Househunting and Looking for advice about S Shore (Boston, Quincy: middle-class, apartment complexes)
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
Background: I'm looking to buy a single family after years of renting in Natick. Price range: $350 to $375K for a 2 to 3 bedroom/good condition house. Prefer a safe, middle class town within 30-40 min drive into Boston (I work near Broadway Station w/ free parking).
I'm not attached to any area, just prefer good access into Boston. I know I'm priced out of 'ritz-ey' towns, so I'm looking for a solid middle class town, safe & quiet neighborhood, and relatively decent schools (I don't have kids in school but don't want to buy into a town that has a bad edu system for resale reasons later on).
I'm familiar with the Metrowest where I live, but have no clue about the S Shore. What is Braintree like? Would you say Braintree is similar to Natick (a suburb town with a shopping mall area)? What are the pro & con's about this town and what are some less desirable areas to avoid?
There is a house I maybe interested in right now in Braintree located near Commerical St & Adam St. Anyone familar with this neighborhood? How reliable is the Red Line T and bus system. Do they run late all the time? (I'd be able to take the 236 bus to connect to the T station).
I don't know about Braintree but how about Kingston? I have clients who just bought there - very nice town, attractive leafy neighborhoods, good train access if that's of interest, not far from beaches. The housing prices are more reasonable than many in the area.
My first reaction upon reading the OP's post was "Weymouth." It's much like Natick in that it has some older and less upscale sections, combined with 1970s-era apartment complexes near Route 3 and plenty of post-WWII neighborhoods. Growth in Weymouth peaked during the South Shore exodus from Boston, which started in the late '40s and accelerated during the school busing fiasco up to circa 1982. Its population has now stabilized in the mid-60,000 range. But the number of school-aged children has declined enough that (exactly as in Framingham) there's now one high school once more.
The "feel" of Weymouth is overwhelmingly blue-collar to middle-class. It's a town of Capes and split-levels and ranch houses on small lots, where the residents are hardworking and unpretentious. (My hunch is that many kids were left with babysitters or older relatives last Saturday while their parents attended the Geils/Aerosmith concert at Fenway Park. Few, if any, would've been seeing the BSO instead.) Although its public schools aren't as highly ranked as those of the richer/snootier towns farther down the coast, they do a good job and consistently send some graduates to the Ivy League. Unlike Framingham and Natick, the "minority" presence in Weymouth is minuscule, owing in part to the fact that many folks are only there (as in other South Shore locations) because they departed the city to escape "them." Friends of mine who've lived in Weymouth for over twenty years say that some of the people on their block are "perfect neighbors, wonderful people" while others give them the cold shoulder. The wife (Japan-born Korean) says she still gets harassed in town once in a while. OTOH the schools take part in Metco and have one of the better-regarded programs in place. The urban kids are well assimilated, to the point that one young man killed himself in despair after graduation since "all (his) happy days (we)re now over." When two AA children from Metco lost their lives in a fire, a co-worker reported that the school was closed for an entire day and that her own children were inconsolable. All of which is to say, the city's Archie Bunker reputation may be deserved but it's hardly the complete picture.
On the practical side of things, Weymouth is now served by two commuter rail lines out of South Station with the opening of the Greenbush branch. The trains complement longstanding bus service to Red Line stations in Braintree and Quincy. And it's a short drive to the commuter ferries out of Hull and Hingham. Food shopping is close at hand, and malls are not too far distant.
Braintree is a step up the economic ladder from Weymouth, with pleasant neighborhoods and much the same vibe. There's no "bad part of town" to speak of, but thanks to expressways and rail lines some parts are definitely noisier than others. The schools are also of similar quality. One distinction that town has is that it's included an Italian community for a long time. (Remember Sacco and Vanzetti?) It's also one town closer to Boston than Weymouth, and is somewhat more strategically located for transportation since the 3/128 split is there and so is the Red Line terminal. And for what it's worth, there's a Unitarian church in Braintree which always signals that there's at least a small contingent of liberal/progressive types in that neck of the woods. (Then again, who's to say that some of the congregation doesn't hail from Weymouth?)
Any questions about public transportation or the lack thereof should be easily answerable by checking out MBTA.com > Official Website for Greater Boston's Public Transportation System.
Best o' luck to ye!
Before my husband and I moved to Quincy we looked at an apartment on Commercial Street in Braintree and I think it was near Adams Street. It wasn't a bad neighborhood and wasn't a great neighborhood--there were several 2-family homes, I think, as opposed to SFHs.
In terms of location, Braintree is great for freeway access. That being said, I have to admit that I really enjoyed living in Weymouth (we moved to a SFH in Weymouth after living in Quincy). The commuter rail took less time than the T and was much more relaxing. But taking the T was still a feasible option since Weymouth has an extensive bus service. If I ever missed the commuter rail, I just hopped on the T at South Station and took a bus from Quincy Center. Weymouth seemed much more family-friendly to me while still being close to the city.
I also think you could find a nice SFH in your price range in Weymouth that is in a kid-friendly neighborhood. I remember our neighborhood (we were in Weymouth Heights) had several really cute homes and the kids on our street would all get together after school and play.
I don't know about Braintree schools vs. Weymouth schools...
If you can afford it, go a bit south of Braintree. Try Pembroke or Marshfield. They tend to be towns that are affordable but still nice areas. You may be able to get into Hanover but it's a bit higher in price than Marshfield/Pembroke. Kingston is far away from the city unless you are going to take the commuter rail.
South shore can be ok on traffic it just depends on when you leave. Remember the commuter rail goes all the way to kingston and plymouth. Plymouth is booming all over the place with shops..that can make traffic.
Traffic is more during the summer than any other time due to tourists..
Natick, Waltham, Medford, Stoneham, and others are also on my search list. But, it has been difficult finding something I like (and yet affordably in my price range). My thoughts are to expand my areas of interest to get a better chance of hitting something I like.
Is traffic worst from the South than from the North? I can work at home 3-4 days out of 5, and typically leave after 8:45 am on the days that I do go into BOS and return after 7 pm.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $53,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.