Best doesn't always mean the most expensive when purchasing property in Philadelphia.
While some home buyers focus on the storied historic homes in Old City or compete for a high rise in City Center, there are others that prefer the bucolic surroundings of the Philadelphia suburbs.
Some people seek out the most expensive suburban towns, while others follow trends to see which towns are becoming increasingly popular. Luxury suburbs provide peace and quiet, but they can lack the lively restaurants and shopping centers found in more popular locations.
To help buyers evaluate all options, the team at Prevu Real Estate compiled the below lists of both the most expensive and most popular Philadelphia suburbs.
Most expensive Philadelphia suburbs
- Bryn Mawr
- Blue Bell
- Newtown Square
On the western outskirts of Philadelphia, you will find the small town of Bryn Mawr.
This census-designated place is part of The Main Line, a collection of luxurious suburbs that spreads northwest of City Center. The homes in Bryn Mawr range from modest three bedrooms near the Rosemont train station to sprawling Georgian-style mansions in the hills.
The hills are so prominent that this serene community is named after the Welsh word for "Big Hill," honoring one of the first settlers. Today, Bryn Mawr is a college town, with Haverford College to the Southeast, Villanova University to the west, and Bryn Mawr College to the northwest.
Route 30 cuts right through the town center, making it easy to travel deeper into PA or east towards Philadelphia. Locals shop at MOM's Organic Market, then grab a bite from Hope's Country Fresh Cookies before relaxing at the Ludington Library.
The weekend farmers market is also a popular draw.
Homes for sale in Bryn Mawr, PA
Villanova is another Main Line gem that sits between Wayne and Bryn Mawr, and is located at the junction of 476 and Route 30.
Famously known for the university and its collegiate sports program, many Philadelphia homebuyers strive to purchase property in this suburb. Unlike its neighbors, Villanova is spread out over a large area, almost touching the Schuylkill River.
The Schuylkill expressway borders the eastern edge of town, making it easy to travel to the Philadelphia metropolitan area. But if you aren’t into driving, public transportation is always an option as there is a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority station in town.
Shopping-minded homebuyers can travel to nearby Bryn Mawr or Wayne to find shops and restaurants, as there are only a few outlets and eateries in town.
Homes for sale in Villanova, PA
Primely located right on the shores of the Schuylkill River is the enclave of Gladwyne.
Like most Main Line towns, this area was settled in the late 1600s by Quakers moving to the United States. Over the years, Philadelphia residents began moving out of the city to reside in these quaint lands. Today, the zip code is one of the richest in America.
Gladwyne retains an old colonial town feel, as farmland mingles with sizable residential property. Youngs Ford Road is where the area's historic downtown is, and visitors to the region can find an ample stock of storied buildings.
What Gladwyne lacks in commerce, it makes it up in nature trails. Plenty of parks, farms, and trails crisscross the area, but one of the most popular is the Brildewild Trail.
This extensive trail is open to hikers and horseback riders, providing over 20 miles of trails that explore most of Gladwyne.
Homes for sale in Gladwyne, PA
Pennsylvania residents looking for suburban solace with access to luxury comforts should check out Blue Bell.
This small suburb north of West Philly offers a good mix of residential bliss with corporate office parks. The historic Blue Bell Inn was erected here in the late 1700s and is the town's namesake, though this was not always the case. Before their extinction, passenger pigeons gathered in large flocks in the area during their migration, leading residents to name the region Pigeontown.
While those birds are gone, the beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside shines on. Blue Bell is home to the flyADVANCED Wings flight school, providing a chance for locals to see sweeping vistas from the sky. Many historic mansions and renovated farmhouses dot the landscape, which is perfect for Philly residents seeking space and solace.
But unlike the Main Line towns, Blue Bell has an extensive corporate community. Unisys, Aetna, and IBM all have offices in the area. Shoppers can take the 476 south to nearby Conshohocken to find big-box retailers like REI and IKEA.
Homes for sale in Blue Bell, PA
Not all suburban buyers want to escape the delights of Philadelphia.
While there is an allure to living in the countryside, being close to City Center has its perks, making Newtown Square perfect for buyers that want to be under 30 minutes from Philly. The West Chester Pike, or Route 3, runs right through the town, taking commuters to Market Street and eventually leading to City Hall.
Home to the iconic Square Tavern, Newtown Square has been on the map since the late 1600s. Today, there are a collection of old stone farmhouses and storied mills along the Crum Creek, telling the story of the industries that thrived in the area. But as train tracks connected places like Wayne and Villanova on the Main Line to Philadelphia, Newtown Square withered on the vine.
However, as Philadelphians desired an escape from the cramped city streets, Newtown Square experienced a revival. There are now plenty of single-family homes strewn between the old stone buildings, providing an idyllic view into the past.
But don't worry, there is a lively main street situated around West Chester Pike.
Homes for sale in Newton Square, PA
Those looking for solitude within reach of Center City should check out Wayne, PA.
This gem of a town shares a border with the famous Valley Forge National Historic Park, where George Washington famously camped his Continental Army back in the brutal winter of 1778. Despite starting as a train stop, Wayne is now one of the most affluent Philadelphia suburbs located right next to Chester County.
Over the years, residents from the City of Brotherly Love began setting up second homes 14 miles away from downtown in this Main Line town. Route 30 is where most restaurants and shops are, and this is where you will find locals at upscale eateries like the White Dog Cafe. But if you are looking for name brand shopping, the upscale King of Prussia mall in nearby Montgomery County can satisfy any shopping urges.
Since Wayne is a historic town, you can expect to see areas like the South Wayne Historic District filled with Main Line mansions and homes built in the late 1800s.
Most popular Philadelphia suburbs
- Bala Cynwyd
Waterfront living in Philadelphia is a precious commodity, and some of the most spectacular homes line the shores of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.
But some of the finest waterfront homes are in Bala Cynwyd. Located just to the north of West Philadelphia, this suburb is filled with single-family detached homes, some sitting high above the shores of the Schuylkill. As you move farther from the river, many of the houses in the area are nestled on tree-lined streets, set back from the curb.
Bala Cynwyd has two major commuting corridors, the Schuylkill Expressway and Route 1, which means getting around the Philadelphia Metropolitan area is a breeze. Route 1 is the commercial district of the suburb, where locals can find a mix of boutique shopping stores and restaurants.
While many residents drive to work, plenty of folks take a train ride to Philadelphia via the SEPTA stations in the area, Bala and Cynwyd. These two train stations are the last reminders of when Bala and Cynwyd were separate towns.
Homes for sale in Bala Cynwyd, PA
If small-town living outside the big city appeals to you, Media is the perfect place to start your home search.
This borough is the county seat of Delaware County and is only 13 miles away from the center of Philly. A train line connected the town to Philadelphia at the turn of the century, kicking off a building boom, and many homes in Media either have a typical row house feel or are detached single-families.
In addition to the historic housing, the sprawling downtown suburban square takes locals back to the Roaring '20s, as buildings like the storied Media Theater retain their dazzling neon light displays that brighten the night. And after a night on the town, many locals make use of the train trolly system to get to where they need to go.
Buyers looking at homes in Media will find a varied housing stock, as there is plenty of new construction and condos popping up in this fast-growing suburb for buyers seeking turnkey properties.
Homes for sale in Media, PA
Homebuyers that split their time between Philadelphia and Trenton, NJ, should consider checking out Newtown, PA. Unlike Newtown Square, this suburb is north of Philly by about 25 miles and is just 15 miles from Trenton.
Newtown is a historic area and is one of the many towns that William Penn himself organized to build up farming communities in Pennsylvania. There are several buildings and businesses in Newtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can even walk the Heritage Trail, the same path George Washington's army took during the Revolutionary War.
Secluded neighborhoods and large farms surround Newtown, providing a rural feeling between two metropolitan cities. Despite the sleepy feel of the surrounding area, there is a lively downtown on State Street, where most locals hang out, shop, and dine out on the weekends.
Homes for sale in Newton, PA
East of Media, about 10 miles from Philadelphia, is the suburb of Springfield, PA.
This area was primarily farmland, but a development boom in the 1950s transformed this small town into a bedroom community. As such, you will find plenty of single-family homes and a few older gems hidden amongst the housing stock.
Unlike neighboring towns where the streets wind through forested neighborhoods, most of the area is laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid format. Baltimore Pike is the main commercial drag in Springfield, and it used to be called "The Golden Mile" due to all of the car dealerships that lined the street.
Many dealerships remain on the Golden Mile, but there is a slew of big-box retailers and restaurants occupying the space left behind by dealerships of yesteryear.
Homes for sale in Springfield, PA
Most suburbs near Philadelphia either provide rustic countryside living or the amenities of a bedroom community.
Havertown provides a mesh of historic charm with easy commuting. Part of what makes it one of the most popular Philly suburbs is that it is only nine miles from City Center and four miles from West Philadelphia. Beyond the creature comforts of Philly, there is plenty to do in this happening town.
The annual Havertown Music Festival in August is one of the more popular events in town. Local bands and musicians gather to play a free concert for residents across several different stages set up in the town center. Beyond the festival, there are plenty of chances to lounge out and relax in Havertown.
The suburb hosts over 30 parks, sports fields, and even offers Skatium, a mixed-use ice skating rink. But for the bookish-minded, there is a free library for locals.
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