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Old 09-28-2012, 10:21 AM
Location: Massachusetts
9 posts, read 13,218 times
Reputation: 14


Thought I'd try and post the "stay or move" conundrum I alluded to in the solar panels thread. I've been overthinking this for the past year or so, time to get outside input!

Our household consists of me (SAHM), husband (works in Newton near 128), and two kiddoes (3 year old and 4 month old). We currently own a house in Arlington (figured you'd need to know where in order to give meaningful advice). We're totally unable to decide whether to stay here or move.

The main issue is that my husband and I want different things from a neighborhood. He wants a walkable neighborhood, preferably urban/suburban, definitely not rural, and no more than 30-40 mins from work. He likes where we live now, though it's not his ideal, and for him the hassle and cost of moving aren't worth it.

I, on the other hand, want…land. I want to live somewhere where I can't see or hear neighbors, and somewhere I can have a huge garden, fruit trees, chickens, and privacy as complete as I can get.

I've basically come to the conclusion that I can't have what I want on our budget (~500k) without moving too far away from husband's work. So I'm a bit paralyzed over whether to stay here and make the best of it, or try somewhere with somewhat larger lots (though we have a large lot by Arlington standards) and risk being just as unhappy as I am here. We want our next house to be our home till the kids are out, so I'm feeling a huge pressure to get it right. Argh!
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:37 AM
72 posts, read 173,843 times
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You might want to look into Reading, MA. The lots are larger and the schools are rated pretty well. Not sure how the commute would be though.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:02 PM
35 posts, read 68,059 times
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Well, a compromise is always possible...
What are not ideal features of your current location for your husband? Is it mainly commute, or is there something else? That might help us to look for the right compromise. The idea here is, if both you and your husband see each others point, and both of you agree to give up something in order to gain something, a happy medium can be reached, and you won't feel that only one person gets what s/he wants and the other doesn't.
You are right, in order to find big lot you need to move further out. But then there is a choice of towns that would be 30 to 40 minutes away from Newton. Wayland comes to mind as first choice. You can have a very private lot, secluded by trees, and it will be close enough to Newton. They also have similar solar panels program going on, so that may be enticing for you

In this price range though the house itself will then most likely need work or be small (or both). So that's a trade off, and I know that not many people want to deal with renovations not only because of price, but more so because of the efforts and time involved.

Sudbury, South Natick, North Framingham, Sherborn are all good options, with similar downsides...

Does your husband need to drive, or can (would) he use commuter rail? If his work is around Auburndale / west Newton, this could be an option and area to compromise.

How big would you like your lot to be? What would be the smallest acceptable size? A friend of mine who lives in Natick has garden, fruit trees and chickens - all of that on a medium to small sized lot (for Natick standards). She can see her neighbors though

I'm working in MetroWest area, that's why my suggestions are for these towns. Hope someone else would chime in and offer you other options.
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Old 09-28-2012, 07:52 PM
5,817 posts, read 15,001,447 times
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Good points, Anna_T. It's clear that some kind of compromise is needed here. Two of the places you mentioned came to my mind immediately: Wayland and South Natick. But then again it depends on several of the issues raised (such as the housing budget being borderline for Wayland), as well as the question of whether we're talking about a driving commute or public transit.

Noodlepop (love the name), how "urban" a place does your husband need to have? The main business district in Wayland is in the Cochituate section of town. That commercial zone centers around the intersection of routes 27 and 30. Right at the intersection there are a couple of small shopping centers, and there are various restaurants and a few small stores and such kind of strung along rt. 27 both north and south of the intersection. So there are some small local kinds of businesses in that area, but nothing that really resembles a downtown in the sense of dense construction, or buildings right against the sidewalk. Natick Center has more of the true downtown feel, but it's definitely more like the commercial center of a medium-sized to large town, not truly urban, though larger than many small commercial zones in outlying residential sections of cities.

In the case of either Natick Center or Cochituate, another question would be whether your husband is up for a bit of a walk, or for driving a short distance to a center with small businesses, or does he feel he really needs to step out the door and walk a block or two and be in the nearest commercial district? There are a few properties with somewhat larger lots in Wayland that might be within a fairly short distance to the Cochituate commercial zone, and possibly a few decent-sized lots in South Natick that would be sort of a short walk to Natick Ctr., but the options for large-lot properties a really quick walk from either Natick Ctr. or the business center of Cochituate are fairly limited. There are significantly more options if one is okay with a quick drive, then parking and being able to walk around the business district.

One other town that comes to mind as at least a possibility is Needham. I'm not really very familiar with Needham, but I do know they appear to have a decent downtown area, though again not truly urban in character. What I'm not sure about is whether there are properties with large lots in Needham anywhere near the town center. Might be worth checking into.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:43 PM
1,039 posts, read 3,294,208 times
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I think people have nailed it. If you like Arlington but are looking for a town with a better chance at a sizable lot, Natick is a great option (especially considering your husband's commute). Like Arlington, it has good enough schools unless your bar is incredibly high AND it's relatively affordable. The main downside is its greater distance to Boston and Cambridge. The one thing I think separates Natick from Arlington now, IMHO, is that it's underrated/undervalued. As you well know, Arlington is boosted by people spilling over from Cambridge who would never consider Natick.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:44 PM
Location: North of Boston
3,470 posts, read 6,564,914 times
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Welcome to city-data.com!

I don't really see how any advice from here is going to be helpful; you and your husband are looking for completely different things. I think you need to iron that out first.

I will say this, however, your kids won't want this as they get older: "...somewhere where I can't see or hear neighbors, and somewhere I can have a huge garden, fruit trees, chickens, and privacy as complete as I can get." Kids want to be near other kids, in a neighborhood, where they can play in each others yards or (gasp!) in the street.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:20 AM
Location: Beverly, Mass
940 posts, read 1,820,279 times
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I agree with gf2020. I kind of wanted what you want, but in that case be prepared to be their chauffeur until they can get their own car to drive them around to playdates. Unless they are introverts, by age 6 kids become very social and will ask you every day for playdates. My son comes home, puts his backpack down and goes outside to play with other kids until he gets hungry. It turned out he found a best friend next door. We have a dead end street, where kids ride their bikes and play basketball all day. All of these kids are like a family. Older kids come to my house and ask to take my youngest out to watch him. My oldest can ride his bike with older kids to get ice-cream around the corner. They will be able to walk to middle school and high school with their friends. That makes me glad we didn't buy that house with fruit trees I so wanted. You can't have that and the other. It's something to think about, when you gain something, you give something else up. I have a feeling that's what your husband likes about your house.

May be you should sit down and make a list of why you want what you want. There always can be some kind of compromise. It doesn't cost anything to drive around and look at towns and houses. May be if you show him what you could have had, he can meet you in the middle.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:28 AM
238 posts, read 380,047 times
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It depends on what your husband considers rural - IMO there are no rural areas in MA, but my frame of reference is the middle of the country.

But he has a good point about walkability and there is definitely a difference from town to town on this. I wish more towns in MA would think about putting in sidewalks and maintaining the one they do have. I suppose these things, like most things, get all backed up in town politics though.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:31 PM
Location: Massachusetts
9 posts, read 13,218 times
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Thanks for all your thoughtful replies! I'm still reading, haven't found time yet to sit down and think through answers. Will reply as soon as I'm able.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:01 PM
405 posts, read 768,451 times
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These are all things we are going through as well. As people who have lived in Arlington/Cambridge/Somerville/Waltham we are desperate to not see our neighbors. DH wants chickens and woods while I would just love privacy. However, we have a child who is an "only"- so I am insisting (much to DH's chagrin but I know he'll come around) that we locate in a neighborhood with activity,sidewalks, families with a more suburban-type of elbow room. Sure DH will never get his acreage and I'll never be more than a maple tree away from my neighbor's bathroom, but I think this will be the best for the kid.

I think that Natick is a good recommendation, although from what I have seen lately it is no longer undervalued as it once was. The schools are decent, there is town sewer/water/curbside trash pickup (many things you don't get in the country) and sidewalks in many places. Additionally since Natick has been developed in stages there are actual neighborhoods which is something that you don't really see once you get further out live Dover/Sherborn or even Wayland, etc. In many places in the metrowest the only roads are busy roads and you'll be dodging SUVs to talk to your neighbors if you are lucky enough to have sidewalks on the double yellow road.

Natick also offers a back-roads commute to Newton so he could avoid the pike/128 intersection. Also look into Wayland which will give you a perspective on Natick's value.
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