I moved up to Newark, Delaware, from outside of Atlanta in 1998 before starting college. In Georgia, I'd always had my horses at home so boarding was a totally new concept.
What worked out well was finding a really nice barn with a good trainer (it was in the $700 range) where I knew my horse would have the best care. Then, once I'd been in the area a bit, I was able to get to know a lot of local horse people, which brought about the opportunity to move to a private facility for less than $200 a month. This was a great arrangement until I moved up to Doylestown, PA, for college.
What was nice about starting out with the first farm was that I could still take lessons there and that barn allowed me to build a good base of horsey friends, which I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do if I'd gone straight to the private facility.
Once you are in the area, you'll become aware of a lot more opportunities through networking. The barn you chose now doesn't have to be the "one." If you can, pay for what you want and then as you get to know everyone, you'll most likely come across many more situations.
If you have a gelding I may be able to help you find something in your price range near the Radnor Hunt Pony Club grounds. Not all the small places have rings - the riders purchase grounds subscriptions and ride at pony club. Most are within easy hacking distance and there is a lighted ring.
Probably further than you want to go but I board in North Coventry just south of Pottstown. It is $520 a month. The farm has an indoor with really nice jumps, a small outdoor ring, small group turn-out, outside trainers okay, wash stall, heated tack room. There is a dressage trainer that is there regularly.
It is not a lesson barn and currently is all adults with one WS that is a senior in HS. Everyone is pretty friendly.
There are cornfield that we can hack through the woods to get to. One of he neighbors is an eventer and she would regularly hack around the fields as there are some nice hills.
Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)
You think that the Great Scott facilities are lovely? Did you walk around?
By years ago, I meant like 10years ago. It is pretty close to Conshy, and I loved hacking to Valley Forge. At that point the indoor wasn't built yet, but the outdoor which was under the current indoor was very nice, and the 15acre field my horse went out in was awesome. He also had a shed row stall that was enormous. There was brand new vinyl fencing and the wash stall was also very nice. The gas lanterns lining the driveway made me swoon. And, I think I only paid like $200/mo for part board...but maybe things have changed.
I'm guessing things have changed. I would recommend staying away from Great Scott.
Contact the DCs of Radnor and Pickering pony clubs. Those are the closest clubs to where you want to be and the pony club types usually know everyone and how to do things on a budget. Both have web sites. Radnor even has a classified that sometimes has boarding options. A friend found a horse on there.
Good luck. There are affordable options out there but it takes some detective work.
Have you considered boarding at a more dressage or jumping-oriented barn (seek input on those specific forums here on COTH), and then working with a separate coach on the XC? Jane Cory, who used to run/ own Pleasant Hollow and trained riders up to Advanced, still gives lessons in the area. You could contact her for boarding suggestions in the area and discuss her current training situation with clients. I trained with her years ago and Love. Her. She helped me get to prelim with a reasonably challenging ride and helped me immeasurably with a stream of constant greenbeans/ OTTB's. Good luck!
E-Z Go stables is a co-op barn in Blue Bell. May be worth a talking to. I am not familiar with who is in the place now, but they do have a Facebook page. They have a decent outdoor, and hacking within the Highland Hunt Country is close.
We're in pretty similar circumstances, except that I live in downtown Philly, not Conshy. I went through quite the process of finding a place - started at the Gloucester County Dream Park (couldn't leave fast enough), then went to Worcester (stayed for over a year, but you are right - they wouldn't notice if your horse went missing, plus all the extras they charge make it waaay more pricey than you think going in), then I found a lovely barn in the Radnor Hunt area that had a dressage ring with footing, and was about a 20 minute hack to the Pony Club grounds. It cost $750 but I was happy there.
Now I'm renting a barn in Cochranville and sucking up to the daily drive. But hey, now I can have 3 or 4 horses for the price of keeping one AND give them proper care.