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 Hamlet
Skippack,
Montgomery County

Rolling farmland transformed, via benevolent developer Dave Markel, into a quaint, modern community featuring ample dining, good shopping, and New Hope-esque summer traffic.

Schools: Public: Perkiomen Valley School District. Private: nearby Valley Forge Baptist Academy (K-12).

Commute to Philly: 45 minutes by car; no public transit.

Things you get: Lovely old stone homes; lots of new construction; cute-as-a-button municipal park; community pool (with wi-fi!); the Perkiomen Trail for hiking and biking; Spring Mount for skiing (of a sort); Evansburg State Park for trout fishing, picnicking, horseback riding and golfing; the Playhouse community theater (in a converted barn, natch).

Things you don’t: Reality. Lord Markel keeps his properties in tiptop shape even in a recession.

Betcha didn’t know: Skippack was Grand Central Station during the Revolutionary War; George Washington camped his army alongside Skippack Creek seven times.

Residents you ought to know: Graterford Prison is right outside town. But don’t worry; former Montco D.A. and current county commissioner Bruce Castor lives here, as does his old buddy, fellow former D.A. Michael Marino.

The future: Markel shows no signs of running out of dough. His luxe new Hotel Fiesole, on the site of the old Trolley Stop restaurant (the trolley’s still there), cost $8 million and took seven years to complete.

Meet the neighbors: Stephanie Wolsky, 47, moved here with husband Jamie in 1994; they have three teenagers. “Our development backs right up onto Evansburg State Park,” she reports. “People keep horses in their backyards. The village is really cute. I’m in a bocce league the township runs.”

Wanna buy here? Re/Max 440 realtor Dale Joy points out new developments near the village, including an over-55 community. Taxes are lower than elsewhere in Montco, and layoffs at nearby pharmaceutical firms — which include Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline — could mean bargains.

Just sold: A five-year-old, 3,600-square-foot stone-and-stucco four-bedroomer with morning room, giant master suite, three-car garage and outdoor pool and waterfall, on 1.4 acres, for $637,500.

You might also like: Collegeville, 15 minutes away, with its own Main Street and strip-mall conveniences, is less twee, but namesake Ursinus College has an art museum, outdoor sculpture on well-groomed grounds, great sports teams — and babysitters galore. 

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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.