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Old 05-20-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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We're looking to move to a suburb west of Boston (coming from NJ--my husband's taking a new job in Back Bay). We'd love to find someplace rural with lots of open space. Dover and Sherborn look beautiful, but wondering if we'd fit in...or is that area very preppy/conservative. Would my kids be the only Jewish kids in school there? Would love any advice!

Any thoughts about other towns we should be looking in? Schools are really important to us and would like to keep the commute reliably under an hour each way.

Thanks SO much!
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Needham, MA
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Unfortunately, as a real estate agent I can't say "that's where the Jews are." It's considered a form of descrimination even though you've asked and I myself am Jewish. The census bureau doesn't track religion so I can't give you statistics either.

What I can say is that there is not a temple in either Dover or Sherborn. Of course, there's not much of anything in Dover or Sherborn except for houses. However, I like to think if there were a lot of Jews somewhere they'd like a place to worship. Sudbury and Wayland have temples. Weston does not, but I know a number of Jewish families that live in Weston and use the temple in Wayland because it's just across the town line. You could also call temples near Dover & Sherborn and ask what percentage of their membership comes from those towns.

All of these towns definitely fit the "rural" request, but Weston is probably the best for commuting into Boston as it's very close to Rt 128/I95. Weston also has an extremely highly regarded public school system, but it's probably also the most expensive. There's no public transportation in any of these towns but most have some sort of rail service nearby.

Personally, I don't find any community in this state to be particularly conservative. It's more a question of how liberal and in what ways. Some towns certainly have a reputation for being more preppy although in every town there are certainly groups of people that don't fit that bill.
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Old 05-20-2012, 11:06 AM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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I can't speak directly to how preppy any of those towns are, but the following map will give you an idea of (relatively) how conservative towns in Massachusetts are: (2010 special election results)

2010 Massachusetts US Senate Special Election Results - Boston.com - Politics

For the most part people leave their neighbors alone (especially on acre + lots)--they won't bother you if you don't bother them but they aren't overly friendly like you might find in other parts of the country. There's a good chance that you might feel your neighbors are giving you the cold shoulder, but it probably won't be because you are Jewish. It's just the way things are around here. Depending on where you're from it might take a while to get used. Of course, this isn't universally true and you might have warm and friendly neighbors, but I just wanted to correctly calibrate your expectations.

You can find a list of Synagogues in Massachusetts here: Synagogues in Massachusetts - Shuls in Massachusetts - Jewish Temples in Massachusetts

Is there a reason you're looking to live to the west? If you're looking to take the commuter rail, there are four train lines that go to Back Bay: Framingham/Worcester, Needham, Forge Park/495, and Providence/Stoughton. This would expand your search area considerably. The Providence train seems to be the fastest, so equivalent distance from Boston would take slightly less time. If your husband is driving, I wish him luck (and MikePRU's comments about Weston are pretty accurate).

If you can afford it, Dover and Weston generally have the "best" schools (best is in quotes because school rankings are as much of a proxy for the relative wealth of the town as they are an indication of the quality of education your children will receive)
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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That's very interesting info. Thanks guys. So maybe Dover/Sherborn won't be the best fit. Any thoughts about a warmer, more welcoming community with good schools, lots of land, and a decent commute? Commute isn't our highest prioriy (right now my husband's commute to NYC is almost 2hrs door to door each way--so anything's better than that!) What 'burbs south of the city are worth looking at?
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:06 PM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCW1997 View Post
That's very interesting info. Thanks guys. So maybe Dover/Sherborn won't be the best fit. Any thoughts about a warmer, more welcoming community with good schools, lots of land, and a decent commute? Commute isn't our highest prioriy (right now my husband's commute to NYC is almost 2hrs door to door each way--so anything's better than that!) What 'burbs south of the city are worth looking at?
Perhaps my warning was too harsh and I don't want to frighten you or anything. I wouldn't say that people in Massachusetts (or the specific towns mentioned) are uniformly cold and unfriendly, just that they in general your neighbors are going to be less outgoing and openly friendly than you'd get in the Midwest or South (it also means that they'll leave you alone more, too). I think you'll have much better luck meeting people through the organizations and activities you and your children are involved in--just don't count on your neighbors being nice.

And what's overlooked on this board is that towns, while sometimes indicative of trends, are far too big a unit to judge how friendly your neighbors are going to be. That will depend on the specific house you buy. You could pick the "right" town and have mean, unfriendly neighbors or pick the "wrong" town and move next to future life-long friends. I do know that if you're looking for large lots you'll already have a natural barrier for meeting your neighbors (the distance and general lack of sidewalks in low density areas). Not a big deal if you're aware of it and expect to have plenty of outside social outlets, but if you're looking for a town where you'll move in and quickly be having neighborhood cookouts you probably won't find that here.

As for commute, two hours each way sounds pretty awful. If your husband will be taking the commuter rail, any town near those four lines will work. Concord might be a good choice if he's considering driving, but getting from Concord to Back Bay on the commuter rail is not as efficient (train goes to a different station, so he'd have to transfer).

If price isn't a consideration then you can find large lots in any town outside of 128 (if price really isn't a consideration you can find large lots inside of Rt. 128). In order of school ranking (The Best Public Schools in Boston 2011: In the Classroom some possibilities near good commuter rail lines include (not repeating the towns you've already mentioned):

10. Sharon (7 synagogues, on Providence line)
11. Wellesley (1 synagogue, on Framingham/Worcester line)
14. Westwood (1 synagogue, on Providence and Forge Park lines)
17. Medfield (on Franklin line)
31. Needham (2 synagogues, on Needham line)
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Old 05-20-2012, 04:03 PM
 
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wow, interesting that a poster would dismiss Sherborn as having "nothing but houses" when they don't live there. We don't have big box stores but what we do have is lots of lovely community events, a wonderful little pond for sailing & swimming, tons of trails, fun stuff for kids, book clubs, local musical performances, a soon to be renovated/expanded library, an active neighborhood club with a huge annual Halloween party, ladies coffees, playgroups, etc. We only moved here four years ago but we've lived in several Metrowest towns & although there are other towns I like a lot, this is my favorite by far - partly because it's not overbuilt like so many areas and partly because we've found people very welcoming. I'm generally a shy person so figured it would be hard to meet people but it's the place we've made the strongest connections and made lots of new friends.

My sister-in-law and children also moved here from Mountain Lakes, NJ because they were looking for a community with a similar feel.

Sherborn has the #1 rated public high school, according to Boston Magazine & several times was rated a gold medal school by U.S. News & World Report. I wrote an article awhile ago about the fact that Sherborn has a high "retention" rate (i.e., that when people move to town they tend to stay in town in high statistical numbers. I'll see if I can find the link.)

We're also a designated Green Community, which means the voters supported a set of green initiatives (mostly around zoning, renewable energy, etc) and will get some funds from the state to support these ongoing efforts. More than 50 percent of space in town has been preserved for open space. There are lots of fantastic trails. I love Rocky Narrows & the trail there that overlooks the Charles River.

Getting to Back Bay, you can take the train from Framingham, Natick, or West Natick. Just an fyi though, you can't park at the downtown Natick station unless you live in Natick. We also don't have any grocery stores in town. We just head over the town line to Natick to shop or ride into Wellesley if we want to have a nice lunch or window shop.

We've also lived in Sudbury & Wayland, which have lovely aspects as well. I'd be glad to answer questions about any of these. Our best friends have been members of the Reform temple in Sudbury for years if you're interested to chat with someone local. They can tell you firsthand about the schools and so forth. They moved here from PA and raised their kids in Sudbury. The only downside of Sudbury is that there's no easy train access there so it would mean driving. Here's the train map & schedule for the Framingham/Worcester line, which goes right to Back Bay.
MBTA Commuter Rail > Framingham / Worcester Lines Schedules and Maps

Last edited by kmann-sherborn; 05-20-2012 at 04:55 PM..
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Old 05-20-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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I wrote an article awhile back about towns outside of Boston that have lots of open space (including Sherborn & Sudbury). Here's the link if you're interested to read it. Here also is a little video from
Farm Pond.

Last edited by kmann-sherborn; 05-20-2012 at 05:34 PM..
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Needham, MA
8,547 posts, read 14,015,219 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmann-sherborn View Post
wow, interesting that a poster would dismiss Sherborn as having "nothing but houses" when they don't live there.
Since when does a person have to live in a community to know something about it? It seems you criticized me and then went on to prove my point. There are few stores in town, few restaurants, and not even a grocery store. How is that not "nothing but houses?" Is there an office park or mall in Sherborn I'm not aware of? There are many towns in this area that offer great schools and extensive community activites. Some offer more than that as well.

I don't doubt that Sherborn is a great place to live for people that are looking for that type of community. However, I stand by my description of "nothing but houses." I live right down the street from a grocery store and personally I find that convenience unbelievably great. However, I did not intend any negative connotation to that description. For some people, that's a positive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCW1997 View Post
That's very interesting info. Thanks guys. So maybe Dover/Sherborn won't be the best fit. Any thoughts about a warmer, more welcoming community with good schools, lots of land, and a decent commute? Commute isn't our highest prioriy (right now my husband's commute to NYC is almost 2hrs door to door each way--so anything's better than that!) What 'burbs south of the city are worth looking at?
To the south, Sharon would fit your description of a rural feeling 'burb and there are definitely temples in town. If given the choice of living west or south of the city though, I always recommend west. Getting in and out of Boston is much easier from the west. Even if you have no interest in going into Boston, ease of access to the city plays a large part in the location value of your town.
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:34 PM
 
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Agree with the suggestion of Sharon if you want to look south of Boston, but also agree that commuting is generally easier from the west.

How rural are you looking for? The Waban section of Newton would be worth a look if a moderately low-density suburban feel would work. Your kids would definitely not be the only Jewish kids in school in Newton, which has a notable Jewish presence. However, most of Newton is like a nice version of an old trolley-car suburb, with mainly single-family houses but kind of small lots. The Waban section is one part of town with more properties that have some nice yard space. If you're looking for several acres, maybe not, but if you just want a real yard, Waban would be worth a look.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:14 AM
 
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Mike, please don't take offense. I'm saying there's more to Sherborn than meets the eye. Of course no town is for everyone. I'm just saying that the lack of commercial activity doesn't mean there's nothing going on. Hope the op found the info useful. :-)
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