I'm an agent in La Jolla, CA now, but I grew up in Shrewsbury and Worcester, and when I was growing up my Father owned "The Oxford Academy" in Northboro which is now the Zeh School, so I know all of the areas pretty well.
Northboro is great because you are close to Worcester by I-290 and getting into boston is a breeze now that the big dig is done and you can jump right on the 495 or the pike. Southboro is great, but is a little further from Worcester.
Princeton is a great town for families. We are Brits having come to the US fourteen years ago. Our children were nine, seven, five and two years of age in 1995 and had a fantastic upbringing living in the area. To be honest Thomas Prince is like a private school! Don't be put off with the proximity to Worcester either. Less than twenty minutes to downtown from our part of town - near the Rutland line - going down Rt. 31 and no traffic lights for some routes. As far as the childrens activities ours did everything but baseball, sometimes all in the same day! Only traveling to competitions at a distance, e.g. Harvard University - sixty minutes door to door. I like to use Rt. 2 into Boston. I only use the Pike for Logan or to visit friends in West Newton. Saying that my husband worked in Hudson for twelve years and never once hated his commute throught West Boylston. Princeton is a very safe town too. My favourite walk is down Lovers Lane to the Reservoir and up to The Heifer Project to take in the views and visit the animals. Our land hasn't been trappled in a few years. The children used to make their own fun in the woods putting on plays and building camps, skating on the pond, cross country skiing etc..
Sadly we are moving to Oregon with my husbands job change. No luck with realtors so I'm going to try a FSBO next. We have been luckier than some though as it hasn't been too much of a burden and will work out for the best we believe. Good luck with your home search and congratulations on the house offer.
I'm a Hudson native and now live and work in Hudson, and I admit openly I'm biased towards my home town. I agree with what the other posts state, however, I would assess your question from a different point of view. Seeing as you currently live in Wellesley; I would suggest that the easiest transition for you and your family would be to choose the community that his most similar to where you currently live, assuming you are happy there.
Given these parameters I would suggest first considering Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, and Shrewsbury (I know it's not on your list but it might be worthwhile adding it). All communities offer a town center, access to public transportation, and strong school systems. If you would like a more rural vs. suburban setting than I would suggest you strongly consider Bolton, Stow, Berlin/Boylston (almost one in the same). Lastly I would suggest that Hudson and Holden are will offer the best value. Both communities are former mill towns that underwent a Renaissance during the last 15 years. Both have strong school systems, vibrant arts organizations, and strong sporting organizations as well. However, that are worlds apart in terms of location. For instance Hudson is part of Metrowest and sits on the intersection of Rte. 495 and 290 and has access 10 minutes to the south to the Mass Pike and 15 minutes to the North to Rte 2. Holden on the other hand is considered the mostly highly desired northern suburb of Worcester. While its a great town, it's only highway access is to Rte. 190. And I believe you might feel like your in the middle of nowhere considering your in the Boston western burbs now.
Lastly in a former life I spent many years working the Parks and Recreation field. If I was asked to suggest which of these communities placed a strong emphasis on Parks and Rec, I would have to place Hudson at the top of the list. (again, yes I'm biased) It has great parks with both active and passive recreation, it's own town beach on Fort Meadow Lake, the Assabet River Rail Trail, skate park and spalsh pad, Danforth Lot with trails leading to Danforth falls etc. I would place Shrewsbury, Westborough, and Northborough next on the list of contenders for outdoor recreation. Lastly I would also consider Bolton as it has several passive recreation preserves scattered throughout the community.
As to value...I wish I had a crystal ball and was able to tell the future, but I don't. What I will say is that if your going to consider this move be prepared to stay in the property for a minimum of 5 years. If you plan on staying less renting might be a better option.
As previously stated in the posts...take time to visit each community....because at the end of the day no ones opinion matters but yours.
I hope you find this helpful despite my biases. Best wishes
K. L. Santos
Now, regarding getting through the ongoing housing adjustment, I pulled a Market Snapshot of these towns that you mentioned for the solds in the past 6 months and here is what I have found for you:
Northborough, Southborough, and Hudson have had 54-61 properties sold, with a median sales price of $280,000 - $413,000 and a sales to list price ratio of 95%. Average days on market was a little higher due to the economy and holidays, around 100-150.
Holden had 94 properties sold with a median price of $250,750 and a 98% sales to list price ratio and about the same number for average days on market.
Boylston only had 20 homes sold in the past 6 months with a median price of $407,000 and a sales to list price ratio of 95%. It had an average of 150 days on market.
Bolton had 31 homes sold with a median price of $450,000 and SP - LP ratio of 95%. It had a higher average days on market of 168 days.
What I recommend to anyone moving into an area that they are not familiar with is to take a day and explore each of the towns during the week and try on the weekend as well. Then you can get a small sense of what the town is about, what their recreation activities are for families with kids, check out each town's website and see what is offered. I have taken many relocation clients coming from out of state on town tours, looking at a home or two in each of the towns they are interested in and that helped them get a sense of the market value of the size of homes to their price range, as well as what each town looked like. (I'm also big on what the downtowns look like myself to give an idea of the town/city's well-doing ;o)
I know this was a long answer, but with so many things to say about each town, it's really up to you to do your homework and check out which town would best suit your needs and interests! If you wanted anymore help on the real estate market or information on any of the town statistics that you mentioned, I'd be happy to email you some info on them for your perusal. Our Prudential website also has that information on it with any homes that are emailed to you, saving you time looking at various websites and tours as well.
Good luck with your home search! It is definitely a good time to buy in the market right now and a home is one of the most important assets you can have in your life, besides your family of course. :o)
Wishing you a safe and prosperous 2010!
Prudential Prime Properties
Here is the link to the home in North Grafton that would meet all of your central Massachusetts needs. The backyard is huge as it abuts many acres of snowmobile,hiking,horseback riding,sledding, or cross country skiing trails. People and children from all over the neighborhood enjoy the numerous trails abutting our back yard. We have a very private backyard with one neighbor on our own private and safe driveway. I grew up in Northborough and have lived in Worcester,Hudson, and Lancaster, Massachusetts . I have lived in Grafton for the last 15 year. My East Street address is by far the most convenient for shopping and recreation or dining, yet private with a huge back yard ,safe for pets and children and the most enjoyable location I have ever lived in. You must check out this house!
Justin: my mom and dad live in La Jolla! I went to La Jolla High School and have very fond memories. Thank you for the advice. We are thrilled to be looking at homes in the area, and I am beyond excited. I've been looking forward to this move for 2 years. I can't wait to raise my kids in a relatively rural area. As an aside, my dad thinks I'm nuts, and wonders every day what we are doing out here, and why we don't come back to sunny La Jolla. Small world. If you have any other suggestions, please do not hesitate to email me, email@example.com. We have selected houses to look at in Princeton, Sutton (based on some great feedback from some folks posting responses), Boylston, Northborough, and West Boylston. We also found 2 houses in Sterling that look promising, although I think that resale in Sterling is not as good as the other areas.
Sian: Princeton is my husband's absolute dream. We are going to look at a few houses there this weekend. My only concern was that it would be difficult to get to Worcester during inclement weather, based on what one of my colleagues has said, but I think it's worth it. I'm an avid X-country skier, and look forward to being close to areas to ski. I would be thrilled if my kids could ski after school or go up Mt. Wachusett whenever they had the inkling. I'm also very happy to hear your thoughts on the Thomas Prince School. This is wonderful feedback; thank you! I wish you the best in your move. Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, but you probably already know that. I spent most of my teen and early adult years on the West Coast and we often went up to WA and OR for trips/vacations. It is simply spectacular, and if you like the outdoors, you will have a blast. If you do put your house back on the market, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to take a look.
Cheri: thank you too for your email. I will certainly take a look at the house.
Angela: I very much appreciate the information, and your message as well as Christa's actually spurred us on to drive to Sutton last weekend. It is beautiful, and we liked the areas west of 146. I was told by another colleauge that it could take around 30 minutes to get to work depending on traffic/time of day, but that seems okay.
And finally, Christa: thank you for the email! I'm surprised that you remembered me. Yes, it's been a LONG time coming, and we are going to enjoy this search. The info you provided was really helpful; the tax rates in Southborough and Bolton are astonishing. I understand it's because there's really very little business (if any) so all of the tax revenues come from residential $$.
Thank you to all again. Now off to do some house hunting!
I have a perfect house located in North Grafton Mass 10 minutes to Worcester. Route 140 does not bottle neck any worse than areas in Northboro,Southboro and Shrewsbuy. I should know I was born and raised in Central Mass the houses location is one of the best places I have ever lived because of location and privacy you will find for easy access and the back yard has its own hiking trails and is very private we are 1 Mile to the Grafton T station and about 1 mile to the Mass Pike in fact our location is very desirable because of the proximity to shopping, travel,and cultural activites .
Check out our house for sale MLS# 70924023 it is 3800 square feet built in 2006 2 1/2 bath The house is gorgeous and is one of the best values available in central mass right now. Grafton's taxes are pretty low !
Our house borders Worcester,Shrewsbury, Westboro, and Northboro quite near Tufts Animal hospital which has many walking trails too.
Please contact us at Cadmm@aol.com
With your new "wish list" of rural properties and privacy, I'n not sure Boylston would be on the top of your list, as much as Bolton, Berlin, Northborough, Westborough, and Southborough. With Grafton, you'd have to do the back roads to get to Worcester to work, although I also love Grafton's town center and town common tree-lined green area! Sutton is about 15-20 minutes to Worcester going up Rte 146, but you also have the rush hour traffic on Rte 146 depending on when you go and return home from work. I live in Northbridge and it takes me about 20 minutes to get into Worcester from Rte 146 and is a rural town as well. I have a 5-yr oold daughter, so I am always looking for things to do with her, and we've gone to the Tougas Farm in Northborough for some apple picking, plus picking a pumpkin and hayride at Halloween time, and doing their petting zoo. I also sing in a woman's babershop chorus based in Hudson, and we have sung at the Hudsonfest and also places in Westborough and Northborough. Great area and rural feel to them.
I think you are on the right track to be in the metrowest area towns to acquire a home with all of your family needs and private rural desires. ;o) You seem to be ready to tackle looking at homes now with all of the research you've done, which is a good thing! Are you able with your income to receive the tax credit up to $6500 (for anyone who already owned a home for consecutive 5 yrs out of 8 years since purchase) if you put in an offer on something before April 30th and close by June 30th? You can go to http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com to check out the requirements for that.
So good luck with your search. Again, if I can be of any further assistance, let me know and I hope the sale of your home goes well in Wellesley.
Prudential Prime Properties
Congratulations on getting an offer on the Wellesley house! I know things have been on hold for a bit & the excitement & emotions of finally being able to seriously house hunt, along with everything else, can be a little overwhelming! You received some great answers below & I thought I would give Sutton a little plug too. I've been here going on 3-years now & I actually love the location with regards to easy access to the different routes, since I tend to travel all over. Super quick down Route 146 to Worcester, minutes to the Mass Pike, Route 20, 395 & 290. You also have Route 122A & you can shoot down Route 146 to 16 to get to 495. For recreation, there is a lot to do, you can check out this link for more info:
I can only tell you about the things we have taken advantage of so far, which is Purgatory Chasm ... love it! Great trails & hiking ... my boys have done sleepovers there with the Boy Scouts too. My boys also take golf lessons through the school at Blackstone National Golf Course! Great programs! Sutton is a large town with lots of space, farm land & wooded lots, so finding a property with enough privacy for boxers, should be pretty easy too! ;)
Here's a little different perspective too:
Town - # Of Homes Currently on the Market - Average Price - Tax Rate (These will most likely all increase in 2010)
Boylston - 21 - $384,405 - $11.69/$1,000 - 2009
Bolton - 39 - $662,485 - $15.91
Berlin - 10 - $735,450 - $11.66
Hudson - 53 - $378,641 - $11.34
Northboro - 61 - $465,952 - $13.76
Southboro - 40 - $943,100 - $14.16
Sutton - 59 - $433,298 - $11.50
I hope this helps a little too! Happy house hunting! :) Of course, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to call!
I'm glad the comments were helpful. I think your on the right track. However, with the added information about the deck in the boxers thing and your reference to Princeton as the ideal - I would put a higher emphasis on Bolton and Berlin. Most of the folks who live in these communities live there because of the rural character. But because the towns don't have town center's Hudson has become the defacto town center for these communities as well. One of the primary reasons the buildings downtown have been bought and renovated over the last several years. While I can make no guarantees I think you will be very happy in either of those towns. While I don't know how they commute will be for your husband from these areas, your commute will be drastically different.
If I can be of further help to you - don't hesitate to ask.
K. L. Santos
I am grateful for your time, suggestions and honesty. I have driven through all of these towns (we've been contemplating this move and preparing for it for almost 2 years) and I have a general sense of them; the best that I can do without living there.
Kevin I very much appreciate the picture that you painted of the towns and your categorization; it's what I had sort of thought, what I needed to hear, and a nice confirmation of my initial impressions. The comments regarding active/passive recreation were great. We have also tried to do some weekend exploring in various localities; for example we went apple picking in Sterling this year, strawberry picking in Northborough this summer, and have done some cruising around Sutton and Grafton as well, and had lunch in Grafton's town center a couple of times. If anyone else is reading this and has the same questions, as an aside, Grafton has quite possibly the prettiest town center of all of these towns. Shrewsbury looks to be the most "bustling", with lots to do, and Westborough seems to have almost every amenity you could possibly want if you have kids. I drive down Route 9 from Wellesley to Worcester every day, but you can hardly judge a town by the commercial nature of the Route 9 speedway. :)
We are hoping that this will be our final move until our children leave home for college, although nobody really knows what the future will hold. What I'm hoping to find is a place where I can walk out of my home, with my jogging stroller, and cruise around for a few miles without worrying too much about getting hit by a car going too fast on a local road. My children are 3 and 1 year old. We are all nature lovers; hikers, bikers, walkers. Wellesley has been great, because of the trail system here, and areas of conservation land. My husband would like to stand on a deck in his boxers and not worry about the neighbors seeing him. I would like to drink my morning coffee on my deck and not hear anything but birds. BUT, being the demanding Americans that we tend to be...:) we also want to be relatively close to Worcester (my commute is 1 hour each way now, intolerable with small kids), and I want to be able to take my kids to weekend gymnastics, soccer, etc, without driving for 45 minutes or more. We don't need to be really close, but reasonably close. My husband and I had considered Princeton as our overall ideal (the whole deck and boxers thing), but with small children it's just too far from things that kids might need. Harvard was at the top of my list initially, but the commute is too far for me as well.
So, that's the overall scoop. Based on that, I had put Boylston and Bolton/Berlin at the top, Northborough next, and then Westborough and Southborough. Holden seemed perhaps a bit too far. Grafton was problematic because of traffic bottlenecks down 140. Sutton was a bit too far as well, but still possible. Does it sound like I'm in the right ballpark?
Thank you again. I very much appreciate the advice.
If you have any questions and want to pick my brain please call. I have been a MetroWest Realtor for 18 years.