Author Topic: Housing in the Philadelphia Area  (Read 1324 times)

turtlepwr281

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Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« on: February 13, 2017, 11:01:46 AM »
Hello fellow mustachians,

Looking for input on affordable housing in the Philadelphia suburban area.  I work in Center City, wife is willing to relocate jobwise.  We're paying $1,100 for a 2 bedroom apartment in Downingtown and I'd love to reduce this expenditure further while retaining a train-based commute into the city. 

Any Philadelphian Mustachians have any input?

Longer thoughts: We looked at homes in and around Downingtown and were horrified by the condition of homes selling for 200 to 250k.  We decided to forgo purchasing (right around when we discovered MMM in August) and work on our networth instead.  We've finally gone positive NW (graduated college in 2010).  Debt free in 2018.  Kids shortly thereafter.

House prices here terrify me.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 11:05:56 AM by turtlepwr281 »

pbkmaine

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Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2017, 12:20:55 PM »
There's no need to buy until your kids are ready to start school. Why not rent a small place in Society Hill and walk to work?

turtlepwr281

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2017, 12:33:24 PM »
I appreciate the input.  First off, we've become more comfortable with the idea of renting long-term, especially after reading some FI thoughts on houses.

We've discussed moving into Center City, currently neither of us are fans of the city (leaving each day is the best part of my day), but for a temporary living situation to meet our goals, we have and would consider it.  Being Suburbanites all our lives, getting 100% away from a car is hard to fathom (even though we've moved to a roughly 1 car household).

There'd be an additional 2% tax on my salary if we moved into the city (in addition to the 2% wage tax I currently pay).

We are starting to consider walkable suburbs near the city, Narberth, Ardmore, Manyunk, Conshy etc but these are pricey and we'd need to find somewhere cheap.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 02:42:23 PM by turtlepwr281 »

lkell

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2017, 02:28:01 PM »
If your sole reason for moving is to reduce your rent, moving in closer to Philadelphia from Downingtown isn't going to make that goal easier, $1100 is already the lower end for rent on a decent 1-bed in metro Philadelphia. Deals nearer to train stations can be found but you'll either have to hustle or you can't be too particular - e.g. pick less than nicer neighborhood, take shabby/dated unit, garden unit, duplex or triplex with thin walls/floors.

If you want cheap, look beyond the Main Line (Ardmore, Narberth) to Delaware County. Hunt along the two train lines that head to Media and Newark DE, in places like Lansdowne, Secane, Ridley Park, etc. You're going to be more likely to find something as low as $800 (but these are not necessarily walkable towns.)

Other notes:

Manayunk isn't a suburb, it's a neighborhood within city limits. Parking is also a real issue in many areas of Manayunk if you plan to keep one car, let alone two.

Note with the Phila wage tax - it's currently 3.47% for non-residents and 3.9% for for residents - less than a half a percent difference. I don't know what you make but even someone with a six-figure salary still spends considerably more on a monthly regional rail pass with Septa than on the difference in wage tax. (Not sure how you're calculating the 2% now and 2% additional figures?)

That said, if you realize the greater commute savings by moving downtown close enough to walk to work, you'll be hard pressed to reduce your rent. While Philly has the 3rd-5th largest residential downtown (after Manhattan and SF it's debatable for 3rd/4th/5th against Boston and Chicago), it's not cheap. Center City under $1100 is close to being a non-starter unless you accept a small studio or tiny unrenovated trinity and that would be a very rare find in an affluent neighborhood like Society Hill.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 02:30:22 PM by lkell »

turtlepwr281

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2017, 02:40:44 PM »
First up, I was wrong.  I had no idea what the tax rates were for working in/residing in the city.  My research consisted soley of asking coworkers who are financially illiterate.  Thank you for the correction on rates.

That being said, we're renting a 2br unit in a nice complex for $1100.  The trainpass costs 191 pre-tax (woohoo) dollars.  Our takehome savings rate is currently 53% not including retirement contributions of 9% and 6% respectively.  We're trying to juice that because we'd like to have a child in the next 1-2 years (once student loans are gone) and we want to maintain some savings rate while we go single income. 

Your information corroborated my not fully-researched findings that rent gets expensive as you get closer.  Thank you again.


Dave1442397

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 05:07:25 AM »
You could also try NJ on the PATCO line. Collingswood may be in your price range, and has a nice main street with lots of restaurants, etc.

There's also Camden, which has some newer apartment buildings that you might like, and, at the other end of the scale, Haddonfield, which is a great town, but expensive.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2017, 06:05:26 AM »
If you want to consider Septa R2 line, Media and Swarthmore are nice/walkable with great schools.

turtlepwr281

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Re: Housing in the Philadelphia Area
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 06:20:10 AM »
I've done some Engineering work for the Patco line, and Collingswood and Haddonfield are both beautiful. I need to look into both areas.

Come to think of it, I've also done engineering work on the Media/Elwyn line too.  Media and Swathmore are nice areas.   Property taxes in Delco tend to offset the cheaper cost of homes though...