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Old June 29th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #1
bigbri20
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What's it like living in Delaware

I'm a frequent "lurker" of the site and finally signed up and post my first message.

I was born and raised in New Jersey (my wife also) and we've lived in Charlotte NC the past 8 years. After our daughter was born we decided to move closer to our family and friends still living in NJ. Next weekend we'll be visitng Wilmington.

What are some key things to know about the area? In talking with a realtor Brandywine seems to be the area to live in.

How about schools? Another big decision was education for our child(ren). The area we live in now has one of the best elementary schools and middle schools in the state. But the school system as a whole in our mind is a joke.

We love the warmer weather in the south but that's the only thing we can think of as really missing if/when we leave. We miss a lot of things about the north and with our friends and relatives having children we're starting to feel left out and also feel like we're missing out on a lot of things.

We're thinking Delaware because it's still a 2-hour buffer when we need it but close enough to join in on things. Also it seems housing is a little cheaper and taxes aren't as bad.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Will there be a big adjustment for us or do you think our 24 years of living in NJ will come back to us and we'll fit right back in with the flow of things?
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Old June 29th, 2006, 10:15 PM   #2
NovaWolverine
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Delaware is a nice place to live. It's not really hectic, but it's not slow. It has tons of charm, a good location. Depending on where, obviously, it can be a different experience. The Wilmington area is nice, good amount of activity. Delaware is a state where you definitely don't have to go far before you're in the sticks. Culturally, it really is in between, yet not too much different from South Jersey. I live in DC now, I have friends and family in Delaware and work with some people from Wilmington and Newark, Delaware and they're very nice. They seem very country compared to the rest of the east coast. But not in an un-educated, ignorant way, but culture and pace.

I know there are some good private schools in Delaware, I don't know about public schools. It is cheaper. I think you should do fine, 24 yrs in Jersey will help you.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 10:59 PM   #3
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As far as schools go, the great schools are all private schools, like Tower Hill, sanford, Tatnall, and others. These schools will provide a great education, but they will also charge you an arm and a leg: I believe tuition for some of these schools is more than you would pay for a year in college.

The catholic schools are good, and a little cheaper, but they are somewhat religious. They admit people of any religion though (which doesn't make much sense to me).

The Charter School of Wilmington is a great school, and probably the best school for education, and it functions like a public school, so i don't think you pay. However, you have to be extremely smart to get in, as just about everyone in new castle county tries to get in there.

the public schools are decent, but i would never hold public schools in too high of an opinion in any place. but if that's your only choice, most of them do the job.

As for places to live, I think you'll find some good spots. the city of Wilmington is very nice, and there are some very nice neighborhoods in the city. It's pretty easy to determine which neighborhoods are the good ones and which are the bad ones. if you want to live outside of the city, the city of Newark is a decent choice. Newark's local government is a little too controlling for my taste, but it has pretty low crime and is a nice large town only 10 miles from downtown Wilmington. If you are looking at more generic suburban areas, I would recommend Brandywine Hundred and Pike Creek. These areas were built up 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago, and so the trees have grown up and they are nicely wooded areas. The Pike Creek area is also a little hilly, which can be nice. Both the Brandywine Hundred and Pike Creek areas have private swim clubs that dot the area, and they are nice places to meet others who live in your area. These suburban areas are more dense, and so it's not too far of a drive, walk, or bike ride to a supermarket or restaurant or anything.

I think you'll find plenty of places that are nice to live and work at here in northern Delaware. Wilmington is a great small city, and if there's something that you can't find in Wilmington, you can find it in Philly (30 minutes away), Baltimore (1 hour away), DC (90 minutes away), or New York City (2.5 hours away).
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Old June 30th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #4
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Delaware reminds me of a warmer, more business-friendly Connecticut...

If our politicians acted more like the ones down there, the state would boom...
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Old June 30th, 2006, 07:13 AM   #5
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Delaware's definately a different story if you're young, but for raising a family, its perfect.

Like Matt mentioned, Pike Creek and Brandywine Hundred are great suburban areas to raise a family. Hockessin is another to look at, but its pricey compared to the other two. Wilmington has some very nice neighborhoods as well; its all about what you're looking for.

Your NJ background will definately help. Like others said Delaware is not as fast-paced as NJ or other surrounding areas but we are definately not slow-paced by any means.

Public schools are ok around here. I've gone to private school in DE all my life, but have many friends that went to public school and they have no complaints. There are some public schools that are better than others though. (If you do move here just post on the forum b/c i can recommend which schools to stay away from)

The thing that I like the most is that we live so close to a lot of things. I constantly find myself up in Philly for dinner or just to walk around. I'm in New York once or twice a month, and DC and Baltimore are easily accessible as well.

I recommend letting a realtor take you around to different areas in your price range. In my opinion i'd say the farther north you are the better the areas will be (denser, more to do).

I wish you well in your search....don't hesitate to ask more questions in the future.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 07:10 PM   #6
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I would describe the state as mostly suburbs with not so much urban to tie it all together. Most of the state doesn't have that much to do with Wilmington. New Castle county feels much more like a philly suburb than a Wilmington one.

I grew up in Sussex County and I despise the erratic and undirected development down there and in Kent County. Its all sprawl everywhere.

If you're into suburban lifestyle, then Delaware would probably be a good fit for you.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 02:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysonjaz
I would describe the state as mostly suburbs with not so much urban to tie it all together. Most of the state doesn't have that much to do with Wilmington. New Castle county feels much more like a philly suburb than a Wilmington one.

I grew up in Sussex County and I despise the erratic and undirected development down there and in Kent County. Its all sprawl everywhere.

If you're into suburban lifestyle, then Delaware would probably be a good fit for you.

I agree. Delaware is definately suburbia (and Sussex and Kent counties are getting out of control).

I'd suggest looking at Chester/Montgomery County, PA, specifically the King of Prussia or Main Line area (Berwyn, Devon, etc.). The taxes in PA are significanty higher and the home prices in these areas are high, but there are plenty of areas with decently priced houses. The lifestyle in this area IMO is better than Delaware (more to do, just feels like a nicer area). If i remain on the east coast after college I will no doubt wind up around there.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 02:42 AM   #8
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Downstate is too slow and country-like for me. Even the suburbian places are too dull. They are nice houses and cheap land and everything, but there nothing to do nearby. The only nice places downstate to me are the beaches and Dover. Dover is kind of like a Newark, but without Wilmington nearby. I would gravtitate towards Wilmington just because there is more to do. If you want decent sized city, consider moving into the city of Wilmington. If you want some nice suburbs, consider the Pike Creek and Brandywine Hundred areas. If you want a large town that's nearby a bigger city and kind of feeds off of it, consider Newark.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 05:09 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the info! This helps a lot.
Suburban lifestyle doesn't bother me. I grew up in Union county NJ, it doesn't get much more suburban than that!

We will be going around Wilmington with a realtor this coming weekend. We had met back around Christmas time but never had a chance to really see the area. I was up in March for an interview but again didn't have much time to see anything.

I like the idea of being close to all those cities, and our family and friends will be close.

If all goes well I'll be posting again for things to do once we're here!
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 07:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbri20
How about schools? Another big decision was education for our child(ren). The area we live in now has one of the best elementary schools and middle schools in the state. But the school system as a whole in our mind is a joke.
Most of Delaware resides north of the canal (in the chicken head of the state, so to speak). This area is intensely suburban, although I've never considered it to be a suburb of Philly. IMHO, NCCo is faster-paced than the bulk of Jersey, but it's obviously slower paced than the areas around Camden, NYC, and the Jersey shore.

One downside of Delaware is the limited choices for universities. If you live in certain states, your daughter could benefit from tuition discounts at prestigious state universities. The University of Delaware, while not bad, isn't prestigious.

Where you choose to live is going to partly depend on what you can afford. Newark has some nice housing, but Hockessin is probably the place where most mainstream upper middle class people reside. For the uber rich, there's Greenville. Brandywine Hundred is similar to Hockessin, but doesn't seem quite as idyllic, although its close proximity to Wilmington and Philly offers its own advantages. The Brandywine Hundred and Greenville together straddle Route 202 (Concord Pike), a major shopping thoroughfare.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 07:46 PM   #11
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There is sprawl in kent county? WHen Im down there all I see is farms. Kent county is so underdevloped compared to new castle.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 11:31 PM   #12
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Is it very much like just another part of Philly's suburbs, like parts of NJ, CT, and RI are of their nearby big cities?
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Old July 4th, 2006, 03:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samsonyuen
Is it very much like just another part of Philly's suburbs, like parts of NJ, CT, and RI are of their nearby big cities?
the state border is a bigger boundary than outsiders would think. the state of delaware functions as it's own "metro region", with it's own big newspaper, public transportation, etc. another easy way to put it is this: if a delawarean is in massachusetts or somewhere else within a day's drive, and someone asks them where they live, they will almost certainly say "delaware". no one would say "philly". there's more of a comdradery within our state than there is between portions of delaware and philadelphia. there are some thing that we as delawareans talk about that even a philadelphian would be somewhat of an outsider with: high school sports, who's living where at what beach for the summer, what college in delaware someone is going to, where someone works in wilmingotn or in newark, etc.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 04:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiconnoisseur
IMHO, NCCo is faster-paced than the bulk of Jersey, but it's obviously slower paced than the areas around Camden, NYC, and the Jersey shore.
New Castle County is by far the most developed area in Delaware, and has a very suburban feel about it. But faster paced than the bulk of Jersey? You just named the bulk of Jersey. North Jersey, the Jersey shore, and the tri-county region across from Philly.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjerseyrez
New Castle County is by far the most developed area in Delaware, and has a very suburban feel about it. But faster paced than the bulk of Jersey? You just named the bulk of Jersey. North Jersey, the Jersey shore, and the tri-county region across from Philly.




As you can see, only about 20% of Jersey has the same or greater population density as Northern NCCo.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 12:20 PM   #16
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One more thing: the population density around NCCo falls off fairly rapidly once you traverse the border into adjacent states. Political boundaries, while seemingly arbitrary, do influence where people choose to live. For this reason, Northern NCCo feels like a suburban island unto itself.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #17
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I stand corrected then. The fact is that there is no state in the Union that has a higher percentage of developed area than undeveloped. Maybe Rhode Island? Just taking a look at the comparison map you showed proves how populated NJ is, even compared to a much smaller state like Delaware.

But this is getting off topic, the topic being that the poster is looking for input on what Delaware is like.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 05:55 AM   #18
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New Castle CO, Delaware can be very suburban, but in differing ways. New Castle is urban-suburban, something more like poorer suburbs of North or South Jersey or maybe Delaware County, PA, where crime is pretty high. This area is more ghetto, and fast-paced than some other burbs.

North Wilmington (Brandywine Hundred, not the city) is more traditional, upper-middle class white collar, and is arguably hybrid Wilmington-Philadelphia suburb. This area is tranquil, cleaner, more expensive, and has an older suburb feel, where trees are large, and you don't feel like you are in an empty, new subdivision built yesterday.

Kirkwood Highway towards Newark area is very lifeless, I feel. Neighbors are very very disconnected here for the most part, and these are very mixed people.. local yokels, people who moved from the cities, some yuppies, old people. No sidewalks. Just stripmall after stripmall, subdivision after car dealership, this, my friends is hell (where I moved 2 ys ago.)

Hockessin is the rural-suburban area, is very slow paced, has colossal houses, and is for money makers who want nobody to know where they live, as their huge subdivision is hidden off a small back road lined with trees and BOOM there's a huge rich neighborhood.

Greenville is Uber-rich, and untouchable mainly if you aren't a DuPont, Capano, or a Senator. This is all old money. These people have mile-long driveways, statues, and oddly have zip codes nobody else has.

The Maryland suburbs (Elkton) are very very cheap, mainly rustic, and a bit trashy, although this is changing for the better.

The Jersey suburbs (Pennsville, Penns Grove, etc) are very rustic, but the Jersey burbs around Wilmington are very marred by the death of industry, as the towns haven't evolved since the '50s due to a tax issue. There are really nice little areas there, although there is a fair share of trashiness in Salem County, and I do have to say the whole area is stuck in 1965.

If I could pick any suburb in Northern Delaware, it would definitely be North Wilmington. Closer to the airport (Phila), good shopping, nice, old neighborhoods, clean crime rates, convenience, and the neighbors there seem to want to be your neighbor, instead of staring at you oddly and walking back into their house.

I grew up in Wilmington city, and almost every kid I grew up with either sells drugs, is a pill feen, cokehead, alcoholic, xannypopper, dopehead, whatever. Wilmington sits right on I-95, and has, I have to say, a huge drug epidemic. Even the dorky kids do drugs and drink, and, out of a random 30 kids from when I went to school in the city limits, most are in really bad shape, been through rehab, went to jail, etc.. I hate to say I recommend against raising kids in the city proper. It's just a bad influence. No movie theatres, poor public transit at night, ample trouble to get into, bad crime. Bad for the kiddies.

Last edited by Joe84323; July 6th, 2006 at 06:13 AM.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 06:09 AM   #19
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Yea your better off living in chester county. And the truth is what is it like to live in delaware? It sucks.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 06:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfHound
Yea your better off living in chester county. And the truth is what is it like to live in delaware? It sucks.
Chester County? Puke.

Montgomery County is more where it's at, or maybe Delaware county around Ardmore. Do you really assert Kennett Square, Mexico, the Mushroom (and Manure) capitol of the world over Wilmington?

Haha get real
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