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Old 12-15-2013, 12:34 PM
7 posts, read 16,798 times
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We're in the market to buy a house and as new parents, we hope to select a town and neighborhood where our son can have a safe and happy childhood.

There are a lot of good discussions on the merits of one particular town versus another, but I'm wondering if the particular neighborhood, even down to the street, may be more important. In our modern culture, people drive more and driving to playdates seems to be the norm, but wouldn't it be great if our children had a large group of friends within a few block radius?

Is there any way to scope out whether a neighborhood or block might be welcoming for kids?

Do we over-emphasize town sometimes and miss the fact that our immediate neighborhood can have a greater impact on our daily lives? Perhaps it doesn't make sense to pay extra, or settle for a lesser home, to be in a ritzier town with high SAT scores. Could a wonderful neighborhood within a less expensive town that has ostensibly "worse" schools provide a happier childhood for our children?
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:55 PM
Location: Massachusetts
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I think this is true especially in larger towns such as Newton, Waltham or Framingham that have so many different pockets that are different from one another.

I would drive through different neighorhoods, go to open houses or family friendly places such as an ice cream parlor and see if there are children outside having snow ball fights and building snowmen.
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:30 PM
Location: Needham, MA
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I would agree. Some neighborhoods might be a better fit for someone than some others. It's probably magnified in a larger town which might not be as uniform as a smaller town. A lot is going to depend on the town though and I would say if you're buying in a "I killed myself to get into this town" town then the likelihood that you'll end up in a neighborhood you like increases.
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Old 12-15-2013, 05:01 PM
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That is why places like Brookline, Cambridge, Arlington, Belmont, Lexington, Winchester command premium. You are buying not just home but a lifestyle as well. Kids have good schools, safe environment, and lot to do. Communities are relatively small, and older kids can get around on their own (for the most part) without parents needing to drive them everywhere so they can socialize (that is so huge once they are teenagers).

General rule of the thumb is that where yards are not enormous, there are sidewalks, low crime, local playgrounds/fields will be usually bustling with kids (and parents socializing). Playgrounds are great community "thermometers". You can learn a lot about neighborhood and town.

BTW I have also heard great things about Melrose, Waltham, and Reading. I think that having sidewalks, decent schools, low crime and places to walk to (library, shops, downtown) is a key to a "healthy" community. Rest takes care of itself. I am happy when I see kids have more freedom, good for their brains and maturity. Also, much better not to start driving too soon. We have enough cars on the roads as it is.
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Old 12-15-2013, 05:46 PM
Location: Massachusetts & Hilton Head, SC
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It can be so varied town to town that I think you have to compare specific towns, you can't generalize.
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Old 12-16-2013, 12:29 PM
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I'll throw this into the mix:

During the real estate boom from a decade ago, I knew a fair number of people who bought in questionable places just because they were priced out of other more established, nicer areas. For a while, these pockets got an uptick in the critical mass of families with kids. Some pockets got kind of family-friendly for a while...

It wasn't long, though, before families who could afford to make a move to a more established "better" area did so, and the neighborhood took a decidely different feeling.

These aren't really "starter neighborhoods" so much as they were neighborhoods of last resort that saw a bounce.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:38 PM
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Really good insights all around. Thank you to everyone who responded!
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