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Old 07-23-2009, 12:29 AM
 
4 posts, read 20,121 times
Reputation: 11

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Hey everyone. I am a 30 year old mum potentially about to relocate to the US with my husband and 2 young children (3 years, 7 weeks) and dog.

I would really appreciate some help with some questions about moving to Boston MA area. We currently live in the Uk but the US company my husband has been working for as just offered him a job in Worcester MA. We desperately need some advice from people in the know (people living and working in this area already) about:

Where to live? - based on a few criteria i.e. 1/2 -3/4 hour commute from Worcester and no more than an hour from Boston coast & airport; family friendly; smaller town community feel; access to reasonable shopping, a few restaurants and bars, dog walking areas and things to do with small children not too far away.

Cost of living? - what is food cost, car tax, general income tax, petrol, gas&elec (partic given it's supposed to get pretty damn cold out there) like compared to UK.

What kids do when it's too cold to go outside in winter? - Is soft play a common thing like it is in England? Do most towns have access to this?

What does it cost for childcare? Can you put your kids in for just a morning like the UK?

How much do cleaners cost per hour?

Cars? - How much would a BMW 3 series estate and Audi A3 second hand set you back out there? Are cars really expensive? What's insurance like?

Any help in any of these areas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Maia
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Central MA
65 posts, read 233,134 times
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Lots of good questions there! Some are very subjective to answer (cost of groceries depends on how much you eat and how many snacks you buy, cost of electricity and home heating depends on how big your house is, etc)

I live in work in the Central MA area and will answer your question on housing at least - you will likely need to be East of Worcester to be within an hour of Boston. Depending on traffic, rush hour, etc. it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours from Worcester to Boston. Again, depends on time of day and where you're going.

Within that radius, there are many different towns with different "feels" and they can range widely on housing price. What is your budget for housing? How many bedrooms do you need, how much land? This will help us greatly in giving you recommendations for towns to look at. For instance, Southboro is a great little town but if you're looking to buy a home for $200,000, it will be out of your price range.

And, although my kids are older and I can't give you the cost of daycare, I will say....it was (almost) NEVER to cold for them to play outside. They loved it! There is a small ski area closeby (Ski Ward) with ski and snowboard lessons (and tubing) and it's a great way to get them outside for fresh air. Even 3 is not too young to start.

(oh, and what is soft play by the way?)
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:13 PM
 
4 posts, read 20,121 times
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Thanks for your constructive comments. As far as housing is concerned we'd be looking for 4 bed house or possibly apartment to rent in a nice family community with access to playground and shops etc. Budget I guess somewhere ideally between $1600 and $2000 but we might be able to stretch this depending on the tax situation which might leave us better off than in the UK. Ideally we would also have some sort of garden for the dog or else somewhere nearby where we can walk him easily.

Sorry to keep firing out questions but could you help me in terms of info about direct taxes or costs e.g. income tax, national insurance, car tax on 5 door cars any rates etc. Coming from the UK I just don't have a clue. I hear there is something called national tax and state tax. Not sure how they work really.

As far as soft play is concerned it's a indoor padded play area, climbing frame with ball pools etc.

Thanks again for taking the time to help.

Maia
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:18 PM
 
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Re: taxes we have federal income taxes, state taxes, excise (car taxes) and in MA 5% sales tax.

There is big indoor play/ sports complex nearby - if I recall it's in Northboro. But kids tend to play outside a lot too - sledding, ice skating, skiing, etc. Winters can be long here. One bit of advice - try to find a rental with a garage or at least a carport. Shoveling is no fun!

For location I'd say east of Worcester in the "metrowest" area - more toward Westboro, Northboro - to get what you're looking for in terms of commute time, access to Boston (there's a train and decent highway access), good schools, nice communities, shopping nearby, etc.

For even smaller town feel you could go with Boylston or Berlin (maybe 3,000 or so residents if I recall correctly), which are quite nice and also closeby, pretty horse farms and large lots & a mall closeby, although the schools don't rate quite as high as Westboro, Northboro, etc.

For rentals I know there are a few options of that home size in the metrowest (Northboro & Shrewsbury) & know of a very pretty 4bd home in Grafton for rent for $2K.

Will you have a chance to visit before you settle on a town? Having someone who knows the areas show you around would probably be a good place to start so you get a feel of the towns.

Also, renting with a dog may be a bit of a challenge but you can find people that will do it. Sometimes it's just a matter of paying an extra security deposit, or sometimes having a discussion with the owner about the age and temperment of the dog to reassure them that he/she is going to destroy their house is helpful. I've even known people who brought their dog to see a home so the owner could see firsthand that the dog was sweet and harmless. A friend of mine did this when she was looking for a home in a tight rental market and it worked like a charm. Anyhow, I only mention this because some people will say you can't find a rental with a dog. Not true! It just requires more legwork.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:23 PM
 
23 posts, read 106,527 times
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Are you going to need childcare for both of your kids?here kids go to daycare from 6 weeks to 4 years.Once they are 4 years old they start preschool, and at 5 years-school.So you will need to settle in a town with good public schools, unless you are willing to pay for private school.I live in NY but I believe teh situation is similar in Boston. Here daycare for infants (up to 18 months) costs between 175-250 per week (you can also find more expensive places), this is for full time-5 days a week, no weekends, usually 10-12 hours a day.They don't accept infants for parttime.With toddlers it's easier-it's cheaper and you can bring them for as many days as you want, usually lunch is included. This is for large daycare centers. there is also homecare-a woman that takes care of her kids an a couple more-this is cheaper and more flexible as far as part time for infants and weekend care is concerned.
Also, about public schols, I've heard,but I am not sure, that you have to enoll your child long before the time has come for it to go to school if want a particular and good public school.

About taxes-out of your paycheck they take federal tax, state tax,social security tax and the rest is for you.you also have sales tax when you purchase something,you pay tax on your car (in addition it must be insured) and on your property.When you start work you have to fill out W-2 form and depending on how many dependents you have you pay a certain amount of taxes(the more dependents the less taxes you pay).At the end of the year you recalculate your taxes and if you paid more throughout the year they give you back the rest.

I hope I was of some help!
Good luck!
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:22 AM
 
406 posts, read 1,492,519 times
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Hi Maia--you had a lot of questions so I'll just address the ones I have some tentative answers for.

I can't give you an exact number for income taxes, but usually my husband and I figure take-home pay (your net after federal and state taxes are taken out) to be between 65 - 75% of gross salary.

It sounds like you're mostly interested in the Western suburbs of Boston, which I have limited experience with, so I'll leave that part to others.

I think annitta's estimate for daycare is a bit off. My toddler son goes to a VERY reasonably priced daycare center 2 days a week, about 9 hours a day, and we pay about $130 for that. When I was shopping for childcare last year, I found the average to be more like $1600 - $2000 a month for full-tiime daycare, and that was for a toddler (infants are more expensive). There are definitely centers that allow you to use them for mornings only, but often those spots are hard to come by and you'll likely have to be on a waiting list. Usually "family daycare" is more inexpensive, it's just about finding one you are comfortable with.

What you refer to as "soft play" tends to be called "indoor playspaces" or something like that around here. There are quite a few in the Boston area. Check the website bostoncentral and you'll get a great overview of kid-friendly activities around here.

Most house cleaners around here don't charge by the hour, they tend to just charge a flat fee. We pay our cleaning lady $85 for every other week, she usually brings 1 or 2 assistants with her and is at our house (small 3-bedroom) for about 2 hours.

Good luck getting answers to your questions, and with your move to MA!
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:54 PM
 
4 posts, read 20,121 times
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Thanks again for taking the time to give help and advice.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:41 PM
 
23 posts, read 106,527 times
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redpanda, I believe you know better because you live in the area.If Boston's daycare centers are more expensive than the ones we have in NY this is bad news for me
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:43 AM
 
1,270 posts, read 5,402,076 times
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Cool Natick would be a good fit for you

Look into Natick, its about halfway between Worcester-Boston, close to the Mass Pike--and also has commuter rail into Boston - and Worcester both directions. Not sure what the Am schedule would be like going into Worcester but might work for you ---Natick is a charming town , New England Style -and has good schools. I think you'd like it there. and the transit into Boston would provide options for your kids later when they got to working age, and the transit into Worcester, also being equidistant from Both cities, and not even that far from Providence they could live near home and have 3 different cities to choose from for work options

Hope this helps
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Central MA
65 posts, read 233,134 times
Reputation: 27
You should be able to rent fairly easily for $2000 in surrounding suburban towns to Worcester (Central Mass). There are several single family homes or condos for rent within that price range. Grafton, Upton, Shrewsbury, West Boylston as they have affordable rents and all come to mind as they are all within an hour or less to Boston and easy drive to Worcester.

Although they are a few "soft play" areas around, they are considered more of a "treat" rather than typical playtimes. Kids here spend a lot of time outdoors - riding bikes, just playing, or in organized sports or activities.

Also, once your child is old enough for public schools (kindergarten age 5), there is no need to register ahead of time. Every town (at least in Central Mass) just accepts the child if you live in that town.
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