Author Topic: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!  (Read 2299 times)

Better Change

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Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« on: January 19, 2018, 11:35:16 AM »
For better or worse, my husband and I have been plucked from our current roles and transferred to new functions within a large company that will soon break apart into three smaller companies.  We will first relocate to the northwest side of the Philly 'burbs for approximately one year before we are again relocated to Wilmington.

Our plan was to rent for a year near the first location while we scout real estate in the Wilmington 'burbs or just over the DE/PA line.  But my colleagues are telling me that rent will be (stupid) expensive, and that we'll be better off buying a home in between the two locations.

My husband and I are vehemently anti-clown car commute.  Like, I don't want anything longer than a 20 minute drive on either side, which is basically impossible.

What do you suggest? 

phred

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 11:40:36 AM »
Definitely rent.  No long-term commits until you fully understand the new culture of the smaller companies -- which may differ greatly from the present.

historienne

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 11:45:49 AM »
100% rent.  Over a reasonable timeframe, the financial "cost" of renting will be outweighed by the savings of a shorter commute.  And you'll also be happier.

In general, I think it's usually a bad plan to buy before you've had a chance to live in a place.  But it's definitely a bad plan to based on a set of constraints that only apply for one year.  Rent in Philly, then either rent again in Wilmington or spend the year figuring Wilmington out so you can go ahead and buy there. 

Better Change

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 11:47:40 AM »
I'm definitely in agreement with the logic so far.  But I've had multiple managers telling me to buy, and it stresses me the eff out!

I don't have kids.  I'm not wild about moving twice, but I've done it before. 


neophyte

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 11:55:40 AM »
I live in the city and my sister's out in the western burbs.  We both bought places last year, but I also say rent for a couple years until you get settled.  I'm shocked at how much my sister was paying for rent, but she refuses to shop around.  If you spend some time looking you should be able to find something reasonable.  One of my friend's family has a few rental properties in the Malvern/Westchester area and they said they could have definitely found a better deal than what my sister got.

catccc

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 12:20:36 PM »
Definitely rent.  It sounds like you need flexibility, renting can give you that, plus you save yourself the headache of repairs and maintenance while you figure out where you want to live.  I'm in the western suburbs, just over the DE line.  About 45 minutes West of Philly and just 20 minutes North of Wilmington.  You can definitely find rentals at a reasonable price if you spend some time looking.  Especially if it is just the two of you and there aren't kids that require additional bedrooms.

Noodle

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 12:45:57 PM »
Another vote for renting. The costs of rent for a year will be way less than buying in a place that doesn't make you happy, and having lived in the area I can tell you that neighborhoods are very spotty--some are wonderful, and others are difficult, and they can be right next to each other. You want to know the area before you buy. Also, Philadelphia and Wilmington are both pretty reasonable in the overall continuum of "large cities with housing."

I hope you will be happy there--Philadelphia was fine (I liked the less urban area west of it better) but I loved Delaware.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 01:54:05 PM »
Is the workplace anywhere near a SEPTA regional rail station? The trains are really pretty good and a fantastic alternative to the misery of driving in Philadelphia.

oldmannickels

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 02:02:15 PM »
Both PA and DE have higher than normal R/E transfer taxes so buying then selling then buying again has significant transaction costs.

Rachel_the_Lark

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 07:27:05 PM »
I would also suggest you make sure you have a handle on how your taxes will shape out based on the job location itself.  DE and PA don't play nearly as nice as you would expect given the proximity of Philly and Wilmington.  So just make sure you have a handle on the sales tax vs income tax vs property tax depending on which state the income is coming from.

Raenia

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 09:39:35 AM »
Another vote for renting.  I'm in the NW Philly suburbs myself.  Renting is expensive, but not horrific as long as you shop around.  Not nearly as expensive as the transaction costs of buying and selling so quickly, or as expensive as living midway between and commuting for years.  Feel free to PM me if you want to chat about the NW Philly area, as I don't like to put my exact town online :)

Noodle

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 02:49:09 PM »
And just for the record, while of course there are individuals all over the spectrum, culturally that area tends to be on the conservative side as opposed to, say, Seattle or San Francisco, especially once you get out of the downtown areas where young adults live. (It tends to vote Democrat, but old-school Democrat.) So it does not surprise me at all that your co-workers would be recommending the traditional choice of "not wasting money on rent" without looking closely at the numbers.

Dave1442397

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2018, 08:56:27 AM »
Rent, and as suggested above, try to find something close to a SEPTA train station if the workplace at the other end is close to a station.

Traffic around Philly is bad. A 30-mile drive from NJ via the Ben Franklin Bridge to King of Prussia takes an easy 90 minutes during rush hour. It can be a lot more when there's an accident or a sporting event going on.

Better Change

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2018, 05:51:55 AM »
Thanks for being the voices of reason, everyone.  I was totally baffled as to why anyone would automatically sign up for a 30+ minute commute when there are other, saner options.  We looked around a bit and found plenty of 3+ bedroom rental properties for around $1500-1800/month, which doesn't seem particularly expensive to me. 

And thanks for the heads up about the tax nightmares.  We were already sort of aware of the hassles, but yeah, we're going to be in for a wild ride the next few years. 

Unfortunately, the job will be nowhere near a SEPTA station, though it looks like there's company-provided shuttle from Norristown.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2018, 07:41:05 AM »
Norristown is OK, maybe you can rent right there.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 11:25:21 AM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

alanB

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2018, 09:34:37 AM »
Taxes are complicated as others mentioned, here is some more info:

PA - flat 3.07% tax on full income including 401k!  HSA and 529 are not taxed.  If you work in DE you get a credit of (DE taxable income)*3.07%
Local - seems like in PA local tax ranges from 0.5-1% for the most part, except for in Philly where it is 3.8907% (yes they are very precise).  I do not think they have local tax in DE, except maybe if you live in the city of Wilmington.
DE - progressive tax up to 6.6%; for 2017 tax = $2943.50 + (taxable income - 6500 - 60,000)*0.066, assuming MFJ & you make over 60K

You will pay the most tax if you live in PA and work in DE. 

If you are looking for <20 minute drive to Wilmington you could also look in the Kennett Square area.

MrsStubble

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2018, 08:42:07 PM »
100% agree on renting.  Nevermind the flexibility, you will want to really look before you settle down.  Parts of Wilmington is ok, but Delaware on whole can be tricky with good neighborhoods/streets right next to really really dangerous ones and you will definitely want to know about the area before you consider buying there.   (My husband is from DE and we just moved out of there after owning a home there for 10 year.)   There are not a lot of real towns so walkability is pretty poor unless you live in Wilmington or Newark.  They do have excellent bike paths going up, but they don't connect to shopping areas which are largely on major highways like 141, 202 and 13.

If you do plan on having kids at some point you definitely want to look at PA as a good portion of DE sends their kids to private schools rather than the consolidated public schools and it can be very very expensive.   A lot of people end up over the PA line to take advantage of the better school systems.   If you plan on having no kids, than its definitely less of a problem.

also... just to confirm for alanB - Wilmington has city tax if you work/live in the city limits.  Interestingly enough, pretty much the top third of the state is called "Wilmington" even if you aren't actually in city limits, so be sure to check if you do decide to move there.

pbkmaine

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Re: Philadelphia/Wilmington - I need your help!
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2018, 08:47:14 PM »
Philadelphia native here. Rent.