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Old 11-25-2018, 05:59 PM
 
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After living in Porter Square for a number of years, my husband and I are looking to purchase our first home. We’re interested in towns near commuter rail stations with excellent schools; well-educated, left-leaning, down-to-earth communities; and a bucolic and/or wooded feel. We’ve always fantasized about living in Concord. Taking our $800k budget into account (possibly $850k by the spring selling season) we’ve more realistically targeted West Concord and especially Acton, Sudbury, and Wayland as towns to explore. A few questions:

- I know that the great schools in these towns draw plenty of families with school-aged children, but are there many families with babies/very young children? My husband and I are in our early thirties and hope to have a child in a few years. We’d like to live somewhere where we can socialize with other new parents and draw on a good support structure for new parents (e.g. plentiful nanny share options). I know these towns may not compare to an Arlington or a J.P., but are we likely to at least find a smattering of others in our life stage?

- Should the considerably lower home values in Acton (relative not only to Concord, but even to Sudbury) give us pause? We’re drawn to the possibility of getting more home for our money while still having excellent schools and still being a quick drive to the Concord train (sounds like South Acton is a no-go with the parking lot filling up so early). I’m surprised others aren’t drawn to this, too, keeping the home values healthier, especially since Acton has better train access than Sudbury does. We drove through Acton yesterday and noticed that some sections looked more tired/unkempt than others (mostly near the train station), so we want to make sure the town isn’t on the downswing.

- Am I correct that the Superfund site in Concord/Acton is mostly cleaned up? Anything to worry about there?

- Any other towns we should consider? We’re toying with adding Natick to our list. An acquaintance of mine with a toddler is very happy there, and it sounds like it’s increasingly popular with young families, but the Pike/Route 9 traffic and smaller, mid-century homes that come to mind when I think of Natick are what we’re trying to avoid. I imagine that in Wayland, we could still get to the mall/stores quickly (and to either the Weston or Wellesley train stops if we chose the right home) while avoiding some of that congestion.

We do recognize that living in these towns would lengthen our commutes to downtown Boston considerably (Park St. area for both us, for now). However, we feel that we would be happier with a 90-minute commute where we can work remotely/relax on the train than we would be with an hour spent slogging on the bus and T (as we would need to do from most of Arlington). We’re also thinking that, if we’re going to sacrifice the amenities of living in the city, we’d like to come home to a house that we really, truly enjoy spending time in (seemingly not possible on our budget in towns closer to the city) and an environment with perks of its own (e.g. conservation lands to explore). As for multi-families, we’ve grown wary of owning a unit in one after dealing with neighbor noise/issues in our current apartment, and most condos in Cambridge/Somerville are well beyond our budget, anyway.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 11-25-2018, 07:48 PM
 
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As you suggested, I would absolutely look into Natick. Natick center train station to south station is 40-45min. 9 min walk from south station to park street. I think you can manage a door to door train commute of 1hr from Natick. Natick is also very good to the 128 belt. You can commute anywhere from natick: north, south, east, and west. You can even drive into the city in <= 1hr.

As far as the location within Natick. I recommend 3 areas in no particular order: The eastern part of Natick near Oak Street and the Wellesley line, the areas walking distance to Natick center and the area north of rt 9. East Natick and the north section are probably your best car commutes and Natick center is your best train commute. The areas north of the center and south of 9 are pretty nice too but probably an additional 5 min car commute. Might be worth it for the right house as there are some nice areas there. I would not go south of Natick center.

The fanciest area of town is South Natick (south of natick center) that is where all the expensive 1.2+M houses are. But south Natick comes at a commute cost compared to the other areas. South natick could easily be 10-12 min more of a car commute compared to east natick. Thats not worth it, IMO. Many people when considering commutes forget about the more commute friendly sections of Natick.

You'll notice that there have been a lot of tear downs and gut rehabs in the more "mid century" neighborhoods such as east natick and north of rt 9. These areas are improving fast. I personally know a builder who previously worked exclusively doing teardowns for 2-3M homes in Wellesley. He has since switched to Natick doing much higher volume but at a lower price point of 700k-1M. In many ways Natick might be ripe for teardowns in the next 10 years like Needham was in the last 10. Needham had a large stock of smaller houses on good sized lots. That is true of many areas of natick: good lots but smaller homes. That is ideal for teardowns. At a certain point areas like Needham and Wellesley will hit a saturation point and some of that activity will expand westward into Natick. It's already happening now but i think it will pick up steam over time.

did you know that according to the zillow home value index Natick is the #1 fastest appreciating town outside of 128 from November 2008-November 2018? Yes, it out appreciated Needham and trounced all the other towns you mentioned. Natick has a low tax rate due to the significant business tax base. There are multiple billion (yes BILLION) dollar companies headquartered in Natick (Cognex, Mathworks) and it has the golden triangle the #2 retail district in the state behind downtown crossing in Boston.

Schools in Natick are already extremely good. I think top 20. More importantly, they are showing a strong uptrend.

Taxes in Acton are a nightmare, especially with the new tax law. You are better off in a more tax friendly town.

Last edited by panchilly; 11-25-2018 at 07:57 PM..
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Old 11-25-2018, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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If you work downtown and want to take public transit, you should focus on commuter rail lines that go to South Station. The exact choice will depend on your budget. Natick has been mentioned, but depending on your budget there are a large host of other towns you might consider. Sharon is popular with the crowd that wants to live in Acton but should realistically live south of 90.
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Old 11-25-2018, 08:46 PM
 
601 posts, read 313,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayrandom View Post
If you work downtown and want to take public transit, you should focus on commuter rail lines that go to South Station. The exact choice will depend on your budget. Natick has been mentioned, but depending on your budget there are a large host of other towns you might consider. Sharon is popular with the crowd that wants to live in Acton but should realistically live south of 90.
Be careful with Sharon. The commute to the 128 belt from Sharon is a nightmare. Keep your options open from a commute standpoint. Pick a location for your commute now but also potential commutes if you needed or wanted to switch jobs.

From natick, as I mentioned, you can basically work anywhere. For geometry reasons the intersection of 95 and 90 is the most prime spot to be in proximity to. It’s no wonder that Wellesley, Newton, and Weston are right there.

I’d throw in Burlington and Bedford into the mix as well. Both prime spots. Acton is on the decline - no business tax base, too far, too high taxes, that damn rotary by the prison in concord.
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panchilly View Post
Be careful with Sharon. The commute to the 128 belt from Sharon is a nightmare. Keep your options open from a commute standpoint. Pick a location for your commute now but also potential commutes if you needed or wanted to switch jobs.

From natick, as I mentioned, you can basically work anywhere. For geometry reasons the intersection of 95 and 90 is the most prime spot to be in proximity to. It’s no wonder that Wellesley, Newton, and Weston are right there.

I’d throw in Burlington and Bedford into the mix as well. Both prime spots. Acton is on the decline - no business tax base, too far, too high taxes, that damn rotary by the prison in concord.
Natick is a great town, but it's not the only option. Sharon is a pretty good choice for someone who works in Boston and will work in Boston for the foreseeable future. My wife is on her fourth Boston job; think finance, not tech. Bedford and Burlington are both nice towns, but neither have easy commuter rail access to Boston.
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:19 PM
 
601 posts, read 313,470 times
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Originally Posted by jayrandom View Post
Natick is a great town, but it's not the only option. Sharon is a pretty good choice for someone who works in Boston and will work in Boston for the foreseeable future. My wife is on her fourth Boston job; think finance, not tech. Bedford and Burlington are both nice towns, but neither have easy commuter rail access to Boston.
I’ll take natick (the #1 fastest appreciating town outside 128) over Sharon any day of the week.

Natick gives you the commuter rail access to Boston but totally smashes Sharon in almost every other way.
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Originally Posted by panchilly View Post
I’ll take natick (the #1 fastest appreciating town outside 128) over Sharon any day of the week.

Natick gives you the commuter rail access to Boston but totally smashes Sharon in almost every other way.
That’s great for you, but not everyone is you. Sharon is an option, as is Natick. Depending on budget there may be lots of other options. Parts of Natick are great (my kids love Broadmoor), but parts of it are unbearable. Especially the mess that is Shopper’s World.

And I don’t think Natick smashes Sharon in almost every other way. Sharon has better schools than Natick, for one (if you believe those sorts of things). And Sharon is much less commercial, which some people seem to like (it does make the taxes higher).
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:40 PM
 
601 posts, read 313,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayrandom View Post
That’s great for you, but not everyone is you. Sharon is an option, as is Natick. Depending on budget there may be lots of other options. Parts of Natick are great (my kids love Broadmoor), but parts of it are unbearable. Especially the mess that is Shopper’s World.

And I don’t think Natick smashes Sharon in almost every other way. Sharon has better schools than Natick, for one (if you believe those sorts of things). And Sharon is much less commercial, which some people seem to like (it does make the taxes higher).
Shoppers world is in Framingham buddy.
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Old 11-26-2018, 04:16 AM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Originally Posted by panchilly View Post
Shoppers world is in Framingham buddy.
Then the entire Rt. 9 corridor that is in Natick. Like the Natick Mall. And right across the street from Shopper's World. I like Natick when I come from Dover and avoid everything near the Pike.
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Old 11-26-2018, 06:33 AM
 
601 posts, read 313,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayrandom View Post
Then the entire Rt. 9 corridor that is in Natick. Like the Natick Mall. And right across the street from Shopper's World. I like Natick when I come from Dover and avoid everything near the Pike.
The golden triangle is in the north western part of town. It is very easy to avoid that area.
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