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So, my husband and I are (VERY tentatively) considering a UPENN/Princeton combo. (Me to UPENN, him Princeton) I was wondering if it was possible to do a train commute between the two locations? We would likely live in Princeton, and I would commute to Philly. If a train commute is reasonable, any ideas on how long travel time would be, and an approximate monthly cost? I'm not familiar with the east coast, so all of this is new to me! Mapquest seems to make it look do-able, but I'm sure realistically it's another story....

Any help is GREATLY appreciated!

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You're looking at about 40/45 minutes by train. The train is Amtrak, and it goes directly to Princeton. Once you're off the train it's a probably a 10-20 minute walk depending on what part of campus you're going to. Otherwise it's like 5 min by car. Also, Amtrak's standard fare for anything on the coast is 40ish at the cheapest (roundtrip). So it really just depends on which train/time you catch. Try the AAA discount to get a few bucks off. It's doable--I know ppl that drive it. If you could carpool with someone that might help even more (in terms of cash, but prob not time b/c of traffic).

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Are you sure the Amtrack still stops regularly at the Princeton station? My understanding was that they cut way back on routes (which is why husband is planning to commute via car)...

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First, Amtrak has never stopped at Princeton Station (the one on campus), as far as I know. It does stop at Princeton Junction, though not regularly, and from there you would take NJ Transit's Dinky to Princeton Station (or a bus or a cab or whatever). There are countless problems with taking Amtrak, including frequent delays. That said, I never thought Amtrak stopped at Princeton Junction regularly. In taking Amtrak's NE trains, I usually went either south or north on NJ Transit because that was most efficient.

If you wanted the cheapest way, you'd take SEPTA's R7 train to Trenton then get on NJ Transit's NE Corridor line going north to Princeton Junction then take the Dinky to Princeton's campus. It's not all that fun, as far as I recall, but it is doable. (Says the person that did the four train thing to PHL airport on more than one occasion and once with three bags...)

I'd imagine that living in Princeton, unless you get University housing, is more expensive than living in Philadelphia. With less to do. And fewer ways to escape. If you can swing it, I'd live in Philly just for the diversity of options (housing, food, shopping, etc) and commute to Princeton.

That said, the drive from the airport to campus is about an hour. Traffic can eat you alive though. And parking on campus isn't all that convenient though it also isn't terribly priced, if I remember correctly. If it were me, I'd probably do the train thing, just so you could get reading done while commuting. Plus the SEPTA trains are pretty nice.

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Is the Temple area substantially more dangerous than the rest of Philly?

Are there areas nearby that are a bit nicer where one could live and easily commute to Temple? Is the public transportation good/bad?

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Is the Temple area substantially more dangerous than the rest of Philly?

Are there areas nearby that are a bit nicer where one could live and easily commute to Temple? Is the public transportation good/bad?

Yeah, the area around Temple is really bad. As a prior poster stated, North Philly is no joke. I think the SEPTA subway stops right around the campus, but keep in mind that, personally, I always found the service pretty lousy. I can't speak to how safe/unsafe it is to take that line at night. (There are basically two subway lines in Philly, a blue one that runs East-West, and an orange one that runs North-South. The orange one is the one that stop near Temple, but there's probably someone more familiar with the area than I who could tell you about the mass transit situation.) If you have a car, Philly's not that tough a town to get around, if you don't, it's sort of a pain.

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Both me and my husband went to Penn, so I know the area pretty well. If you do live in the Old City, it will kinda suck to have to commute to Penn everyday. (Just because one of you has to, it does not mean you both do). Septa buses are not very good and the metro only takes you so far as Market and 30th: you would still have to walk 25 minutes to Wharton.

This is remarkably untrue and I feel compelled to correct it for anyone else considering living in Philly. I'm not sure what the "metro" is in Philly. I do know that from old city you can take the El to 30th, 34th or 40th and market. You can also take the regional rail to university city (roughly 32 and south of walnut, near Franklin Field/Penn's Hospital complex). Further there are trolleys that run through the area as well as buses. You wouldn't have to walk 25 minutes to Wharton if you lived in Old City and you certainly could get closer than 30th and Market on non-bus public transit.

If you're really cheap, you could live in old city, walk to regional rail (market east I guess) and hop on any westbound train. Get off at University City and you won't have to pay. Technically there's a fare for that trip but it's never collected. 99% of the time they don't take tickets until they leave the Center City zone. Penn also offers (or at least used to) a really cheap semesterly transit pass. I bet other schools do too. I think it was like $90/semester whereas the regular pass was like $70/month. Those numbers could be off, this was four/five years ago.

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Has anyone heard anything? The secretary said decisions were now being made and we would hear by March 16, but that seems so late! Application deadline was December 15. I have given up, already making travel plans for end of the year. But I want to be absolutely SURE I will not be going to any graduate school. On the one hand, it would be nice to get in somewhere; but, on the other, a surprise acceptance in April would infuriate me. Not that I expect to be accepted anywhere, but why can't they tell us we've been rejected, off the bat, or at least that we're on a waitlist, if that is the case. It's awful...

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Hey Gang,

I'm thinking of attending Penn in the fall.

Need some advice on Housing, though. It has been suggested I should apply for a GA position on campus, has anyone done/heard of this?

In Ucity and West Philly what are some average rents and size of apartments? I have a lot of stuff and I would probably be living alone. Are there grocery stores nearby? I am usually a daily shopper.

Thanks!

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Hey there, Inspekt. I went to Penn for undergrad, worked in a lab there for two years after graduation, and still live in the Philly area. Hit me with all the Philly questions you want.

"GA" = same as being an RA (as in resident assistant/resident advisor in a dorm), just that you're a grad student. So you live on a floor in a dorm and have to do normal RA kind of stuff. The exact duties vary between dorms (they're all run a little differently). Some dorms hire only grad students, others hire both undergrads as RAs and grad students as GAs. In return for doing the job, you get free housing (again varies by dorm but it'll generally be a large studio or small one-bedroom) and a meal plan (the cafeterias were shit when I was there, but I guess there's always a chance they've improved -- ask current students). GAs in small dorms seemed to enjoy their jobs more than the GAs in big dorms, but it also seemed like the GAs in big dorms weren't expected to do as much.

Sizes of apartments vary a ton throughout West Philly. Studios range from $600-$1000 depending on how far they are from campus and how big they are. One-bedrooms usually start at $750 and go up to $1100. Note also that rents can vary in an extremely arbitrary fashion -- if you see two similar apartments on the same block and they have a $200 price difference, there may not actually be any reason for it. In any case, expect slumlord treatment from your landlord or management company. They're not all bad, but a great many of them are.

Grocery stores... there's not a ton of them close by, but there's a Freshgrocer at 40th & Walnut, an Aldi at 44th & Walnut, and a co-op at 47th & Baltimore. There is also a farmer's market at Clark Park, I forget which days of the week it's there though. The Trader Joe's in Center City is easy to get to by subway.

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Hey guys,

I'm an international student and I'm leaning towards joining the Political Science MA program at Villanova. I have no idea how the area is. I'm told most students live in the Bryn Mawr and Ardmore area.

I see the discussion here is centred around UPenn and Temple students, nevertheless, could any one of you good souls provide some information on the housing rent, safety and transportation situation there and any other information that you might deem helpful?

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Hi Mormegil! Be happy to.

Villanova is a suburb located on what's called the "Main Line." This is a string of small, very old, upper-middle-class to upper-class suburban towns jammed very close together in a straight line going northwest out of Philly. (Pop open Google Maps and search for Villanova, PA, USA, and you'll see 'Nova, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, and several others all along Lancaster Avenue, the road marked by the number 30 inside a shield.)

Every town on the Main Line (including Villanova, Bryn Mawr, and Ardmore) is EXTREMELY safe. There are some thefts from campuses at the beginning and end of each school year (when lots of people are moving around and leaving doors unlocked), but this is preventable by just locking your doors. That's really all as far as crime.

Transportation is mostly designed around cars, but you could do without one. 'Nova's campus is kind of big, but a lot of people do walk it; you can also bike around it or ride the on-campus shuttle bus. SEPTA (public transit) runs buses up and down Lancaster Avenue and through most of the "downtown" areas of the Main Line, so even if you live kind of far from campus, you'd be able to ride the bus there easily. If you lived close by, you could easily bike. As for getting around to other places... the buses are decent for getting around the Main Line. The university does have a few shuttle routes. If you ever want to ride into Philadelphia, there's a train stop on the Villanova campus and the train takes you right to the middle of Philly. (However, because a lot of people commute to campus by car, you are almost certain to make friends with someone who has a car. :D)

I have to confess I don't really know much about rents, but there are a lot of different types of units in the area. I am sure Villanova's international student office or Office for Residence Life would be able to help.

Hope this helps a little!

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Hey guys,

I'm an international student and I'm leaning towards joining the Political Science MA program at Villanova. I have no idea how the area is. I'm told most students live in the Bryn Mawr and Ardmore area.

I see the discussion here is centred around UPenn and Temple students, nevertheless, could any one of you good souls provide some information on the housing rent, safety and transportation situation there and any other information that you might deem helpful?

I live in Havertown in haverford township. It's a really great place to live and there's definately affordable rents available. I own my home, but plenty of people rent above shops in the districts here. Safety is not an issue. I know there's also a trolley line called the "100" that runs through the towns on the Main Line and right into the city. My husband takes it from our neighborhood every morning to the El at 69th street and then transfers to the Blue Line in Center City. He hates waiting for the Septa regional train, so he takes the trolley. The 100 line also runs from the towns on the Main Line right onto Nova's campus. I know because I have a friend who takes the same line as my husband in the opposite way from Norristown (located in another suburb).

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Hi all. I need some help from you Philly folk.

I am planning to attend Penn in the fall as a graduate student. My husband will be working in central NJ (around Skillman/Bridgewater, which is about 25 miles from Trenton). I had a breakdown today in terms of where we will live. I would love to live, if not in Philadelphia, then right outside of it, but in a place that doesn't have him commuting 1.5 hours each morning. We are in our late 20s and I would like to be in an area that is not boring. Can you offer any advice? I really don't want to live around Trenton and commute each day from there. I fear for my mental state if I don't figure this out soon.

Thank you!

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Hi all. I need some help from you Philly folk.

I am planning to attend Penn in the fall as a graduate student. My husband will be working in central NJ (around Skillman/Bridgewater, which is about 25 miles from Trenton). I had a breakdown today in terms of where we will live. I would love to live, if not in Philadelphia, then right outside of it, but in a place that doesn't have him commuting 1.5 hours each morning. We are in our late 20s and I would like to be in an area that is not boring. Can you offer any advice? I really don't want to live around Trenton and commute each day from there. I fear for my mental state if I don't figure this out soon.

Thank you!

If he's OK with the huge commute, might as well live in Philly or on the edge of it. If you're OK with a boring town, I'd pick Trenton or something on the R3 West Trenton train line (http://septa.org/maps/click_map.html -- top right of the map). But I can't think of any place that isn't one or the other... :(

I wish I had better news, but as far as I'm aware Trenton and Princeton are the most exciting towns in that corridor -- it's a giant field of boring sprawly suburbs (including Levittown, the birthplace of the sprawly suburb). And much further south of Trenton and your husband will have a 1.5 if not 2 hour commute. I had a friend who lived in Yardley and commuted to Princeton, and that took her an hour to an hour and 15. Traffic is just shitty in that whole area and public transportation in the burbs on the Pennsylvania side of the river is OK but not great.

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Okay here's my "Temple" dilemma:

I'm a single parent and need good schools for my daughter and a SAFE place to live that is car and dog friendly. So, clearly I'm looking at the burbs. Any ideas on where would be best? And also -- how impossible is it to drive my car to Temple and park on campus? Everyone seems to mention subways, etc. Not sure how safe I would feel on public transport.

Just an aside: Most everything that I have read about Philly makes the place sound like a war-zone. So, if I'm better off just NOT moving to the area, please tell me :?

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Okay here's my "Temple" dilemma:

I'm a single parent and need good schools for my daughter and a SAFE place to live that is car and dog friendly. So, clearly I'm looking at the burbs. Any ideas on where would be best? And also -- how impossible is it to drive my car to Temple and park on campus? Everyone seems to mention subways, etc. Not sure how safe I would feel on public transport.

Just an aside: Most everything that I have read about Philly makes the place sound like a war-zone. So, if I'm better off just NOT moving to the area, please tell me :?

Philadelphia has a lot of crime, but all cities do. I have lived in and around Philadelphia my whole life, and I think that if you stay out of bad areas at night and use a modicum of street-smarts, it's a great city.

Paid parking is available on campus at Temple, I am not sure of the rates. The areas immediately surrounding Temple can be dodgy, so I would advise parking in the pay-lots.

I do not drive, and went back and forth from Temple University by subway for 5 years with zero incidents. The Cecil B. Moore stop is very safe and is always swamped with college kids and Professors. I have never felt at all threatened there, and I also frequently used the Allegheny stop by Temple Hospital (not a great area) without trouble. Transportation here gets a bad rap because the lines don't help you to get all around the city, but if you are going somewhere right off the main train lines it is pretty great. At most, you wait 10 minutes for a train, and they are fast. You can go from one end of the line to the other in a half-hour.

Are you looking for a house or an apartment? I grew up north of the city, in Abington. The public school there is very good and it's about a 20 minute drive from Temple.

Hope this helps.

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Yes, it does help :) thanks so much for the response. I would prefer to rent a house rather than an apartment. I hate the idea of nieghbors sharing walls. And I like relative quite. Public schools and transportation and of course, saftey are my biggest concerns though. Especially as I'll be going into a PhD program, so my daughter will have 5 years (give or take) in whatever school system I move her to.

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Tons of students commute to Temple, the school's built for it. Parking creeps up a little each year, but right now it's $90 a month for commuting students (which for Philly is CHEAP). Just use common sense and don't keep anything that looks like food, money, or valuables visible in your car (this includes fast food bags, pocket change, any small electronic devices, or any bag that looks like it might have a wallet inside).

Most of the suburbs are extremely safe and have good schools, public and private. I was actually gonna suggest Yousername's hometown of Abington :) or any of the towns near it -- Willow Grove, Jenkintown, Elkins Park, several others.

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If you have kids, I would definitely suggest living on the Main Line and commuting in. If you live in Media, you can be in a good school district and take the R5 into the city every day, no trouble.

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If you have kids, I would definitely suggest living on the Main Line and commuting in. If you live in Media, you can be in a good school district and take the R5 into the city every day, no trouble.

Quick note -- R5 goes through the Main Line, but Media's a bit south of that on the R3. :) (Not trying to be snarky, teaganc!)

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Quick note -- R5 goes through the Main Line, but Media's a bit south of that on the R3. :) (Not trying to be snarky, teaganc!)

I'm sure you're right. I am forever mixing up the R5 and the R3, to be honest; I just know people who commute on one of them from Media to Philly daily, and they can actually walk to the train station. Maybe the R5 runs through Exton, or perhaps it used to stop in West Chester?

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What is parking like for people that live in the city? I am going to Temple and am hoping to take my car and live in the city. What's street parking (or parking in general) like in town? Do apartments generally come with a guaranteed spot or does parking require an added fee? Are there certain neighborhoods with better parking / car safety? I've heard people mention "renting" parking spots here. I'm from the West where I've never had to worry about where I am going to park my car at night. The fact that so many people there don't have cars to begin with is really foreign to me but I'm worried it will be cost-prohibitive to take my car.

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What is parking like for people that live in the city? I am going to Temple and am hoping to take my car and live in the city. What's street parking (or parking in general) like in town? Do apartments generally come with a guaranteed spot or does parking require an added fee? Are there certain neighborhoods with better parking / car safety? I've heard people mention "renting" parking spots here. I'm from the West where I've never had to worry about where I am going to park my car at night. The fact that so many people there don't have cars to begin with is really foreign to me but I'm worried it will be cost-prohibitive to take my car.

The meters in Center City very recently became a total nightmare. I think a quarter buys you 8 minutes now. So if you were going to hang out in the city, I'd say leave the car at home. But where's home? South Philly, where I'm currently living, has a lot of parking... but weird rules. You have to move your car every 2 hours between 8am and 8pm, and most blocks have reserved spots for the handicapped. Google earth might be helpful if you want to get an idea of parking in an area. Maybe if you are living in Center City or somewhere where free parking is super scarce you'd have to rent a spot... But I have honestly never heard of that outside of NY.

This city can be difficult to get around by pubic trans, depending upon where you're going. But Temple has a stop on its campus, and I mentioned upthread that it's very safe. Not having a car here has been problematic for me more than few times. The main thing to remember if you have a car in Philadelphia, as someone else mentioned- Is that you can never ever leave anything of value in plain view. Take the faceplate off your CD player if it has one. Car windows around Temple get broken for change, cds, and once or twice even a bouquet of roses!

I know that sounds bad, but I really do love this city. The diversity of the population = awesome restaurants of every ethnic persuasion, great neighborhoods like the Italian Market, and lots of interesting people. And our museums are rad in my opinion. Definitely check out the Museum of Fine Art... they have a collection of Duchamp's work that I believe is the largest in the world. I hope you like it here, I am moving soon and know I'll miss the city terribly.

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Okay, so, if I live in the suburbs and take a train in to Temple... can I ask how often they run? I need to know that I can get back to my kid in case of an emergency (school calling that she needs picked up for some reason, etc.) Which is why I thought driving in might be better. But if the trains run often that might not be such a huge dilemma.

Also, as for parking on Temple's campus -- the paid parking -- I understand about not leaving anything in your car (only makes sense), but is the parking outdoors? Garages? And is there security? And how far is the parking from the campus? I looked at the campus maps, but they don't really indicate student vs staff parking (I'm sure I'm looking at the wrong map).

And how competitive is campus parking? At my campus now, there are times of day where you simply cannot park ANYWHERE. So, you learn to come earlier or later accordingly. And our lots are quite a distance from the buidlings of our main campus.

Thanks to all of you for the info. You've made Philly sound less scary and more interesting :)

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