for kinds of terrain, but yeah, you can find all kinds of tight woods riding and steep climbs here. Watch videos of these areas to see what its like in a general sense. Having something that you can put a plate on is a plus because you better have one in the pine barrens

Alot of this area was populated, mainly with farms, 250 years ago and houses and subdevelopments have been filling in the gaps since then, so all the land is pretty much spoken for. The old roads filled with old farms and unique sights are numerous and relaxing, but its still fairly densely populated, no matter where you go. In this area, its rare to just 'get out there' and 'away from everything' like you might have found out past city limits when living out west but adventures are abound, most certainly.

Weather wise - my impression of the weather around here is dont be a p**** and you'll be fine. It seems lately there has been maniacal sensationalizing around somewhat common weather events, but I wouldnt be too worried. Respect the weather by modifying your behavior while out on the roads in slippery conditions, but these things happen and I am astonished by how people seem to be dumbfounded by it. Being prepared for weather doesnt mean driving 10mph on limited access highways when the first flakes of snow start falling. [/soapbox]

I will say that weather averages are just that. In the last 6 winters, 3 or 4 have been quite mild and the remaining have really put a damper on things with 70+ inches of snow in some and regular snow that lasts into March. Never know which kind of winter you are going to have.

Another thing weather related is that the surface water systems (mainly streams) seem to be more and more...abused? as time goes on. Basically the more you turn what was open land into anything thats not open (house, road, etc) its not as good as soaking up water during rainfall, so normal rains turn into creeks overflowing and notable amounts of rain turn into record floods. Just be aware of nearby creeks.

Summers are humid. Get used to it I guess. Its not exactly pleasant, but I have a white collar job in an office, so I tend to be pampered with air conditioning in the hottest part of most days and on the others, i just enjoy the fact that im not in the office. I'd also take our humid weather to the oven feeling I got in southern california, but thats probably just because I grew up here. Last summer was mild too and I only turned on the air conditioner a couple times.
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Old Today, 05:48 AM   #13
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I'd ditch the XRR, if you ride it in philly, it's only a matter of time before she's gone and it's too big for the tight technical woods stuff we have here. There's plenty of good riding within an hour or two though.

I can't offer much advice about your apartment question. I live IN the city and would rather not live in the suburbs. Philly is a lot easier to live in than most other cities from my perspective. $1400 would get you renting a nice 2 or 3 bedroom rowhome in most neighborhoods outside of center city. You can in fact find houses for rent with garages also.

If you're planning to commute in, find a place near a rail line. Commuting in via 76 from the suburbs will lead you to much frustration (always a parking lot).

Good luck in your search, sell that DL1000 and get yourself a DL650! Happy to show you around when you get here.
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Old Today, 06:14 AM   #14
Just Max
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer187x View Post

How about riding? I'm selling our VStrom 1000 as we just don't ride it like I thought we would. I've already sold off two XR 250's. One was the wife's (will replace with something electric start). Have my Baja prepped XR650R. Wonder if I should re plate it and dual sport? If there's not much that the pig is suitable for I might just leave it at my dad's in Utah and fly and ride for Baja trips. Is there much/any riding thereabouts? I imagine a lot of woods riding. Maybe pick up a KTM 250/300 and learn how to ride in the tight stuff. Strange to think about growing up desert racing!

Thanks again everyone! We appreciate the pointers.
I would bring the vstrom, and leave the XR out west so you have a scoot when you go home to visit.

Depending on where you end up, but you will probably have some miles to do to get to the good roads. There is a lot of dense sprawl to get through coming out of Philly before it opens up, and it never opens up like it does out west. Lots of roads in every direction.

As said above, the XR is going to be too big for the tight single track, too much bike for the city, and not much fun running it out to anyplace that it might be at home.

After you get settled, and a feel for the logistics of good riding, you can decide on your solution.
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Old Today, 06:22 AM   #15
Just Max
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For housing I would be looking for something like this.

http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...35-93834?row=4




.8 mile walk to the train.
basement to store your crap
shed for the bikes
$1300
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