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Old 11-12-2013, 12:39 PM
 
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My husband has been offered a job in Brighton, so we will be moving from Toronto, with our 2 kids ages 7 and 9. A few questions:

What are the best areas to live in? My preference is to be right in Boston, but from what I gather it is really expensive and as such a lot of people live outside the city. Right now we live in midtown Toronto, and I couldn't imagine living in a suburb, but would consider it if it were the right fit (good schools, community feel, close to the city, lots going on).

What are the public schools like? How do they compare to private schools, and what is the average cost of a private school?

Do we rent or buy? We will be there for 2-3 years.

How does the cost of living compare to Toronto? How easy is it to meet people? (I've been reading a lot about the us vs. them mentality!)

Any information is appreciated!

Last edited by magog123; 11-12-2013 at 12:52 PM..
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Old 11-12-2013, 03:32 PM
 
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Welcome. Lot will all depend on your housing budget.
For only 2-3 years, unless you really need to buy, I would rent. You will probaly lose some money on transaction cost alone for such a small window of time.
Boston schools are bad, and most people use private schools if they want to stay in the city. Private schools go from $12000-50K a year around here. Price and quality do not always match.
Boston has many towns in metropolitan area that will offer high quality of living, including very walkable neighborhoods with plenty of amenities, including safety and excellent schools.
I would suggest to look at Brookline or Newton. Both are well-to-do and fairly expensive neighborhoods. Both offer nice balance between urban-semi-urban existence that will appeal to most family with kids. Public schools are excellent.
They would also offer an easy commute to Brighton. Brookline has great commute to Boston as well.
Both towns are very diverse with people from all over the place. You will not feel lonely and as an complete outsider.
Parents with kids are in great position to meet with other parents through schools. There are many people who had relocated to this area just like you will, and for the most part people are very accommodating to newcomers.
That should be not something to worry about.
Boston is expensive and probably offers less but costs more than Toronto when it comes to housing. Cost of living is very high in general.

Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

Cost of living in Boston. Prices and comparisons :: Expatistan


Good luck.

Last edited by Yac; 11-15-2013 at 06:49 AM..
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Old 11-12-2013, 04:24 PM
 
Location: 4222'55.2"N 7124'46.8"W
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My company is owned by a very large Canadian corporation based in Toronto. From what I hear, the actual city of Boston is a lot more expensive than the city of Toronto, but the suburbs of each are more comparable in terms of housing costs. Personally I would look to rent a 2-3 bedroom brownstone in Brookline. Your husband will be a short drive from work and you will have access to a walkable neighborhood and the train into Boston. Rent is cheaper than downtown Boston and there will be no need for private school tuition since schools in Brookline are very good. Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village have the most shops/restaurants if that's important to you.
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:29 PM
 
Location: Needham, MA
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I was thinking the same thing as Parsec. If your budget allows for it, you should rent something in the more densely populated areas of Brookline like Coolidge Corner or Brookline Village. The schools in Brookline are much better thought of than in Boston. However, you'll still have a good amount of that "city living" feel.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:54 PM
 
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I'm previously lived in midtown Toronto and now live in downtown Boston. I am not in the same situation with having kids though. I agree with other posters here. You definitely need to rent for 2-3 years. Housing is not cheap in Toronto but it is much higher down here, renting is a must. Everything else though should be cheaper. I like the Brookline idea as well. A nice family friendly urban community close to the city core that I would imagine would have good public schools. I would also consider some parts of Cambridge across the river. It is very accessible to the city which is vibrant and can have many family friendly parts as well.

I wouldn't worry about people not being friendly. Boston reminds me a lot of Toronto in that most people are from the area and tend to have established social circles. But I find people are friendly when you get to know them and the culture is laid back but more achievement oriented on average. Living here will be a great experience. Go out of your way to take it all in. Go to sporting events and the BSO, hit the Cape/Martha's Vineyard/Maine in the summer, take advantage of the close proximity to NYC, eat all the seafood you can, and make an effort to meet people. It's a very interesting city.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:02 PM
 
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If you can get into the Mary Lyon in Brighton, it's considered one of the best public elementary schools in Boston. Their test scores for MCAS are consistently 10-20% above the state average despite having a more diverse student population. Since Brighton is geographically isolated from the rest of Boston, your chances of getting into the school are good despite the lottery system. The school registration is in the early winter. There's a new lottery policy though, so you should do your research. The public schools in Boston are eager to recruit involved parents, so you can contact the school to arrange for a school tour.

With Newton, check the school zone assignment carefully. The Newton schools are great and are a sure bet, but a couple of the schools are literally falling apart and are listed as some of the worst school facilities in the entire state because of disrepair and overcrowding. These schools are long overdue for renovations, so you should consider whether construction will be disruptive to your kids. Personally, I was shocked to watch videos of kids in Newton where they literally had lunch in the hallways, stuck administrators in broom closets, made kids wear coats in freezing music rooms, and had pumps snaking out of a flooded gym.

In Boston, some schools are not in good shape, but overall the elementary schools are getting better and enrollment is going up every year. There are a few truly excellent ones that have resources that you would never find in a middling suburb (e.g. my elementary school in Boston had two swimming schools, the after school activities were tied to the local Chinatown community, and local college kids offered free tutoring). When I talk to individual parents with kids actually in the Boston Public Schools, they are frustrated about the bureaucracy, but they love their teachers, principal, and community. I wouldn't recommend buying a home in Boston until you figure out if you like the city. But if you've always preferred an urban lifestyle, Boston is a great city to raise kids because there's so many things to do.

If I were you, I would also check out the charter school scene. There are some excellent public charter schools in Boston, that consistently get ranked as some of the top schools in the state, but those are mostly assigned by lottery.

Last edited by sharencare; 11-13-2013 at 01:37 PM..
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Behind You!
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If you have school aged kids and don't want to pay for private schools, don't live in Boston. There's no advantage to it. Higher rents, higher insurance, crap schools etc. If your only going to be there for 2-3 years there's really no point in buying. Newton, Brookline and Watertown are all right next door and all have better school systems (it's not hard to do)! Also, assuming your going to bring your cars (unless you don't have any) you could consider a 15-20 radius of Brighton as well. Many nice area's around.
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:26 AM
 
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Surprisingly, you can rent a decent sized place in Newton if you are only going to stay for a couple of years and you won't have to worry about schools. We are very happy with the Edison k-8 in Brighton. It is a public school that doesn't test well, but they have an amazing science and arts program. They have a partnership with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and we have been very happy there. They also have the advanced work program so kids are never bored if they are up to the challenge. I didn't think I'd like the k-8 model, but it really seems to work.

Do NOT move to Allston with kids. It is full of drunken college nonsense. Brighton is the place to be for a family if you want to be in the AB area.

Newton rents are probably comparable though and you'll have less of the college crowd to deal with.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:55 PM
 
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Boston has a much higher cost of living then most places. It's schools are bad. However, the suburbs West of Boston have great school systems. Brighton, Brookline, and Newton have amazing school systems. Unfortunately, these towns tend to be expensive.

Based on what you've said, I'd say Brookline would be the best place for you. Great schools and easy public transit access to the city. A lot depends on what you can afford.
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Old 11-21-2013, 12:12 AM
 
5,763 posts, read 13,343,790 times
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EdLincoln86, is it possible that you mean Belmont rather than Brighton? To the OP: Brighton is part of Boston, not a separate suburb with a well-regarded school system of its own. I'm wondering whether EL86 might be thinking of Belmont, because maybe he's thinking of another town with a name that starts with B, which is affluent and has a good school system, and has what might be considered a hint of city feel. I'd characterize Belmont as more older inner-suburban than truly city-like, but I can see how someone might recommend the town for someone seeking good schools but also wanting some neighborhoods where it's possible to walk to local shopping.
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