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Old 07-09-2013, 07:54 AM
 
2,079 posts, read 3,234,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopefulmom2013 View Post
Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are considering purchasing a home in Dorchester to start and raise a family. I have heard that Dorchester is gentrifying which makes buying there more appealing. Has anyone heard this? We are looking in the Ashmont area on the west side of Dot Ave. Is this specific area gentrifying? Is it relatively safe?

Thanx.
I lived right on Ashmont St. near Carruth (a few houses from Dot Ave towards Adams st, and I lived on Ocean and Roslin Rd in Ashmont Hill.

I would never move to Ashmont Hill, too dangerous, flat out. You'd be crazy. I would, however, buy in most areas between Adams and Dot Ave, or between Carruth and Gallivan blvd. It's great there.
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by professeurpablo View Post
I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here because there has been rather extensive posting about the intricacies of Dorchester neighborhoods in other places on this board. Look in some of the other threads for some of the expertise shared by other posters, especially Goyguy, who really knows his stuff when it comes to Dorchester neighborhoods.

In any event, I wouldn't necessarily say that Dorchester is the only place you can afford that is "city". I moved out of South Boston after being priced out and bought north of the city. There are some areas here you might consider as alternatives to Dorchester which compare quite favorably with that neighborhood in several measures of quality of life - more easily navigable school systems, relative safety and even convenience. Some parts of Somerville are still somewhat affordable, but you could also consider Medford, Malden, Everett, or Revere. They're just as close to Boston as Dorchester is; in some cases, they're actually closer to downtown, but because of geographic barriers, local politics and trends in annexation in the 19th century, they didn't get swallowed up by Boston the way that Dorchester and other neighborhoods south of Downtown Boston did. I wrote a long post about living up this way in a recent thread entitled "North end of orange line" that has a lot of information about the cities I just mentioned. Check it out!

I would consider Woburn. Comparable to Dorchester in price and safe.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:00 AM
 
2,079 posts, read 3,234,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopefulmom2013 View Post
Hi. I have done some research on the forum and it seems like mixed thoughts on Dorchester in general but I didn't see anything regarding gentrification. Generally if an area is on the verge on gentrifying it makes sense to invest in real estate which is what we are trying to do for the short term. We have discussed settling in Dorchester, starting a family and once the kids are out of elementary school perhaps moving out of the city. Which leads me to another topic schools. Again seems like mixed reviews on Boston public schools. Private wouldn't be an option for us financially so it would need to be public all the way. Anymore thoughts for Dorchester residents?

Let me tell you something. Listen closely: Dorchester has been "on the verge of gentrification" since I first moved there in the late 70's. It has ALWAYS been "on the verge". But there are many well educated, professionally employed couples who decided to move to Dorchester for the following reasons:

Housing stock is better than most anywhere else. Gorgeous houses for a relative song.
Many other "pioneering" families.
Unbelievable convenience to downtown Boston. I used to get into my car and drive to the Boston Symphony or the Museum of Fine Arts in 15 minutes flat. The red line I took to the Boston Common for connections to the Green line in 15 minutes, or a ride to Harvard sq was 25 minutes. Can you really beat that?
Climate. We had wonderful falls and even summers because the sea breeze really does come to you. Milder.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Everett, Massachusetts
315 posts, read 506,806 times
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I know several people who have moved out to Woburn. They all like it a lot out there. The downtown, though small, does offer at least a taste of city life and has quite a few good places to eat. The only issue for me is accessibility via public transit. It's possible, but it's not very convenient as the schedules are right now. Not sure how the OP feels about being car-dependent - some die-hard city folks have a hard time with that piece. There's another active thread right now about Woburn in case this discussion has piqued interest in that city.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pennyone View Post
Dorchester is a huge neighborhood, which is both good and bad. The good is that you can live in a very nice and relatively safe neighborhood, like Savin Hill (where my cousin has a house), or Lower Mill/Cedar Grove (near where my mom has a house in Milton). But the bad is that there are huge swaths of DOT that are hardly touched by gentrification, and outright dangerous. It's really a street by street situation in those areas, and I don't think you would be happy there.
Hmmm. Sounds like it has gotten worse.
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Old 07-09-2013, 10:22 AM
 
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I had to drive through DOT on Gallivan boulevard last Thursday to get to JP from Quincy when it was around 95 F, and the heat must be making people on the streets of DOT crazy. I saw several instances of people screaming at each other, at drivers in cars, and drivers screaming at each other. Someone threw a bottle at a car passing by.... It was uncomfortable to say the least and I tried to drive as fast as possible out of there. It got worse as DOT changed over to Mattapan.
I still like Cedar Grove and Lower Mills....They are strongly influenced by Milton and are quite nice.
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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Friends and acquaintances I had living around that area in the 1990s moved onto the burbs once the children were older. These days it could be a risky, yet a good risk looking at the changes in South Boston, the upgrades in Quincy and that so many businesses are locating to both Kendall and the Seaport (both red line stops). With those trends, Dorchester appears to be the next frontier.
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:59 AM
 
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Whatever you do, make sure you visit a school and dont base anything on MCAS. High MCAS scores generally measures a lack of diversity more than anything else. Here is an interesting MCAS comparison of some "sub par" Somerville and Cambridge schools, compared to the high end suburban schools. This document only compares Non-Low income scores, and what do you know - the Somerville and Cambridge kids actually outperform Weston and other wealthy suburbs.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1OS...it?usp=sharing
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharencare View Post
My husband and I are in the same boat as you, debating whether we should raise our family in Boston or leave for the suburbs. We're educated professionals with a high household income. But we don't want to live in a small home without a backyard, have a long or awkward commute with two cars, or be highly indebted and vulnerable. We also love the city and all the diversity and culture it has to offer. We have deep and loyal ties to Boston, and lots of our family and friends still live in the city itself.

We also went through Boston Public Schools and L.A. Unified, and we ended up just fine. He went to an Ivy League and I went to a highly ranked liberal arts college. I grew up very poor in Boston and had a lot going against me--being a poor minority, ESL, and having an uneducated, single (though extremely loving) mother struggling to raise me in the public projects. So the Boston Public School demographics don't faze me easily. I spent 8 years in Boston Public Schools, and I say though there was a bit of butt-kicking (high school was way harder academically than college or graduate school), I don't regret attending.

I sincerely have come to believe over time (with due credit to my mother), that Boston Public Schools gave me the opportunities no other public school system could have offered to a poor kid with big aspirations but no resources. Boston Public Schools, namely Boston Latin School, literally offered me a golden ticket out of poverty by making sure I got into a very good college. Within 10 short years, I went from the very bottom 10 percent of U.S. households to the very top 10 percent of U.S. households.

I'm not naive, and think BPS has no trouble spots. It does not help all children, especially at the high school levels. So you have to do your research carefully, and understand your comfort level and your willingness to commit a lot of time to your kid's education. Personally, I think with two college educated adults in the household (and a determined grandma), our kids will do just fine. We looked at some of the individual elementary schools in Boston, and have taken into account that BPS has a diverse student population (free lunch recipients, ESL, special ed, and other demographics). We also take MCAS scores into perspective. MCAS scores can be based on the test-taking habits of 22, um, third graders. One third grader having a bad test day can bring the school's third grade MCAS score down by 5%! So if you are really serious about staying in Boston, you should go to one of the fairs or open houses that BPS offers to see what the teachers and programs are like. Taking this all into consideration, we are still leaning toward staying in Boston.

It does sound like money is a little tighter for you, so if I were you, I would not treat any house purchase in Boston as an investment if your time frame is only five years. You don't want to be in the position of finding yourself underwater and not being able to move in five years. When children come in the picture, honestly, if you are not 100 percent sure about BPS, you really need a back up plan. Have some assets on hand in case you have to bail, or make sure you are in a rock solid neighborhood. If you are committed longer term, you might want to consider the Boston and Cambridge affordable home ownership programs. Good luck!
There have been a number of people on C-D running down Boston and MA lately, so it is nice to hear a positive success story.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:35 AM
 
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The DOT is it's own urban eco-system.

The others are right. The Savin Hill area, the areas clinging closely to Dorchester Ave are all pretty safe. As a rule of thumb ... the farther you are to the middle of Dorchester the sketchier it gets.
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