In 1967, John and Mary Miller were a married couple in their 20s looking to move from their Baltimore home to a place in the county. At the time, they had one child and planned to have more.

After looking around, they decided on Coachford, a small, quiet, semi-rural community of about 11 homes off Padonia Road adjacent to the neighborhood of Springlake. "It seemed like a wonderful place to raise children," John Miller said. "It was a new community and a chance to buy a decent home that was affordable."

The Millers raised five children in their home, and in 34 years there they have seen many changes to the quiet, little neighborhood. For one, Coachford grew into a community of 305 split foyers, Colonials, ranchers and contemporary-style homes. The surrounding area changed as well.

"We just knew the area was going to grow," Miller said. When the Millers moved into Coachford, there was "absolutely nothing north" of them, just a lot of farmland. Since there was no exit to the community off Interstate 83 at the time, the community wasn't that accessible.

All that has changed of course. "There's so much around us now, the shops, the restaurants, everything; it's so accessible and convenient to live here," Miller said.

The Millers are glad they have stayed in their home for most of their married life. For one thing, their home has turned into a great investment. In 1967 they paid just a little more than $30,000 for it. Today they could get more than $250,000. "I had no idea that the value would increase so much," Miller said.

However, the Millers have no plans to move. "I'll leave when my wife puts me in a box," he said.

The Millers are typical of many residents of Coachford. There has not been much of a turnover of people.

"We're just now starting to see some of the original residents move," Miller said.

Those who are moving into the community are like Geoff and Mary Alice Bond, who moved into Coachford in 1997 with their two boys, now ages 8 and 5.

The Bonds came to Coachford after finding a house that fit their needs. The couple wanted a home with a separate in-law apartment where Mary Alice's mother could live.

The Bonds are lucky to have found a house in Coachford, said Asha Goel, a resident of Coachford for 17 years and a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. in Towson. The average home in Coachford sells in about three months, but several homes in the past year have sold in as little as "three to seven days," Goel said.

"The homes are very affordable," she said. "The schools are excellent and the community is very close-knit and accommodating. People don't leave Coachford."

Geoff Bond has become very active in the neighborhood community association and is president of the organization. The Coachford Community Association meets every other month, mainly to discuss planning activities in the community. "There are no big issues. No crime ... or anything like that, so we focus more on social issues," Bond said.

The events are well-attended, Bond said. Every year, Coachford holds a July Fourth parade, a fall festival and a holiday party with Santa Claus riding through the neighborhood on a firetruck handing out toys to children. In addition, Coachford residents hold events in Springlake Park and at Springlake's community pool.

It wasn't always that way.

"We weren't allowed to join Springlake's pool when we first moved in," Miller said.

"We have a friendly little rivalry with Springlake," Bond said, "sort of like between Washington and Baltimore."

"Coachford has always been sheltered under Springlake," Goel said. "It is because of Springlake being right next to us. Coachford has been in its shadow for far too long. We have our own identity."

And that identity is of a very nice place to live and raise a family, she said. It's what usually draws people like the Bonds to the neighborhood and its why people like the Millers are reluctant to leave.

"There is a real sense of community here, in an old-fashioned way," Geoff Bond said. "I think that speaks well of the neighborhood."


Coachford

Commute to downtown: 25 minutes

Public schools: Pot Spring Elementary, Ridgley Middle, Dulaney Valley High

Shopping: Padonia Village Shopping Center, Yorkridge Shopping Center, Towson Town Center (3.5 miles)

ZIP code: 21093