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Great Places to Live in Delaware

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Great Places to Live • Neighborhood Guide

Young Families

Pike Creek Valley
 

Magnolia
 

Bay Pointe
 


Empty Nesters

Little Falls Village

 

South Dover

 

Independence and
Heritage Shores
 


First-Time Buyers

Trolley Square
 

Magnolia
 

Windstone
 


Waterfront Living

The Strand in
New Castle

 

Silver Lake

 

Bayfront
at Rehoboth

 

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Pike Creek Valley

“I’m still partial to that area, because we have very few building opportunities” says Scott Patrick of Patterson Schwartz in Hockessin. That lack of new housing starts means stable values for existing homes and, in Pike Creek Valley, it means a variety of housing styles and a wide range of prices. Prices are, in fact, as stable as those in North Wilmington, where there is no space for new development, Patrick says. In Pike Creek, condos, townhomes and detached single-family homes fit everyone from the newest members of the workforce to the financially established. Jim Pettit of Pettit Real Estate in Wilmington likes the economic diversity, which allows step-up buyers to stay in the area when the time comes to make their move. Some communities—the condos of Fairway Falls, the townhomes of Pepper Ridge and the houses of Linden Hill, to name a few—border the beautiful open space that was once the Pike Creek Golf Club. The area is situated between employment centers in Newark and Wilmington. White Clay Creek State Park, Carousel Farm and Middle Run Natural Resources Area provide convenient and beautiful outdoor recreation. The stores and restaurants of Lantana Square and Pike Creek Valley Shopping Center are minutes away on Del. 7. But most important, children attend good public schools in the Red Clay district. “Schools are a real driver this year,” Patrick says. “That feeder pattern is a big draw. I’ve got people waiting in the wings to buy there.” See also Bear for homes in the top-ranked Appoquinimink School District

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Magnolia

“Magnolia is very up-and-coming,” says Todd Stonesifer of Re/Max Horizons in Dover. Thanks to a building boom that started in the late 1990s, the area is chock-a-block with new and new-ish subdivisions. Many still offer opportunities to buy brand new. That means you pick all your amenities, warrantied construction provides you with peace of mind, and you don’t have to buy someone else’s past. Stonesifer and Dee Henderson-Hake of the Dee and Doreen (Lucas) Team at Keller Williams in Dover favor the area around Irish Hill Road, where even established neighborhoods such as Pinehurst still offer sites for new construction. Robin Hill, a mile to the east, offers 18 half-acre homesites and a variety of styles at prices from $180,000 to $225,000. On nearby Woodleytown Road, Laureltown offers homes ranging from $400,000 down to first-time purchase range, so it’s possible smart buyers can gain equity from the start, Stonesifer notes. Children in most neighborhoods attend Caesar Rodney district schools (Pinehurst is in the Lake Forest district), and those schools remain centers of the community. Unlike subdivisions in New Castle County, which can number more than 200 homes, Kent County communities often peak at 60 units, making for tightly knit neighbors. Outdoor recreation abounds at places like Killens Pond State Park and, for anglers, Bowers Beach on Delaware Bay. The Walmart and Texas Roadhouse on U.S. 13 in Camden are the gateway to more shopping and dining in Dover. Milford is also a hub of shopping and dining. See also Fox Hall and Fox Hall West in West Dover for value, quiet, Capital district schools and proximity to major employers in Dover. 

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Bay Pointe

Jeff Fowler of The Jeffrey Fowler Group in Rehoboth Beach describes the new Ryan Homes community in the growing Long Neck area as one for upscale families. With prices in the mid-$200s, it’s affordable and beautiful. Off Angola Beach Road, Bay Pointe is solidly in the excellent Cape Henlopen School District. It offers wooded homesites, as well as sites with views of beautiful Herring Creek. Six models range in size from 1,300 square feet to 4,300 square feet, with two-car garages and, in some cases, basements—a rarity in the area. And all homes are built to Energy Star standards, which means your heating and cooling bills won’t be outrageous. At five miles from Del. 1, the ocean beaches are still easy to reach, but the community offers its own water recreation via a kayak launch and community pool. The Movies at Midway, good restaurants and interesting shopping in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach are within easy striking distance. Fairly new satellite offices for Beebe Medical Center bring quality health care close to home. Families love it, Fowler says, but so do empty-nesters who aren’t ready to move into an over-55 community.

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Little Falls Village

Patrick points out that with few age-qualified communities in New Castle County, many of those who are ready to make the move to 55-plus living are looking in the near parts of Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t rule out staying local. Pettit sees many Wilmington residents remain in the city by moving to established condos like The Devon and 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. in highly walkable Trolley Square. He also notes that Coffee Run Condominiums in Hockessin remains popular after 40 years for its range of unit sizes, prices and suburban convenience. “I’m still waiting for a developer to come in and do some nice high-end, smaller homes,” Pettit says. One community that wins high praise is Little Falls Village on Centerville Road in Wilmington. With prices maxing out in the mid $300s, it’s eminently affordable, Patrick says. Units are designed around single-story living, with open floor plans and 9-foot ceilings. Surrounded by Delaware National Golf Course, it offers a feeling of seclusion, yet is 15 minutes from downtown Wilmington. And low monthly fees relieve residents of all maintenance hassles. See also Milltown Village, a community of European-inspired detached homes and carriage houses that overlooks the hills of Pike Creek Valley

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South Dover

At the convergence of Dover, Magnolia and Camden-Wyoming, active adults will find several 55-plus communities that suit a range of incomes. Homes in Longacre Village, just off U.S. 13, range from $175,000 to $300,000, a price that buys you the expected amenities for similar communities: a nicely appointed, energy-efficient home—some on small ponds or a creek—a clubhouse with a fitness center, a pool and recreation programs. Homes in Magnolia’s Southern Meadow, also with a clubhouse and pool, start in the $120s. Detached homes in Wild Meadows are similarly priced. Nearby restaurants like Piazza Mia on U.S. 13 keep residents in the area, but dining and shopping in Dover is minutes away. Golfers will find existing homes and some unbuilt lots in the subdivisions of Wild Quail, the Estates of Wild Quail and the Village of Wild Quail in Camden-Wyoming, Stonesifer points out, though, they are not age-qualified communities, and they come at a price. A bonus: living in central Kent County means equally easy access to the beaches and to northern Delaware. See also Nobles Pond in Cheswold for affordable age-qualified single family homes and carriage houses in a club-like setting

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Independence and Heritage Shores

Fowler points out that Independence in the Long Neck area gets retirees, especially active retirees, near enough to the beach to enjoy them without paying beach prices. You’ll have a choice of nine floor plans in a community that provides walking trails, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a community garden, a barbecue area, horseshoe pits, putting greens and volleyball courts. The clubhouse, Independence Hall, is a throwback to the golden age of country clubs. That’s not to mention active social programming such as gardening classes and movie nights for residents. Homes start in the low $200s. One need not be a golfer to enjoy golf-course living. Sprawling Heritage Shores offers much of the same in
Bridgeville, plus plenty of open space. Homes are designed for one-floor living, with options for second floors. The aquatic-fitness center houses indoor and outdoor pools, workout machines, an aerobics room and tennis courts. The clubhouse is also a throwback. U.S. 13 speeds you north and south, and the beaches are still 45 minutes away—if you don’t venture out at peak travel times. See also The Peninsula, a beautiful golf-course community in Long Neck where prices have dropped dramatically since it opened in 2005.

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Trolley Square

Trolley Square is the epicenter of nightlife in Wilmington, so that’s where young people want to buy—still—says Pettit. With lively places like Kelly’s Logan House, Scratch Magoo’s, Catherine Rooney’s, Kid Shelleen’s and Piccolina Toscana within easy walking distance of each other, “it has that evening vibe,” Pettit says. An Acme market, Walgreen’s pharmacy and Vogue Cleaners cover day-to-day needs. Count high-end hair salons and boutiques among the bonuses. Dining options abound. In addition to the aforementioned nightspots, there are four good Italian restaurants and pizza places, the El Diablo California-style burrito stand, fro-yo and a Brew HaHa! café. Choose a park: Rockford or Brandywine. Both are full of walkers, joggers and dog owners year round. Housing styles span the gamut, and most of it has the character and charm that only century-old buildings can offer. That’s not to mention plenty of mature trees and brick walks, which make Trolley Square one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Wilmington. And home prices remain among the most stable in the state, despite the real estate crash of 2008. See also Pike Creek Valley for its range of housing styles and prices

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Magnolia

At today’s interest rates, most buyers can afford a home in the $195,000 to $210,000 range. At that price point, Magnolia is a great place to be. First-time buyers can find great values, especially on foreclosed properties and short sales. Pinehurst offers prices on the low end of the area’s spectrum—a plus for smart buyers. Homes in Chestnut Ridge start in the low-$200s. Count Quail Landing and Riverside among other desirable neighborhoods. Commercial development that stalled after the market crash is slowly picking up, which means convenient pharmacies, cleaners and grocers are trickling in, which drives home values up. All the same reasons that make the area attractive to families apply to first-time buyers. See also Bicentennial Village/Fox Hall in West Dover for decent prices on homes close to major employers

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Windstone

In the beach area, where prices can seem outrageous, the subdivision of Windstone in Milton offers uncommon value. Starting at $230,000, the neighborhood, on Cave Neck Road (Sussex 88), is only a mile west of Del. 1 and a mile north of Five Points, so it is conveniently located near the beaches, but priced well below beach-town homes, Fowler points out. Factor in energy savings realized from top-notch construction, insulation and windows—a hallmark of designs by Bridgeville-based Insight Homes—and the value becomes even greater. With grounds maintenance included, you’ll live a life of relative ease, leaving time to enjoy the neighborhood pool. Skirt summertime traffic to Cape Henlopen State Park or to Lewes by scooting down New Road. The Kitchen at neighboring Paynter’s Mill keeps you off the highway altogether, as does charming Milton, where you can dine at Miltonian Pizza, Po’ Boys Creole or Irish Eyes Pub. Get your nature fix at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge or The Nature Conservancy’s neighboring Ponder’s Tract preserve. See also Hunters Mill Estates, also in Milton, where current prices were dropped as low as $159,000 in January 2013.

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The Strand in New Castle

Pettit and Patrick agree: If you like history as well as waterfront living, The Strand is your place. Paralleling the Delaware River, this unique street is lined with 300-year-old Colonial homes that haven’t changed in any significant way since they were built. Long, narrow backyards on the east side of the street stretch down to the river’s shores. Views from your back windows are across the broad waterway and face the sunrise. Homes aren’t priced for small budgets, and properties don’t turn over often, but the lucky few who live there enjoy a walkable town loaded with historic sites such as the old courthouse, The Market Green and Immanuel Episcopal Church. Delaware Street offers Jessop’s Tavern, Nora Lee’s French Quarter Café and Trader’s Cove Coffee Shop at Penn’s Place. Popular Battery Park provides strolling along the water, as well as a free summer evening concert series and access to the moorings of the New Castle Sailing Club. Esprit de corps is expressed through civic celebrations such as Separation Day, which commemorates Delaware’s severing from Pennsylvania to become an independent state in the 18th century, as well as candlelight tours of historic homes during the winter holidays, more home tours during Day in Old New Castle each May and the local Lions Club’s Art on the Green. “Talk about character,” Patrick says. “It’s very, very special there.” See also No place—nothing compares.

 

 

Silver Lake

Kent County isn’t blessed with endless miles of waterfront. Eliminate a bayfront that is more susceptible than ever to coastal flooding and you’re left with rivers in marshes, like the Leipsic, and scattered ponds. Which is why Silver Lake in Dover is so attractive. Older homes around the waterway turn over infrequently, so they hold value, and both single-family dwellings and town houses can be had at several price points, some of them surprisingly low. Stonesifer points to the 20-year-old townhouse-style condominium community of Chatham Cove as a value. Even nicely updated two-story, two-bedroom, two-bath units of 1,500 square feet price at $130,000. Not only does Silver Lake offer water views and great value, it sits on the edge of downtown Dover, so Loockerman Street destinations such as the Schwartz Center for the Arts and 33 West Alehouse & Grill are within walking distance, and Silver Lake has a restaurant of its own in McGlynn’s Pub. Also walkable are cultural events at Wesley College and Dover Public Library. Capital district schools are consistent performers, living in Dover keeps you in the seat of county and state government, and big attractions like Dover Mall and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino lie a short hop across U.S. 13. See also The subdivision of Pennwood in Dover, an established community on the winding St. Jones River, where about 10 homes are sited on the water downstream of Silver Lake, and the newer Windswept, where the few homes along the St. Jones can list for nearly $700,000 

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Bayfront At Rehoboth

The newest community by local builders Schell Brothers, Bayfront is so young, many homesites are still available, and they offer fabulous views through tall loblolly pines across small ponds and a salt marsh to Rehoboth Bay. Your purchase price of $399,000 to $569,000 buys you not only a fabulous view, but a home that is energy efficient, environmentally controlled for indoor air quality, and specially engineered for durability and strength. Twelve styles prevent the cookie-cutter look that plagues similar communities. You also get access to the community pool, a clubhouse and fitness area, walking trails and boardwalks, a kayak launch and a small stretch of private beach with a gazebo that provides primo sunset views. Off Camp Arrowhead Road, Bayfront is adjacent to Angola Neck Preserve, so open space is guaranteed. Family buyers will appreciate outstanding Indian River district schools. The offseason allows you to enjoy Rehoboth Beach without battling traffic on Del. 24 and Del. 1. See also Sunset Harbour in Ocean View, another Schell Brothers offering, where all homes are built on canals that open onto White Creek. Heritage Creek in Milton is also by Schell Brothers. 

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