Philadelphia conjures up images of sports nuts, awesome museums, and some of the most opinionated people in the nation. The city ranks as one of the best places to live across the country thanks to a strong economy and tons of entertainment.
But not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Philly.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Philadelphia ‘burbs are the best of the best – the shining stars of the Philly area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Philadelphia proper, although Oreland certainly tries.
We examined the 25 biggest suburbs of Philadelphia to find out the best places to live. And while you won’t find them on the best places to live in Pennsylvania, these ten places are a little too far above and beyond the rest of the area suburbs of Philadelphia in terms of quality of life:
- Fort Washington
- Blue Bell
- Penn Wynne
- Plymouth Meeting
Read on to see how we determined the places around Philadelphia that deserve a little bragging rights. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
How we determined the best Philadelphia ‘burbs
To figure out how good a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the highest amount of those things. We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Most jobs
- Highest incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- High home values
- Lower crime
- Low cost of living
We crunched the numbers from the Census’s 2009-2014 American Community Survey and — like magic — got the list from best to worst. Then, we ranked the list based on places that are the best in all of these categories.
Read on below to learn more about these places around Philadelphia to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 25 suburbs ranked best to worst.
Note: Crime index numbers are based on an average of 100, so anything higher than 100 is worse.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Crime Index: 47
Median Income: $88,956
We’ll get the ball rolling with Oreland, the absolute best place to live around Philadelphia according to the data. In the world of best rankings, Oreland beat the competition pretty handily thanks to high family incomes and the best schools in the area.
The student-teacher ratio of Oreland area schools is 13 to 1. To put that into perspective, the highest teacher-student ratio we saw is in Doylestown, which has a 19 to 1 ratio.
This suburb in Upper Dublin and Springfield Townships is also a lot safer than most other areas.
2. Fort Washington
Crime Index: 30
Median Income: $113,162
Like Oreland, this Montgomery County suburb is on the north side of Philadelphia. If you live here, you’d see little crime in your neighborhood. And the home prices and household incomes are both the 2nd highest of any Philadelphia suburb we measured.
However, as you can imagine the cost of living is really high. You get what you pay for, right?
3. Blue Bell
Crime Index: 36
Median Income: $118,393
So far, all of the best places to live in the Philadelphia area are on the city’s north end. Is that a surprise?
Here in Blue Bell, families are loaded. But we didn’t just factor in how expensive the homes are. It’s also the 3rd safest place we measured, too. And only 4.3% of the residents are out of work, so if you lived here, you’d be neighbors to some of the most successful people in the area.
4. Penn Wynne
Crime Index: 29
Median Income: $102,232
This Lower Marion Township ‘burb is the absolute safest place you can live in the greater Philadelphia area. Of course, as you’d expect, the homes are very expensive, and the people who live here are some of the richest in the region.
The schools are about average, in terms of student attention. But you can bet a lot of the residents of Penn Wynne most likely send their kids to private school.
Crime Index: 38
Median Income: $89,393
This small suburb is on the northern fringes of Philadelphia. It’s relatively safe, and even more affordable than some of the other cities listed above.
They are big believers in positive thinking, here too. It’s home to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.
6. Plymouth Meeting
Crime Index: 53
Median Income: $67,943
This cute, safe suburb is just north of I-276 in northern Philadelphia. It isn’t necessarily the household incomes that make this a great place. The homes are relatively affordable, and there are few schools where kids get more personal attention in the public schools.
Most of the homes here are most likely immaculately decorated, since Plymouth Meeting is home to IKEA. And, there’s a whole lot to do here; the Plymouth Meeting Mall has lots of shopping and entertainment options.
Crime Index: 93
Median Income: $61,203
This might come as a surprise, but Phoenixville is one of the best Philadelphia suburbs you can live in. While high crime is certainly not something to be proud of, the unemployment rate of residents here is 3.8%, which is the 2nd lowest of all Philly suburbs we measured.
The schools here are the 3rd best in the region, and the cost of living is a steal.
Philadelphia Magazine called Phoenixville as one of the 10 best places to call home five years ago. Doesn’t look like much has changed since then.
Crime Index: 58
Median Income: $86,033
Audubon is a cute little place not too far from Phoenixville. What makes it so great? Home prices are the 7th highest of all Philadelphia suburbs we measured, which is a sign there’s a lot of demand to live here.
It’s safer than average, and most residents are gainfully employed.
Crime Index: 69
Median Income: $69,943
Ardmore is a fairly large suburb just north of downtown Philadelphia. Villanova University is just a short bike ride away, and the schools are the top rated in the entire Philly metro area.
The downside? Higher than average crime, and a slightly higher than average unemployment rate among residents.
Crime Index: 56
Median Income: $104,393
Rounding out the ten best Philadelphia suburbs to call home is Collegeville.
It’s pretty common knowledge that this is an affluent area and a college town (it’s home to Ursinus College, a private liberal arts college.)
Does that make it great? Not necessarily. But lower than average crime and homes that continue to increase in value helps. It’s a rapidly-growing area with lots of entertainment options nearby.
The areas around Philadelphia where dreams are made
Well there you have it — the best of the ‘burbs surrounding Philadelphia, with Oreland casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Philly aren’t all good. Where are the worst suburbs of Philadelphia? How about these five: Lansdale, Pottstown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill and Media.
For the chart below, these are ranked from best to worst.
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live Around Philadelphia
|King Of Prussia||11|
|Village Green-Green Ridge||14|