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Old 06-04-2009, 08:39 PM
Location: Glenside, PA
48 posts, read 158,214 times
Reputation: 18


My wife and I are in our mid-20s, with a 9-month old daughter, and are beginning to think about where we might want to buy a home for our young family. I'm hoping some of you can help us narrow our search down-- we want to live in a very walkable area, whether it's in Boston (pipe dream?) or just outside. This would be our starter home, and our daughter isn't school-age yet, so we will in all likelihood move when schools do become an issue, so throw that consideration out for the most part for now.

We very much enjoy our current lifestyle of not owning a car, relying on a combination of MBTA (although the Agency is going completely to s*!?%!!!) and Zipcar car-sharing, and would like to continue that. We currently rent in Malden, and like it well enough to possibly consider the town for our house hunt, but definitely want to think about other communities on the MBTA system as well. Have lived in Mission Hill/Longwood area of Boston in recent past, and liked it. We'd prefer to be on the Green/Orange/Red/Blue lines as opposed to commuter rail if possible, and would like to be able to reach downtown in under 45ish minutes by T.

The questions below are from another forum, which I think borrowed it from another forum, but it seems to be pretty helpful in getting people to post the right amount of info when seeking help in relocation. Even though I'm not relocating from another metro, I think it will help people understand what we're looking for.

When are you moving?
September 2009, i think
Where are you coming from? Malden
Why are you moving? Moving from renting to buying
Where will you be working? Downtown Xing (me), Longwood Med (wife)
Have you been here yet? yep

Will you buy or rent?
If buying, are you looking for a house or a condo? How much can you spend? House is preferable, would consider a condo in the city; Price range is $200-250k; looking for 1000-1500 sf (2 br, 2 bath)
If renting, are you looking for an apartment, a townhouse or loft? How much can you spend?
Do you prefer hi-rise or walk up?

Are you married or single? Do you have children?
Married, 9-month old
Do you prefer public or private schools? Public, although we don't see schools as a major consideration YET
Do you have pets? no
Do you want or need a yard? ideally, not a dealbreaker though
Are you keeping a car? no
Do you prefer bustling activity or calm and quiet? activity

What do you want to be closest to?
ShoppingBasic services (supermarket, drugstore, etc.)
Train or subway stations

Do you want to live with people of a similar age, race, religion or sexual preference or do you prefer a diverse neighborhood?
Sorry for the long post, and Thanks in advance for any suggestions!!!
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Old 06-05-2009, 11:07 AM
Location: Boston
1,125 posts, read 4,010,608 times
Reputation: 491
i would continue renting and saving until you can afford a 350k+ and something much nicer than for 250. why the rush to buy?
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:11 PM
406 posts, read 1,319,407 times
Reputation: 233
I agree. I have no idea where you could buy anything decent for 250k, especially not a single family in an area you'd feel comfortable raising a child. I'd wait, scrimp and pinch, and sock away some serious cash.
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Old 06-05-2009, 10:37 PM
Location: Boston
7,336 posts, read 15,302,120 times
Reputation: 8622
Like the others have mentioned, it'll be tough. I know the 1850 in Boston is auctioning the remaining condos starting at 175,000... not a bad location, but a hike from a transit line (it's just off of I-93 near BU Med). Here (http://www.the1850.com/site/index.php - broken link)is the link to the condo's website and here is the link to info on the auction. I have a friend who's going in with a low ball offer, but I doubt he'll get lucky. We'll see.

I also believe (though I haven't seen prices in a few months) that the condos at Northpoint (http://www.condominiumsatnorthpoint.com/residences.htm - broken link)(adjacent Lechemere station) are starting around $250,000 but only two buildings out of a MASSIVE project are complete. It could be a while before it finishes. Again, I haven't seen a current price, but last I saw was that they were starting at $250,000.

You should also see what's going on with the Condos at Station Landing (I believe they're called, "skyline condos") in Medford next to the Wellington station. I don't know what the status is on their completion or prices, but I think they were geared to be affordable.

Other than a few condo projects, it's tough to find something in that price range. You MAY be able to gamble and find something close to your price range in a walkable downtown area in Lowell or Haverhill but people's feelings are mixed on those areas and while I personally think it would be fine without children, relying on schools in those towns is a BIG risk. Best of luck to you, but I would suggest waiting a bit longer and stockpiling. It's going to be tough to own at that price in Boston.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:13 AM
Location: Glenside, PA
48 posts, read 158,214 times
Reputation: 18
Thanks everyone for the comments so far. I agree that $250k will be challenging, but I'm not sure it's impossible. I also might be underestimating my price range, if we were able to continue living without a car payment, $300k might be within range, would that help?

A quick scan of the listings in the Globe today lead me to believe that the following areas might be possible for a decent 2br in the upper 200's. Without knowing a huge amount about some of these areas, what do you think about these as possibilities...
-Jamaica Plain
-East Boston
-Somerville (if lucky)
-Malden/Oak Grove (I see a "move-in" 3br-1.5ba near OG listed at 285)
-Melrose? I remember driving through the main commercial street here and thinking it was a nice "Main St" type vibe. Looks like there might be some properties in this price range near the Wyoming Hill commuter rail stop, although I don't know what that area is like.

lrfox, while there are certainly deals to be had in some of the luxury urban condos you mention, they still are not in our price range, nor do we need something that nice. Today's Northpoint ad starts at 350k, and Station Landing only has two penthouse condos left starting at half a mil. But thanks for the suggestion!

As I said, at this point, our daughter is not close to school age, so we only need to worry about safety and not schools at this point. If anyone knows Brigham Circle near the Longwood hospitals, we lived there before we lived in Malden, and that is the ideal kind of "urban-ness" we seek, although we wouldn't mind being in an area that's a bit less convenient (like JP?). We'd see ourselves living somewhere for 3-4 years before moving elsewhere, and while we don't want a fixer-upper would not be averse to slowly making upgrades.

We're looking to buy because we have a not-bad down payment saved, and could be aided by the first-time federal tax credit of $8k, which could bolster that down payment even further. We've been looking forward to buying for a few years, and now seems like as good a time as any to jump in with the tax incentives, low prices, and low interest rates. The only thing limiting our price range is to keep the monthly payment somewhere in our comfort zone while the economy is bad.

All that said, we won't be crushed if we can't find anything. We're in a situation that's better than alot of other people in this economy and are thankful for that. If it doesn't work out, we'll rent where we are for another year then look again next year, but we'd like to give it a shot right now if possible.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:55 PM
304 posts, read 633,632 times
Reputation: 305
You can buy a condo in Melrose for 250K. It would probably be 2 bedroom, 1 bath, around 1,000 square feet. Melrose has 3 commuter rail stations and the T stops at Oak Grove Station. It also has a ton of parks and services for families.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:45 PM
Location: Quincy, MA
385 posts, read 1,257,480 times
Reputation: 186
I wonder if Roslindale would have anything in that range. It would probably be a little cheaper than JP, anyway.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:26 PM
8 posts, read 18,149 times
Reputation: 16
Why buy if you are only planning on staying for 3-4 years?
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:47 AM
44 posts, read 147,009 times
Reputation: 28
Originally Posted by debussy View Post
Why buy if you are only planning on staying for 3-4 years?
Agreed - may not make sense to buy (especially now!) if leaving in a few years anyway due to school choice. Also, I know you said your daughter's not close to school-age, but what about daycare/preschool concerns before then? (edit: I say that because you said you both work)
As I'm sure you know, Boston-area's daycares & preschools are more $ than suburban ones, so I would save the $ one might use for buying a house to put toward that instead.
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:49 PM
Location: Glenside, PA
48 posts, read 158,214 times
Reputation: 18
Alot of you have questioned the reasons for us buying. I understand why you'd wonder, with our price range, but anyway, there are several reasons:

1) Low interest rates-- yes, they have gone up in recent weeks but are still under 6%.
2) $8k Federal tax credit for 1st-time homebuyers. $8000 completely gratis sounds pretty great to me, and if we get an FHA loan (currently looking into it), we can get this money right away to pad our down payment
3) Building equity-- The monthly payment (even including taxes, PMI) in our price range is MUCH lower than we currently pay in rent, which would allow us to build equity and in addition allow savings to accrue so that making our next purchase is easier.

-Lots of people, especially those in starter homes, plan on moving within 3-5 years to trade up. With our daughter the age she is, it allows us the flexibility to look somewhere where we don't have to be largely concerned about schools.
-Daycare is a non-issue. We work schedules which allow one of us to be home with our daughter 24/7 (we are lucky to be in this position).

Having begun the process, I can tell you that there ARE decent 2-br condos near the T in areas like Quincy in the low 200's, so we have become even more confident that this will work out for us than we were several weeks ago. Couple in market conditions and many properties sitting for awhile, I don't see a reason to wait.

I understand that there are valid reasons for renting. For us, buying is the right move at this time in our lives.
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