There’s just something about Pennsylvania that screams home. I grew up there and then moved to “the big city” for 10 years. When it came time to get jobs, my husband and I found ourselves in Chester County, a quiet, thriving community west of Philadelphia.
We moved here without kids, but quickly we grew from the two of us to three, then four, to our max – five (and a dog!). We love raising our family here, though sometimes we find people are a bit baffled by Pennsylvanians. You tell me, would you want to raise kids in Chester County?
1. Wide Open Spaces
It is impossible not to notice the open space around you. In the summer, everywhere you turn there are endless fields of green and towering trees. Open space laws make it so I don’t have to worry about McMansions taking over our favorite nature areas. Backyards are often big enough for zip lines, play yards, tree houses, full-sized soccer games, and large gatherings. We don’t need to head to the park every time the kids get antsy. We just open the doors, grab a seat on the patio, and watch the magic of childhood unfold.
2. History is Everywhere
Literally EVERYWHERE. I just learned, for example, that the bridge at the end of our road was the one Cornwallis and Howe used to cross the Brandywine before the Battle of the Brandywine during the Revolutionary War. If the kids are out digging in the yard, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they might dig up some historic “treasure.” Heck, workers in town found a whole hidden room a few years ago!
3. Small Towns Make for Big Adventures
Wander around any small Pennsylvania town, and you are sure to find a easygoing adventure to take part in. Weekend mornings you’ll see families strolling to breakfast in town and window shopping at all the unique shops. People take pride in their towns. At least here in Chester County, the main city is clean and well taken care of (see the opening scene from Marley and Me to get a real taste of our small town). We live in a college town, which has a unique energy to it. The students keep the town alive and are always super friendly to my kids.
Festivals are a monthly thing around here – First Fridays, mushrooms, restaurants, bike racing, music – they all get their own time to shine, where the streets are shut down and the whole town pours out of their houses and strolls the streets.
4. Varied Terrain
Pennsylvania is a great place to enjoy the outdoors with the kids. On one hike, I might climb a wooded path, walk through a maze of corn, and then perch at the top of a hill (or mountain in central PA) and overlook the beautiful landscape. While you look down for snakes, there is not much else out there that will bother you.
5. But No Signs Like This…
…like we saw when visiting Florida and South Carolina. Just, no.
6. Culture Nearby
Although we get to enjoy the quiet and calm of Pennsylvania life, we are near the city when we want to take the kids to museums or shows. 35 minutes from Philly, 70 minutes from Baltimore, 90 minutes from NYC, and 120 minutes from DC – there is a lot of choice for where to day trip! Right here in our backyard is one of my kids’ favorite cultural adventures, Longwood Gardens. LG is a travel destination for many, yet my kids get to visit any time they want to go for a walk (and play in the Children’s Garden of course).
7. Ice Cream the Real Way
My kids are used to ice cream that is made on the spot. On the way home from camp, we might stop by the farm, grab a quart of their favorite flavor, and let them cool off with a little treat. The ice cream is creamy, flavorful, with a little eau de moo. Totally kills any store bought ice cream for them, probably for the rest of their lives.
8. Passion for Sports
Philly is a great town to raise kids who love sports. Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, Eagles, the Union. We have big time sports for every fan. And growing up in Philly, kids learn about being passionate about sports. When our teams lose, it seems like the whole town is down in the dumps. My oldest is a Redskins fan (agh! How does this happen?!?!?) and we already taught him that it is probably in his best interest not to announce that at school. It is Eagles territory after all.
9. Wave Hello!
People in Chester County like to wave hello – ALL THE TIME. This was a big change for us moving up from DC. Stop at a stop sign, wave hello. See a neighbor, wave hello. No wave – Are they mad at me? Are they ok? Should my stranger danger signals be going off if I don’t know them?
Added to the endearing waving is a sense of building relationships. When you need a service, you don’t feel like people are trying to take advantage of you. We have dropped off our car for a problem, and the owner has fixed it and said “no charge, I’ll see ya next time.” My hair stylist brings the salon to me, often calling and asking if I need anything on the way (which no, no I don’t. You coming to tame my crazy hair is enough!).
What better place to raise kids than a community where people care about each other, build relationships with each other, and are generally friendly and kind (unless you are a Redskins fan, of course).
There’s just something about Pennsylvania that screams home.