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Old 09-14-2007, 08:45 AM
 
Location: Cary, NC
65 posts, read 237,027 times
Reputation: 30

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Hi,

I have a job offer to move to the Boston area from North Carolina. My wife's family is in CT and my family is in Montreal. I will be working in the financial district. We have 7 & 8 year old children. Here's what we're looking for/thinking about:
Good schools, safe place to raise children, programs for kids, tennis club, shopping choices, green space for hiking, biking, etc. We are looking to spend under $500,000 and would like a home that is less than 50 years old with 3-4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2000+ sqft, .4 acres, in an established neighborhood. We're not looking for a place that is too urban but convenient to great grocers (like Whole Foods) and nice shops, etc.
We have been looking in the following (long) list of towns and could use some advice: Ashland, Natick, Sudbury, Medfield, Weston, Wayland, Southborough, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, West Newbury, Andover, North Andover.
Of course, we are somewhat sticker shocked with what $500k gets us. I'd like to be able to drive/commute into Boston in 45 minutes.
Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 09-14-2007, 09:33 AM
 
735 posts, read 3,308,494 times
Reputation: 251
HellOOOoo Swift!

Congrats on the new job.

I have a great deal of experience with commuting around/in Boston as I travel Metro Boston with work (field sales).

If you don't mind, I'd like to narrow your list:
Natick: a few nice areas, but is built up pretty well and probably not the best choice in my opinion
Sudbury: great town, but off the beaten path. Getting to the Pike will be 20-30 minutes alone. Plus it is pricey!
Medfield: too far! No main road connections and isolated
Weston: WAY too pricey for your budget
Wayland: out of your budget
Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, West Newbury, Andover, North Andover: death by traffic!! 2+ hour commute


My suggestions- parts of North Framingham and Ashland/Southborough.

These towns have quick access to the MassPike and a real community feel. We moved to Ashland 2 months ago and have loved it. There are 3 State Parks within 5 miles of us and the town center has food, restaurants, a pub and a public park with gazebo (real New England feel)

One thing- traffic up here is probably much more intense than you're used to, but it takes me 45 min - 1hour to get into the Seaport District from my front door. I'm on the road at 7:30am.

Southborough is a pricier version of Ashland.

I just looked up some listings and found 5-10 that meet all your criterea in Ashland/Southborough.

And the great thing about this area is you are 15 minutes from the Natick shopping: The new fancy Natick Mall, Shoppers World, and Rt. 9 stores which is pretty much all the shopping you need.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me.

NY'er

Last edited by NY'er lost in MA; 09-14-2007 at 09:34 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 09-14-2007, 11:33 AM
 
3,031 posts, read 8,554,672 times
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I'd like to comment on this:

Ashland: I know Nyer lives there so perhaps he can tell us but I've heard conflicting opinions about the schools.
N. Framingham. Nice area but you are still in the Framingham school district
Southboro: I'm not familiar with it but I've heard it's nice. It's out past Framingham though so count on a long commute.
Medfield: Depending on which part of town you live in, you can take the train from Walpole, Franklin or Norfolk. It's not as bad as it seems but it's pricey. You're not going to find your house on that budget.
Some other suggestions for you:

Sharon (train right there)
Franklin (farther out but there's a train)
Canton
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Old 09-14-2007, 12:04 PM
 
735 posts, read 3,308,494 times
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I agree about North Framingham- still in the 'city' schools.

Southborough has easy access to Rt. 9 and the Pike- with all the roads this way, you get on early- you'll get to work on time. Don't expect to leave at 8:30 and get to work at 9. Great area- a little further from the main shopping in Natick.

Ashland is great- very family oriented town and community. We even have a community center at Ashland State Park.

From various websites, Ashland schools seem to be within the top 25% in the state. That is fairly good if you consider that the top 10% are going to be in the W towns and other communities where the median home price is $750K. But- those are just statistics.

I have seen alot of comments in this forum regarding school rankings and I can say- personally...I don't agree with many of them. As a parent-to-be I think raising a child comes with alot of personal responsibility when it comes to education. Don't expect to throw your kid in a school system and that is going to make them an A student because they have good test results in that school. But sure- good rankings mean the teachers are doing something right.

All I can say is that Ashland is throwing alot of money into their schools. With a brand new HS and tons of activities, I think it is a good place to have your children.

- you can check in out on their site:
Ashland Public Schools

Check out the link to their 'green' website. Pretty nice- wish I went to a HS like that!

The kids in our neighborhood seems like they are well rounded, involved in sports, smart and kind. That has to account for something.

Most of all, I think the community is stellar- a very good place to raise a child. And this is coming from a NY'er. As some of you know, NY has a much more strict standardized school system (similar to CA) so I am relying on experience.
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Old 09-14-2007, 12:04 PM
 
967 posts, read 4,493,182 times
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A bit of info about Southboro:

It takes approx 50 minutes on the "express" train from Southboro to Boston's South Station

10th grade MCAS scores were #24 (English) and #30 (Math) out of 280 school districts (High school is regional with Northboro & Southboro)
3rd grade MCAS scores were #29 (English) and #81 (Math) out of 298 school districts

The Southboro Rec Dept offers martial arts, Spanish, ice skating, music playtime, basketball, creative dance, music and games, art projects, swimming lessons, mommy & me, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, and pony rides for preschoolers and up; soccer, t-ball, kickball, basketball, hockey, and arena football for school age children; babysitting, CPR, and home alone safety courses for teenagers; electric guitar/bass classes, youth tennis and golf; adult ice hockey, men’s basketball, co-ed volleyball, golf, pickup soccer, weight training, pilates, and yoga; heartsaver and CPR training; and a morning walking club.

There are also tennis courts available for public use.

Landry's Cycle organizes group bike rides in the area, though I think the closest rides organized right now are in Westboro (a bordering town).

Open space includes Sudbury Valley Trustees and Southboro Open Land Foundation in town and 820-acre Callahan State Park in nearby Framingham.
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Old 09-14-2007, 02:37 PM
 
Location: in a house
5,835 posts, read 4,414,209 times
Reputation: 4890
Would Chelmsford and Reading be possibilities? I know you can get alot for your money in Chelmsford with land and the schools seem fine as well as Reading although more congested, very close to Boston with the train right there. Just some suggestions to look into.
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Old 09-14-2007, 03:08 PM
 
212 posts, read 895,745 times
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Default Bedford

My suggestions would include Bedford, Billerica, Chelmsford, Westford. Unfortunately, the better towns have much higher price tags, unless you want a small house in need of a lot of work.

Traffic is a problem wherever you commute from. We moved to Lexington to be close to my husband's job, so he doesn't have a long commute. He rides his bike most days in the good weather. He was able to get home for kids' school events and spend an extra hour with them at dinnertime, unlike the long-commute Dads. You may want to buy less of a house in order to be closer to home yet still be in a good town.

There is a Whole Foods in Bedford. And there are lots of beautiful outdoor spaces in the Western Suburbs around Concord/Lexington.
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Old 09-14-2007, 03:17 PM
 
735 posts, read 3,308,494 times
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Oh- that reminds me- there is a Trader Joes and Whole Foods not even 15 minutes away on Rt. 9 from Ashland.

I honestly have traveled all over this state and think Ashland/Southborough areas have pretty much 99% of what you are looking for..
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Old 09-14-2007, 05:23 PM
 
5,776 posts, read 14,461,798 times
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Default Ashland, Hopkinton, Holliston, Bedford, Lynnfield

Generally, the western suburbs you're considering, and those suggested above, would win out over the North Shore towns on commuting time. Traffic is pretty bad all over the Boston area, but generally it's worse going into the city from the north or south than from the west. If you'd be taking the train, though, this could improve the commuting time.

I like the suggestion of Ashland and Southboro, though you might have to look harder to find a house in your price range in Southboro. Two other towns in that area worth checking out are Hopkinton and Holliston. The question raised about schools in Ashland might apply to the H's as well. The big issue seems to be that all three towns are growing pretty quickly. This tells you they're nice places, but it also raises the question of whether the infrastructure will keep up with the growth. LostNyer has provided inside info that Ashland is managing this with its schools. I'm not sure about Hopkinton and Holliston specifically with regard to the question of whether the schools will keep up with the growth, but both have a history of being nice towns, with good schools.

Not so sure about the suggestion of north Framingham. As pointed out above, though that's a nice section of Framingham, you'd be sending the kids to Framingham schools, which aren't the best. In general, I'd rate Framingham as not being that great a town to live in, overall. You can do better.

Bedford sounds like a good suggestion. A town of similar character I would suggest is Lynnfield, north of Boston, but closer than some of the other northern suburbs mentioned. Not so sure about Billerica. Your housing budget doesn't go as far as you'd like in the Boston area, but I think you don't have to go as low-budget as Billerica.

Don't totally rule out Wayland. Keeping in mind that median price means half the houses sell for less, a serious search might turn up something workable in Wayland. It is true, though, that houses for 500k might be few and far between there, but Wayland might be worth keeping on the long, or medium, list of possibilities.

Best of luck, and welcome to the area.
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Old 09-14-2007, 05:49 PM
 
270 posts, read 1,253,560 times
Reputation: 148
Default Just moved here from NJ....

.....and were very familiar with all the problems these dense area's can bring (traffic, high property taxes, pollution, sprawl). It was still very hard to find a nice house in a nice town. We decided on Walpole and so far we are pretty happy with our choice. I looked at about 60 houses in all commutable suburbs and if I wouldn't have two school age kids (3 and 7) I would have bought a condo in down town. Instead I was obsessed with the test scores of the schools, the internet boards, the realtor listings etc.
Here is what I learned. The "nice" subs with excellent schools are very very expensive, some towns have septic and well water (Dover), some have super fund sites (Starmet in Concord), an airport that might be extended (Bedford), high water tables with sump pumps and water in the basement (Hingham), are too far too commute or no train.
My husband commutes to the seaport district. At 5.30 am it takes him 40 min on 93, if he leaves later he takes 95 and it takes a little longer but it is moving (that is very important to him :-) ). Or he takes the train, about 50min total. Yes the western town are a little better for the commute. But in our case it works out because we have these options.
Walpole seems pretty green and not too congested, you might find a decent house in your price range, that is not too old. It might not be super big, maybe a 3 BDR. Schools are not top rated but in the upper range. And that was the biggest compromise we had to make, together with the commute. (I wont mention the prison, it is far away from our house...and Concord has one too) There is a lot of sports in town.
I can also suggest looking in Canton (good schools) and Sharon (better schools, but high taxes and considered 'jewish"). Let me know if you have more questions. Happy to share my knowledge.

PS: One more thing, shopping is just not as great as in NJ, does not even come close. Not even the main routes like 9 and 1. What's up with that? :-)
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