Relocating from Chicago- advice? — The Bump
Philadelphia Babies

Relocating from Chicago- advice?

We are 95% sure we will be relocating this year from Chicago to Philly for my husband's job. He'll be in Cherry Hill, NJ. He's from Philly and his family is all there, but he hasn't lived there in 10+ years and never with children. His family is mostly in Wayne/Havertown. We were eyeing Media, just because we like being close to a town center with restaurants, shopping, etc., and the commute to Cherry Hill and the city seemed reasonable.

What do I need to know about raising young kids in Philly? We have two boys: age 4 and 1 and are thinking of having a third in the future. I work outside of the home full-time, but would need to get a job obviously.

- Are daycares tough to get into? i.e. waitlists?

- Do they have K4 in Philly? My oldest doesn't turn 5 until the end of October so he will likely need to wait until 2013 for kindergarten.

If there are any great resources for moms that you can recommend or good school districts, daycare info, etc. or general advice, I would welcome it!


Re: Relocating from Chicago- advice?

  • I live in Havertown and my H commutes to Camden, NJ.  We lived in Philadelphia and moved here for several reasons:

    It was still close to the city

    H could commute without having to take 76 (the Schuylkill Exp - a horrific traffic nightmare)

    The school district (Haverford Township) is very good

    I am a SAHM and am able to walk to the library, several playgrounds, a little town center.  Our kids will also be able to walk to the middle school and high school

    We like older homes with character and Havertown has them.  It is also very family friendly, our block has tons of kids

    I can't help with daycares, but I have never heard of anyone having an issue getting into one.  My DS will turn 4 in March and will start a pre-k program at a local Episcopal church.  There aren't public pre-k's, but there are tons of options, mostly at churches, but they aren't faith-based programs

    Media is a great area, I have a couple friends there and they love it.  It is a great school district.  Also check out Ardmore - they have an adorable downtown with cute shops and restaurants, easily accessible to the city and one of the best school districts (Lower Merion). 

    Philadelphia Magazine does an annual Best Schools issue, check out  We absolutely LOVE Havertown and are so happy we moved here, but there are lots of great options.  Good luck!

    DS 3.12.08
    DD 7.11.09
    DD 8.01.13
  • Thanks so much for the insight!


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  • Media is a good choice.  You are pretty far from the city but the Regional Rail in and out of that area is good and dependable.  It is a good school district too.

    The wait lists totally depend on the area.  For older kids, I don't think you will have a problem finding spots.  The closer to the city, the worse it gets.  For example, good daycare centers in University City and CC often have waits well over a year for infants. 

    Also, don't rule out living in Jersey considering that is where your husband will work.  I have many friends who live on that side of the river and are quite happy. 

  • I think the schools in Media are good, but I hear Strath Haven is awesome and that may cover part of Media.  Lower Merion, Tredyffrin Eastown and Radnor are always rated three of the top districts in the state and are not too far from where you are looking.  You can actually search by school district for homes on

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  • imageLalaMama81:

    Love Media, would have bought there if it had been closer to my DH's work. It's very walkable, a few great restaurants, a Trader Joes, not too farms/farmers markets.

    Honestly, as much as I love the PA part of the Philly area, I don't know that I'd go out of my way to live in PA if your DH is working in NJ. Lots of people cross the river both ways for work, but the short period of time I did it, it was awful, even w/ out 76. Anytime there is a sports game you will hit traffic on the 95 portion of the drive, summers are rough w/ shore traffic. Sorry to be a downer. 

    If you decide to go the PA route I'd definitely stick with Media or further east/north. I would not move out towards the Mainline (Ardmore, Wayne, etc). That's probably a 40 minute drive w/o traffic & 476 can be a nightmare, too.

    Most places in the area you need to be 5 by Sept. 1 to do Kinder. Most places there is no pre-k public option. Most people by me (north of city) send their kids to church or temple affiliated preschools, some are religious & some aren't.

     I don't think daycare will be a huge deal, especially if you aren't working right away & have time to find one while you job search.  

    I just wanted to say that my H can get to work without taking 95 or 476.  There are so many different ways to get to the bridges that do not involve highways from the Havertown/Ardmore area.

    It does take him about 40 minutes, but he isn't stuck in traffic.  It is worth it for us because we would never want to live in NJ

    DS 3.12.08
    DD 7.11.09
    DD 8.01.13
  • There's lots of benefits to NJ, school systems are great!  I wouldn't discount it!  Cherry Hill is a great place to raise kids with great schools.
  • Haverford School district is great, that is where I went and grew up.  Media is good, but we were looking specifically at Rose Tree Park area.  Another great area to live is Broomall or Newtown Square.  They are right next to Media.  If you are willing to commute a little further, you can actually get some great deals in Chaddsford Kennett Square and Chester Springs right now.  I am not sure about the school district in Chester Springs (we plan on doing Catholic School), but Chaddsford and Kennett Square are good.  Just wanted to give you some other options because you never know where you are going to find a house you like.  I would try to stay clear of Chester and the surrounding areas because it is not the best neighborhood.  Also, the city (West Philly) seems to be pushing out into Upper Darby area.  So you just have to be aware of that when looking.  I hope no one gets offended by my post, but I have really seen the area change over the years and wanted to make her aware of the changes. 
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  • If you're looking at the Western Suburbs, you can't really go wrong with any of the suggestions here (<3 Havertown & Media).

     I live in Ardmore -- Lower Merion School District -- And I would definitely recommend Narberth as well... they're very tight-knit communities with a lot of young families in them. 

    If you're looking for the scoop on preschool, child care & camps... NOW is the time to register... I know a lot of people who got in last year just a couple weeks before school started, but the trend seems to be settling on your summer and fall plans for the under-6 set by January/February around here. 

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