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Old 09-29-2010, 06:29 AM
Location: The State of Rhode Island, Presented by Dunkin' Donuts
115 posts, read 314,062 times
Reputation: 50


I was going to say that Wayland would fit the description -- and it so happens that my sister and I are going to be putting our late parents' house on the market ('60s contemporary house on 1.5 acres) within the next few months, for nowhere near $750K. But in any case, ya, compared to California, the real-estate isn't that bad around here.

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Old 09-29-2010, 09:45 AM
297 posts, read 420,355 times
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Lovepacnw, you mentioned that somebody had suggested Hingham. Hingham is a good option, especially in terms of proximity to the ocean and commute (you have the commuter rail as well as he commuter boat). It's a very safe community with a small town feel, cute town center, great schools. Also, there are a lot of antique homes in Hingham, which is nice. The issue I had with Hingham was finding an antique that fit the bill (4 bed, 2.5 bath, 2,800+ SF) on a large, wooded lot with 2+ acreas within our budget. Everything on the market when we were looking was in the seven figure range. You said that you wouldn't mind a fixer-upper (we weren't), so that could help.

I also found the lack of acreage in Hingham to be an issue--again, in the budget. There were several homes on large lots, but the lots weren't as wooded as I was looking for.

We ran into the same issue in Cohasset and we were open to Scituate, but Scituate is even less wooded areas than Hingham and Cohasset (though at least in Scituate you can afford a nice oceanfront home or less than seven figures, though the commute is a killer).

We ended up moving over to Norwell to get everything we wanted. It took 6+ months of looking in Hingham, Cohasset and Scituate to start looking (I didn't want to be more than 2 miles from the ocean), but I'm glad we did. The antique selection was a bit more sparse than in Hingham, but the lots were exactly what I wanted: large and wooded. We ended up buying our antique (~1775) on about 2 acres, but we are surrounded with woods, so I don't see our neighbors at all. We're 4 miles from the ocean, but also came in under budget. The commute is decent (an hour for me to the Financial District via commuer rail), it's very safe, it feels like a small town (10K residents) and the schools are great.

Sorry to ramble, I just thought I'd share my experience since we were interested in the same things and it took us about 8 months to find a house we loved. I wish you lots of luck!

ETA: I have no experience on the North Shore, but I do love the North Shore and very briefly considered Marblehead...
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:12 AM
1,836 posts, read 4,112,089 times
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Well said NewfieMama. I was skeptical when someone mentioned Hingham with that criteria in that price range and your post confirms it. Congratulations on the Norwell purchase. It's a fantastic community.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:22 AM
Location: Southern CT
12 posts, read 25,349 times
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Thanks everyone for your help, and thanks NewfieMama for your detailed response; it so helpful because it sounds like we are looking for what you were looking for almost exactly! Wow; a home built in 1775? What a dream. I am so facinated by antique homes. I have a subcription to "Early American Life" and absolutely love looking at the historic, old New England homes they showcase in their magazine. Here in CA, one might find a home built in the late 1800s, but most are torn down or modernized so much that you can't even tell it's an antique.

Thanks again everyone! If anyone has any more helpful hints, please let me know! What a wonderful forum this is.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:57 AM
Location: Danvers, MA
14 posts, read 40,327 times
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Hamilton, north of Boston, has much of what you are looking for. There are a great schools, both public and private, acreage, antique homes, a quaint downtown, numerous community events, a hop and a skip to the coast, lots of walking trails, commuter rail to Boston.

To give you an idea about the sense of community, a local business recently had a fire in a historic barn that housed their business. The community came to their aid to keep the business viable.

There are several similar towns around Hamilton that offer the same or similar which gives you a variety of options. Not all have commuter rail access but it is generally not far away. The area is generally referred to as the North Shore.

As for winters... it is New England and we get snow. Last year, those on the coast actually got more snow in some cases than those slightly inland. It really varies and it is something that you both expect and ultimately enjoy if you are open to the possibilities that winter has to offer.

Best of luck!
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:54 AM
199 posts, read 790,619 times
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Close to the coast, antique, woodsy, 1-7 acres, $750K budget, 30-45 minutes to Boston:

North Shore - Hamilton, Wenham, Topsfield, Manchester, Essex, Boxford, and Ipswich.

West of Boston - Sudbury, Wayland, Lincoln, Concord, Carlisle, Acton, and Boxboro. None of these would be as close to the coast as the ones listed on the North Shore. Concord, Carlisle, and Lincoln might be on the 1-3 acre range for your budget.

Southeast MA - Wrentham, Norfolk, Sharon? None of these would be as close to the coast as the North Shore ones listed.

I know of towns on the South Shore, but don't know anything about prices or school systems there.
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:01 PM
297 posts, read 420,355 times
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Beachcomber--it seems like you should be able to afford a nice antique on a couple of acres in Hingham for under seven figures, you know? That's what we thought, too. And we did see a couple in our budget, but they required a lot of work. And with antiques, any work can so easily go over budget that we didn't want to risk it.

Lovepacnw, I'm fascinated by antiques, too. I have to admit that it's one of the reasons I love New England so much. You can buy a home that was standing before we were officially a nation.

Our kitchen is a bit too cookie-cutter for me (granite/stainless steel). I wish the previous owners had gone with something with more character (soapstone) and less trendy, but I hate to completely re-do a brand new kitchen, so eventually we'll redo it. So sometimes you see an antique that is a bit too modern here, too.

Everything else is pretty much in tact, though. Original floors, original fireplaces, original built-ins, original wood walls. In fact, some of the exposed beams date back from a building from the 1600's (they recycled them for the house), which is neat. Also, the original pot rack and bread oven are in the kitchen fireplace and I admit to feeling guilty when whipping up dinner thinking about how hard it must have been when the house was built to essentially prepare dinner in the fireplace.

I'm excited for your future house hunt! Walking through antiques is so much fun--you find something you love in every single one. Maybe someday we'll be neighbors!
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:23 PM
12,464 posts, read 23,533,767 times
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A co-worker of mine just bought a house built in 1730 in Littleton, (for $300,000, a gardened half-acre) a former "Tory Tavern." It still has some musket holes in the front stairs from the day when the Revolutionaries came to the door and the Tories inside fled out the back door. The front door, complete with musket holes, is in the Historical Society. Littleton has a lot of houses that are pre-Revolutionary. Not up to seven acres too often, but plenty of room.
You have to get in the car for a few great restaurants within several miles (one a former roadside tavern built in 1740, the floors made of old ship timbers, and a new great chef- the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA).
Littleton and Shirley and all are Rt. 2, northwest out of Cambridge. Littleton is 25 miles to Boston.
You have a great budget for the old houses (and they are not falling apart, believe me). On the lower end of the land request, you should have several to choose from. Best wishes.
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Old 09-29-2010, 03:16 PM
Location: Southern CT
12 posts, read 25,349 times
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NewfieMama: your house sounds absolutely amazing, especially those exposed beams! Don't you wish your walls could talk to you?? Have you had a chance to learn anything about the previous owners through old records? That would be so fun.

Brightdoglover: what an amazing story about your co-worker's house! Now that is a place with some great history.

Thanks everyone else for your suggestions and comments. Everything I am reading is extremely helpful.

Does anyone have any thoughts on Danvers?
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:33 PM
199 posts, read 790,619 times
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Salem Village area of Danvers has some nice older homes. Danvers is more suburban than woodsy, I'd say. It's a decent, middle-class town with a decent school system. Convenient for the malls and Rt 128/Rt 1. Not on the commuter rail to Boston.

If you're willing to sacrifice the land part, I would suggest looking at homes in Salem along the McIntire District - Federal, Essex, and Chestnut Street area and around the Common. You'll find some older homes within your budget. I saw one on Essex St that was gorgeous. You'd get more home for your money but the public schools are bit lacking in Salem. Though perhaps the money you save in housing would go towards private schools like it does for many people who live in the McIntire District.

Marblehead is a lovely coastal town with older homes too. School system is quite good, much better than Salem or Danvers, but it's a dead-end destination town and slightly inconvenient than other towns.
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