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.

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  • Susan

    CEOs and construction workers all shop at the same organic grocery… please tell us where in Phoenixville this is.

  • Jen
  • Jen

    I am a 17 year Resident Realtor Specialist in Relocation,satisfied customers across the US have dealt with me. I am everything Newtown JenBuschel@gmail.com .Lets meet

  • John

    I lived there from 1998 to 2009. I loved watching the transformation! It was SO nice to have easy access to Bridge Street rather than having to drive into Philly for an enjoyable meal and cocktails. I made a recent move to Key West, which I love, but I do miss Phoenixville.

  • LuAnn

    I think they are referring to Kimberton Whole Foods.

  • oneninefoursixzero

    To check out reviews and preview events re: all things Phoenixville, check out oneninefoursixzero.com – some great info on alt culture / entertainment happenings in the ville.

  • Kelly

    Swarthmore is a treasure. The town is very walkable, has a quaint downtown area with more useful shops and parks then you might notice by car, and do not let the fact that its a college town scare you: the town is dry thanks to its Quaker roots and Swarthmore College students are so busy with their studies you never see them out anyway!!

  • Sue

    What I love most about Swarthmore is that you feel like you are part of a community that treasures connectedness. I never fail to see someone I know when I am out and about town and it most often results in a friendly chat.

  • Sheila

    The organic store is probably the farmers market held Saturday’s May-November. There is also a produce junction. Both are great places to shop. I’ve enjoyed livng in Phoenixville for the past 4 years, great town.

  • Clause

    Susan, in case you haven’t been to Pville lately, this isn’t the old ‘ville you might remember. There are plenty of high income (including CEO’s) in Phoenixville and of course there are still plenty of blue collar folks. The new restaurants and shops embody the population that surrounds them and I don’t think Majolica (rated 1 of the top 50 restaurants in Philly by Craig Laban) and Hipster Home would be surviving without the locals support.

  • Pamela

    Hi Susan
    We live in Phoenixville (15 years now) and shop at Kimberton Whole Foods in Kimberton and Whole Foods in Devon, both are only 10 minutes away or so. The Giant in P’ville has a great selection of organic produce as well as nice selection of organic, gluten free foods. Best seleciton of major grocery stores.

  • Pamela

    Phoenixville Green Team is a group of interested residents who provide information and learning opportunities to the community about “living green in Phoenixville”. Our website is http://www.phoenixvillegreenteam.org and we are happy to hear from residents about what they do or experience or would like to know more about. You can sign up for email notifications if you would like to stay informed.

  • Pamela

    sorry, I see that the website link in the previous post isn’t working. try http://phoenixvillegreencommunity.org/

  • Clause

    The “organic market” they were referencing was the popular Farmers Market located right in the downtown of Phoenixville. It is a great market that is open all year round and has the freshest selection of fruit, vegetables, meats and baked goods in the area.

  • Kelley

    We are 22 year business owners and 20 year residents of the area! We live in Charlestown Hunt it is an excellent community. It is in the Great Valley School District and 3 miles from downtown Phoenixville! We are selling our single family home (109 Charlestown Hunt Drive).

  • Anonymous

    To give the Annual Best Places issue a little more depth, perhaps there could be a quality of life category? Either through a survey or some form of index based on length of stay among residents in the same community. It would provide a little substance to the real estate stats. Also, it is stated that there is a price chart available for 375 additional places, but, that its not the case.
    Is this an oversight?

  • Kladinvt

    It’s odd to read about the town I grew up in, that was centered on the steel company and the army hospital, to now be a “hip” nearly “chi-chi” bedroom community. I was there recently and was a bit shocked, surprised and happy to see things are the same and vastly different from when I lived there in the 60′s and 70′s. I guess Phoenixville like the mystical bird has risen from the ashes.

  • Darren

    Brewerytown finally gets a mention! I live right by Brewerytown and have heard that Mugshots Coffee will be opening up in the next few months on the 2800 block of Girard.

  • J

    This is a destination for bikers and bicyclists from the city and elsewhere on weekend afternoons – and a great local treasure for excellent beer and eats. Can’t believe this was overlooked!

  • Niki

    “Lord” Markel keeps his properties in tip top shape? Maybe this butt kissing reporter should talk to some of the tenants.

  • Dustin

    If any of these Neighborhoods interest you and you would like to check out apartments there, See Vacancy.com to find apartments to fit your needs.

  • Joanna

    Disappointed that only 1 Philly neighborhood made it into the list. :( I guess the quality of the public schools and the crime rate don’t help much.

  • Meg

    My husband, 30 year old daughter and I wish to relocate in a suburb of Philadelphia. Although my husband will be retiring soon and I am already retired, we do not want to move to a senior village. We would like an area with families with children, middle age couples with older children and seniors. We live on Long Island now and will be selling our present home. our budget is $250,000 to 350,000 and do not want to be on top of our neighbors but nearby without looking into their window. Can you suggest areas forus.

    • Joanne

      My husband and I were talking recently about possibly retiring to a suburb of Philadelphia like you describe, but in a little lower price range than yours.
      We’re in Atlanta now, but are originally from Brooklyn and Long Island. (I grew up in Valley Stream and my husband and I lived in Floral Park and Rockville Centre.) Since your post is a year or so old, I’m just wondering if you found a suburb that meets your needs. Years ago, we visited friends in Germantown which seemed to be a very nice area with a convenient train ride into Philadelphia. We’re retiring at 70 so we’ve got 3 years to go, but it’s never too early to start searching.