Thanks for the great information. I just wanted to provide an update on this as we went to a number of open houses today in various towns, specifically; north Reading, Andover, Acton, and Wilmington (so depressing seeing what is available for 450-500K in these areas)
As for the list of towns, I think from what we have seen we are leaning more towards North Reading, Reading, North Andover, and Acton. These towns and the respective houses in them seemed a better "fit" with our style though the houses in Acton were a bit older and or seemingly not as kept up as we had hoped for.
As for the other respondents, thanks for the suggestions, we had considered Needham and briefly Arlington, but nothing ever seemed to pop on the various web searches we did in our range. We didnâ€™t consider Concord and Carlisle due to cost, much like Wayland and Wellesley.
New Hampshire and too far north is somewhat out as my wifeâ€™s commute to Waltham would be potentially too much for her to handle, she really wants to be max 30 minutes from work in case something happens with our child at school which needs to be attended to.
We have been checking http://www.greatschools.org and find the information helpful but also wonder how much of a difference there is between the towns and their quality of the school system, also donâ€™t know how much weight to put into the MCAS.
Thanks again for all the suggestions and keep them coming.
You've already received lots of great answers here, so I'll try not to duplicate too much. Since you have a number of towns within your range, I'd first start off with the suggestion that you drive around the different towns, if possible, and get to know them a bit. As you mention in some of your town descriptions, you've already noticed some things you may or may not like (ie. Wakefield being a bit congested and industrial) so it's always best if you can check out the towns yourself. Also try visiting them at different times of the day, particularly during rush hour. What might seem like a quiet little street on a Saturday afternoon could also be a short-cut for rush hour traffic and could be incredibly congested during those times.
I also suggest checking out the WickedLocal.com web site for community info. If you go to their community search page (http://my.wickedlocalhomes.com/massachusetts/homes/real-esta ) and enter the name of a town or city, you'll get just about all the local info you'd like.
Finally, I'd also like to put in a plug for Arlington, MA. It's very close to Boston, as you know, and the home prices stayed relatively stable during the recent economic downturn. So you can't really go wrong for your money - it's cheaper than both Belmont and Winchester and the schools are pretty good (especially the Peirce Elementary School). If you have any particular questions about Arlington, I'd be happy to answer them for you.
Best of luck with both your sale and new purchase!
Other areas to consider:
(not north but definitely worth considering) Natick and Needham:
I was just rethinking it and you might want to try this website - it has many facts you might find of interest.
If you need me just call, I hope it helps, J
I work on the North Shore and an often overlooked town is Danvers. It is a very strong community and always seems to be fiscally sound. This is because it has it's own Municipal Electricity which like Peabody and Wakefield provide a solid source of income. They also have a good deal of commercial taxes being paid by the many stores,malls,restaurants and industrial business along Rte 114. Public schools are among the best on the North Shore and it is very commuter friendly with access to RTEs 128, 1, and 95. Here is a community report for you to view. http://tponline.realty-wire.com/Users/F360D994-178B-4ED7-B3E Please contact me if you would like to discuss Danvers or if you would like a similar report for any other towns. Good Luck!! --Mike
Your town list is very diverse. I'd recommend spending a little time getting to know the towns and learning about the schools, and trying to narrow it down some. Visit open houses, drive by the schools and even try to visit them when they are open. Get to know an agent in each area you are looking at, so more information.
You are right about Acton- it is further out (if you are commuting to Boston) but its schools are award-winning and rank high on just about every list (MCAS, SAT scores, etc.) You can find houses in your price range, but probably not newer construction. (This is the town I live in, so it's the one know the most about.)
Two of the biggest factors that affect price (besides the house itself) are schools and proximity to Boston. So I think you have to decide which of these is the most important to you. There is no right answer- just the one that's right for you.
Good luck in yout search,
I would be glad to help you in any area but I am very familiar with these communities if you interested in working with me.
I am available at all hours - just Call, EMail or Text and I will be happy to send you the lastest properties directly to you and we can see them at a moments notice.
Be safe - J
Jamin M Jones