Author Topic: Where to live - Wilmington DE  (Read 1180 times)

Case

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Where to live - Wilmington DE
« on: April 08, 2018, 10:24:56 AM »
Iíll be moving to Wilmington DE in 1 year, where my work location will be just north of the city.
Iím trying to figure out where to live there.  I know The city of Wilmington itself is a dump, with lots of violent crime.  I want nothing to do with that, and donít mind a commute if that'swhat it takes.

What i dont know yet are all the nooks and crannies of Delaware,  as well as nearby PA and even Maryland.  I want to get a quiet house that is standalone, or possibly a duplex/townhome.  There ar tax incentives to live in DE, though i dont know much about DE yet (e.g. if its a place iíd want to live.)

Its very important that where i live be quiet and safe.  Ideally near a trail or quiet neighborhoods for running and biking leisure.  Like all mustachians, i prefer a short commute, but can tolerate up to a 45 min commute if thats what it takes.  I prefer LCOL, but again, I want to live in a nice community and not a dump. 

A lot of people at future-work-location live in southern PA (south of Philly) and make the commute... they pay more taxes and have a longer commute for it... not necessarily opposed to this.

Any thoughts from people who know the area?

tempesttenor

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 11:24:35 AM »
I lived and worked in Wilmington DE for a few years back in the early 2010's. There's really no reason to move all the way to southern PA if your work is just north of Wilmington. I lived in the suburbs east of route 202 and south of the DE/PA border. There are many apartment complexes in the area and I can personally recommend The Top of the Hill Apartments. I found the rents in the area to be very reasonable.

Like most American suburbs, I don't think I saw a single bicycle on the road when I lived there though =(

Noodle

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 11:38:29 AM »
Actually, Wilmington (like a lot of cities) is very granular. I lived in the Trolley Square neighborhood, fairly close to downtown, for seven years and never had a single alarming incident, and liked it a lot. The area around the Brandywine Zoo was pretty nice then also. There are other neighborhoods that are awful.

However, it sounds like you would like somewhere with a little more green space. Thanks to all the du Ponts who turned their estates into parks, there is a lot of it in the Wilmington area. Technically outside the city limits of Wilmington, but still feeling like part of the same community--as you go north on 202 and east of there, there are plenty of nice neighborhoods. Also the northwest quadrant (although at that time Hockessin was pretty spendy). I didn't like Route 2--it was pretty commercial--but I had friends in the developments north of there and their homes were lovely and that would put you close to the parks. Across the state line, Chadds Ford and the area around it is beautiful but also, I think expensive.

Since you've got a whole year, honestly it might be worth it to go down for a weekend and look around. If you want to live in PA, go ahead, but I really think you can find somewhere in New Castle County that you will like. For some reason a lot of people are negative Nellies about northern Delaware, but I thought it was a cool place to live--it had its problems, of course, but I also lived in Pennsylvania (not that area) and DE was much less of a headache. PA had WAY more bureaucracy and a lot of ongoing issues with the behavior of its government officials.

Case

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 12:54:50 PM »
Actually, Wilmington (like a lot of cities) is very granular. I lived in the Trolley Square neighborhood, fairly close to downtown, for seven years and never had a single alarming incident, and liked it a lot. The area around the Brandywine Zoo was pretty nice then also. There are other neighborhoods that are awful.

However, it sounds like you would like somewhere with a little more green space. Thanks to all the du Ponts who turned their estates into parks, there is a lot of it in the Wilmington area. Technically outside the city limits of Wilmington, but still feeling like part of the same community--as you go north on 202 and east of there, there are plenty of nice neighborhoods. Also the northwest quadrant (although at that time Hockessin was pretty spendy). I didn't like Route 2--it was pretty commercial--but I had friends in the developments north of there and their homes were lovely and that would put you close to the parks. Across the state line, Chadds Ford and the area around it is beautiful but also, I think expensive.

Since you've got a whole year, honestly it might be worth it to go down for a weekend and look around. If you want to live in PA, go ahead, but I really think you can find somewhere in New Castle County that you will like. For some reason a lot of people are negative Nellies about northern Delaware, but I thought it was a cool place to live--it had its problems, of course, but I also lived in Pennsylvania (not that area) and DE was much less of a headache. PA had WAY more bureaucracy and a lot of ongoing issues with the behavior of its government officials.

I would be somewhat nervous to try to find a nice neighborhood within a patchwork area, where going a few blocks takes you to dangerous streets.  The reason is that my wife likes to run outside frequently, and Iíll never be able to relax if she is out running inthat sort of area.  Illcheck out those north of wilmington areas you mentioned.

catccc

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2018, 09:18:41 PM »
State income taxes in PA are lower than DE, but if you work in DE, you'll still owe taxes to DE, since they don't have reciprocity with PA.  But you'll get a credit on your PA return for a portion of what was paid to DE, so ultimately you'll pay taxes at the higher DE rate even if you live in PA.  Property taxes in PA are generally higher, but if you are renting, than maybe that doesn't matter that much.  So I'm not really sure what the tax incentives are that you speak of, except for property taxes.

I live in a small Chester County PA town, right over the state line.  If you want quiet, right outside of a town like mine would be ideal.  You'll also spend less outside of town on housing than you would in town, at least in my town, where inventory is quite limited.  You'll find rent/home prices are higher in PA than DE, but it may be worth the cost.  The commute to Wilmington is not bad, maybe 20-30 minutes depending on where in Wilmington you are headed.  (It is really sprawling, Wilmington.)  My last job in DE was more like suburban Wilmington, and it was a 20 minute car ride, and at 10 miles one way, could have been biked if I had enough muscle for some killer hills. (I do not... yet.)  I also worked in the middle of the actual city, and that was 30 minutes, so it's still (IMO) a reasonable commute.  There is a lot of biking advocacy in the area, and a decent number of nice sized parks around.  Biking advocacy, running groups... that kind of stuff is available in the community.  There are enough cyclists for the motorists to complain about it around here.  I did a lot of rides training for my first tri with the community biking group last summer; it was great.  Feel free to PM for more details of my area if you want!

Someone mentioned Wilmington north around 202.  202 is fine if you don't mind your environment to be primarily strip malls.  I couldn't do it.

If you have kids or are putting roots down for eventual kids, PA is hands down the place to be because of the schools.  DE schools are a friggin' mess.  This isn't just a "both are okay and I think mine are better" thing.  I noticed when I worked in DE that anyone that had the salary to afford to live in PA did live in PA. The public schools in DE really do suck.  They've tried to make it better with a bevy of charters, but it is a highly disjointed effort... meanwhile, the public schools still exist and some can barely fill their seats.  Meanwhile, there are busing schemes to break up failing school districts and hide the the underperforming city schools in neighboring areas.  It's awful.  I have several DE friends with kids about my kids' ages, and not a single one of the families will send their kids to public DE schools.  A couple families home school, a couple do charters, and the rest all pay an arm and a leg for private school.   DH and I compared the cost of RE taxes in PA v. private schools in DE, and PA won by a landslide.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 01:12:55 AM by catccc »

mini schnauzer

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 10:31:35 PM »
I live near there... for North Wilmington, check out Arden, DE (also sometimes called Ardencroft).  It is a small, artsy community and most homes are smallish, older and quite individual, not cookie cutter at all.  Homes rarely come up for sale there, but if you have a year you may be able to locate something.  Rentals do pop up once in a while.  If you are looking to buy a home, use a realtor who is familiar with Arden as the land is communal, (not owned by the homeowner) sort of like an HOA and the realtor can explain it better than I can.

If you are looking a SE PA, I agree that Chester County is beautiful but the commute can be bad if you are too far away from Wilmington.  Also, from a mustachian perspective, avoid living south of Wilmington if you will work in North Wilmington because the traffic coming north in the morning is horrendous, as is going south in the evening. 

As for schools, the Brandywine School district (North Wilmington, DE) allows you to choice into other schools, but you have to sign up as soon as choice opens.  I hear it is very tight, and the better schools are filled to capacity.  Really, when it comes to schools, data shows a strong correlation between parental income level and school achievement.  So when you are in areas with lots of low income students, school performance is lower.  SE PA (some areas, not all) typically has higher income households, while Delaware has quite a mix of income levels in many schools.

catccc

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2018, 01:12:00 AM »
For SE PA, stay south of West Chester, and your commute should be within your limits.

And yes, parent income generally has a correlation to school performance, but if you look in the specific towns that are close to the DE/PA state line, the numbers don't follow that trend. There is plenty of money in Hockessin and Greenville, DE (two "nicer" town north of Wilmington).  Median HHI in Hockessin, DE is 121K, in Greenville it's 133K.  Just over the PA line from Hockessin, the first town you hit driving north is Kennett, where median HHI income is 84K and the schools are still better.  Although maybe you and your wife are committed to being kid free, and maybe this topic doesn't even matter!

I highly recommend you rent at first and explore the area before committing to buy a place, if you are thinking about buying.  I know a family that moved out here for a job in Wilmington and bought a cute little house in a neighborhood in New Castle.  While it was a cute little house, the neighborhood was "meh" and the surrounding environment was either industrial or just really run down.  It was probably one of the last places I would want to live if I was forced to live in DE.

bobfnbw

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2018, 11:54:21 AM »
We lived and worked in Delaware around 21 years ago, so don't know what its like now, but I did not like Delaware at all. Worked at Christiana hospital and lived in New Castle. The first place my company put us up in was a mess, and unsafe. The next place was ok. There are some pretty unsafe areas there. I don't know the city of Wilmington well except to drive thru it. I would try to find a safe area as close to your place of work as you can. The commute thru there is not fun as I recall, and pretty sure its not gotten any better.
Bob

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Re: Where to live - Wilmington DE
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2018, 06:32:01 PM »
Iíll be moving to Wilmington DE in 1 year, where my work location will be just north of the city.
Iím trying to figure out where to live there.  I know The city of Wilmington itself is a dump, with lots of violent crime.  I want nothing to do with that, and donít mind a commute if that'swhat it takes.

What i dont know yet are all the nooks and crannies of Delaware,  as well as nearby PA and even Maryland.  I want to get a quiet house that is standalone, or possibly a duplex/townhome.  There ar tax incentives to live in DE, though i dont know much about DE yet (e.g. if its a place iíd want to live.)

Its very important that where i live be quiet and safe.  Ideally near a trail or quiet neighborhoods for running and biking leisure.  Like all mustachians, i prefer a short commute, but can tolerate up to a 45 min commute if thats what it takes.  I prefer LCOL, but again, I want to live in a nice community and not a dump. 

A lot of people at future-work-location live in southern PA (south of Philly) and make the commute... they pay more taxes and have a longer commute for it... not necessarily opposed to this.

Any thoughts from people who know the area?


I lived in Delaware for 4 years,

If you want nice, move to Hockessin DelaWare.

If you want cheap check out Middletown.

Iíd you want nightlife Wilmington or the college town area of Newark (if youíre in your 20s or 30s, these are normal places to live)