Contemplating a move to Philadelphia (Center City) with my family. Feedback/advice? - Page 2
In addition to Open Connections, there is also a program called Talking Stick Learning Center (http://talkingsticklearningcenter.org/). They have moved into Philadelphia to the Awbry Arboretum. I would LOVE for my children to participate in this, I just can't swing the cost. I know a few people who participate & they & their children love it. That might be another option for you. But, I have no clue if it's possible to get there on public transportation from CC.
Yes, the home ed law is daunting but it's doable. I am very friendly w/ a woman who homeschools her 4 children in PHilly. I think being in Philly makes it a bit easier, as I said but the law is the law in PA.
I hope this information is of use to you! Best wishes w/ it all!!!
While I'm not a mom just yet (expecting my first), I do live in Mt. Airy and wanted to chime in on what a wonderful neighborhood it is. I see lots of young families all throughout the 'hood and know that there are abundant resources for kids and parents alike. I know Center City is more on your radar, but definitely spend some time up in Mt. Airy if you get a chance during your visit. I live 2 blocks from a grocery store and all of the amenities on Germantown Ave. (restaurants, library, gym, etc.) and live 4-5 blocks from the train, which takes me into Center City in 20 minutes, plus there are two bus lines a stone's throw from our house. We also have lots of parks and green space. Mt. Airy is a true community, and just a wonderful place to live. Good luck with everything!
Thanks for everyone's replies. The rental agent we are working with is sending us a lot of homes in the Old City neighborhood. As far as Center City goes, what do folks think of that area? I am an avid runner and am interested in whether running around Penn's landing is a (reasonably) safe bet? Any opinions on the Old City neighborhood? Looks a bit more affordable than some of the others....
Mody - I've been checking out Mt. Airy too, as you recommended. It looks really lovely and I know there is a homeschool co-op there for my daughter and some other children's activities as well. And, oh my! You certainly can get more house for your money as compared to Central City. My big concern would be feeling isolated there from the rest of the city as I am car free. It looks like there is a lot going on on Germantown rd but is that about it for stores/restaraunts, ect?
What kind of train is it that brings you into the city? Is it like a subway? Or a light rail? Do they come fairly often? Thanks! This is such a hard decision to make from so far away. I'm looking forward to visiting!
The train from Mt. Airy into Center City is part of the "Regional Rail", a commuter rail system. You can check it out on www.septa.org There are two different lines that come up into Mt. Airy, the Chestnut Hill West and the Chestnut Hill East. I live about 4-5 blocks from both lines, so I have my choice as to which one to take. They both go into town, just run on different schedules. During rush hours, the trains run every 30 minutes, and roughly every hour otherwise.
And yes, you really can get a bigger bang for your buck up here, and often with a yard and/or a driveway. As for your running, we have great trails in Wissahickon Valley Park.
About potentially feeling isolated, I think a lot of it will come down to your frame of reference and what you're accustomed to in your day-to-day. There are two general commercial areas here: 1) Germantown Ave., and 2) the intersection of Greene St. and Carpenter Lane. Germantown Ave. is where you'll find the grocery store, the library, Mt. Airy Playground, shops, restaurants, a coffee shop, a theater, a gym, a local bank, a hair salon, dry cleaners, a liquor store, a diner, etc. The intersection of Greene and Carpenter is where you'll find Weaver's Way (the co-op), a bookstore, another coffee shop, a cool salvage store, a yoga studio (i think), an elementary school, and maybe a few other places. And then there's random restaurants and stores scattered throughout the 'hood. If you walk up Germantown Ave (or catch the 23 bus) to Chestnut Hill, there's even more stores, parks, things to do and see.
I work in town (center city) and only use my car on the weekends for grocery shopping and Target runs, but otherwise everything I need is here. I'm sure they have something similar in Portland but we have Philly Car Share or ZipCar if you need to "rent" a car on an hourly basis. It's affordable and wildly convenient, should you need a car.
Let me know if I can answer any other questions, I'm happy to help!
PS. Old City is a great neighborhood, although I do not typically think of it as affordable, but then again I've never shopped for housing there. It's a desirable area with lots of bars, restaurants, history, art galleries, shops, and close to the subway and the waterfront. Can definitely be a nightlife hotspot among the younger crowd. Running in that area and Penn's Landing would be fine.
Old City is a nice area, but I don't think its ideal for families (but still much better than many areas of the city!). Pros, from my point of view: Franklin Sq, free national park stuff, easy access to open space, 2 subway stops. Cons: no market (for years its been a noted problem), tons of tourists, noisy weekend nights (some nice restaurants, others with little respect for neighbors), and much of the housing doesn't have gas for cooking, is poorly insulated, and is expensive to heat/cool--not unusual for conversions of formerly industrial spaces, but something to consider if the rents are "affordable". Also, I've had friends live in apts there, and getting strollers in/out there is a challenge! I lived in Queen Village for many years and I ran along Front Street, Columbus Blvd, and Penns Landing without any problems. If running is a priority, the Schuylkil River Trail is really great.
I think you said your budget is $2000/max. You should be more than fine in many great neighborhoods. My mortgage for a 3 bedroom row house in Passyunk Sq is $1000. So add a few bucks for maintenance and you'll get a picture of what is a reasonable rent.
Have you seen Philadelphia Speaks? There is a Relocating section with lots of neighborhood info. Philly can change drastically block to block, and folks on PS can be painfully blunt, but perhaps skimming the archives there to see recommendations could be worthwhile. http://www.philadelphiaspeaks.com/forum/relocation-moving-philadelphia/
We just moved out of the city but the neighborhood we left was wonderful and very family friendly, walkable, full of great restaurants and shops. We were in passyunk square, its close to the subway and is a bit far but still walkable to center city. There is even a wonderful listerv for families that is a great resource for parents in that area. Hope you're finding what you're looking for in philadelphia its a great city especially if you don't need the schools. There are lots of home schoolers and I would think soon to be many more.
My husband and I moved to cc about a year ago and I can totally understand where you are coming from. I actually had never lived in Philadelphia before & I have to say that reading local news prior to moving here didn't really make the city any justice. Philadelphia is a big city & just like anywhere else, there will be unfortunate situations. However; after being here for a year, I can say that this city truly offers a little bit of everything. We bought a little row-house in Rittenhouse (thanks to the low house market a year ago) we liked this area because it's petty central to some of the places you mentioned ( museum, restaurants, grocery stores, family friendly parks) as a matter of fact, there is a weekly farmers market that goes on on Rittenhouse park every Saturday. The park tends to attract a pretty descent group of moms, all seem friendly. There's another park nearby called filter square that also attracts several local parents & it appears to be very active in terms of organizing events.
I completely agree with klk, she did a great job at describing some of the neighborhoods. I absolutely like her neighborhood & we almost bought something there but we decided not to, commute to work wise. I work at a local hospital that I get to walk to from home.
I also like the fair mount area but I really can't consider it to be your typical walking distance. It seems to us that our trips there tend to be planned as you do have to cross "major" roads to get there. I like cc neighborhoods because really, they pretty much overlap each other & so many of them have wonderful things to offer. Passyunk is by far (IMO) a vibrant, progressive & stable neighborhood. We tend to go there pretty regularly ( walking distance to Rittenhouse by the way) because they have a great selection of restaurants & events. I would suggest you check their Facebook page.
We don't have children yet, currently trying to conceive & definitely feel that cc has a tremendous amount of activities for parents. Our block tends to have "block parties" the neighbors & kids come together to celebrate ( spring, fall, or a holiday) it's pretty awesome & truly reminds us that we made the right decision to move here. Like I said, the city presents issues but I feel that it is moving in such positive direction. I hope this information is a bit helpful, let me know if you have any questions.
I just wanted to chime in for my neighborhood, West Mt. Airy. It's in Northwest Philadelphia, and it has lots of trees, which is part of the reason I chose this location. It feels like I am still connected to nature here. I moved to be close to Wissahickon Park, and to be within walking distance of the local co-op, coffee shop, and kids consignment shop.
Most of the tenants in my unit have been here for years now. I took a prenatal yoga class right down the street, and I can ride my bike to Valley Green. I personally did not want to have a big city feel to where I live, but I still wanted to be close to downtown. My son is almost 2, and it's been a great neighborhood for him so far. I think there's a lot of support in the community.
It's also one of the more, if not the most diverse parts of Philadelphia- unlike other neighborhoods that seem really homogeneous.
I'd never let my child step foot into the Philadelphia School District schools. I taught in them and they are a wreck. That being said, younger kids have some great options with day schools and co-operative nursery schools, etc.