Pre-School and Daycare

Philly area moms come in!

Hi, I posted over on the Philly board, but it seems pretty slow. My family is likely relocating from Chicago to Philly this year. We have two boys: 4 and 1, and are hoping to add a third someday. My husband will be working in Cherry Hill, NJ and I will need to find a job. DH's family is from Philly and live in Wayne/Havertown now but they are all older (so they don't know much about schools and raising young kids there).

Any advice or recommendations on family friendly places to live (good schools, good daycares, access to activities for young kids, neighborhood feel)? What else do I need to know as a mom to young kids living in Philly for the first time? Are there waitlists for daycares? 

We've been eyeing Media as a top choice that wouldn't be a horrible commute to Cherry Hill or the city.

I'd welcome any words of wisdom!


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Re: Philly area moms come in!

  • I live in South Jersey ( and work in West Philly) and sorry to say, but I think that you'll find it's a terrible commute.  The main commuter roads through Phillyand South Jersey just cannot handle the amount of traffic on them.  Rush hours are awful. Sorry. :-(

    I don't know a whole lot about Philly area neighborhoods.  Friends with kids live in the Queen Village and Northern Liberties areas and always have plenty to do. Every one has good and bad parts, but there are lots of great kid things around the city.. .the zoo, the Please Touch Museum.  In Jersey, the Adventure Aquarium and Children's Gardens at the Camden riverfront are fun.  We also have the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill.

     I guess it's not a whole lot of help!  

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  • I also live in South Jersey. I work in Center City, and the previous poster is right about the commute.  Getting around this area is difficult at best.  I would not want to commute to CH from Media or anywhere west of Center City. 

    If your DH will be working in Cherry Hill, you have a lot of great options for places to live nearby in NJ:  Haddonfield, Moorestown, Mt. Laurel, Medford, etc.  Given that he will be working in South Jersey, I would personally not choose to live in the city.  It really depends if you are city people or suburbs people. 

    We currently use a national daycare chain based locally and we absolutely love it.  I don't like giving too much info out on the board, but feel free to PM me for more information if you are interested in the Moorestown/Mt Laurel area and want to know about our daycare.

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  • Thanks for the insight. We definitely don't want to live in the city, but the leads I have on jobs for me are likely all in Philadelphia. The thing I'm worried about is taxes on the Jersey side - that and being too far away from DH's family so they aren't actually able to be helpful. DH used to commute from Wayne to Cherry Hill on a daily basis way back when, and that is a haul. I would have thought Media would be far better.

    I'm also used to Chicago traffic where it takes an hour plus to get anywhere. I've seen Philly in rush hour, and it isn't anywhere near as bad as Chicago on a good day.


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  • I live in Narberth and I love it.  I think any town on the Main Line/Lower Merion school district would be a great choice.  The schools here are fantastic and we're only 15-20 minutes away from the Philly Zoo and the Please Touch Museum.  It takes about 20 minutes to get into the city, about a half hour to Cherry Hill.  It's extremely kid friendly and there are tons of young families everywhere.  Taxes are reasonable compared to Jersey.
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  • I definitely agree about the commute west of the city to Cherry Hill.  Bad news.  If you're looking to commute into the city, check out PATCO.  It's a rail system that connects South Jersey with Philly.  I'm in Haddonfield and am within walking distance to 2 stations that take me right into Center City.  

    You're right about the taxes in South Jersey.  They're high.  I'm not sure how they compare to each other, but some up-and-coming towns in the area are Haddon Heights, Collingswood, Audubon, and Haddon Township.  The Cherry Hill district is huge.  Marlton, Medford, Mount Laurel, Moorestown are all nice and have good schools too. 

    Good luck!  I grew up in this area, so feel free to PM me if you have questions. 

  • I grew up in South Jersey (Haddon Heights) and now live in Drexel Hill. I'm gonna go against the grain and say that the commute from Media to Cherry Hill won't be too bad.  You can find back roads to 95 and it's a pretty quick shot from there over the Walt and up 130.  You'll be going against traffic for the most part.  I love Media, it's a great town and the school district is good.  I would take a look at the total monthly payment (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) of towns in SJ & PA and see if the difference will outweigh the commuting costs.  Good luck!
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  • honestly-

    media isn't a super area- it has been going downhill for a while.

    I would look towards king of prussia- you have VERY Easy on and off commute-  and close enough to the city and NJ.

    There is a RIDICULOUS amount of awesome family fun stuff to do in this area. You have sooooo much to choose from-

    If you want more info- I would be MORE THAN HAPPY to talk to you- you can PM me.

    I used to live in Peoria (grandparents are still there) - however I grew up in Philly and have been in the area forever.

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  • I agree with the other posters, Media to Cherry Hill during rush hour would be rough. I would look at the towns in Lower Merion township: Narberth, Penn Valley, Wynnewood are all nice, family friendly, and close to center city. It is also one of the best school districts in the state.
  • We live in Wayne and love it here, but I agree with others that anything this far out would be a tough commute for your husband. I would second or third the recommendations for Narberth and Wynnewood. I'd also be happy to recommend our pediatrician in Wynnewood if you do end up deciding on that area.

    Good luck!

    Emily 11.29.2007 | Kate 4.3.2010 | James 8.22.2013
  • I responded over on the local board but didn't know if you would go back...

    I think Media is great.  I have several friends who recently purchased there and they love it.  Good school district, quaint shopping district with neighborhood feel, etc..  For commuting into the city, the R3 is great and reliable.  As for a commute to Cherry Hill, it wouldn't be my favorite but I live in Philly and commute within the city and it still takes me an hour so I have a high tolerance. 

    I agree with PP who mentioned the Lower Merion district including Ardmore, Wynnewood, Narberth, etc..  That is a great area too with a highly regarded school district.  But you will get more house for your money in Media.  I would not go out as far as KOP considering your husband's job and your prospective jobs.  Talk about a crappy commute.  Seriously, I76 sucks going west on most mornings and evenings, especially past the Belmont exit.   And like I said in my other response, don't completely rule out living in Jersey.  May make sense for you depending on how much you plan on seeing your ILs.

    Waits for daycares range based on area but you should be ok with your kids considering the age.  The worst is in CC or University City where the waits for infants can be 16 months. 

    Good Luck! 

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