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 Star
Burlington County

Still boasting its national “best place to live” standing from a 2005 Money magazine survey, this Jersey ’burb blends small-town charm and urbane intellectualism.

Schools: Public: The eponymous district ranks among Jersey’s best. Private: Highly regarded and pricey ($21K-plus a year for high school) Moorestown Friends is PK through 12.

Commute to Philly: 25 minutes by car; 45 by NJ Transit.

Things you get: A Thornton Wilder Main Street, children’s sidewalk lemonade stands, Norman Rockwell-esque architecture, and a theater company that this year will stage The Music Man and Oklahoma! Bonus: 51 miles to LBI.

Things you don’t: Great restaurants or nightlife. The mall (Piercing Pagoda, Spencer’s, Boscov’s) is … well, you get the idea.

Betcha didn’t know: Stokes Hill, which faces the former estate of Samuel Leeds Allen — the inventor of the Flexible Flyer — is beyond famous for sledding.

Residents you ought to know: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb; former Commerce Bank CEO Vernon Hill, whose nearly 46,000-square-foot house is Jersey’s biggest.

The future: A new $15 million municipal complex is in the works, to replace the town hall, leveled in a 2007 fire.

Meet the neighbors: Saralee Smith Michaud, 43, lives in town with her husband, David, 48, and their three children, ages six through 13. She loves the schools (“Education is a major priority”), the easy access to Philly and New York, and the strong sense of civic pride.

Wanna buy here? Weichert realtor Kate Morra says the true gems are hybrid homes, “updated so they aren’t just old and historic, but have new, functional bits, too.”

Just sold: A 164-year-old eight-bedroom, seven-fireplace manse with grand foyer, butler’s pantry, sleeping porch, new kitchen, new pool and sport room, for $1.2 million.

You might also like: Collingswood. The Camden County burg doesn’t boast the posh schools, but it’s closer to Philly and has net property taxes averaging around 45 percent less than Moorestown’s.