Relocating to the Philadelphia Area: Narberth/Penn Valley
If you would like to move to what’s known as the “heart” of the Philadelphia’s Main Line, you’ll be considering Narberth. From both a geographical perspective as well as personality standpoint, Narberth has many fans. Narberth and Penn Valley are adjacent and, while they are quite different, they share a post office. As a result, Penn Valley is not known outside of the local region. Both the GPS and the mail sorters recognize Penn Valley properties as Narberth addresses. Regardless, both locales are very popular due to their centralized location and lifestyles.
If you just want a quick overview, I encourage you to take a look at my “Neighborhood in a Nutshell” series. For the Narberth/Penn Valley post, click here. To read more in depth about Narberth/Penn Valley, and see some pictures of the area, click here. If you are interested in learning about other Main Line Philadelphia towns, please see my Main Line Neighborhood Guide.
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Narberth offers a village feel that is reminiscent of Mayberry (for those old enough to be familiar with The Andy Griffith Show). The borough center’s main street and surrounding blocks offer mom and pop shops and the basic services the community needs. Of course, there are some pubs and a pizza place as well as an old-time movie theater, laundromat and the train station. Just down the street are the tennis and basketball courts, playground and the library. It is the location and this walkable, friendly town center that is the main draw for people who choose to live in Narberth.
Narberth: What it’s like to live here
Narberth is a demographically diverse neighborhood and, though not very large, offers a variety of housing. Driveways aren’t common and garages are beyond scarce. Narberth is old! As far as housing, there is some variety, though. If you can tolerate something small, perhaps you’d be interested in a twin. These tend to be on the north side and have very little acreage. On the south side of the train, you’ll find some larger twins, often three-story homes with large porches, as well as several singles of a similar style. None of the lots are large and Narberth is all about being neighborly. The largest properties and most expensive homes in Narberth are just the ones near Merion Elementary School. Even though they are old, they tend to be a bit larger and on bigger lots. If they’ve been updated, they are in very high demand.
Because this area is quite old, few houses have family rooms; the layouts tend to be much more vertical, with all bedrooms upstairs. Basements are often unfinishable because of low ceiling heights. Sometimes you’ll find first floor powder rooms, but not always. Wood floors, older windows and porches are some common features to Narberth houses and if you don’t need a ton of space, you might find something here that works. Beware, though properties go very fast here due to the incredibly strong sense of community as well as the convenience of the location.
Penn Valley Overview
In spite of its location right next to Narberth, most of Penn Valley is surprisingly different. Average lot sizes are about an acre and homes are large. Many were built in the mid 20th century and spacious contemporaries and split levels are common. Just about everyone has a driveway and at least a 2-car garage. There are some older homes, too, like the ones along Bryn Mawr Avenue that are much more traditional in style. There are few sidewalks and people tend to keep to themselves here.
Penn Valley: What it’s like to live here
Penn Valley has a few defined neighborhoods. Greentree Lane is a hilly street that is tucked away in the corner of Penn Valley and has mostly contemporary and split-level homes. Depending on the side of the street, houses are either up a steep hill or down a steep hill. As a result, you can buy a lot of house for the money here. The Penn Valley streets located just to the north of Montgomery Avenue are popular as the homes are mostly larger stone colonials and because it’s quick walk to all of the services on Montgomery. These properties don’t come up for sale frequently. There is also a large neighborhood near Welsh Valley Middle School of large homes on lots that average around 3/4 of an acre. They are mostly contemporary and split-levels and the streets are wide and mostly flat, encouraging walkers and joggers.
If you are relocating to the Philadelphia/Main Line area, please go to my relocation tab. If you’d like to read other blog entries related to relocation, please scroll down a couple of lines and click on RELOCATION (to the right of FILED UNDER). Thanks!