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 College Town
Delaware County

[sidebar]Rambling Arts & Crafts houses, streets named for universities, and a hardware store that’s been around since time immemorial make this laid-back, intellectual-feeling square mile graciously tweedy.

Schools: Wallingford-Swarthmore; Strath Haven High School.

Commute to Philly: By car, 25 minutes; 30 minutes on the R3 train.

Things you get: Great public schools; access to Swarthmore College’s 300-acre arboretum; central downtown with a darling and reliable food co-op; family-friendly First Fridays; Saturday-morning farmers’ markets; the Hobbs cafe for lattes, Countryside Market for oversize sandwiches, and Rudi’s BYOB for date night.

Things you don’t: Access to the college’s workout facilities.

Betcha didn’t know: Fewer than one percent of houses here are new.

Residents you ought to know:
Union soccer owner Jim Nevels; former poet laureate Daniel Hoffman; Swarthmore College prez Rebecca S. Chopp; John Glick, president of Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and VP of the Penn Health System.

The future: Sustained real estate values; debates about the college’s plan to build an inn on what’s now an open field.

Meet the neighbors: Thirty-somethings Tom (an emergency physician) and Becca (a former teacher and full-time mom) Ball considered Wallingford before settling here. Says Becca, “We walk everywhere. The downtown is small, but there’s a little market, a pizza place, and a library with great children’s programs.”
Wanna buy here? “Swarthmore’s not the kind of town where you’re going to find a lot of steals. Sellers here are smart enough to wait for decent buyers,” says Baird and Bird’s Candy Brosnan.

Just sold: An Arts & Crafts four-bedroom with open porch, beamed ceilings, gardens and big kitchen, on Lafayette Avenue, for $500,000.

You might also like: Charming and urban Powelton Village, just blocks from Penn and Drexel.