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Hi, I currently live in Eureka, California. My family (3 kids and hubby) are researching the Northampton area in order to be closer to family (Albany, NY). We have lived other places besides this rural coastal town - Washington state and New Mexico. And, before kids, we went to college in Mass. So, my question is, can families survive financially there? We are having trouble here - as housing has skyrocketted and just traveling out from behind this Redwood Curtain is so expensive. I just finished reading many threads on this site - and it sounds like the Mass. folks are moving to NC. Just what exactly are the taxes in Mass? Looking at the info online, I found it hard to figure out taxes on, say, a $200,000 house.
We're looking for a small town with lots of kid opportunities and music outings for us. We're trying to save for college, etc. It'd be nice too even have a cushion saved.
Any words of wisdom, greatly appreciated. Oh, we are planning to visit there this summer - part of a family vacation. Thanks!
If your family is in Albany NY then you should move to Albany rather than Mass. Albany has much better job opportunites then you would find in Massachusetts, the housing is more affordalbe, and the people are more friendly IMO.
Well, I happen to like the Western part of MA, I used to live in Northampton for over a year, and its a GREAT town, lots to do, very diverse, and very safe. Its got a lot of ecletic charm to it. But, it is getting rather pricey. However, Hadley, and Hatfield and Greenfield are right down 91 and not as expensive. I live in Athol, and I am about halfway down RT 2 and I just drove out to Hamp the other day, and it took me about 25 minutes, and I took 202 and what an amazing relaxing ride it was. I have no clue how the schools are here, we dont have kids. But, its fairly cheap here. I would check the local papers first, and see if you get a feel for the community, or do a road trip and get the first hand experience, I know its hard from where you are to do that, but utilize the internet. The Recorder is the Greendfield paper, and The Sentinel covers Fitchburg and the surrounding towns. Best of Luck and hope you find something you love!
I grew up in Hadley, right next door to Northampton. I currently live in berkshire county, about 45 minutes away. My husband and I earn about $90,000 a year with no kids and we couldn't afford to live in Northampton or the surrounding towns. Land has become very expensive there. If you are willing to live in the more outlying areas you might find more affordable housing, but the winters can be hard in the hills. Lots of snow and gloomy days, and spring comes late. We don't get leaves on the trees until late May because of the higher elevation.
You will find tons of stuff to do in Northampton, that is very true. It's just a trade off I guess. You may want to look at housing in Hatfield or Cummingotn, a little more affordable.
By the way we are planning on leaving Massachusetts at the end of the summer. It is too expensive to live here and the winters are just too long and cold. Our state income tax is 5.3%. We also pay hefty excise taxes annually on each vehicle we own (our recent bill was $150 for our 03 Ram pickup). Health insurance, food, everything costs more here. Our property taxes are $2200 a year on property valued at $185,000, but remember we are way out in the hills. I would guess in town your property taxes on a house with that value would be closer to $4000 a year. Our town has only 800 people with no post office, schools, etc. Our big expense is snow removal every year.
If you really, really like the area it can be worth it to move here because Northampton is a nice town. I don't know your political views but it is extremely liberal out here. It can be uncomfortable if you are conservative.
I know that schools are good in Northampton and there is tons of stuff to do, great restaurants, great organic food markets, etc. But don't expect to save any money living here. Plan for cold winters. I'd love to know what you decide to do. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you like.
I would rethink moving to MA. I lived there all my life and moved 7 years ago to Florida. Ma is a very expensive state to live in, they also tax everything.
If you really want to try it, I would rent. I don't believe for 200,000 there are too many homes. Seven years ago homes on cape cod were faily valued, now try 300,000 and up. You can also check realestate in the Boston Globe.
I lived in Mass for 3 years, in Ware - about 10 miles east of Northampton.
We then moved to NY, then to PA.
Mass is MUCH cheaper than either state.
We had a 1000 sq ft lake community house which we bought for 110K (5 years ago) and sold it for 150K three years later, so yes, property is on the rise there, but it is still cheaper than NY and CA, IMO. And I just did a very indepth analysis of Albany vs. Western MA because my DH was looking for another job. I found that while MA might be more expensive, the areas are nicer, and you get more bang for you buck. Our tax bill was 1900/yr, and Ware is one of the highest tax areas in Western MA. I would venture to say that you will probably do better there than you are in CA.
Would you consider living a little north of Northampton? You would do better financially...or Pittsfield is very nice as well and cheaper, closer to Albany, but you can still get to Northampton easily on Rt9 to enjoy the town...
Or you could rent - rentals are very cheap up there as compared to NY.
We had one child while living in MA. DH worked for the government and I worked part time. We did pretty well.
I would stay away from Springfield, West Springfield, Westfield, Holyoke, the southern area of Ludlow, Chicopee, and the west area of South Hadley.
Look at Belchertown, Ware, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Sunderland, Orange, Pelham, possibly Athol - anywhere north and west is going to be generally cheaper.
Big employers are Baystate, Westover AFB, Mercy Hospital, and of course all the colleges in the area. If you have a career you might not have too difficult of a time finding a job. If you don't and are looking for entry level unskilled labor, well you might be out of luck..
I grew up in Northampton, MA and would not have moved in 2002 if I had not been making a job change. I moved to Raleigh, NC. My daughter had moved to Raleigh, NC in 1998, married and made her home here.
"Northampton is a great place to live.."
Check out the Northampton, MA web page!!! You will find a lot of information there that I could not begin to tell you about in this post. I beleive you can also get the property tax info there also.
Yes, the winters are cold and snowy, but they know how to take care of the street and you can still get out. There are 5 colleges in that area alone and many within 50 miles. It is a great place to bring up kids.
It is expensive to purchase property, it keeps going up.. but you can still find property in the 175-200 price range. There are also other surrounding towns that are not as expensive but close to it. Try looking at real estate in Florence, Easthampton, Westhampton, Leeds, Hatfield, Greenfield (20 min. north), or even Chicopee (20 min. south) DO NOT buy in Holyoke.. rough town.. Do a search for Pauline Fogel Real Estate, Northampton, MA on the internet. I don't have her number but she could advise you on any questions you have on the area. Tell her Angie told you to call..
Main Street is wonderful, resturants, quaint shops, and people are always walking downtown. There is a great bike/walking trail that goes for miles, Look Park in Florence is a wonderful family picnic, tennis, playground place.
I think you can look up Look Park, Florence, MA on the internet also..
The fall colors can't be beat, the fresh snow in the winter and winter activities are great, New Year's Eve there is a big "First Night" celebration going on downtown with a lot going on for the kids too, summer is hot at times but nothing like NC!!!
I do like NC and it would be a good place to consider. Raleigh area is getting very expensive also. Prices on homes since I moved her in 02 have increased by 20%. The summers are hot and humid! Winters are not bad but if we get a small amount of snow/ice, the whole area is shut down for days!
Hope you get to take that summer vacation as you mentioned..
Oh, one more things.. with family in Albany, Northampton taking Rt 90 west is only 1-1/2 hrs to Albany. Or, you could consider the Berkshires .. That is Lee, Stockbridge or Pittsfield area which is the last MA exit on Rt90. Much closer to Albany..It is beautiful there also..
.. Good Luck..
Northampton is not that far from where I am. The taxes on my condo are cheap, about $600 per year. Although I don't have kids, the schools seem to be good. K-8 in town and regional high school, located in my town. There are other regional high schools that parents can choose from.
The problem here is jobs are scarce and unless you can land a state one, they don't pay. I'm commuting many miles each day until my company opens a location closer.
We hear the school systems are better in MA than NY overall. My husband is an MCSE (and a bass player) and is applying for a tech job in the area. I'm a licensed school secretary and can't find what is the procedure to apply for a job in the area. We have two boys: a 5 yr old and 9 yr old with asperger's syndrome. Great schools are our #1 priority, but also want a great place to raise a family. We are in our mid-40s, and of the progressive Mike Malloy/Tom Hartman mindset, looking to get out of Rockaway Beach, NYC before it destroys us. Any suggestions where to live within low $200K range. Also can you suggest where else in the state would be a great place for us to live? Thank you for your input.
Last edited by reneemac; 01-11-2008 at 09:59 PM..
I'm not sure which schools have better programs for kids with special needs but here's a list of really good towns with good schools. Northampton and Amherst are bigger towns with more to do and very little crime. For small towns Hadley, Hatfield, Southampton, South Deerfield, Whately, Williamsburg and Conway are all great not much to do though but are close to Northampton. All these towns are expensive but you could find a good small house in the low 200 range.
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