If you’re considering relocating to the Delco area, it’s hard to beat the charm and quality of life you’ll enjoy while living in Swarthmore, a picturesque borough in the Philadelphia metro area.
What is Swarthmore known for? A college town outside Philadelphia, Swarthmore is known for Swarthmore College, a private liberal arts college and one of America’s first coed colleges. The town has a strong academic vibe with streets named after major universities and colleges like Harvard, Yale, Drexel, and Dartmouth.
Swarthmore was originally called Westdale and named for early resident and famed painter Benjamin West. Its name was changed when the Quakers founded Swarthmore College in 1864 and the borough grew up around the college, especially after passenger rail service was extended and it became a Center City commuter suburb.
Here’s what you can expect after moving to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and while you’ll love this picturesque and close-knit community.
Swarthmore, PA Demographics & Population
The population of Swarthmore, PA is 6,543 according to the 2020 census, up slightly from 6,194 in 2010, with a population density of 4,425 people per square mile. It’s part of the Philadelphia metro area which has a population of 6.24 million.
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Where is Swarthmore? The borough is in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and bordered by Crum Creek (a Delaware River tributary), Springfield Township, and Ridley Township. Swarthmore is about 16 miles southwest of Center City and 16 miles northeast of Wilmington, DE. The area is colloquially known as Delco (Delaware County) and it’s located between Philadelphia and Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Countryside.
Swarthmore is a highly educated community with more than three-quarters of residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree and half holding a post-grad degree. The community is also very affluent with median household income of $118,000 – almost double the Pennsylvania median of $63,627 and around 1.5x higher than the Philly metro area.
Additional Swarthmore demographics:
- Median age: 37
- Sex ratio: 52% female to 48% male over 18
- Median household income: $118,182
- Racial and ethnic composition: 81.7% white (79.6% non-Hispanic), 7.2% Black or African American, 5.8% Asian, 3% Hispanic, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 4.1% two or more races
- Foreign-born population: 9.8%
- Educational attainment: 78.5% bachelor’s degree or higher
If you’re curious about Swarthmore diversity, you’ll find that Swarthmore College is more diverse than the borough. The student population is 37.5% White, 16% Asian, 13% Hispanic, 8% Black or African American, and 7% two or more races.
Swarthmore is a safe place to live with a very low crime rate 80% below the national average. The Swarthmore crime rate is just 498 crimes per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 2,477 crimes per 100,000. The community is served by the Swarthmore Borough Police Department which has nine sworn officers.
Famous people from Swarthmore include Benjamin West, an 18th century artist for whom the borough was originally named, and artist Valerie Hollister. Notable Swarthmore alumni include astronaut Sally Ride and actor Stephen Lang.
Cost of Living in Swarthmore
Is Swarthmore expensive? There are a few ways to assess the cost of living in the borough. The Swarthmore cost of living index is 115 or 15% more expensive than the national average and the Philadelphia cost of living.
Housing plays a big role in the high Swarthmore living costs. The median home price is $527,000, up 86% year-over-year with just 7 median days on market. However, this is based on just six home sales over an entire year.
You can see Swarthmore, PA homes for sale to get an idea of what’s available as inventory is usually very tight.
Planning to rent while living in Swarthmore, PA? According to RentCafe, the average rent is $1,291, lower than the national average of $1,628 and far below the Philadelphia average rent of $1,800!
Swarthmore Neighborhoods | Best Places to Live in Swarthmore Borough
Ready to explore the best places to live after moving to Swarthmore, PA? The borough is known for its distinctive Victorian era to 1920s homes, although there are newer subdivisions and neighborhoods built in the 1950s to 1970s.
Looking for an older home with class and character? Along Yale Avenue and Westdale Avenue, you’ll find stunning Tudor homes from the 1920s priced in the high $400s.
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The Milmont Park area of Swarthmore is one of the most affordable neighborhoods with single-family homes and nearby parks. It’s part of Swarthmorewood, an older family-friendly subdivision in the Ridley School District. Often considered part of Swarthmore, this residential neighborhood developed in the 1950s and 60s has a Swarthmore mailing address but it’s located in Ridley Township. Residents pay Ridley Township property taxes and attend the Ridley School District. Families appreciate the lower home prices with 3-bedroom twin homes in the low $300s.
Considering buying a condo? There are two great options. Swarthmore Court Condos offers affordable condos in Swarthmore, PA with two-bedroom units in the $100s and HOA fees of $335/month. Strath Haven Condominium is the best choice if you’re looking for amenities. Two-bedroom condos are priced in the mid-$100s with $712/month condo fees that include utilities, a pool, a library, and more.
Weather in Swarthmore & Climate
The Swarthmore climate is humid subtropical with an average temperature range of 33 °F to 78 °F throughout the year. While living in Swarthmore, PA, you’ll get about 44” of annual rainfall so make sure you pack a good umbrella and raincoat! Swarthmore gets an average 20” of snow every year, lower than the national average.
The best time to visit Swarthmore is May and June or September to avoid freezing winter temperatures and hot, sweltering summer weather in July and August. There are about 27 days every year with 90+ degree weather in Swarthmore PA.
Learn more and get the forecast from the National Weather Service (Weather – Swarthmore PA).
Things to Do in Swarthmore PA
There’s tons to do in and around Swarthmore Borough! The quaint and walkable downtown Swarthmore is filled with independent shops and eateries and the Swarthmorewood Shopping Center is the main shopping area in the borough and home to Goodwill Swarthmore. Just outside the borough off Baltimore Pike is the large Springfield Mall and Smedley Park, a highly rated Delaware County park. The Swarthmore Co-Op is the popular and long-running community-owned market.
Here are some of the top Swarthmore attractions you’ll love.
This family-owned comics and games business is a local institution with an active community and frequent events, tournaments, and auctions. Thursday is board game night and Historical Wargaming, Wednesdays are for DnD, and Tuesday is Table Top night!
Showcase Comics, 631 S Chester Rd, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 544-9229
Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College
Explore the scenic arboretum gardens with more than 4,000 trees and plants. Stop by for one of the regular tours!
Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, 500 College Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 328-8025
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This beautiful and secluded forest is one of the last in the area. Explore 3.5 square miles of diverse woodlands and trails surrounding Crum Creek.
Crum Woods, 500 College Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 328-8025
Other attractions in Swarthmore include:
- Players Club of Swarthmore
- Lamb-Miller Field House
- Thatcher Park
- Little Crum Creek Park
- Trampoline & Adventure Park by Urban Air Delco
Best Restaurants in Swarthmore, PA
Ready to explore the top places to eat? You’ll find plenty of great restaurants including a few on the Swarthmore College campus!
- Broad Table Tavern at the Inn at Swarthmore. The Swarthmore Inn is a picturesque 3-star hotel on the college campus. The inn’s Broad Table Tavern is one of the best restaurants near Swarthmore College with a seasonal farm-to-table menu, a large selection of wine, craft beer, and cocktails, and happy hour specials. Broad Table Tavern, 12 S Chester Rd, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 543-7500
- Essie Mae’s. Swarthmore College is also home to Essie Mae’s Snack Bar, a popular spot to grab a quick bite in Clothier Hall!
- Bamboo Bistro. The Swarthmore Bamboo Bistro serves up fantastic Thai, Japanese, and Chinese dishes with fresh, quality ingredients. Their sushi menu is a big hit! Bamboo Bistro, 333 Dartmouth Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 328-6888
- Swarthmore Pizza. Popular with college students and locals, Swarthmore Pizza offers up brick oven-fired pizzas, cheesesteaks, hoagies, and pasta dishes. Swarthmore Pizza, 601 S Chester Rd, Swarthmore, PA 19081 (610) 543-3474
Swarthmore, PA Jobs | Average Salary & Top Employers
According to Payscale, the average salary in Swarthmore Borough is $61,000 or $19.66 per hour.
You’ll have plenty of job opportunities after moving to Swarthmore, both in the borough and surrounding Delco areas. If you’re looking for jobs in the borough, options are somewhat limited with education and health care accounting for a large share of jobs. However, there are many major employers in Delco, PA:
- Swarthmore College (jobs)
- Wallingford-Swarthmore School District (careers)
- Delaware County
- Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Upland, PA)
- Boeing Company (Ridley Park, PA)
- AmeriHealth Caritas (Newtown Square, PA)
- Mercy Catholic Medical Center – Mercy Fitzgerald (Darby, PA)
- Riddle Hospital (Media, PA)
Many of the largest Delaware County employers are within 10 miles of Swarthmore!
Work in Center City? The commute from Swarthmore, PA to Philadelphia is just 20 miles on I-95. The community is also served by the SEPTA Media/Elwyn Line Regional Rail. The Swarthmore SEPTA Station is halfway between downtown Swarthmore and Swarthmore College and a short walk to both. The one-way SEPTA fare from Swarthmore to Center City is just $5.75 on a weekday and $5.25 on evenings and weekends and the ride is just 30 minutes.
Swarthmore Schools & Higher Education
While living in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, you’ll be served by the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. Students attend Swarthmore-Rutledge Elementary, Strath Haven Middle, and Strath Haven High.
The Strathmore High School is frequently ranked one of the best public high schools in Philadelphia and the entire state with an AP participation rate of 67%!
There is only one Swarthmore private school, George Crothers Memorial, but Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic School is very close.
Students and residents alike enjoy the services and events at the Swarthmore Public Library. The library offers adult and children’s events, a pollinator garden, and a Library of Things with park and museum passes, board games, and Roku services.
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If you’re considering higher education, you won’t need to go far. The borough’s namesake, Swarthmore College, is an elite liberal arts school founded in 1864 by the Quakers. The Swarthmore acceptance rate is just 9%.
Swarthmore Statistics & Information
- County: Delaware
- Total area: 1.40 square miles
- Area codes: 484 and 610
- Zip code: 19081
- Time zone: UTC-5 (EST)
- Elevation: 125 feet
- Closest airport: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is 6 miles away
Swarthmore PA Map
Explore all the things to do and places to eat with this map of Swarthmore Borough, PA.
Pros & Cons of Living in Swarthmore
- Pro: Beautiful scenery and great quality of life
- Pro: One of the best school districts in the Philadelphia area
- Pro: Many parks and convenient shopping destinations
- Con: High cost of living
- Con: Tight housing market with limited availability
Does living in beautiful Swarthmore sound like a dream? Suburban Solutions is ready to help you settle into your new home. Give us a call to discuss your upcoming move and request a free, affordable moving quote.