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If location is everything in real estate, then Bucks County and the Delaware River Valley have it all. This southeastern Pennsylvania area is situated about 90 minutes from New York City, about 50 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and 40 minutes from Princeton, N.J., yet it offers beautiful countryside, terrific public and private schools, ample recreation and an array of residential real estate to suit every taste.
Incorporated in 1682, Bucks County is a history-filled area that encompasses 622 square miles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington Crossing, Pa., in Central Bucks, is where George Washington’s troops crossed the Delaware River to fight the Battle of Trenton on Christmas in 1776. Because of the area’s early roots, it is renowned for its exceptional assortment of 18th– and 19th-century historic houses and small towns that still offer an almost European ambience thanks to their intact antique buildings and narrow streets.
Over the years, but particularly since the 1930s, many artists and free spirits have called Bucks County home, among them Oscar Hammerstein, George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, Dorothy Parker, Pearl Buck, S.J. Perelman and more. Like so many people, they found the area’s historic farmhouses and wide open spaces irresistible as a getaway from city life. To this day, Bucks County still has a very active arts community and is a fine spot for combing through galleries and antiques stores. And many city dwellers use Bucks County as their getaway, the low-key place to decompress each weekend.
Bucks County also offers an active equestrian community and many properties to support equine interests. Whether it’s breeding, hunter/jumper, dressage, racing or just pleasure riding, there are farms of every size in this scenic part of Pennsylvania.
Most people think of Bucks County in terms of Upper Bucks, Central Bucks and Lower Bucks – each area is quite different from the other — so to orient newcomers to this corner of southeastern Pennsylvania, we offer guides to each of these areas. Note that the county’s eastern edge borders the Delaware River with beautiful New Jersey countryside and, farther south, some busy commercial areas, just across the river.
The Territory: Includes Tinicum, Nockamixon, Springfield, Bridgeton, Richland, Durham, Haycock, West Rockhill, East Rockhill, Milford and most of Hilltown townships. Towns and boroughs include Erwinna, Upper Black Eddy, Quakertown, Pipersville and Riegelsville along with the Lake Nockamixon State Park area, which spans several townships. Don’t forget Frenchtown, N.J., and Milford, N.J., just across the Delaware River, the eastern border for Upper Bucks County.
If you love the great outdoors, beautiful rural scenery and a laid-back lifestyle, then Upper Bucks just might be for you. Along the Delaware River, waterfront homes feature mesmerizing views, and the adjacent canal path provides a scenic place for biking, running and long walks with your favorite canine companion. For those who prefer stillwater recreation, Lake Nockamixon State Park includes a marina, biking and walking paths and ample opportunity for fishing, sailing, kayaking and canoeing. Another state park in Upper Bucks is Ralph Stover State Park. Bring a hammer if you hike through nearby Ringing Rocks, where tapping on the rocks produces an almost musical resonance. Restaurants include historic inns, village taverns and small, locally owned establishments – this is not the place for the person who wants assorted franchise restaurants in their backyard. Shopping, outside of the locally owned, boutique-type stores, will require a short drive to Flemington, N.J., Doylestown or the Lehigh Valley. The mix of rolling hills, forests and open field make Upper Bucks a true retreat for the person who prefers a slower, quieter pace of life.
Upper Bucks Real Estate: Upper Bucks is chock full of fabulous farmsteads, equestrian properties and country retreats – some say the number of “millionaires next door” and under-the-radar wealth in Tinicum Township outpaces that of Buckingham, Solebury and Upper Makefield Townships in Central Bucks, traditionally considered wealthier areas. Happily for buyers in an entry-level or move-up position, Upper Bucks also has many housing options at lower price points, including homes in picturesque small towns and boroughs such as Perkasie, Springtown and Riegelsville and a limited selection of condominiums and townhouses. With many preservation-minded residents in parts of Upper Bucks, there has not been an excess of new-home construction in the upper reaches of the county, though smaller cul de sac communities and estate developments have sprung up in the past 10 years.
Commuting Potential:Many people commute from Upper Bucks to various points in New Jersey and even to New York City. Off peak, the drive can be about 1 hour and 30 minutes. At rush hour, count on two hours to the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan. Daily bus service to New Jersey/New York is available from Frenchtown, N.J., just across the Delaware River from Upper Bucks, and from Easton, Pa., just above Riegelsville. The ride averages just over 90 minutes. Some people also drive to various points in New Jersey where ferry service to Manhattan is available.
The Territory: Central Bucks townships include Bedminster, Buckingham, Doylestown, Lower and Upper Southampton, Newtown, Northampton, Plumstead, Solebury, Upper Makefield, Warwick and Wrightstown townships.
Doylestown is the county seat and therefore has quite a lot of commercial activity along with blocks and blocks of lovely historic homes and sedate neighborhoods. Other towns include Lahaska, home of the notable shopping spot, Peddler’s Village; the historic villages of Carversville and Lumberville, each with beautifully restored residences, well-stocked general stores and the Carversville Inn and Black Bass Hotel restaurants, respectively; Point Pleasant, a river village that is home to a general store, the noted Kinsman & Co. garden tool shop, Poor Richard’s, purveyor of garden pots and statuary and Bucks County River Country, where you can rent a canoe or tire tube to float down the Delaware River, a perfect warm-weather activity.
In Central Bucks, New Hope Borough, one of the most scenic small towns in the United States, is the place that really steals visitors’ hearts. Squarely overlooking the Delaware River with winding narrow streets and a Main Street lined with restaurants, shops, art galleries and historic homes, New Hope has a long history of welcoming all – artists, hipsters, families, bikers and people of just about any political bent.
The Lifestyle: Maybe it’s the area’s Quaker heritage, big-city influence or just chance, but the residents of Central Bucks County (and much of the rest of the county, for that matter) are known for their tolerance and appreciation of independent thinkers and the offbeat – if you like to march to the beat of your own drummer, pay us a visit! On the other hand, there are many people who call the area home because it’s considered a wonderful area to raise a family with the schools, churches, sports, parks and other features important to many parents.
Besides New Hope, some of the favorite smaller towns that people seek out in Central Bucks are Doylestown and Newtown, both with vibrant commercial districts and attractive streetscapes lined with beautifully renovated historical homes. Many people enjoy the proximity we have to New York City (about 90 minutes) and Philadelphia (about 50 minutes), and we are convenient to major employers in the greater Princeton area.
Central Bucks Real Estate: The Central Bucks area is unique in that it really isn’t rural, nor is it urban, but “suburban” doesn’t really seem to fit as a label, either – it’s an in-between spot where historic stone houses are plentiful, equestrian and hobby farms are popular and there is also an ample supply of newer homes and cul de sac communities. Home prices can be a bit higher than in Upper and Lower Bucks, but the number of well maintained properties and absolutely beautiful homes in this market are quite impressive. Solebury, Buckingham and Upper Makefield Townships have seen a lot of true luxury estate homes built during the past 15 years.
Commuting Potential: Many people commute from Central Bucks to Philadelphia, various points in New Jersey and even to New York City. Off peak, the drive to Manhattan can be about 1 hour and 30 minutes, sometimes less. At rush hour, count on two hours to the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan. Daily bus service to New Jersey/New York is available from Doylestown, Lahaska, New Hope and Lambertville, N.J., just across the Delaware River from New Hope. The ride averages just over 90 minutes. Many people take the train (New Jersey Transit or Amtrak) from Trenton, N.J., which also offers Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train to Manhattan and Boston and Washington, D.C., to the south. Some people also drive to various points in New Jersey where ferry service to Manhattan is available. SEPTA trains to Philadelphia are available from stations in Doylestown (take the Lansdale/Doylestown line) and Warminster (take the Warminster line).
Yardley is widely considered the gem of Lower Bucks. Set along the Delaware River, it offers an array of historic homes, a number of restaurants, including the Yardley Inn overlooking the river, and several sedate neighborhoods that developed in the early and mid-20th century. It is a choice location for anyone commuting to Philadelphia or New Jersey.
Langhorne is another Lower Bucks town with several established, in-town neighborhoods with lovely older homes, well located for commuting via the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-95 into New Jersey or Philadelphia. Additionally, Bristol Borough, Historic Fallsington and Morrisville are all very interesting towns well located near the Delaware River.
Lower Bucks is also home to Sesame Place, the amusement park based on the colorful characters who inhabit this favorite children’s program. In addition, Pennsbury, a faithful reproduction of William Penn’s early 18th-century Pennsylvania home, is in Lower Bucks and offers guided estate tours.
Lower Bucks also has many commercial areas with shopping malls, business parks and restaurants. Oxford Valley Mall and Franklin Mills, an outlet center just over the Bucks County border in Philadelphia County, are both popular destinations.
Lower Bucks Real Estate: Yardley and Langhorne Borough both have established neighborhoods with stately homes that bring very healthy prices. Both areas also have many, many newer home developments in their suburbs. Lower Bucks County has an ample supply of starter homes – it is home to the Levittown development modeled on the New York Levittown development of the 1950s. These neighborhoods provide an ample supply of lower priced housing options.
Commuting Potential: Excellent for anyone who needs to travel on I-95 to the Princeton area or Philadelphia or those who take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to work. Septa commuter train service to Philadelphia is available from Langhorne and Yardley (take the West Trenton line), and the Trenton NJ Transit and Amtrak station is about a 15-minute drive.