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Old 05-09-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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Hi all,

We're considering a move to Waltham or Watertown. How are these towns for young, professional families? Are their clean playgrounds? Decent schools? A sense of community?

(Wish I could afford Cambridge/Brookline/Winchester/Arlington, but not so much!)
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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The schools in either place are "decent" but not top-flight. I know of people who did get into the Ivy League out of Waltham High, and the standards in Watertown are improving because of the number of people priced out of Cambridge who settled there.
When home hunting, know that pretty much every section of Watertown is the same - you can't go wrong in any of them. There are some streets off Common, Mt Auburn, and Main toward Watertown Square that are on the upscale side with some Victorians and large Colonials. Otherwise it's a town heavy on two-families and post-WWII ranch houses + Capes. I jokingly call the community "Watertownian" sometimes because it's the epicenter of New England's Armenian population, but in reality it's ethnically (though not racially) diverse there. The malls which stand opposite each other on Arsenal St have all your typical "big box" retail offerings (Best Buy, Old Navy, etc) but much of the town is a throwback in that there are scads of mom-and-pop grocery stores and small restaurants + diners. Parks and playgrounds are well kept and heavily used, with an especially expansive play area outside the old high school on Mt Auburn St. Like in most places in today's world, the quiet and tree-lined streets don't see mobs of kids at play - keeping an eye out for approaching cars - "the way it used to be." But it's perfectly safe for when computer time is up and no play dates have been scheduled.
Much of Waltham is the same as "H2Oville" except for its not having quite the same number of little neighborhood stores except along Moody St. West of downtown and anywhere north of Main St are the preferable parts of town in which to dwell. There's where you'll find quite a myriad assortment of houses built any time from the mid-1800's to the present day. Cedarwood, Hardy Pond, and Warrendale are perennial favorites for families. The only real stay-away-from street is Felton, never much more than what it is today - a refuge for recent immigrants and down-on-their-luck types. Actual crime probably isn't all that bad, but it's a raggedy and noisy nook of the city, as is the southernmost stretch of otherwise trendy Moody St and its surroundings. If you're like most people, for you a night of uninterrupted sleep is better than one of booming stereos-on-wheels rolling past and bored/unhappy people screaming at each other outside. Waltham is good for necessity shopping, with a big Shaw's right on Main St and a couple of what were once called shopping centers along Lexington St near Route 2.
Given a choice between the two, I'd go for Watertown if family-oriented is what you're after, or for Waltham if you want your kids to coexist with a "mosaic of humanity" and to have a movie theater and lots of good restaurants for a convenient parents' night out.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:57 PM
 
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Thanks goyguy! You always give such thorough replies.

Now, to throw a whole new monkey wrench into the mix...does anyone have any thoughts on yet another "W" town, Wakefield? From the boards, I have the impression that people seem to think it's a nice suburban town. It's a bit farther out than I'd prefer, but I'm wondering if having my own walkable downtown could stand in for the urban convenience of living closer to Boston.

Wakefield thoughts, anyone?
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:10 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpanda View Post
Now, to throw a whole new monkey wrench into the mix...does anyone have any thoughts on yet another "W" town, Wakefield? From the boards, I have the impression that people seem to think it's a nice suburban town. It's a bit farther out than I'd prefer, but I'm wondering if having my own walkable downtown could stand in for the urban convenience of living closer to Boston.

Wakefield thoughts, anyone?
I think Wakefield is a "nice suburban town" but pretty sleepy. The downtown seems somewhat limited to me and I don't think it would replace the urban convenience of Boston, even if you lived right near the downtown.

Just a matter of personal taste on Watertown: I think the streets of Mt Auburn or Belmont St are generally nice, but I do not care for the area closer to Arsenal Street.

Watertown is more consistent, as goyguy said. Waltham, on the other hand, is much more suburban/woodsy in the northern part of town toward Route 2 (really anything north of Beaver St or Totten Pond) than any part of Watertown, but the part near the Common, Moody and Felton is probably more urban than anything in Watertown. Personally I'd go with Watertown because it's a bit easier to get to the city (unless you drive, Waltham commute requires that infernal 70 bus, a longish express bus ride, or a train to North Station), but Waltham's not horrible. It's slightly less townie in Watertown as more people have moved in from Cambridge, etc. and more grad students. For better or worse, Waltham remains pretty tight-knit.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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"What s/he said" about Wakefield, ditto for the similar and nearby communities of Melrose and Stoneham. In that same "corridor" along 93 you'll find Malden, that area's counterpart to Waltham.
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:06 PM
 
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Thanks for the help guys. And goyguy, I'm going to pass on Malden. Waaay too gritty/townie for me, plus I have an aversion to towns where the playgrounds tend to be tagged with graffiti and riddled with broken glass. In fact, your comparison has me reconsidering Waltham! Melrose and Stoneham are other areas we're considering, probably Melrose more so than Stoneham.

I like some things about Medford as well, but have dislikes too. Sigh.
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:35 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpanda View Post
Thanks for the help guys. And goyguy, I'm going to pass on Malden. Waaay too gritty/townie for me, plus I have an aversion to towns where the playgrounds tend to be tagged with graffiti and riddled with broken glass. In fact, your comparison has me reconsidering Waltham! Melrose and Stoneham are other areas we're considering, probably Melrose more so than Stoneham.

I like some things about Medford as well, but have dislikes too. Sigh.
I'd probably take Melrose over Stoneham myself.

Waltham is gritty/townie only downtown and south of the river. If that's not your thing, there's a whole lot of Waltham that is clean and suburban, and doesn't look all that different from Lexington. Check out the area between Main St, South St, and 128 near Brandeis, or anything north of Totten Pond Rd or Beaver St.

closer to 128,
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Old 05-31-2009, 05:18 AM
 
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I would take Melrose over Stoneham - there are 3 commuter rail stations in Melrose and the Orange Line ends at the Melrose/Malden line. It has a great downtown that is very walkable. It was named one of the best towns to live in Boston Magazine for the past few years: Best Places to Live 2009
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Old 05-31-2009, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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Melrose wins "cool points" with me for having the oldest continuously-operating, all-volunteer, symphony orchestra in the nation - and also an independent pharmacy and hardware store in the center of town. It also contains lots of neat Victorian houses, especially in the Highlands area, and a good number of the post-WWI era Colonials and bungalows which I'm a fan of.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:28 AM
 
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Hi goyguy , what is your opinion about the village condominiums in Watertown near to the Grant Avenue ??? have you any idea why so many condosin this hood are for sale?? how easy is the commute from there by transit to south station or Back bay??? Is the area safe ??
thank you
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