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Old 02-09-2011, 10:49 PM
 
2 posts, read 4,893 times
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Will work in cambridge close to MITsoon, but I'm completely new to Boston area, so, would like your suggestion/comments.
I (and my wife) have 2 kids, one will go to kindergarten this fall, and one just 2 year old. So, our top priority is to look for an area with a very good public school system. (Probably cannot afford to private school). The second priority would be the residence: we want to live in a family-friendly community; Our budge probably won't go beyond $500k, if we want a 3-bedroom family house , do you think it's doable? or renting would be a better option? The third priority would be commuting distance, I'd rather utilize public transportation, but driving would be an option, and the commuting time would be within an hour (less would be plus) one way.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:17 AM
 
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Based on the criteria you've specified, here are a few places to consider:

Arlington: schools not necessarily in the very top tier, but have a solid reputation; right next to Cambridge; from neighborhoods close to Mass. Avenue you can commute by bus to the Alewife station in Cambridge, where you can transfer to the red line and travel a few stops to the MIT stop.

Wakefield: I don't know much about Wakefield's schools, so you'd need more info on this, but Wakefield is generally a nice town, where you may find a decent selection of properties that fit your budget. The commute is not necessarily the best by public transit, but it can be done. It would involve taking commuter rail to North Station, then either a transfer to the green or orange lines on the subway, followed by a second transfer to the red line, or a walk of half a mile, three quarters of a mile, or so from North Station to the red line at Mass. General Station, which is one stop from MIT.

Winchester: This town may be a stretch on the housing budget, but some digging may turn up a few properties in your price range. This is another town where the commute by public transit would involve taking commuter rail to North Station, so again not the best commute by public transit, but it can be done. Despite the roundabout commute by public transit (more straightforward if you were to drive) and the fact that there may be few properties that would fit your budget, Winchester has good schools and is a good family kind of town from everything I've heard, so it may be worth a look.

Braintree: schools generally regarded as solid; clean, safe, family-oriented, typically suburban kind of town; on the opposite side of Boston from Cambridge, but a straight shot on the red line by public transit, with no transfers, so the only issue is getting to the red line, but Braintree may not be the best option for a driving commute, as the traffic is heavy going into Boston from that direction.

Newton: This is another town where you'll really have to dig to find something in your housing budget, but it's worth a look, because Newton has excellent schools and is another family kind of town. As with Winchester, the commute by public transit would be a bit convoluted, but if you found a place close to the green line, the commute would involve only one transfer, and could be done within an hour, maybe a little under.

If you're willing to extend the commuting time a bit, you might want to check out Acton and Littleton. Acton's schools are highly regarded, and Littleton's are generally regarded as very solid. You're more likely to find properties that fit your budget in these towns than in the pricier towns I've mentioned above (Newton, Winchester), while both are nice towns, as long as you're okay with a semi-rural kind of location, as both towns are out in the exurbs. Both towns lie on the commuter rail line that stops at Porter Square in Cambridge. From Porter Sq. you can take the red line a few stops to MIT. This whole trip would take longer than an hour, especially when you figure in driving across either of these somewhat spread out towns just to reach the train station, but these two towns might be worth a look, because both are nice clean, safe towns, where your housing budget will go further than it will in many other Boston suburbs with nice family feels and good schools.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:53 AM
 
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If you'll be heading to the Kendall/MIT stop I would think it would make more sense to take the commuter rail from the west or south to connect to the red line:

MBTA.com > Commuter Rail Maps and Schedules
MBTA Subway 'The 'T' > Maps, Schedules, and Fare Information for the Boston Area Subway System

Ogre is right. Newton is lovely but also pretty pricey. You could do further west for less money. There are quite a few well rated schools in the MetroWest area, including Hopkinton (you could pick up the train on the Hopkinton/Southboro line or take the Ashland train, both of which go into South Station to connect to the red line. You'll get a lot more for your money in Hopkinton than Newton & similarly it has lots of family friendly activities. I wrote an article about the area awhile ago for the Wall Street Journal. I'll dig up the link & send it.

I know if you're living south of the city that a lot of people are very keen on Hingham for its schools, charm, ocean access & commuter access but that also is quite expensive. Perhaps someone else on the forum can chime in about other areas south of the city along the commuter rail.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:09 AM
 
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Arlington, as Ogre mentioned, would be my first suggestion. Winchester is another good suggestion - pricey town with an excellent school system.

Belmont is another pricey town with an excellent school system that borders Cambridge. I don't know if you'll find single-family housing within your price range though. It's a short commute to Cambridge on the bus or train, which may be an incentive.

A little farther out, Lexington is another pricey town with a stellar school system and accessible to Cambridge on public transportation. You may find single-family housing here within your budget, but it may be small and/or need updating and have some other issues.

Ditto for Concord. Though I'd say you might probably find more within your budget in Concord than in Lexington since it's outside of Rte 128. Personally, I think West Concord and Concord Center are particularly well suited to a family with young children, but that's my two cents. The playgrounds have bathrooms (not portaloos), which is a selling point for me with a 5-yr-old.

As the real estate agent pointed out, the further away from Cambridge and Boston - usually the less expensive for housing. You'll get more bang for your buck in say Danvers or Reading or Wakefield, but the schools will not be in the top 20 like Lexington and Concord are. Still these towns have solid decent schools so you may decide it's worth the sacrifice or you may decide to send your budding kindergartener to private school.

FYI - In MA, kindergarten varies widely from town to town/city to city - in terms of what they offer and what they charge. Most towns and cities require children to be 5 years old before school starts for entry into a kindergarten. So if you have a child with a late birthday, they will held back unless you send them to private school or are a resident in Cambridge or Medford.

Many towns in MA are moving to a full-day curriculum, but not all. Some towns/cities do not charge a fee for kindergarten; others charge thousands of dollars for kindergarten at the public school, though it's still usually cheaper than a private school or daycare.

See http://www.superednet.com/MassPublic...rvey011111.pdf
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:00 PM
 
3 posts, read 4,972 times
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Default Advice on Residence

Hi there,

I just thought I would send a quick reply to your post knowing what it is like coming from another area. I moved to the Boston area 20+ years ago from NY and lived in various areas around greater Boston. I have been settled on the South Shore in a beautiful seaside community called Cohasset. You may have heard of it since some movies were filmed here (Witches of Eastwick, House Guest, etc.). It is located about 20 miles south of Boston. It is an amazing community that offers so much for everyone. Aside from the beaches, it offers commuters the opportunity for public transportation via the commuter rail and commuter boat. The town is very small (only around 7,000 residents). I have 3 kids in the public school system (highly ranked). If you want to be on vacation year round.

Last edited by CaseyB; 02-10-2011 at 04:37 PM.. Reason: no realtor advertising/soliciting allowed
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:51 PM
 
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I have lived in the 495 beltway since 1972 and I agree with the Acton & Concord suggestions if you add a West to the name. West Concord which is part of Concord provides reasonable rents and purchase opportunities. ditto for West Acton. Both of the areas are within minutes of the rail that will bring you to Cambridge. RT. 2 which traverses both towns provides an auto alternative to the rail option that would be useful if you will be working extended hours.
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:21 PM
 
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Thanks, eveyone! Seems my budge is not strong enough to get what we want. So, anyone might suggest that we'd better start with renting a single family house? (My wife might get a job later on, so, we would get our budge raised to $650K in the future. )
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:55 AM
 
5,763 posts, read 13,361,906 times
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With the option of renting, and with the possible income increase in the future, you may want to look very closely at Newton. Newton's schools have an outstanding reputation. Although Newton is a larger town, it is divided into distinct sections, many with their own local commercial districts, and tends to be a family kind of place in many areas.

Following up on Kmann-Sherborn's suggestion to look farther west of Boston, I might also suggest Natick. Natick is another town, like Arlington, where the schools are more in the good or solid category rather than really high-powered. Hopkinton's schools probably are somewhat better regarded, but Natick is closer to Boston.

The commute by public transit from either Natick or Hopkinton would be toward the outer limits of your preferred commuting time, but would probably stay just within. Whether you'd keep the commute within an hour could depend in part on what part of either town you lived in, and how long a trip on local roads you would have to reach the train station. From both towns you would take the commuter rail to South Station, then the red line from South Station to MIT. There are two commuter rail stations in Natick. Hopkinton does not have its own commuter rail station. From Hopkinton you'd want to use the train station in neighboring Ashland. One caution on living out in the Metro West area, where Hopkinton and Natick are located, is that this would be a tough commute by car. It can be done, but I would decidedly prefer public transit for a commute to Cambridge from Metro West.

In terms of genral character, Hopkinton is a low-density, woodsy kind of suburb, with a kind of quaint, small-town feel. Natick is more classically suburban in character. Both are nice middle- to upper-middle-class towns.
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Union Square, Somerville
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Hi JR, firstly in full disclosure I am a RE agent working in the Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington area. As several people have pointed out Arlington offers much of what you are looking for: good schools, easy commute to MIT, family-friendly town (voted best town to live short time back). A quick search on MLS only brings up 8 single families currently on the market between $400-525,000. If you don't mind being outside of the metro-boston/cambridge area check out Salem, MA. Commuter rail to Boston is great for commuters; affordable housing; on the water (North Shore) do your homework on the public schools. Good luck, Courtney

Last edited by CaseyB; 02-11-2011 at 04:50 PM.. Reason: realtor advertising/solicitation
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:00 PM
 
105 posts, read 286,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogre View Post
The commute by public transit from either Natick or Hopkinton would be toward the outer limits of your preferred commuting time, but would probably stay just within. Whether you'd keep the commute within an hour could depend in part on what part of either town you lived in, and how long a trip on local roads you would have to reach the train station. From both towns you would take the commuter rail to South Station, then the red line from South Station to MIT. There are two commuter rail stations in Natick. Hopkinton does not have its own commuter rail station. From Hopkinton you'd want to use the train station in neighboring Ashland. One caution on living out in the Metro West area, where Hopkinton and Natick are located, is that this would be a tough commute by car. It can be done, but I would decidedly prefer public transit for a commute to Cambridge from Metro West.
Not trying to hijack the thread, but what makes the drive from here so tough? I've had my own threads about where to live with a job in Cambridge and less than an hour commute, and I know most people recommend living as close to or North of Cambridge to cut down on the commute time. I also know, that at least from Ashland, your not going to get to Kendall/MIT stop in less than 70 minutes on public transit. The 2 fastest train runs of the morning are 70 minutes just from the Ashland to the MIT stop. That doesn't include time to get to the Ashland station or walk to your final destination from the stop. It always seems odd to me that the train should be a better choice. Can it really add an extra 35 mins or so on the drive in rush hour from here? (We are contemplating a home in Ashland and my husband would prefer to drive than use transit as he will have free parking at work). Thanks for the info, as I have yet to have someone reply about the commute from Hopkinton.
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