Washington, DC to Philly
My boyfriend and I will be moving from Capitol Hill DC to Philly at the end of the year. We LOVE our diverse, friendly, tree-filled, walkable DC neighborhood and would like to find something similar in Philadelphia. I grew up in the Philly suburbs, but haven't spent much time in the city since college. We want to buy, ideally 3+ bedrooms, budget up to $500k, but less would be fine too. Want to stay put a while and prefer public education, so schools are a consideration, but so is access to public transit, grocery, restaurants, etc. Looks like there are some great places in Mt. Airy/East Falls/Germantown. Can you tell me anything about the pros/cons of those neighborhoods as compared to one another?
This is a great forum and I look forward to re-learning the city with your help!
Everyone is going to tell you the best elementary school catchments in Philadelphia are:
Penn Sadie Alexander
Very very close:
Up and comers:
There are also a number of very competitive and respected charter schools at the primary grade level, namely Independence and Christopher Columbus and a few others I'm sure I'm missing.
To complicate matters even more, you can get into non-catchment schools as a transfer. But for sure, it's nearly impossible to get into Meredith or Penn Sadie, as all of the spots and then some are filled by catchment residents.
I think you'll find that the public schools in Philadelphia are much better than in DC, but that's not saying much. What it means is that there are some legitimately good options, but it all depends on catchments. You can still make it work otherwise (many people apply to charters and for independent transfers), but I think you're starting at a higher baseline.
All of them are great neighborhoods each with things to recommend them. All are well-served by public transportation. All are adjacent to the Wissahickon, one of Fairmount Park's most expansive, rustic and gorgeous sections. With your budget, you'll have no problem finding a fantastic home in any of these neighborhoods. In fact, you will probably spend far less than your budget.
Originally Posted by dctophilly
Of the three neighborhoods, East Falls is closest to Center City convenient to the magnificent Kelly Drive/Schuylkill waterfront and historic Laurel Hill Cemetary. Sections of it have beautiful homes. I wouldn't say that walkable access to grocery, restaurants, etc. is its strong suit, but others who live there may have their own take on this.
In Germantown, throw a stone in any direction and you're likely to hit a nationally important historical site. It has some of the most beautiful and historic homes in all of Philadelphia. Some of its housing, however, has not been well maintained. It is the most affordable and economically mixed of the three neighborhoods you mention. Crime remains a significant problem throughout the neighborhood, albeit it has some relatively safe enclaves. In the main, Germantown's shopping reflects the neighborhood's preponderance of lower income residents although some neighborhood organizations are pressing for more "upscale" options. Sections of Germantown are clearly trending toward revitalization although the revitalization is occurring in fits and starts.
Mount Airy has long been one of Philadelphia's most stable neighborhoods, going back at least a half century. It is well organized and family friendly. Like parts of Germantown and East Falls, Mount Airy is chockablock with tree-lined streets with beautiful homes. Compared to Germantown, its residents are overall higher income and this is reflected in the neighborhood's more upscale retail including a long-time community food coop, 2 bookstores, and numerous restaurants with very good walkability.
I feel like Spruce Hill should be in consideration as well.
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