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Old 05-09-2011, 02:02 PM
 
4 posts, read 12,798 times
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My husband and I are considering relocating to the Boston area from Austin, TX due to a career opportunity. I have done quite a bit of research on communities around Boston but would love some more targeted feedback from you city-data gurus.

Here's our situation: I will be working from home/flying back to Texas regularly for work. He will be splitting his time between commuting into downtown Boston, Lawrence/Andover, and working from home. We are expecting our first child in a few months - so we're looking for a family-friendly community, but are not yet concerned with school district. We would prefer to rent, and are looking for a minimum of 2 bedrooms, 1000 sq feet for under $2k/month before utilities.

We are looking for a safe, pedestrian friendly community with easy public transportation access into Boston (30-40 min tops). This is a top priority given that we're a one car family. We do not, however, conflate affluence with safety and are fine living in mixed or working class areas as long as "random" violent crimes like theft/muggings and gang activity are low (realizing this is always present to a degree in an urban environment).

We also really enjoy living in an area that emphasizes local businesses over strip centers with the same standard businesses you see on every street corner. We don't mind having to get in the car and drive 15-20 min to get to the nearest mall or Walmart, but would be disappointed if we had to get in the car everytime we wanted to go grab a quick dinner out.

Based on the criteria above, I've identified Salem as a top potential match, but I'd love to get some recommendations on other communities to check out while we're in town in a few weeks. We will only have a few days and I will only have this one visit before we have to move out there, so we want to make the most of it and really get a feel for the neighborhoods. Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:35 PM
 
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Salem would be a good start, as it does have a Commuter Rail stop, which would take you into North Station in Boston; Salem itself is one of the more affprdable communities outside Boston, and you will find rental prices to be well within your limits. Most other communities in/near Boston will be more expensive..

Just so you're aware--housing in the greater Boston metro area tends to be quite old, and I don't mean "post-war II ranches"--I mean 18th and 19 century housing, in many cases. Coming from a new-age, bursting-at-the-seams Sun Belt metropolis, an area like this might seem ancient to you at first, but you'll get used to it. And there are plenty of suburbs that offer the ranches and split-levels if you so desire, anyway. But you should also be aware of housing costs; at some levels, they will be much higher than Austin, TX, but if you're just looking for a decent 2BR in say, Salem, then you should be fine..
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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Yes, we're aware of the age - it's actually something we're looking forward to! We prefer city life and will probably be looking for a condo, townhome, or apartment within an older home rather than a single-family dwelling. I'm a little concerned about the lead issue and have been trying to read up on what is actually required to keep the little one safe (does if have to be deleaded, or is it good enough if the paint is recent and there's no peeling?). It seems hard to find information beyond the legal requirements.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Newton, MA
324 posts, read 1,042,245 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thepragmatist View Post
Yes, we're aware of the age - it's actually something we're looking forward to! We prefer city life and will probably be looking for a condo, townhome, or apartment within an older home rather than a single-family dwelling. I'm a little concerned about the lead issue and have been trying to read up on what is actually required to keep the little one safe (does if have to be deleaded, or is it good enough if the paint is recent and there's no peeling?). It seems hard to find information beyond the legal requirements.
That's because it's one of those tough parenting calls that no one knows the right answer to. We live in an older home that has been renovated, though not legally declared to be lead-free. I'm fine with that.

Our friends used to live in a condo in Boston that had not been renovated, and apparently had a lot of peeling lead paint outside on the back porch. They tracked it inside on their shoes, and it ended up everywhere. Their daughter had highly elevated lead levels when she was checked at 1 year old, which completely freaked them out and they moved out soon after. They had to treat her with extra iron supplements and have her lead levels checked every 6 months for the next two years. The lead levels went down, but they feel terrible that they put their daughter (and themselves!) through that.

If you at places that have been renovated or at least freshly painted and if you watch out for peeling paint, you probably would not have a problem. But do be careful about the painted porches!
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:16 PM
 
Location: Lost in Space
348 posts, read 821,428 times
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I worked in Salem for about a year and found the commute hellish at times. Just a warning ..... I was commuting from Watertown, so therefore I was heading north up 95 and 128. The worst part of the commute tended to be either getting onto 128 from 95, and/or getting and and out of Salem. The traffic can be horribly slow moving through Salem. If you hit it early enough in the morning and early our late enough in the evening, you should be fine (barring any construction, weather, or weekend 128/95 traffic). Salem is a neat place, but, when given the many commuting nightmares I had in and out of it, I just had to mention it. Good luck with your move.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:59 AM
 
4 posts, read 12,798 times
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Thank you all for your replies! I really appreciate the honest opinion on the lead issue - that is pretty much what I had been thinking but wondering if I was just underestimating the risk.

Redsox1972 - it sounds like, if we end up in Salem, we should keep highway access in mind when picking an exact location, and avoid having too much in-town distance to cover? Does anyone know if Beverly might be better in this regard?
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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You might like one of the towns inside the Route 128 belt that offer easy connections to the Boston-to-Lawrence commuter line. Such as Medford, Winchester, Melrose, even Arlington. Here you're quite close to Boston by train or T (bus to subway) and have a reverse commute up 93 to Andover and Lawrence. If the workplace in Andover/Lawrence is walkable from the train stations then could take the train up there and back. These towns have local shops and restaurants and are fairly pedestrian-friendly. Salem is an interesting place and easy enough to get in and out of Boston from there by train but the trip to Lawrence/Andover will be difficult.

I think Wakefield and Reading might also make sense for you--more in the middle but still pedestrian friendly, at least in places.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:48 AM
 
304 posts, read 737,999 times
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I think Melrose would be a great choice. The downtown area has 3 commuter rail stops, a grocery store, a CVS, a starbucks, several restaurants, and several playgrounds within walking distance if you choose a house near downtown Melrose. The Oak Grove T is also accessible by bus or is about a mile and a half walk from downtown. It is easy to get to the airport from Melrose as well as Andover. It is a really cute, walkable downtown.

Salem is nice but the schools are a bit of a problem if you are planning to enroll your child(ren) into the school system - although there are some great private schools nearby. Also, the commuter rail is not as frequent as the T. I don't know if there is a supermarket within walking distance of Salem either.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:49 AM
 
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Thanks for the other suggestions - Melrose definitely looks like a good place to check out, and I'm looking into the other ones mentioned. I appreciate all of your suggestions! The whole system of all of these small towns with their own downtown areas so close together is something I'm really unaccustomed to down here around Austin - where anything "suburban" is by definition very spread out, not walkable, no public transit, very little personality.
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Old 06-11-2015, 06:46 AM
 
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Sorry, I know this was an old post, but we are now in a very similar situation, from Pearland, Tx...was wondering what your experience ended up being?
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