Get to Know Chester County
Chester County is one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties created by William Penn in 1682. Located approximately 45 minutes west of Philadelphia, its population is almost 500,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The area’s wealthiest residents are a mix of old and new money. A large chunk of Philadelphia’s western Main Line suburbs are in Chester County along with well-appointed, large equestrian properties. Over the past 30 years, Chester County’s employment base has exploded with such substantial employers as mutual-fund giant Vanguard, retailer QVC, venture-capital firms, technology companies and more headquartered there. In fact, Chester County displaced Montgomery County as the wealthiest spot in Pennsylvania as far as median family income, which stands at $76,000+/- in Chester County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county seat is West Chester, a university town that is experiencing quite a renaissance in its business district.
A Center for Equestrian Interests
As a center of equestrian farms and activities, Chester County arguably offers Pennsylvania’s best collection of outstanding horse properties and related facilities, including veterinary services, active hunt and polo clubs, lessons, boarding and breeding facilities. Radnor Hunt, which is the oldest fox hunt in the U.S. and dates to 1883, spreads across 100 acres in Willistown Township but is surrounded by 6,000 preserved acres. The Devon Horse Show, held each May into June, attracts participants and spectators from around the world. Based in Kennett Square, the Brandywine Polo Club is one of the oldest such establishments on the East Coast. If equestrian activities are your passion, then Chester County should be at the top of your list as a place to live.
Very Active Real-Estate Market
Because of Chester County’s long history, there are many historical houses, mostly built of stone, in the area. In the past 20 years, with fewer buyers interested in taking on the maintenance of large properties and the high growth in area employment, many subdivisions have been carved out to accommodate new construction. Much of what was built in the past two decades is fairly typical: large, single-family residences and more affordable townhouse communities. Tucked away, though, are also some absolutely top-grade, custom-built residences. Expect to pay between $225 – $290/square foot, on average, for an upper-end home in the county.
Chester County contains two important American Revolution sites: the Brandywine battlefield and Valley Forge encampment. Kennett Square, in the far southern part of Chester County, is known as the “mushroom capital of the world” as it produces 40% of the U.S. mushroom crop. Near this quaint little town is Longwood Gardens, a spectacular, 900+ acre collection of outdoor and indoor gardens and conservatories founded Pierre du Pont in the 19th century. It attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors annually. For those seeking additional outdoor recreation, Chester County is home to three state parks: French Creek (7500+ acres, though not all in the county), Marsh Creek (1705 acres) and White Clay Creek Preserve (1255 acres).
Improvements to highway infrastructure have eased some of the growing pains the area went through with the arrival and expansion of its major employers.
- Market Trends in