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Old 03-18-2012, 09:15 PM
 
41 posts, read 46,407 times
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Default Is Arlington over-rated/over-priced?

Hi all,

Does Arlington offers good value for the money, or is it overpriced for what it is? We would love to buy there as it seems like lots of young families who like Cambridge/Davis but want a bit more green space or (the perception of?) better schools tend to end up there. We'd be thrilled if we could find something in the high 300s on the Alewife side of Mass. Ave <10 min walk to the T, but those seem rare. Taxes seem high, which I'm guessing is related to the fact that the town keeps threatening to slash public school funds unless residents pass overrides. I'm seeing upwards of 5k in taxes on 2 bedroom condos...which is constraining.

Those of you who have read my posts know we like Davis Square/North Cambridge/Huron Village, where nice places are generally considered less affordable than Arlington, but aside from the universal availability of off-street parking in Arlington, I'm not seeing as much of a jump in space or quality as I was expecting for the same total cost. This is not a knock on Arlington - one of the reasons I'm asking is because I kind of hope we can actually find something there, but when we do the math, it doesn't necessarily come out any cheaper, considering that we'd need to buy another car if we can't move within a short walk of Alewife. Am I missing something?
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:20 PM
 
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Personally, I think Arlington is overpriced. Speaking as a homeowner who looked at dozens of Arlington properties, postage stamp houses with funky layouts can go for $500k+ in bidding wars. The issue for me is that Arlington housing stock and lot size were historically working class, which means you're not getting either good structure or good acreage for your money.

At the moment, people are paying through the nose for the schools, but at a certain point, other towns with excellent schools and more beautiful neighborhoods (Winchester, Lexington, Belmont, etc.) become a better buy simply because they are objectively nicer for the same money. Arlington still has a little room to grow, but I believe it will level off as soon as the next "It" neighborhood (Watertown? Melrose?) is picked.

For those who got into Arlington 10 years ago, it was a great buy, of course.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:33 AM
 
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The short answer is that you don't get more for your money than Cambridge, you just get better schools. I do think it is overpriced for a town with no rail transport, and while it's schools are decent it is no Newton or Belmont or Lexington or Winchester.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoFresh99 View Post
The short answer is that you don't get more for your money than Cambridge, you just get better schools. I do think it is overpriced for a town with no rail transport, and while it's schools are decent it is no Newton or Belmont or Lexington or Winchester.
Totally agree - we're looking and generally were not impressed with what was available in Arlington for the prices ...
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:15 AM
 
Location: biggest little place in America
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East Arlington is certainly inflated due to former "Red Line families" wanting decent schools while remaining within shooting distance of Alewife. I would argue that other parts are underpriced (depending on your perspective).

Arlington Heights and the north part of town near Winchester basically has the same feel and access to amenities as Lexington and Winchester, but are significantly less expensive. Look at Sylvia St. It's the same development and you can't discern any transition, but the border literally bisects the street. Those that fall on the Lexington side can be 20-30% more. Contrast this with Trapelo Road. You can definitely tell when you've entered Waltham from Lincoln once you cross Hobbs Brook.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:29 AM
 
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It is a nice town, and probably has the best school system than the other urban/suburban towns like Melrose/Watertown/Medford, but it doesn't have a train station in it, and Mass Ave runs right through it so it isn't necessarily as pretty as some of the more quaint towns with town centers. And the schools are as top notch like the truly wealthy towns like Lexington, Weston, Wellesley, etc. But it is definitely a good option if you like urban living but want good schools. I think the town was having some school funding problems but they just passed a massive override.
Another town that has that urban/suburban feel that is also an easy commute to Cambridge (particularly the Kendall Square area) is Melrose - the MCAS scores are not as high as Arlington, but the school system is good, it is very family friendly, and a lot of people that commute to Cambridge live there.
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Old 03-23-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beantown_mama View Post
Another town that has that urban/suburban feel that is also an easy commute to Cambridge (particularly the Kendall Square area) is Melrose - the MCAS scores are not as high as Arlington, but the school system is good, it is very family friendly, and a lot of people that commute to Cambridge live there.
Can you explain more about the commute from Melrose to Kendall? What's the best way to do it via public transportation?
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:03 PM
 
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Please remember that as far as I know, Arlington does not allow street parking between 2a-6a, so you have to have a space or a driveway. It was that way when I lived in East Arlington.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:16 PM
 
41 posts, read 46,407 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoFresh99 View Post
The short answer is that you don't get more for your money than Cambridge, you just get better schools. I do think it is overpriced for a town with no rail transport, and while it's schools are decent it is no Newton or Belmont or Lexington or Winchester.
Are the schools in the first few grades (like, kindergarten - 3rd grade) really all that much better? This is an honest question - I'm not really a fan of basing opinions entirely on test scores, but a quick review of greatschools.org MCAS score breakdowns looks like it depends more on socioeconomic status than what town you live in. Of course, I guess there is always the question of how you think the SES mix in the school determines the type of experience students will have - the percentage of kids on free/reduced lunch in Cambridge (or Somerville) is much higher than in Arlington.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:41 AM
 
215 posts, read 350,537 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthByNortheast View Post
Can you explain more about the commute from Melrose to Kendall? What's the best way to do it via public transportation?
It is a pretty easy commute. First, the Oak Grove T stop goes to the southern edge of Melrose so if you live close to there, you can just take the orange line to the red line (there are also busses that go to Oak Grove). The way I usually go is by taking the commuter rail (there are 3 in Melrose - it is a 15 minute trip to North Station), and then taking the Cambridge EZ Ride Shuttle to Kendall Square: Charles River Transportation Management Association

Many companies in the Kendall Square area offer a free passes on the shuttle.

If you want to drive, you can take local roads through Malden and Somerville and it is about 1/2 hour commute by car.
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