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Old 06-02-2012, 03:24 PM
 
2 posts, read 3,510 times
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Hi! We're planning on buying a home in the suburbs of Boston and wanted to get input from the forum members. I will be working in Salem, and my wife will be working in Boston near the North Station area. Our priorities are as follows...

1) Since we have elementary and middle-school aged kids, settling in a town with good schools is our top priority.

2) Also important (but less than school quality) is our respective commutes. To maximize our time with our kids, we'd like to live in a location that minimizes our collective commute time. We've bounced around a few options (living near Boston with my taking the "reverse commute" to Salem vs. living in between the two cities vs. living close to Salem... if anyone has any experience with any of these options, we'd love to hear it!). Ideally, neither of us would like to commute more than 45 min each way.

3) This goes along w/ point #1, but we're looking for a safe, family-friendly town where we can plant our roots.

We've been looking at 4bed/2.5 bath homes in the 500-800K range in a variety of towns, including Winchester, Wakefield, Stoneham, Reading, Lynnfield, and Swampscott. We'd appreciate any insights into these areas or any other suggestions!
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Beverly, Mass
940 posts, read 1,837,752 times
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I would be concerned with commuting to Salem. It doesn't have a highway, and is where commuters from Marblehead and, in some parts, Swampscott drive through to get to a highway in Peabody. So it gets pretty congested in the rush hour. Commuting next door to Swampscott and Marblehead would be ideal, and would take 10-20 minutes. Lynnfield is not too far, and would be about 30 minutes. Wakefield is about 40 minutes or more, depending on the traffic. Winchester would be a tough commute.

Swampscott pluses - closer to Boston and major shopping, lower house prices, train station, beaches. Negatives - close to Lynn, higher taxes, far from highways.

Marblehead pluses - more charming with a historic downtown, a beach with a playground and a cafe, better rated schools, closer to downtown Salem, lower taxes, bike paths. Negatives - more expensive, further from Boston, no train, tough to get to a highway, but people put up with it for all the positives.

Lynnfield has good schools and is pretty, but it's mostly woods and houses, although they are building a new outdoor mall. You are close to route 1 and 128, but no train. And it doesn't compare to being in a historic coastal town, like Marblehead or Swampscott. You would probably get a newer bigger house with a bigger lot, though.

Wakefield does have a lake to walk around, train and 128, but otherwise it's a typical suburban town.

In your price range you could also afford Manchester-by-the-sea, which has some of the best rated schools, a small picturesque downtown and harbor, Singing beach, train and highway access, but it's further north, although driving to Boston could take about the same as from Marblehead, from which you have to take local roads.

Another nice coastal town right next to Salem is Beverly. You would probably get the most for your money here, and may be even with ocean views. It is less expensive, because it is more diverse economically, but it has some very nice neighborhoods. The schools are considered good, but they are lower in the ratings, than Marblehead or Swampscott.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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Thanks very much for your help, konfetka! Greatly appreciated -- will definitely look into Beverly and Manchester-by-the-sea as well.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:24 PM
 
Location: Beverly, Mass
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You are wecome!Couple more points - Salem itself has a ferry to Boston until October 31, which is convenient to Marblehead and Beverly, and Nahant is on a small peninsula near Swampscott, and shares the schools with it.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:55 PM
 
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I would also check out Hamilton, Wenham and Essex. They all have excellent school district. The only problem with Beverly is the school district.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Beverly, Mass
940 posts, read 1,837,752 times
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I would say the only problem with Beverly is it's not a top ranking school district, which it couldn't be, because it's a city and it has minorities and 20% low-income students.

For non-low-income student subgroup, it's 91% advanced/profficient in English, same as Manchester-by-the-sea and Melrose; 82% proficient in Science, above Wellsley and Newburyport; 85% proficient in math, above Melrose and North Andover. 95% of all students in Beverly go to college. Plus it has an extensive arts, music and sports programs.

Beverly also has a large commercial base, which provides for newer schools without tax overrides.

For other options there are also 10 private schools in Beverly.
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