Real Estate 2010: 10 Awesome Neighborhoods To Call Home

If the tanking of the real estate market has taught us anything, it’s that a house isn’t an investment. It’s a home — a place to retreat to at the end of the day, to raise your kids and hang with your friends, to build your life around and become part of a larger community. So, what are the best places to call home around Philly? Here, our guide to some great neighborhoods worth discovering … or rediscovering

The Crossroads
Phoenixville, Chester County

Pre-war twins sit cheek-to-jowl with Victorians and new condos in a borough where CEOs and construction workers all shop at the same organic grocery. The small but flourishing downtown and a recent flood of young people up the cool factor, too.

Schools: High-ranking Phoenixville Area High School has a 15:1 student-teacher ratio.

Commute to Philly: 40 minutes by car; 20-minute drive to the Villanova train station, then 25 minutes on the R5.

Things you get: Housing from $150,000 to $600,000-plus; parks galore, including neighboring Valley Forge; 32 places of worship; Civic Center family nights; neighborhood hangs (Pickering Creek Inn, Iron Hill Brewery … ).  

Things you don’t:  A train stop. Every township along the 422 corridor wants a line, but it hasn’t happened yet. Also, good Chinese food.

Betcha didn’t know: Oft overshadowed by Colonial Theatre’s BlobFest, the Firebird Festival bonfires a locally crafted sculpture of a phoenix.  

Residents you ought to know: David Friday and Lindsay Herman, owners of Bridge Street’s stylish Hipster Home (meet ’em on First Fridays); Dan and Marge Lejeune, who built Phoenixville’s private golf club, Rivercrest.

The future: More momentum behind Project Train. In the meantime, more bike paths and off-trail bike parking.

Meet the neighbors: “We bought 20 years ago,” says Greg Cordes, who lives with his wife, Linda, in a 1938 colonial, “and it turned out to be a gold mine. Down the street is Holy Family school, where our daughter went. We can walk to the theater, shopping, to eat. We’re selling our house — it’s too big for us now — but we’re staying here. Forever.”

Wanna buy here? “Prices are reasonable, especially with so many community amenities,” says Joseph Scott McArdle, of Prudential Fox & Roach. “But places priced the same can be in vastly different condition. Look at everything, and make sure your agent knows Phoenixville and knows a deal from … what’s not.”

Just sold: A new-construction one-bedroom condo with garage parking, hardwood floors and an eco-friendly kitchen, for $165,500.

You might also like: Manayunk … hardscrabble historic, community-oriented, close to Center City, and ready for a rebound.