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Swarthmore sits about 16 miles from the city center. The borough is a popular destination for white-collar professionals who attend or are employed by Swarthmore College. Families also enjoy living in the borough for its excellent public schools and friendly suburban feel. Swarthmore holds the reputation of being a youthful area with safe streets and employment opportunities that do not require commuting to Philadelphia.
As of August 2017, the average apartment rent in Swarthmore, PA is $684 for a studio, $928 for one bedroom, $1,277 for two bedrooms, and $1,938 for three bedrooms. Apartment rent in Swarthmore has increased by 1.3% in the past year.
For the best of Swarthmore’s cuisine, head to Chester Road or Dartmouth Avenue. Dozens of unique eateries line the road and provide residents with a one-stop spot to dine on dishes from Mediterranean to good old American classics. Whether you’re on a college budget or not, favorites range from American pizzerias to sandwich delis and Chinese take-out joints. Topping the list of venues is Renato Pizza on Park Avenue, known for handmade pizza dough and legendary hoagies. Locals recommend starting with a Greek salad or splitting a Stromboli with friends before diving into the thin-crust pies. Patron favorites range include bacon and tomato pizza and the signature chicken parmesan sub. Order take-out or schedule delivery to indulge in huge slices without leaving your home.
Aria Mediterranean Cuisine serves the community authentic Middle Eastern food with flavors so strong you will think your taste buds left the country. Start with the Mantoo, a dish similar to meat dumplings that get covered in spicy red sauce. If you’re a first-time visitor, try the house made hummus before ordering tabouli or palak paneer as your main dish. With such affordable prices, you will be able to sample a variety of the menu, though large portions will undoubtedly require a to-go box.
Swarthmore locals appreciate a casual diner to grab traditional breakfast favorites without breaking the bank. The most popular local diner, Vicky’s Place, provides residents with a cozy environment to enjoy the best of hometown food. After being greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee, you will instantly feel at home in Vicky’s. Locals swear by the Dots French Toast, which adds bananas and blueberries to the classic dish. However, the savory sausage or banana hotcakes are solid second options.
Nightlife in Swarthmore is relatively calm for a college town. Most establishments in the area have strict closing times and limited alcohol availability. This sends rambunctious undergraduates to neighboring towns or universities with a more prominent party scene. In fact, hardly any bars exist within the neighborhood’s boundaries, requiring locals to venture to Folsom for beers at Durty Nelly’s. Springfield is also a popular destination for its string of active bars, such as Duke’s Tavern and Pappou’s Pizza Pub. Duke’s Tavern in particular hosts the closest live music performances and features excellent drink specials.
Swarthmore was officially founded as a borough in 1893, but the area is steeped in history related to Swarthmore College and transportation developments in Philadelphia. As access to the area became easier, residents came for many of the reasons they do today. By the 1930s, the landscape was transformed to match that of a suburban college town with open arms to families and professionals.
Ties to the college elicit an artistic feel within the community, with the Scott Arboretum and Marta Bartolozzi Art Gallery serving as the primary artistic outlets. Performances occur quite often and are hosted by The Players Club of Swarthmore or Swarthmore Ballet Theatre, though the Players Club is known for its selection of both big-name titles and smaller, esoteric performances. Almost all annual events are programs through the college with the exception of the annual Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K run.
A few transportation options exist within the borough. It is somewhat walkable with sidewalks on most roads; however, several amenities are spread throughout the area. Walkers particularly take to roads along the college’s boundaries or Dartmouth Avenue.
One SEPTA rail line passes through the borough towards the city with service at the Swarthmore Station off Myers Avenue, but bus Routes 101 and 109 provide transit in the local area along Chester Road. Even so, driving or carpooling prevails as the most popular method of getting around the neighborhood, though many working professionals do commute to Philadelphia.
Biking as a means of transportation remains a popular alternative to most other forms of getting around. Paved lanes or bike-friendly roads exist on almost every street in the borough, except Chester Road, which typically sees higher car traffic. Call ahead or use Uber to arrange rides. If you’re heading out of the borough, access the Baltimore Pike from Chester Road to connect to Interstate 476.
Life amid the cozy homes with historic adornments and friendly community comes with a higher price tag. The average cost of living in Swarthmore sits at a steep 40 percent higher than the Pennsylvania average. Standard goods and services, such as groceries and health care, are also more expensive than the city’s average costs; however, the housing market contributes most to the vast differences between Swarthmore and Philadelphia.
The majority of residents own, but those who rent face average monthly payments of $1,000. One-bedroom apartments go quickly, but they can be found for as little as $840 a month.
Transportation to the city center costs $8.00 for an 8-ride day pass that includes all bus routes and trollies. Still, 50 percent of locals prefer to drive, despite gas prices being about 11 percent higher than the national average. Residents consider higher prices in Swarthmore part of the package, even if higher overall prices mean a pint of beer costs about $7.
The major shopping district in Swarthmore hovers around the campus along Chester Road. Options are limited and are mostly comprised of corporate chains and service retailers, since many residents opt to leave the borough for significant shopping trips.
However, small specialty boutiques can be found, such as Poco Loco, a women's clothing boutique with an assortment of accessories and great sales. Similar boutiques operating on the corner are Compendium Boutique and The Painted Name, which offers the best in unique baby gear and gifts. The Once & Again Consignment boutique offers beautiful gently used clothing and household items at affordable prices in a friendly atmosphere.
Locals looking to pay more affordable prices in a thrift environment wait for the Jumble Sale hosted by the Swarthmore Friends Meeting on campus. This annual October market functions as a highly organized yard sale so popular it draws in long lines before opening time. The nearest mall sits just a few miles away in Springfield off the Baltimore Pike and offers residents a one-stop shopping center.
Locals grab groceries from the Swarthmore Co-op Food Market on Dartmouth Avenue. This particular store remains a popular choice for students and residents alike for its combination of local organic products and corporate brand favorites. Weekly specials include prepared dishes for grab-and-go shopping, as well as planned menus.
At least two other grocery stores and multiple chain convenience stores speckle the borough for convenient access to groceries. Residents looking for a more farm-to-table food option head to Park Avenue at Dartmouth Avenue for the community's Swarthmore Farmers Market. The market sells reputable produce that often comes straight from nearby orchards.
Residents looking to escape head to the Crum Woods that back up into the Swarthmore campus. Locals retreat to the tree-lined paths for jogs or long strolls with pets who are not required to wear leashes. The miles of paths that twist and fork through the woods are ideal for bikers or residents looking for exercise.
Families with children head to Thatcher Park, a free community playground for toddlers off Rutgers Avenue. Parents appreciate the proximity to residential areas and the fenced in playgrounds, though the park is too small to host large events or have paved trails.
The area is not known for its abundance of green spaces, but the Swarthmore Recreation Association organizes sports, such as adult volleyball and indoor soccer for locals looking to get active. The organization creates year-round activities for individuals and families alike.
2 Bedroom Apartments for Rent in Swarthmore, PA
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