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Old 04-16-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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We have been reassigned to Fall River area come Sept. Can anyone tell me about the area? We have a son who is turning 3 this June and we will need to start looking at preschools. Could you recommend a good suburb area to live in that is no more than a 25-30min drive or less? Restaurants, family activities, ect?

Thank you. I was really really hoping for New Hampshire as I hear that taxes are EXPENSIVE in MA, and sad to see that it will be about a 1.5-2 hour drive into NH, but want to try to keep positive attitude about move to MA.
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Old 04-16-2010, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Depending on where you're coming from, MA taxes are not as bad as reputed. There's a 5.3% income tax, and property taxes are lower near Fall River than closer to Boston.

If you work in MA, you pay MA income tax even if you live in NH, and many NH towns near the border have high property taxes, so there's no point even dreaming of that long drive. You'd also pay lower taxes in MA than if you live in RI.

Good news: there are many nice towns within 30 mins of Fall River. Westport and Dartmouth are near the coast. The south coast has some nice beaches and is far less crowded than places like Cape Cod. Away from the water, the towns are more rural or woodsy in feel, especially Westport. Mattapoisett and Marion are nice towns on the coast east of New Bedford. To the north of Fall River are Dighton, Freetown, Lakeville, Raynham, Easton.

It would be good to get a sense of your budget and what kind of home you want.

We also have a resident Fall River area expert, LRFox, who will be able to give you lots of specific information.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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Thanks for your input holden I greatly appreciate it

As far as income taxes-we do not have to pay them as husband is Active Army and is resident of South Dakota. We are looking to rent, but I am worried about what heat bills will be. I see they are HIGH.
Our bah will be about 2k, but would like to not have to pay more than 1500 for rent if possible if utilities are included could go to 2k I suppose, but still would like to keep it as low as possible in a place that is not so far outdated. Looking for 2bd, possibly 3 bd, 1 bath apartment or home that is in safe neighborhood. Yard for my son to play in would be lovely.
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEOhioBound View Post
Thanks for your input holden I greatly appreciate it

As far as income taxes-we do not have to pay them as husband is Active Army and is resident of South Dakota. We are looking to rent, but I am worried about what heat bills will be. I see they are HIGH.
Our bah will be about 2k, but would like to not have to pay more than 1500 for rent if possible if utilities are included could go to 2k I suppose, but still would like to keep it as low as possible in a place that is not so far outdated. Looking for 2bd, possibly 3 bd, 1 bath apartment or home that is in safe neighborhood. Yard for my son to play in would be lovely.
Which taxes are you worried about?

I'm not expert, but I believe your price range shouldn't be a problem down in that area. It's far more affordable than Boston, though there are fewer rentals available, especially outside the cities of Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton, which are much more urban locales. Heat bills can be high in the winter, but very low in the summer. Some (not most, but some) apartments include heat in the rent.

This might give you a sense of what's out there.

south coast apts/housing for rent classifieds - craigslist
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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I guess just shopping taxes and car insurance.
What city/town would you recommend that is within 15-30 min drive of Fall River that has small safe parks, maybe a good public and a good private school, some shopping (grocery mainly) that isn't more than a 25min drive to some nice restaurants and good shopping (furniture, clothes, general)

Is Fall River considered South Coast then? Just so I have a better idea when looking for areas to search. A few sites only listed bigger cities and then territories, but couldn't find one for Fall River area.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:12 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
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Fall River is part of the South Coast. (Thanks, Holden, for the plug!). The craigslist site is a great resource for apartment hunting. I'd also look at the Fall River Herald News and the New Bedford Standard Times websites. They may have some good rentals to look at.

I grew up in the Fall River area and my family and many of my friends are still there (I've since lived in RI, D.C., Maine and Boston).

Fall River is an old industrial city with a relatively depressed economy since the bulk of the textile and manufacturing that shaped the city has left. You'll probably notice that for a city of nearly 100,000 there's a bit of an insular/ small town type feel. It's a place where there are generations of "power families" that are known throughout the city. This is in large part due to lack of turnover in population. Fall River's population peaked at 120,000 about 50 years ago and is down to about 90,000. It's past its economic prime which means that many more people are leaving than coming in.

In terms of appearance, I don't think anyone would call Fall River a "pretty" city. As I mentioned, it's industrial and old mills dominate the cityscape. I personally find some beauty in the massive structures, but they're not all wonderful. Furthermore, Fall River was damaged by urban renewal in the 1960s. A few neighborhoods (including a chunk of downtown) were torn up to make way for highways and other "modern improvements" (including the ugly City Hall). There is great architecture to be found in places and a few beautiful neighborhoods, but much of the city is sort of unattractive.

The question of where to locate around Fall River is tricky. How long are you planning on staying in the area (or is that still sort of up in the air)? The reason I ask is because Fall River's city schools are terrible. If you plan on putting your child in public schools, Fall River isn't a good idea. If the move is only temporary, Fall River has a few neighborhoods that I'd recommend. The Highlands neighborhood (for reference sake the area along and East of Highland Avenue in Fall River) is absolutely beautiful and suburban with a mix of gorgeous older Victorian homes (from the city's affluent era) and newer modern homes. The area has won awards for it's historic architecture and beauty. It has a centrally located park ("North Park") that was designed by Cedric Law Olmstead (of New York City's "Central Park" fame). Fall River has plenty of neighborhoods to avoid, but the Highlands is large and very safe as well as beautiful. The downfall is public schools are terrible (private schools, including a few right in the neighborhood, are quite good and there are plenty to choose from).

If public schools are an important consideration, you'll need to look just outside the city. This isn't a problem as there are plenty of great places within 1/2 hour of Fall River. Westport is absolutely beautiful (think: English countryside meets Cape Cod's coastline), however, schools in Westport are bad. Dartmouth has similar coastline and countryside with better schools. Dartmouth covers a large physical area and is quite diverse in layout. In the Northern part of town, you have Route 6. Along Route 6 is all the major chain retail shopping (an indoor mall, box stores, grocery, etc) and restaurants you'll need. Just off Route 6 are dozens of suburban neighborhoods. As you head a bit further North of 6 (and South towards the coast) you'll find it to be a bit more rural, but not boonies rural. It's rural in a seaside New England fashion. Dartmouth has excellent schools and plenty of amenities. If you live on or just near Route 6 in Dartmouth, your commute to most of Fall River will fall within about 10-15 minutes. Nowhere in Dartmouth is more than 30 minutes to Fall River. There should be plenty of rental opportunity in Dartmouth.

Freetown is just North of Fall River. It's broken into two villages, Assonet (Pronounced: "Uh-So-Net,") and East Freetown. Assonet is the closest section to Fall River. All of Assonet is within 10-20 minutes of Fall River. Assonet has a historic village center with lots of charming older homes. It also has a number of suburban neighborhoods. East Freetown is more rural, but most of East Freetown is out of your commute range. Prices are reasonable here and rentals can be found but not as easily as in Dartmouth. Freetown shares a school district with Lakeville (another great town but closer to 40 minutes from most of Fall River) and the High School and Middle/ Intermediate schools have students from both communities. The elementary school is just Freetown students. Schools in this district are good. If you end up considering Freetown, let me know. My mother is on the board of selectmen (essentially a 3 person mayoral board common in New England) and loves to help people new to the area. She's not partial to Freetown, if it's not a good fit, she wouldn't push it. Oh, and Freetown (particularly the Assonet side) will put you within easy access of shopping (15 minutes to 3 different indoor malls and an abundance of grocery stores within that range too).

To the West of Fall River you have the towns of Somerset and Swansea. Somerset and Swansea are older suburban communities. The neighborhoods seem to contain a good number of split-level homes built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I don't find these towns particularly attractive, but they're not ugly either. schools are good, in both communities and Route 6 provides a good amount of retail opportunities (another indoor mall, box stores, grocery, etc). Somerset is directly across the river and commutes to Fall River depending on where exactly in town you are would range from 5-10 minutes realistically. Swansea is just behind Somerset and commutes would be closer to 10-15. Seekonk is similar to both Somerset and Swansea but it's about 15 minutes (more if you're a ways from Route 6/ I-195) from Fall River. I can't imagine finding something in Seekonk that you couldn't get closer to Fall River in Swansea or Somerset.

There are a few communities in Rhode Island that may have what you're looking for too. Tiverton, RI shares a border with Fall River (just to the South of the city). Tiverton has decent schools and beautiful neighborhoods. For groceries and shopping you'd likely have to go into Fall River which isn't far. Tiverton's a great town. Most of Tiverton is within 10-15 minutes of downtown Fall River but some extreme Southern portions require you to take multiple back roads which would jack the commute time up to closer to 30 minutes. Portsmouth, RI is also a great one. Much of it is 30 minutes or so from Fall River, but the Northern tip of town (it's actually on an island called, "Aquidneck Island") nearest to the Sakonnet River Bridge/ Route 24 would be a reasonable commute. Schools are great in Portsmouth (I went to the St. Philomena School there) and the town is very attractive. Retail, groceries, and shopping for Portsmouth would be in Middletown/Newport RI (or Fall River on the way home from work).

As far as restaurants go, Fall River sort of slacks for a city of 90,000. However, it's not horrible. Fall River is actually pretty diverse and over 40% of the population is of Portuguese heritage. There are TONS of Portuguese places in Fall River, most of them wonderful (It was featured for this reason on the Travel Channel's, "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain). There are also a good number of other ethnic places including great Polish, Lebanese, Italian, and Irish cuisines.

However, the best restaurants are only a short drive from Fall River. The closest bunch are in New Bedford. New Bedford is only about 10 minutes East of Fall River. New Bedford is currently the highest grossing fishing port in the nation so you'd be hard pressed to do better anywhere else in terms of seafood (I'd suggest the Waterfront Grille for excellent reasonably priced seafood). New Bedford also has a lot of Portuguese food as well as other ethnic flavors. Creative and modern American restaurants are also abundant here. Cork is one of my favorite Tapas/Wine bars anywhere.

If Fall River and New Bedford don't offer enough for you, Providence RI is only a mere 15 minutes East of Fall River. Providence is an urban area with over 1.1 Million people living in it (Fall River is actually part of Providence's metro area). As a result, you'll find world-class dining there pretty easily. Federal Hill is one of the most intact authentic Italian neighborhoods you'll find anywhere. It's great. Downtown and the East Side of Providence offer just about any type of food you could ever want too.

Newport, RI is a charming seaside city located 30 minutes South of Fall River. It's busiest in the summer, but is good all year round. There are hundreds of great restaurants in Newport.

Boston's less than an hour from Fall River too. Finding good food shouldn't be a problem.

As far as family activities, you'll find plenty to do. Dartmouth has Lloyd State Park which is beautiful and perfect for your 3 year old. Horseneck Beach is right on the Dartmouth/Westport Line. There are a number of beaches for town residents only too. The Lloyd Center in Dartmouth is great for kids. Freetown has a massive state forest (which actually spills over into Fall River, Dartmouth and Westport) with miles of biking, horseback riding, and hiking trails. 13 Blocks of Downtown New Bedford are a National Historic Park called the "Whaling District" (after the city's heritage... Moby Dick was written by Herman Melville when he lived in NB and worked on a NB whaling ship). There are a few museums and sites to see there. Fall River has Battleship Cove... the world's largest collection of naval warships open to the public. New Bedford also has a nice park/zoo complex (Buttonwood Park/Zoo).

This is getting long-winded. Hope it covers some of your questions. Please, feel free to ask anything else!
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Old 04-17-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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Wow! I HUGE kudos to you lrfox for all the great advice. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write that all up

We would be in the area for 2 years. After that the military could extend us, but likely it will be just 2 yrs and then we would be moved to NH or VT.

We are hoping to get our son into a private school. He will be 3 soon and has been going to preschool for a year now. I have tried to find information on private preschools within a 30min drive radius from the center of Fall River, but not having any luck yet. I hope I can find some school information, especially costs soon.

I may have some more questions later if that is ok. I am taking all the great info you posted (actually making notes) and sorting it all out to make sure we look in desirable places. Like I said, we are hoping to keep rent and utilities to no more than 2K/month but also want to live in a place that is safe, not too far of a drive to do some shopping (especially for essentials like when we run out of milk, tp, stuff like that..lol) and want a home that has updated cabinetry, appliances, ect. The place we are in now we were disappointed to find out that we were going to have to pay 825$/mth for a 2bd (most 2bds in area are 500/mth) when kitchen cabinets havent been updated since 70's!

EDIT- Sorry meant we would be moved to NH or VT next

Last edited by NEOhioBound; 04-17-2010 at 06:29 PM..
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Old 04-17-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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You are really better off on Aquidneck Island - specifically the northern tip of the Island in Portsmouth.

There are many military families in Portsmouth, the schools are pretty good, rental housing is much "younger" than you'd find in the Fall River-New Bedford area... and of course you'd have access to NETC Newport...
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Old 04-17-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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What is NETC Newport?
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Old 04-17-2010, 07:57 PM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEOhioBound View Post
Wow! I HUGE kudos to you lrfox for all the great advice. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write that all up

We would be in the area for 2 years. After that the military could extend us, but likely it will be just 2 yrs and then we would be moved to NH or VT.

We are hoping to get our son into a private school. He will be 3 soon and has been going to preschool for a year now. I have tried to find information on private preschools within a 30min drive radius from the center of Fall River, but not having any luck yet. I hope I can find some school information, especially costs soon.

I may have some more questions later if that is ok. I am taking all the great info you posted (actually making notes) and sorting it all out to make sure we look in desirable places. Like I said, we are hoping to keep rent and utilities to no more than 2K/month but also want to live in a place that is safe, not too far of a drive to do some shopping (especially for essentials like when we run out of milk, tp, stuff like that..lol) and want a home that has updated cabinetry, appliances, ect. The place we are in now we were disappointed to find out that we were going to have to pay 825$/mth for a 2bd (most 2bds in area are 500/mth) when kitchen cabinets havent been updated since 70's!

EDIT- Sorry meant we would be moved to NH or VT next
No problem!

I'll have to see what I can dig up on preschools. There are a lot of good ones in that area, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. I wouldn't have any idea on the costs.

Questions are fine! the more, the better.

You should be able to get a 2 bedroom for that much in the Southcoast area. It's not as pricey as the Boston area. As far as safety goes, the whole region is VERY safe. There are some pockets of Fall River and New Bedford that should be avoided, but even those cities aren't all that dangerous (not nearly as bad as some make it seem). The communities around those cities are all safe.

Put your mind at rest about shopping. Eastern MA (all of it) and RI are very densely settled. No matter where you rent around Fall River you'll be within 15 minutes of a large retail area... likely near a few of them. Amenities won't be a problem at all.

One of the biggest pros about New England is that there are so many attractive historic buildings. One of the cons is that historic buildings are old. Many of these buildings are renovated, but you have to be careful when you look that the windows are modern (drafty windows can hurt your heating bill). I'm sure you've rented enough to know what to look for. Most places that are renovated will advertise that they are. There are plenty renovated places in Fall River but there are more "current" rentals in Dartmouth, Somerset, Swansea, Freetown, etc. Portsmouth will have some military families. There's a Navy Base (I think what the NETC reference was) in Newport, RI a little ways South of Portsmouth. Portsmouth will be on the periphery of your commute but it's worth looking into. The far North End of Fall River is largely modern and suburban. There are dozens of nice rentals in that area. The listings on this page are mostly in that far North End area. The lone exception is the "Border City Mill" complex which is more centrally located in Fall River (not so wonderful). The rest of them are really located right next to each other in a very attractive, very safe section of the city (right near the Freetown line, actually).

Last edited by lrfox; 04-17-2010 at 08:41 PM..
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