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Old 11-18-2009, 08:28 AM
4 posts, read 11,002 times
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I've lived in Boston for a number of years. But I have two kids now, and schools have become an Issue. The Issue, really. We sold our Dorchester condo last spring and are currently renting in West Roxbury. Love the neighborhood and my commute to work (25 minutes on the commuter rail), but we want to buy a house, and while it would be great to buy here in West Roxbury, the schools and the fact that I'm not sure we could afford the kind of house we want is stopping us from seriously considering it. So we're casting a wider net.

I have friends in Harvard and Clinton. I've ruled out Clinton, but have been looking at towns like Harvard and Bolton. And I like what I'm seeing. Problem is, I work in Back Bay 3 days a week (other 2 days from home) and my husband works by South Station. So here is my question for you: what towns would you recommend given my criteria and data points below?

1. House budget: 400-500K. Could possibly go a bit higher. Looking for something upwards of 1,800 square feet
2. Schools are very important, although I realize rankings and such aren't the be all and end all.
3. At least one of us will be commuting to Boston on a near daily basis and working regular business hours. Car commuting is an option, but would also like a public transportation option.
4. Rural is fine, but we would like relatively easy access to kid-friendly recreation, dining, and shopping.

Which towns in the area would be a good fit? And if the answer is "none," I'm ok with hearing that, too. Thanks!
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:49 AM
Location: Massachusetts & Hilton Head, SC
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Look at the towns along the Franklin and Providence rail lines. Harvard is a nice town, but I'm not sure you want to commute to South Station from there.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:25 PM
Location: Revere, MA
294 posts, read 1,093,453 times
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I'm not sure how far out/or close you want to be to Boston. You may want to consider Southborough, MA. It is a very beautiful, small town with an excellent school system. Southborough is about 20 min from Clinton, going towards Boston. It has a commuter rail stop located in town and that commute would take you about one hour to get to South Station. There are many parks, kid friendly sports and activities offered there. I'm pretty sure that every parent who lives there has a kid involved in sports. With easy access to Rt 9 and 495 there are a lot of restaurants and shopping offered in Framingham and you are only about 25 min from the Wrentham outlets. You can get to Boston in 30 min-that's with no traffic, though lol. Usually I find with traffic the commute takes about 45 min to 1 hr.

Cons of Southborough may be-very tight knit, not culturally diverse wealthy town. Lots of giant mansions and uppity moms lol. Southborough is the kind of town that has maintained it's small town feel by not having any movie theaters, supermarkets, etc. You have to drive 15 min to the nearest grocery store. However there is easy access to the pike, and 495. You are within a close driving distance to anything you need. It is EXTREMELY quiet there. So if you are used to city life it may be hard to adjust. It's not the country, just a small quiet wealthy suburb.

You could also check out Grafton, MA. They also have a commuter rail stop located there. I don't know anything about this town but I'm pretty sure it has a good school system and I have never heard anything bad about it. Also has nice houses available that fit your criteria. Definitely worth checking out.

Basically anything in central mass has no direct "T" line access, only a commuter rail option. And the commuter rail commutes are generally pretty long.

Last edited by CaseyB; 11-18-2009 at 05:38 PM.. Reason: link to realtor site
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:20 PM
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People have made some good suggestions. Three other towns to consider would be Hopkinton, Holliston, and Ashland. All are nice small friendly towns. I believe Hopkinton generally has the lowest house prices of the three, so there may be more options that would be affordable, but the other two are worth a look to see what bargains might be on the market.

Good schools, yep.

Public transit: commuter rail in Ashland. I'm not sure how much parking there is at the station. That's something to check into, because driving there from Hopkinton or Holliston and then taking the train would be a decent commute provided you're assured of being able to park at the station, not really a quick commute, but not reeeeally long, and would be pretty stress-free.

Holliston has a larger downtown than Hopkinton, though I believe Hopkinton has at least the most basic everyday shopping. Like Southborough, as Felicitev said, there is plenty of shopping and dining in nearby Framingham. Just be aware that F'ham is heavily oriented toward malls and chain restaurants, so, aside from a few local restaurants tucked away here and there, it's not the town to go to for a wide array of one-of-a-kind establishments. Lots of options with the mall and chain restaurant kinds of places, though.

One note on Ashland: It has a past history of having bad water due to a superfund site in town. I've heard different stories about whether that problem has been dealt with, so you would want to check into that carefully. If that situation has been cleaned up, Ashland is a good town to check out. The other two are really nice, friendly small towns, with Hopkinton being somewhat more rural than Holliston.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:10 AM
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Great information, all. Thanks. I was a little dazzled by Harvard's high school, but have been brought somewhat down to earth by the reality of a truly horrific commute for my husband. I don't mind being further away from Boston, as I grew up in small town Maine, so adjusting to country/suburban life won't be a problem. It's really the commute times that bug me. I'm adding all of the towns mentioned above to my search. Holliston, Hopkinton, and Southborough sound especially promising. I'm also going to check out towns like Mansfield, Franklin, and Wrentham. Any (more) thoughts on any of these places would be welcome.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:05 PM
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I second felicitev21's vote for Southboro, and will add that although there are some very large homes there, there are also homes of all sizes, and I know plenty of moms who are down-to-earth. I wonder if people think it's snobby from driving through and seeing the huge homes along Sears Road.

(Sorry to say, and I don't mean to offend anyone but I wouldn't put Ashland near the top of my list. Superfund site and all liked to health problems.)
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:45 PM
Location: Revere, MA
294 posts, read 1,093,453 times
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Oh yes, of course there are "normal people" here. You can find at least one in any town. (I hope)

I drive by the Ashland commuter rail stop everyday at about 9 am, and I have never seen the parking lot full. And the lot is pretty small. That's very interesting what you say about Ashland. I don't really read the papers or watch the news so I wasn't aware they had water problems. My daughter started going to preschool in Ashland this year and they did mention to us that the water was not good to drink. They never said NOT to drink it but they preferred for the parents to send bottled water to school. I think I will go google this now and find out some more about it.
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