Narberth/Penn Valley Highlights
Shopping: gifts, women’s accessories, clothing, jewelry, office supplies, pharmacies, pet supplies
Food: coffee shops, restaurants, delis, supermarkets, bagels, cheese shop
Entertainment/Culture: movie theater, Dicken’s festival, parks/playgrounds, library, fireworks
Many cars sport bumper stickers which say, “Narberth: heart of the Main Line” which describes not only its location, but the affection many locals have for this special community just 20-25 minutes from Philadelphia. The Narberth post office (located in the borough of Narberth) serves both the borough and the surrounding area known as Penn Valley, which is part of Lower Merion Township. The housing styles and feels of those two distinct areas are quite different. Technically, the borough portion (roughly one square mile) is NOT part of Lower Merion Township. Narberth has its own police force and used to have its own school. Now the students who attend public schools use the Lower Merion Township schools and Narberth residents have a separate tax that goes to Lower Merion for use of township services.
The defining feature of the borough of Narberth is its old-fashioned “Mayberry” feel. Click here to see Narberth’s schedule of events. The heart of Narberth is its village center, mostly along Haverford Rd. There, residents can take care of the majority of their basic needs including the dry cleaner, laundromat, movie theater, small grocery store, a vegetarian restaurant, a family-owned Italian restaurant, ,a liquor store, Character Development (a great toy store), salon and a few gift and clothing stores. There are also a few bars/pubs which have very loyal followings. The merchants often host sidewalk sales and band together for other events like the April 5 K run and the annual Charles Dickens Festival. Narberth is a walking neighborhood, where it’s easy and safe to walk from most homes to the town center. Many residents take advantage of Narberth’s walkability, which leads to a very strong sense of community with impromptu conversations taking place on “the street” frequently. Narberth is also host to the largest fireworks display in the area every 4th of July.
Housing in most of the borough is modest—older, fairly small twins as well as singles. The typical borough house might be three or four (small) bedrooms with only one full bath upstairs and a powder room on the main floor. Very few have family rooms. Lots are small, in general, though along the edges of the borough, lots and houses are a little bigger and some have been updated very nicely. Most have no garages, though some have driveways. Prices, however, can seem high in terms of what a dollar buys per square foot: understand that a big percentage of the market value of a Narberth property is the neighborhood (the part that cannot be owned!). There is one enclave called Narbrook Park, which is a private (meaning residents and visitors of residents only) neighborhood and very much in demand. Houses rarely come up for sale there and, when they do, they are sold quickly. Narberth has a mixed population in terms of age, phase of life, educational level and lifestyle.
The borough and Penn Valley sections are neatly divided by Montgomery Avenue, which provides services including gas, frozen yogurt, jewelry, banks, Narberth Beverage, a supermarket, Manhattan Bagels, Wawa, Rite Aid, Staples, pet supplies and the Penn Valley Pub.
Penn Valley shares the zip code with the borough, but little else. First of all, the residents are a little more homogeneous. Mostly professional people live in Penn Valley and they are usually not “just starting out” (except at the Oak Hill Condominium, a building complex that offers high rise units as well as other options in low-rise buildings). Properties here are mostly over an acre and few streets have sidewalks. This combination, (as well as the fact that, other than the shopping on Montgomery, there is very little in the way of commercial enterprise) leads to a feeling very different from that of the borough: neighbors may wave to each other when they pass in their cars, but in many area, that’s about it in terms of “community”. Properties are very well kept (bear in mind that this area is heavily tree covered and tree work is expensive!). Housing varies and there are some very old ones, but the contemporary and split level are well-represented here. The section near Welsh Valley Middle School is a desirable neighborhood in that it has very little drive through traffic and is mostly flat (not all of Penn Valley is). Many homes in this area have pools and the wide streets are conducive to jogging and walking. Penn valley feels much more like what you might expect the Philadelphia suburbs to be.
For more information on living in Narberth, click here.