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Old 12-26-2013, 08:40 AM
 
11 posts, read 23,730 times
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We're a soon-to-be-married couple looking for our first house in the new year. Max price is around $500k, though lower would definitely be nice if that's even possible in this area. We'd like a single family or maybe a townhouse or duplex; don't really want a condo in a building. We rent in Brookline Village at the moment but know we can't afford a house here. At this point I'm trying to narrow down the list of neighborhoods to visit to see if they feel like us. We'd like decent transportation (within a 20-30 minute walk of a T would be ideal, but would be willing to look at good bus or commuter rail links as well) and something of a community feel (ie, some shops and restaurants and such in a walkable sort of area), but not super urban. Reasonably safe is a must; don't need Pleasantville but also don't want to be overly worried about walking down the street after sundown. Parking is a must; my job moves around client sites and some won't be transit-accessible. Schools aren't a huge concern yet; we hope to have kids in the next few years but it'll of course be a few more years after that before they're in school. After searching on here, here's my initial shot at a list of places to visit:

Jamaica Plain (we've walked through here and there seem like some nice places, though it might also be at the upper edge of our price range).
Allston/Brighton
Roxbury (could use some help narrowing this down, seems like a big area with widely varying neighborhoods)
Dorchester (ditto)
Everett
Chelsea?
Quincy (we drove through and weren't overly impressed but would be willing to look again if there's a particular neighborhood worth checking out).

Other places we've looked at already but don't seem like they would be ideal for what we want:
Winchester: very nice but I think it's out of our price range
Lexington: possibly on the edge of our price range, though we're a bit worried about transportation to Boston being entirely car-dependent
Newton: we like the area, but it seems like anywhere that is close to transit and the villagey bits is out of our price range and the further away parts seem very suburb-y

Any other places that should be on the list? Thanks for your help!
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:41 AM
 
2,769 posts, read 2,210,048 times
Reputation: 2174
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grsing View Post
We're a soon-to-be-married couple looking for our first house in the new year. Max price is around $500k, though lower would definitely be nice if that's even possible in this area. We'd like a single family or maybe a townhouse or duplex; don't really want a condo in a building. We rent in Brookline Village at the moment but know we can't afford a house here. At this point I'm trying to narrow down the list of neighborhoods to visit to see if they feel like us. We'd like decent transportation (within a 20-30 minute walk of a T would be ideal, but would be willing to look at good bus or commuter rail links as well) and something of a community feel (ie, some shops and restaurants and such in a walkable sort of area), but not super urban. Reasonably safe is a must; don't need Pleasantville but also don't want to be overly worried about walking down the street after sundown. Parking is a must; my job moves around client sites and some won't be transit-accessible. Schools aren't a huge concern yet; we hope to have kids in the next few years but it'll of course be a few more years after that before they're in school. After searching on here, here's my initial shot at a list of places to visit:

Jamaica Plain (we've walked through here and there seem like some nice places, though it might also be at the upper edge of our price range).
Allston/Brighton
Roxbury (could use some help narrowing this down, seems like a big area with widely varying neighborhoods)
Dorchester (ditto)
Everett
Chelsea?
Quincy (we drove through and weren't overly impressed but would be willing to look again if there's a particular neighborhood worth checking out).

Other places we've looked at already but don't seem like they would be ideal for what we want:
Winchester: very nice but I think it's out of our price range
Lexington: possibly on the edge of our price range, though we're a bit worried about transportation to Boston being entirely car-dependent
Newton: we like the area, but it seems like anywhere that is close to transit and the villagey bits is out of our price range and the further away parts seem very suburb-y

Any other places that should be on the list? Thanks for your help!
I think you're going to need to make some compromises. Almost all the places on your long list are fairly urban and the safety of many of those places is questionable. If you aren't impressed with Quincy I don't think you'll be happy with any of the other places on your long list.

Most people would be thrilled to buy in the places on your short list but that doesn't seem to be what you want (price issues aside).

You need to decide if you want suburbs or city. Right now it doesn't seem like either will make you happy.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:33 AM
 
Location: North of Boston
2,940 posts, read 4,921,027 times
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Watertown & Waltham would be on my list
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:12 PM
 
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Grsing:

On your long list, Quincy is perhaps the best of the lot, with maybe certain sections of JP (but overall very expensive) and Dorchester (Ashmont Hill, Cedar Grove/Lower mill, Neponset) thrown in. In your short list, places like Newton and Lexington are either too pricey, or too car dependent. There is no pleasing you here.

I live on Wollaston Hill, and it's very tree-lined and the homes are big and beautiful. Quincy also has many others neighborhoods with different geographies, and it has 4 T-stops serving it. It is relatively safe (one of the top four safest cities in Massachusetts, with Newton, Cambridge and Somerville the other three big ones). Have you seen Squantum, Merrymount or Presidents Hill/Hospital Hill? My neighborhood Wollaston Hill?
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Old 12-26-2013, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Boston Suburb
2,025 posts, read 4,996,316 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gf2020 View Post
Watertown & Waltham would be on my list
Those what came to my mind as I read OP's criteria as well. Arlington would be another one to look at but you get a better dig in the W towns for the same amount of $ for sure. In Waltham, the closer you're to the restaurant area (Moody St), the less 'safe' it looks but other posters have said the area is actually quite safe. There are a lot of newish townhouse style housing in that area and 500K can buy something quite nice.
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Old 12-26-2013, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Everett, Massachusetts
315 posts, read 506,806 times
Reputation: 553
I live in Everett near the Malden line and have posted about it a bit here and there. Some context: I lived in South Boston for many years and watched it gentrify and develop and was totally priced out. Despite the lack of fancy, shiny businesses in Everett and the city's somewhat gritty reputation, I feel as though my quality of life went up considerably when I moved here. I was ready for just a bit more elbow room and got it - having a driveway is a huge help, and having a back yard is nice too. The twenty-something transient population in South Boston was starting to drive me a little crazy - no offense. My life is not party/bar-focused, so I was ready for a step out into quieter turf.

My neighborhood is very calm but is near conveniences - lots of mom-and-pop shops and small ethnic eateries and bus lines within a 5-10 minute walk, the orange line in Malden is 20-ish minutes away on foot, and Boston/Somerville/Cambridge are about 10-15 minutes away by car depending on traffic and lights. My street has a safe, community-oriented feel. Neighbors are friendly and helpful but not intrusive, just how I like it. Like most any place, there are not-so-great areas of town, but most of the residential side streets are fine. The western and northern parts of the city near Malden seem to be the nicest, though some of the hilly streets over on the Chelsea line have nice homes with beautiful views, and there are other nice pockets as well.

Everett's certainly nothing fancy, but I was able to buy a well-cared for house with a fenced in yard for well under $300K. Prices have increased a bit since then, but you could do well here if you're willing to deal with the funny looks others might give you when you say you live here. Just ignore them - most of the naysayers probably have just seen the industrial part of town just north of Sullivan Square and dismissed the whole city, but you shouldn't until you've explored. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about Everett. Good luck with your search!

Last edited by professeurpablo; 12-26-2013 at 02:38 PM..
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Winchester
226 posts, read 287,375 times
Reputation: 194
Winchester: the median SFH price is around $800K, but there are ones available at $500-$550+, if you don't mind living beside a busy street, fixing some stuffs, etc.

Lexington: SFH as expensive as Winchester, but there are/were townhouses available at $500K or less.
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Old 12-26-2013, 07:21 PM
 
Location: New London
1,671 posts, read 1,738,691 times
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Roslindale maybe?
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Old 12-26-2013, 08:48 PM
 
643 posts, read 831,411 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grsing View Post
We're a soon-to-be-married couple looking for our first house in the new year. Max price is around $500k, though lower would definitely be nice if that's even possible in this area.
Yes*

* Are you willing to put in some sweat equity?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Grsing View Post
We'd like decent transportation (within a 20-30 minute walk of a T would be ideal, but would be willing to look at good bus or commuter rail links as well) and something of a community feel (ie, some shops and restaurants and such in a walkable sort of area), but not super urban. Reasonably safe is a must; don't need Pleasantville but also don't want to be overly worried about walking down the street after sundown. Parking is a must; my job moves around client sites and some won't be transit-accessible.
Was in the same situation and really wanted to be on the T. However, your budget will limit you to the towns you mentioned. Loved Quincy but since we'd likely be working in Metrowest-ish forever, it seemed really impractical. Newton is too expensive and Arlington only had shared homes (split family SFH) in that price range.

It came down to Watertown and Waltham and we went with Waltham. We were able to find that urban/suburban mix that we both wanted and could live car-lite which is important. The commuter rail isn't as convenient as the T but if we want flexibility we can just drive 15 min to Alewife and park. There are a lot of different neighborhoods in Waltham and each has a different flavor so you have a good shot at finding something you like.

We liked Watertown too but didn't like that it only had the bus (some parts you can get to the Waverly train stop) and it was a little too urban for us. It also takes longer to get to the highway.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:00 AM
 
11 posts, read 23,730 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for all the suggestions! We are still figuring out exactly what we want, obviously, but this definitely helps with the list of places to start looking. We are more than willing to put in some "sweat equity," we'd happily move in somewhere dated but livable and upgrade it over several years. Thanks again.
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