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Old 12-18-08, 01:46 PM   #1
gotcha640
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Baltimore or Philly riders, help me out

My wife is looking at a few possible grad schools, Johns Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania at the top of the list now. I'm looking for any suggestions on where we should look for a house (neighborhood, zip code, street area), preferrably within 5 bikeable miles of the university. We'd be hoping to get rid of her car, so a neighborhood that's on a bus line for when it's raining, safe for when she has to study or work late, and while I know nothing will be "reasonably priced" by my Houston standards, I'd like to keep it under $250k. We've been in apartments long enough we really don't want a row house.

Also, we'd prefer a garage and a basement if I'm not being unreasonable. Feel free to tell me I'm dreaming.
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Old 12-18-08, 06:51 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by gotcha640 View Post
My wife is looking at a few possible grad schools, Johns Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania at the top of the list now. I'm looking for any suggestions on where we should look for a house (neighborhood, zip code, street area), preferrably within 5 bikeable miles of the university. We'd be hoping to get rid of her car, so a neighborhood that's on a bus line for when it's raining, safe for when she has to study or work late, and while I know nothing will be "reasonably priced" by my Houston standards, I'd like to keep it under $250k. We've been in apartments long enough we really don't want a row house.

Also, we'd prefer a garage and a basement if I'm not being unreasonable. Feel free to tell me I'm dreaming.
You might be able to get something for that price in Baltimore but it would definitely be a row house. There are transitional neighborhoods that may offer a single family detached at that price. Once you drive through you'll be able to tell. Lauraville is supposed to be an up and coming area with detached houses.

as for biking, beautiful riding north of Baltimore. Within five miles of Hopkins you're beginning to get into some good riding.
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Old 12-18-08, 08:57 PM   #3
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There are a lot of John Hopkins campuses and some of them are not in the most friendly part of town (The Homewood Campus is real nice). There are a couple of bike maps here: http://www.baltimorespokes.org/stati...70815081612328
The first one is marked bike lanes and trails and the other is common bike commuter routes in the city, that might help to figure out location to live that might be nice.
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Old 12-18-08, 09:01 PM   #4
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I can speak for Philly. I work at Penn and live about six blocks off-campus in West Philly (yeah, University City, but that's a made-up name...). Anyway, this area is very nice- lots of trees, great housing, excellent restaurants (many ethnic ones), and obviously very close to Penn. We've lived here for 12 years, after having lived in Center City for 25. At first, it was like suburban shock (this area is historically certified as a "trolley suburb"). Even though it's definitely the city, it's nowhere as urban as Center City.

OK, the downside. Even though the housing stock is really wonderful (lots of Victorians and Edwardians- mostly twins- nearly all with basements/cellars and most with yards), the prices have gone through the roof. The m0rtgage crisis hasn't really affected Philly, and this area is no exception. A typical 5-6 BR twin (about 3800 sq ft) will set you back at least 500K. HOWEVER, there are some condos in older buildings- one of which I know is extremely nice, as we had looked at it before we bought our house (back when prices were a mere fraction of what they are now). You are likely to find something in your range if you go this route.

BTW, we haven't had a car for 16 years, and are very happy. You can be comfortably car-free in Philly, as we have a pretty decent (not perfect, but decent) public trans system that will take you or connect you to just about anywhere you want to go. There are plenty of car rental opportunities here, including Philly Car Share and Zip Car, and the usual big name agencies.

And, the cycling here is excellent- over 300 miles of bike lanes in Philly, and TONS of great riding in the general area.

Let me know if you need more info- feel free to PM me. Good luck!

Last edited by MTBLover; 12-19-08 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 01-08-09, 07:29 AM   #5
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sorry, late on this reply. Baltimore is full of row houses so it may be tough to avoid one. Charles Village is nice and walkable/short ride to JHU. Mt Vernon is a few miles south of JHU and is definitely rideable. Hampden would also be worth checking out.
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Old 01-08-09, 03:26 PM   #6
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I go to Drexel which is located right next to UPenn. I currently live in Mantua, which is located north of Drexel above Spring Garden. Right outside of UPenn heading Southwest there are some really nice little areas, especially in the Baltimore Avenue area. That area has a whole ****-ton of different types of houses...from Victorians to rows with garages. Philly is an extremely bike-friendly city, and is really easy to get around on a bike. Plus UPenn is an awesome school. Good luck and let me know if you need anymore help.
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Old 01-09-09, 11:51 AM   #7
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I, too, can speak for Philly. I went to Penn undergrad and have lived in the city ever since (about 2 years). MTBLover says accurate things about the "University City" area, which is really just West Philly. Outside of this area you're probably not going to find a garage, except maybe in Northern Liberties, which is between about 2nd and 5th and Spring Garden and Girard, so just northeast of what people typically consider Center City. Here there is a lot of new housing, a lot in the form of condos. It's the trendy gentrifying (or gentrified, depending on who you ask) neighborhood, with great shops, bars, restaurants, etc. It's a little far for the ride to Penn, though (about 4 miles). Another good area is the Grad Hospital, which is I'd say b/w 17th and 23rd and South and Washington. This area is just south of the expensive, but really nice, Rittenhouse Square area. It's all row houses, but some are still super cheap w/ a basement and 3-4 BRs. A lot are still fixer-uppers, though. But, this area is really convenient to almost everything in Philly with a lot of young couples and grad students. Then, another place you might want to consider is South Philadelphia, which I know, is incredibly vague. Basically, I'd consider looking anywhere b/w Bainbridge and, well, not really sure how far, and east of Broad. There are obviously hit or miss blocks because I'm talking about such a big area, but I know a lot of ppl who are really happy here, near Palumbo Playground, and have really diverse neighbors. Not a bad ride to Penn, either. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-12-09, 07:24 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies. One option we're seriously considering is buying a fixer-upper that just needs the basics (floors, drywall, updating) and I'd work on that for a few months before getting a job. Glad to hear there's room for a long term flip.

I'll post again when we have interview dates, and see if I can get a bike tour set up.
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Old 01-12-09, 10:46 AM   #9
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You could look into the Powelton Village area as well (between 31st and 36th streets and Powelton Ave and Spring Garden) . The only problem is Drexel students can sometimes be annoying on weekend nights. But there are some really nice places that are a lot more affordable than near Penn.
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Old 01-14-09, 01:54 AM   #10
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If by Hopkins you mean the Homewood Campus in northern Baltimore City, you can definitely find the type of housing you are looking for in the area--detached , single family, many with garages and decent sized lots...AND under $250 K. The Lauraville/Hamilton /Montebello Terrace area is where you might want to start. Zip codes 21214 and 21206. There is also a great 1.5 mile bike/rec loop around Lake Montebello Resevoir, which sits between the neighborhoods mentioned above and the Hopkins campus. It's nice part of the commute,or just a fun place to log some miles without making a daylong excursion out of it. The distance to Hopkins is probably 2-5 miles, tops, depending on which neighborhood you choose. When you come to Baltimore for interviews, be sure to visit the Red Canoe Bookstore and Cafe . http://www.redcanoe.bz/index.php It's a fabulous community resource, and the owner Nicole (or any of the staff) will be happy to fill you in on the area. Lots of nice shops and eateries within walking distance, and not so trendy that a) everything is overpriced, b) everyone is "cooler than thou" . I like the area (I live in 21206) and like the city of Baltimore.

If your wife would be at the Hopkins Hospital or Bayview campus, I'd have to mull over which neighborhoods might suit you best, but could definitely offer some decent advise since I travel to all parts of Baltimore for work. Feel free to PM or post again with more info. Happy to help if you need more guidance.

LT

PS--If you go to the Red Canoe, have a muffin. The baker, Peter, is about 6'4" tall, and used to work in the steelmill--yeah, he was one of the guys dressed in the major protective space suit type garb standing in front of humongous furnaces or vats of molten steel...Traded in those dud for a set of oven mitts, and basically takes his favorite foods and "muffinizes them". Enjoy!
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