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Old 11-10-2008, 05:30 PM
7 posts, read 19,851 times
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Dorchester is a great area to live with your kids, it has great public schools and it's very safe and the night life is poppin'
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:21 PM
Location: Dallas
4,630 posts, read 10,472,169 times
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Originally Posted by guest187 View Post
Dorchester is a great area to live with your kids, it has great public schools and it's very safe and the night life is poppin'
No, skip Dorchester. Brookline is a very good idea. Back Bay has a Montessori School worth a look.

Here's some pix of Back Bay, Downtown, and Beacon Hill. Brookline is a lot like these neighborhoods.

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Old 11-14-2008, 08:10 AM
Location: Exeter,NH
80 posts, read 276,023 times
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8 days and counting until we explore Boston, I'm so excited!
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:54 AM
23 posts, read 116,752 times
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Hi twinmum,

I hope that you will post back to this thread when you have completed your visit to Boston. My husband has been asked to consider a move there in order to be with his best research team. Like you, we also have a 2nd grader, and we have a kindergardener. He just mentioned this possibility to me this morning, how lucky to find your post! I would love to hear what you thought about the area and the schools. We are willing and able to consider either public or private.

Have a good trip!
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:52 AM
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Dorchester is about the worst place here somebody was trying to be funny.

Walking in the snow is possible just be careful for ice.

Have you considered Northampton, MA about 2 hours west of Boston? It is MUCH smaller than Boston, but has one of the top rated small city downtowns in the country. The schools are better than most of what Boston has to offer. Alot of people who can afford private schooling in Boston send their kids there. I looked quick on Realtor.com and did not see anything that I would call a loft right now, but there are some condos you might like and for less than something similar in Boston. The only reason I would recommend it to anyone considering Boston is if a traditional walkable neighborhood is very high on your list. If being able to walk to retail, restaurants, and a neighborhood grocery store is what you are after downtown Northampton might be for you. It is very liberal although I am not sure if it is more or less so than SF. Is your husband walking or flying to work? RT 91(N-S) runs through Northhampton and the masspike(E-W) is 30 mins away. Bradley airport in CT is less than 1 hour away.

Here are a few pics of downtown.


I am from that area but live in Boston. I could not afford to be anywhere walkable in that area so I moved to one of the less expensive parts of boston

Good Luck.
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Old 11-15-2008, 04:34 PM
1,989 posts, read 4,464,533 times
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Sorry for a duplicate post from another thread, but I saw I did a much more thorough job answering and didn't want you to miss the info, since you'll be visiting soon. Also, if you have extra time near Thanksgiving and don't mind a drive, go down to Plimouth Plantation for an authentic Thanksgiving experience-- listed in the "1000 Places to Go Before You Die" book:

Thanksgiving Dining Events at Plimoth Plantation (http://www.plimoth.org/dining-functions/thanksgiving-dining/ - broken link)

And here's the other post:

We just moved out-of-state from JP with our four-year-old in January.

I HIGHLY recommend JP and especially the Woodbourne area for people with kids. Woodbourne is adjacent to the Forest Hills Cemetery (see link below-- on the national historic register, with concerts, picnics, art exhibits, kid activities, etc). It's also a .5 mile walk to the Forest Hills T Stop, walkable to the Arnold Aboretum for trees and sledding, a 2 minute drive to Franklin Park with its zoo and golf course, 2 minutes to the Boston Audobon Society Nature Center for Nature Walks, 5 minute drive to JP Pond for boating and 10 minute drive to the Blue Hills area for skiing in winter and a sandy beach on a small kid-friendly lake in summer.

On top of that, Woodbourne has lots of families, a nice demographic mix and feels less "urban" than JP center. Plenty of parking, a little set back from the action, and a neighborhood association gives it a community feel.

Schools. It depends. They are urban public schools so resources are limited. Boston is on a zoned lottery system. JP is in the "west zone," so you go to school open houses, pick 3-4 that you like the feel of and list them in order of preference for the lottery. If you live in the "walk zone" of a school, you get weighted preference, but there's still no guarantee. The good news is, the West Zone has some of the best academic schools in Boston and a lot of parental involvement in all of its schools. And, if your kids have the academic chops, in 5th grade they can take a test to qualify for Boston's Latin School, one of the best public schools in the country.
Having lived within 1/2 block of Young Achievers, I wouldn't recommend it for a variety of reasons. LOTS going on there. If you want more info, PM me, but right off the bat, it's one of only two city-wide lottery schools in Boston. Which means instead of competing against other families in the west zone, you're competing against every family in Boston. So if your kids got in, they probably wouldn't have any classmates living in their neighborhood.

As for housing, you can get a house right now in Woodbourne for 400k. And not a dump. A neat, old, on a nice street with nice families and senior citizens house. Just to give you an idea-- Woodbourne is the type of neighborhood that families DRIVE to on Halloween because it is safe, fun and family oriented. We had 150+ trick or treaters there our last year in the house. (Which sold in February shortly after it was listed. Popular neighborhood.)

Here are some resources for you for checking out JP and Woodbourne (part of JP) from a distance:

The Forest Hills Educational Trust

Boston Public Schools

this link will appear not to work, they're just poorly designed pages, scroll down a lot

westzoneparents : West Zone Parents Group

Jamaica Plain Gazette

Arnold Arboretum

Boston Nature Center | Mass Audubon | Nature Connection

Zoo New England - Default Home Page

Jamaica Plain Historical Society - 'Locales' Editor - - Woodbourne Historic*District

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Now the cons: Yes, cars get broken into. And occasionally homes. But not if you take precautions. (It's city living.) Depending on what your children need, the schools may not be enough. Also-- JP is ENORMOUSLY AND FAMOUSLY politically active. Meetings about everything. Demonstrations about everything. Petitions about everything. Depending on your perspective, it can be a good thing or a bad thing, but don't take it as a sign that things are going to hell in a handbag-- it's just the way they do it there. Lots of pitchforks and torches in the community. But it's a community. You'll get a sense of this by reading the JP Gazette (a free bi-weekly paper delivered to every home in JP) and by reading through the West Zone parents listserv-- and careful on that, people tend to post more when they're disgruntled than when they're happy.

Last, but not least, if JP is still too urban for you, check out West Roxbury. You won't be able to throw a rock without hitting an Irish American (so definitely throw some rocks), but it's a solid, more "suburban" community. PS. I'm an Irish American.

Good luck. Hope this helps. If you have ANY further questions, PM me, I'll be happy to help.
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:36 AM
Location: Southern NH
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If you are going towards Jamaica Plain, check out West Roxbury which is also within the city limits. Another town close to Boston to check out would be Arlington which is next to Cambridge...
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:04 AM
Location: Exeter,NH
80 posts, read 276,023 times
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First of all I have to say THANK YOU! You guys have been so super, informative & kind! Reading your opinions has certainly helped ease my anxiety !

1sizetosmll - I was definitely planning on posting my feedback after my trip (5 days and counting, eee I'm so excited!). I will be happy to fill you in on my thoughts, feelings, etc.

arigold1975 - Northampton & Amherst are on our list to check out as well. My husband has a vehicle & will be driving to work - however his jobs are going to be all over New England, so we figure we need to live by an airport in case he needs to fly someplace because he can't drive there due to weather or for whatever reason...I am not even sure what driving is like in the winter if you have to commute to a different state, and I didn't think to ask here....

cohdane - Thanks! I am going to rearrange our schedule so that we can go to Plimoth, that sounds really interesting! Thanks for the JP info - it is one place that sounds more like us (or at least what we are used to - I think Berkley, San Francisco) I had never really considered JP though because the posts I read were not so kind, I am definitely going to add it to the list.

We are going to have a busy, busy week trying to take in all of Boston & the surrounding areas as well as visiting western Mass. I also want to "check out" Vt, NH, & Portland last on the list to see would be Ct & RI....I am 98% sure that MA is the place for us though. Thanks again for your assistance....I can't wait to share my experience with you.
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:55 PM
Location: Newton, Mass.
2,954 posts, read 12,300,957 times
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Originally Posted by CityGirl52 View Post
What about the town of Brookline, MA? It's in Norfolk county, directly beside the City of Boston, so close, that the MBTA subway system connects it for really quick access right in to the City. Brookline always had really good schools in the town thru the years. You could find a condo or a house for under your price range, BUT something to keep in mind? This town always had the highest property taxes in the country, not just in Massachusetts!
I completely agree with the suggestion of Brookline. The northern half of Brookline, such as the Coolidge Corner area, is closer to downtown Boston and in many ways more urban than many neighborhoods within the city of Boston. The schools are great and it's a very liberal community. I am not an expert on the subject, but I believe that while the property taxes on single family homes in Brookline are quite high, the taxes on condos are not all that bad.

Here are some pictures of the area (I did not take them, just discovered them online one day). The first four galleries are in the city of Boston, Newport is Rhode Island, and those that follow are in Brookline, up to "Brookline Village."

Mike's Photo Galleries at pbase.com

West Roxbury is a nice area but quiet and residential, the most suburban part of the city of Boston. I've got family there and I've spent some time there, and I'd say you might fit into a place like Brookline a little more easily and it's harder for people who are not from the area to just move into West Roxbury, which has a much more local feel. I take it you're more concerned with a "city" lifestyle than the technicalities of being within city limits, especially given the challenges of navigating the Boston schools (though the Boston system does have many good schools if you can get your kids enrolled at them).

I'd also agree with Belmont, a topic I know well, though Brookline is more urban, closer to Boston, and more diverse. Belmont does have pretty quick access to Boston and even quicker to Harvard Square.

Melrose and Hingham are both great towns but definitely more sleepy and suburban.

Car insurance is odd in Massachusetts, though it's changing. The state has historically set the rates, which are based pretty much exclusively on your driving record as ranked on a scale, and the town in which the car is registered. Boston insurance is higher than the other towns, including Brookline. From Boston or Cambridge to a town like Arlington or Belmont is a dramatic drop in cost for the same coverage. Everyone thinks it's high but in my experience it's considerably lower than everywhere else I've looked into it, which is only New York City and Washington, DC.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:03 PM
Location: Exeter,NH
80 posts, read 276,023 times
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I'm BACK! We LOVED New England! We had a fabulous Thanksgiving week in Boston & spent the days traveling around trying to see as many towns as possible. Went to Plymouth the day before Thanksgiving (thanks cohdane! we have decided that the turkey day feast is a must do next year!). I did research on the schools before we left, and even though we were set on living in a loft in Boston, we do not have $40-60k extra to spend a year sending our kids to private schools, so once we checked out Boston (which we LOVED!) we focused more outside of the city itself (based on the fact that I dont "get" the whole BPS system where you have to put in for the school but you might not get it - its not worth it to us to take that chance).

I will fill you in on our personal opinion/conclusions especially for 1size2smll's benefit - 1size2smll I have to add that I really think it is a MUST for you to go check out Boston if you are considering it....we considered moving last year and had we actually made the trip we would be living in the NE already!

Not considering Back Bay, South End & such (since we are pretty sure we are not going to focus in Boston anymore) we especially liked Newton, Cambridge & Wellesley... (and it is not because we are snobby[something about those places as told to my husband when he met with business associates while we were there] - I think it is just because they are more similar to places we are used to albeit with the addition of historical buildings).

I must say that all of our friends here in So.Cal that are from the NE told us how the people are rude, we wouldn't want to live there, the weather is too horrible, etc. and we found the people to be nicer in the NE than they are here in So. Cal. that said, there are nasty people everywhere you go, but we are no longer worried about the so called "rude" people of the NE Also, as far as the weather, it was a "brisk" (as the hotel described it) 26 degrees when we got there.... brisk my word, cold is more like it - cold indeed! We just dressed appropriately (read: coats, sweaters, boots, hats) and we were fine walking around the city....granted it wasn't snowing, but it squashed another fear of ours (i.e. hacking the drastic change in temp). I am just crossing my fingers that is doesn't get too much worse than that?!

I have to say what the heck is up with the roads in the Boston area? Half the time (especially in Boston) we didn't know if it was one, two or three lanes as they were not marked and people seemed to drive where they pleased...not to mention we encountered people driving straight through intersections in a clearly marked left turn lane - it took some getting used to. Having lived in cities like San Francisco, Denver, Portland & Seattle I have to say the roads throughout Boston are a bit harder to navigate (not as much on a grid so to speak), but we can't hold it against Boston, it was established way before any of the cities we are used to driving in I also have to add that it was TERRIFYING to us (and mind you, we are used to LA traffic) to be cruising down the freeway and have people blow past us in the break down lane....in all the places we have lived I have to admit that is a new one for us! The yielding on the on ramp was a little frightening as well, if we slowed down to yield here when entering a freeway it would be grounds for a road rage shoot out! I no longer wonder why people think we are crazy drivers here in California.

Suffice to say we have narrowed down our choices, and I am not sure if they are appropriate for this Boston forum or the MA one in general but we are considering: Hingham, Scituate, Wellesley, Natick, possibly Cambridge & Newton. We also really enjoyed Portsmouth, NH (but obviously questions directed to that town belong in the NH forum).

We drove all the way up to Portland & made it to RI. It amused us that everyone we spoke to seemed to think we were crazy to stay in Boston & explore the other states from there. I have the feeling that living in California has skewed our idea of what is a "drivable" distance - we thought it was no big deal to spend a day checking out towns in New Hampshire on our way to Portland & every night we were back in Boston by 8 or 10.....Apparently people don't typically drive 100+ miles in a day there? We also had planned on making the drive to Northampton & Amherst (& didn't get out that way) but we didn't make it a priority because my husband really needs to be closer than that to an airport.

So, I know this post doesn't fully pertain to my original question, but I thought you might enjoy our experience because you helped make it a more focused one! Thanks again for your advice & if you want to add your opinion on the towns I mentioned (or add others for that matter) I would love to hear what you have to say! Thanks again!
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