Home Buying in Boston>Question Details

Roxane, Home Buyer in Knoxville, TN

We are looking at an imminent move to Boston from the San Francisco Bay area and would love some input about

Asked by Roxane, Knoxville, TN Tue Jul 22, 2008

neighborhoods to search. While housing prices look reasonable compared to where we live, we do have some criteria we'd like to meet. Of these, walkability, public transit into Boston proper, and great schools are critical must-haves. Can anyone offer recommendations that would fit our needs and are their relocation specialists who can help? TIA

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Get out to the northshore, andover, ipswich, manchester, marblehead, nahant..great schools, quality of life, prices are half from the realtors that are pushing the other areas...I have lived in Boston and the burbs for 50 years, now retired to Florida part time too..check out the foreclosures and short sales, http://www.realtytrac.com ... you should be able to get a great price and enjoy the charm of New England. realtytrac.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 12, 2008
Do yourself a favor and think about the amount you want to spend then reduce the number due to the extra costs here in Massachusetts such as home heating. The right schools are important but dont forget about quality of life "distance to work" a regular commute in summer can easily be double in the winter due to weather and bad drivers, maybe you should look into a rental for 6 months to a year then purchase although the market is perfect for a purchase.

Since you have not mentioned a price range, then how about Wakefield 01880, nice community, commuter rail in heart of city to Boston, nice schools! Homes from $300 to $800,000
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 7, 2008
I just moved to Boston from the Richmond Dist of SF last October. I was there 22 years (Marina, Laurel Village, Richmond) I happened to be an agent in SF and now I am an agent here but I don't sell houses. Just thought I would offer my opinion since I know EXACTLY what the change is like. Brookline may be lovely but triple your tax rate on your house from Boston. The taxes are computed differently here. What neighborhood in SF? -Karen
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 6, 2008
Hello Roxane,
I'm back with a second response to your inquiry for housing. Helen Tarantino and I work as a team throughout the Greater Boston Communities. Our knowledge is not just based on sales and service as Realtors, but we bring years of experience as bank appraisers. This gives us a strong handle on the values in numerous towns within a 60 mile radius. First, we'd like to know where in The Bay area you're moving from, is it urban, or the outskirts of San Francisco? What are you used to? Are you looking for a familiar feel in a Boston community, or are you ready for a change? What are your children's ages and your concerns for education? Where will you be commuting to for work? I have a long list of questions that would help us, to help you make this transition as easy as possible. As relocation specialists it's very important for us to know what your list of vital parameters are in order to guide you to the best community, and your perfect home. Don't hesitate to reach me at 617 429 2335(c). Cheers, Jesse Goldman / Helen Tarantino Keller Williams Realty - Servicing The Greater Boston Communities
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 3, 2008
There are several neighborhoods/towns that would fit the bill for you on you move, but I do feel that there needs to be some more details provided.
Price Range?
Ages for School Kids?
How many kids?
Social/public services.
Hit me back and I would be more than happy to help you.
Web Reference: http://www.Ucanlist.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 3, 2008
Your price range will be a very big factor.

Newton or Brookline are great west of the city. Winchester is a great option North of the city Commuter rail goes through Winchester and it is about a 15 minute train ride.

If you would like additional info I would be happy to provide information as a few realtors to interview.

You can reach me at 978-720-5632 or e-mail andrew.adams@salemfive.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 31, 2008
Hi Tia:

Location, location, location! Newton is the best place to rent or buy especially if you have children and are concerned with safety and schools. It's rated as one of the safest city in the Us and have the best school system.

Newton is comprised of many villages and each with its own distinct flavor. Its a desirable place to live and raise your children. Its a walkable city. It offers lots of restaurants, upscale stores, etc. In terms of transportation its on the green line and offers multiple express bus lines to Boston.

Since you mentioned that you will be needing housing faily soon. May I recommend a beautiful, light filled 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom condo that has been completely renovated in Newton. It's practically new. It is located at 393 Parker Street. It is close to elementary, middle and high school. All within walking distance. The owner's name is Kenny and his number is (617) 828-9110. Good luck!!

1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 30, 2008
Brookline does have excellent schools, walkability, and easy access to public transit. To get a little more space for your money, though, you could also look at Newton, the next town west of Brookline.

Newton, which is a lovely green suburb, is on the subway (Green Line) and multiple express bus lines. It is comprised of a number of "villages," such as Newton Center, Newtonville, West Newton, etc., each of which has a center with shops, restaurants, and all the other things you might want to walk to. Newton is a very desirable community for a lot of people. It's well worth checking into.

Good luck!

1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 27, 2008
Hi Tia,
Your best bet to hit all your needs is Brookline. There are excellent schools and the convenient public transportation into Boston is terrific. There are homes for sale in that are a short walk into Boston as well. If you would like a list of available properties in Brookline please feel free to browse them on http://www.JudyPagano.com.
Judy Pagano
Gibson Sotheby's International Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 24, 2008
Hello Roxane,

I love the area that I live (and grew up in) Jamaica Plain, but the school system is not loved by everyone.
One of the areas that I specialize, Brookline, is awesome. If your price range permits it, this town is superb in many ways.
The schools have a great reputation, the services are unparralleled and the proximity to Boston, miles of green space, the Museum of Fine Arts.... I really could go on, is simple. There are at least three different train lines going through Brookline but still feels very community oriented.

Any further questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Karen McCormack
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
I am not a realtor but have recently move with my wife to boston. (i am originally from here she is not) my suggestion is to rent while you learn the area. boston has a lot of different types of surburbs and depending on where you work downtown some communities are easier to commute from than others. below is a link from the globe that will help you find the mcat scores of local school systems. by and large the communities to the south and west of boston come into south station. communites to the north come in to north station, these two stations do not connect...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
Hi Tia,

My buyer's specialist Jason and I would love to help you in your search for a new home in the Boston area. In the past few months we have helped 4 couples with children move from Boston and out to the burbs with very similar criteria as yours. They wanted to be close to the city in a town with good schools, and convenience to shopping and public transportation. We would be happy to provide you references.

In addition we could email you a powerpoint of our Buyer's Presentation which goes over the home buying process in Boston, which is quite different from CA. We also have just completed a Market Review of the Boston Market for the first 6 months of the year.

Please feel free to contact me.

Cheers. John O'Connor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
I just sold a house to a couple in Salem, MA they are from the Bay area. They did a lot of homework and selected Salem as their home. Salem is a waterfront community and has access to Boston by ferry or Train. You get so much more house for the money in Salem. Salem has great restaurants, museums and is rich in culture and history. Its worth checking out. I live and work in Salem, I have been selling Real Estate for 18 years. My son just graduated High school and is off to college. He was educated in the Salem school system up until high school, I then chose to send him to private school which is very affordable in our area. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about relocation to Boston's North Shore.
Web Reference: http://suekeenan.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
If you'd like to explore the South Shore, I'd be happy to help you with that. Hingham is a popular town for relocating buyers because of its proximity to Boston. Boston is accessible by mutiple modes of public transit including commuter rail, high speed ferry, and bus. It's a historic town with beautiful antique homes and newer construction, great schools, and a walkable downtown area.

Norwell and Cohasett are more rural, but also have great schools and good access to Boston. Farther south, Duxbury has great beaches, schools, and open space. But like Norwell and Cohasset, not so walkable unless you consider walking trails in preserved open space!

If you'd like to learn more about this area please contact me. It's where I live and work, and it offers some of the best housing values in eastern massachusetts for anyone who wants to live near the ocean. If you'd like a report comparing two communities and their school systems, send me an email with the two towns and I'll prepare a report for you.

Welcome to Massachusetts! You are going to love it here!

Chris head
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
I would highly recommend -- if prices look reasonable to you (I wish they were reasonable for me!) -- that you check out Brookline. The schools are excellent, the entire town if walkable from one side to the other (amd was designed so that every home would have easy access to public transit), you can pretty much walk into Boston as well as public transportation, and it is a diverse, eclectic, and character-filled town, with a neighborhood to suit anyone, as well as any amenity you can think of (except maybe an ocean-side beach :)). Good luck! I am a not a real estate professional, but can recommend Chobee Hoy realtors, who seem to focus on Brookline (and Newton as well, which is fits your criteria, although much more suburban).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 23, 2008
Lived in SF for 10 years and know it well. Still have family in Alameda. I lived in Pacific Heights, the Marina and finally Russian Hill. Many New England transplants out there and many similarities to Boston; walking city, athletic, outdoor crowd here not to mention the sports enthusiasts. The neighborhood set up is similar to SF as well.

Anyway, I deal with relo's all of the time. I just worked with a couple from Santa Barbara who purchased for their son here in the Back Bay. I'm working with a couple from Texas who are relocating and purchasing a home in the South End. Also working with a couple from New York who love the South End as well as Beacon Hill.

Let me know if I can help as I know I can.

Best regards,

Charlie Abrahams
William Raveis Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 16, 2008
Welcome to Boston. San Francisco is one of my favorite American cities and I think Boston has some similarities. You did not mention how old your children are, but if they are Junior High or High School age, then Jamaica Plain may be the community for you. It is one of the 15 Boston neighborhoods and I have lived here over 30 years; some of the things I enjoy about Jamaica Plain are; the sense of community, the green spaces and the proximity to downtown. Also it has a very diverse housing stock
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 8, 2008
Check out http://www.bostoncityproperties.com --- the site allows you to search condos & apartments for free -- and has detailed info on all of Boston's very distinct neighborhoods.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 6, 2008
We moved from San Francisco to Boston 5 years back. We live in Cambridge and love it. We rented a condo for a year and then bought one. Cambridge is a good spot - think places at walking distance from Harvard, Porter, Davis, and Central Squares are good spots to live. Except the weather, living in Cambridge is very similar to living in San Francisco.

Funny thing is we are now moving back to San Francisco bay area - alas won't be able to move to San Francisco!! Too far of a commute for my work!!

Schools in this area are very good!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 6, 2008
No one suggested this.....try Jamaica Plain, the hills section near Jamaica Pond. Houses around $800-$1 Mil and up. parks, walk the the public transportation, diversity in parts of JP. Very close to Brookline.
Boston proper but feels like a suburb and the homes have nice yeards.
check it out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 3, 2008
You made an excellent choice in renting prior to buying especially since you are moving to a place that is unknown/relocating. This way you can get familiar with different neighborhoods and learn what your needs are before investing a million dollars.

Wellesley, Belmont, Lexington, Arlington, Needham and Newton are all great places to start. Below are links that show you every property on the market in each town. You have the luxury of renting and perusing the market for good deals. Definitely hit up open houses in all the different markets to start getting an idea of what your money can buy in each respective town.







Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 3, 2008
You poor thing you must be confused with all our good intentions. I agree with the rental idea first and then you can make sure you are in the right area for future growth because if you buy now you may not be able to sell your house and move to where you wish you bought later as the real estate market is very volatile.
Beacon Hill and Back bay is similar to San Fran near the Opera House, and North end, waterfront is like Little Italy to Fishermans wharf. I love San Fran too. Boston is very similar. As far as the white picket fence you have great schools that are public in the burbs in many areas North, South, West and East, so you will have time to investigate. The biggest issue I had was the cost of childcare if you have any little guys but you are probably use to that from San Fran. If you want a relocation specialist for rentals and we have lived in Boston and the burbs for too many years... contact my sis, Kerry Cheever, 1-978-590-6421 her email is, ronin67s@aol;.com, she can show you the Northshore, towards 128 Belt technology Highway, from Salem, Beverly, Lynnfield, Topsfield, Ipswich, Wenham, Hamilton, Manchester, Magnolia, Newburyport are all gorgeous and have commuting to Boston I did it for years still beats the commute from San fran Airport to down town on a Friday it took me 2 hours for a 20 minute ride, Nothing like that on the North Shore in the worst of weather. Good Luck and the gal who gave the rotten reviews for Boston, cant figure out what she is talking about she is in a different circle then most people I know love the New England charm.. Can't drag them away no matter how wintery it gets.. So Good Luck enjoy the all the positive things about Massachusetts, there are too many to list...Lori
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008

I wouldn't suggest Arlington if someone needed to go down town daily, just not a logical commute for most. Everyone has different needs/wants. Every option will have pros and cons fact of life.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
Understood. Schools outside Boston are great, I was refering to Boston Public Schools. I attended schools on the south shore and graduated from Harvard. Go for the burbs-green grass and picket fence. I love bean town, just sharing my impressions vs. the bay area. Brahmins are the first family of boston, came over on the mayflower, you will probably meet them.

Mr Head-
I have lived in Boston for 48 years. Comute in from Hingham in the sawed off beer can boat past Hull and Dot bay-please, driving from sailer town in to boston the SE expressway-please! Waste of precious time and fossil fuels.

Nice parts of Arlington=Bus ride plus red line= 60 minutes to boston every day;. I owned a home in Arlington heights on Oakland Avenue for five years and l lived it, daily. Alewife parking if it is not full is ten bucks a day. Cambridge is an urban center that shares a six mile border along the river, you can walk back a forth easy. Winchester lovely downtown, great train to North Station. Once you get to north station you have a long walk or another train ride to get anywhere. Heavy rail trains run on a set and limited schedule and that schedule will run your life for you- I have many north shore friends that will attest to this.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
Mccann, while I appreciate the time you took to respond to my initial question, I don't think you might have read my follow-up response. We would like to have a positive experience in Boston/vicinity and don't care to duplicate the exact environment in which we currently live. I understand schools outside of Boston to be excellent and hope to be able to send my children to public school. While my husband and I truly love an actual city experience, we really need a larger home with a yard for our children.
Every metropolitan area has its pros and cons, so I'm sure that the "negatives" you have outlined for Boston (except for the blizzards) compare well with those of San Francisco. Although, I have to say that I have no clue what you meant by the "brahmins" part.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
I too must jump on Mccann's comments here. Clearly not too happy about moving here from the remarks in the next to last sentence in the post. For someone who doesn't live here, they seem to think they know an awful lot about commuting, schools, and real estate market trends. Many of the Boston area markets are not in a "downward trend" and are improving. Some of the best schools in the state can be found just outside of Boston. And the commuter option comment? How bad do you think a commuter boat ride from Hingham through a National Park and Boston Harbor Islands can be?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
If you are moving next month to Boston, I am not sure how you can comment on the commute from the suburbs. I would not consider Cambridge Boston proper. I grew up in Arlington a few towns over my 1st job was in Central Square in Cambridge and the bus Commute was a whopping 20 minute ride with free parking. I currently live in Winchester and take the commuter rail to North Station (The Gahden), it takes about 15 minutes. Schools are among the best. Just my .02
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2008
We are moving next month from Potrero Hill to a condo at Fort Point Channel in Boston. You should live in the city in Boston or Cambridge and avoid the suburbs these RE folks are suggesting. Driving in Boston is a waste of time and boat, bus and commuter train commutes to Cambridge are miserable. It would be like living in the east bay and working in the city. For schools you need to consider private schools just like in the bay area, public schools are only fair. Relo specialists should be avoided if possible. Rent for a year the local RE is in a downward trend and the city is very complex compared to the bay area- much more traffic, local yockel weirdness, brahmins, blizzards, crime, underlying racism, dirty public transit, etc. You will need to take it all in, differnt scene than cali.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 26, 2008
We are moving next month from Potrero Hill to a condo at Fort Point Channel in Boston. You should live in the city in Boston or Cambridge and avoid the suburbs these RE folks are suggesting. Driving in Boston is a waste of time and boat, bus and commuter train commutes to Cambridge are miserable. It would be like living in the east bay and working in the city. For schools you need to consider private schools just like in the bay area, public schools are only fair. Relo specialists should be avoided if possible. Rent for a year the local RE is in a downward trend and the city is very complex compared to the bay area- much more traffic, local yockel weirdness, brahmins, blizzards, crime, snobs, lousy public transit, etc. You will need to take it all in, differnt scene than cali.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 26, 2008
I strongly suggest Hingham on the South Shore of Boston. It is a waterfront community with public transportation by train, bus, and boat into Boston in about 20 minutes. Schools are commendable and a priority for the town, the center is upscale, large and has everything you could need, it is only about 15 minutes to a major mall and the best part - I am a Relocation Director for my company and would love to help you locate a great home! Feel free to e-mail me at donna@chaseteam.com any time!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 23, 2008
Hi There!
I recently moved back to the town of Scituate where I was born and raised. I have 2 small children and am very grateful that they get to grow up here. Scituate is a coastal town, located about 30 minutes south of Boston. I consider Scituate, along with Cohasset and Hingham, to be some of the most desirable towns on the south shore. (of course I am biased because I grew up here!) We also have the convenience of the commuter rail that takes you right into the city! I definitely think they are worth looking into. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me anytime! medmel7@hotmail.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 21, 2008
If you can move slightly west of Newton and be 5 miles more out of Boston than Wellesley is the answer. The town is totally squared away, the town offices are squared away and the building department is great to deal with. Newton is great too but the $100+ million dollar 'over-budget' Newton High School is a huge problem they are dealing with.
Web Reference: http://prioredesign.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 20, 2008
I miss eating devil dogs. They were the best when you went to the beach in Gloucester.
Web Reference: http://GetPrequalified.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 20, 2008
As an unbiased non-broker, I would highly recommend Newton. I do renovations in Newton/Wellesley so if you find something that is a great area but not quite right, we can make it so. Newton and Wellesley will net you a far more return on your investment than any other city proximal to Boston. If you do work on the home you will recover those costs much better their also.
Web Reference: http://www.prioredesign.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 20, 2008
One other thing, if you have kids under 6, MASS Law requires the home be free of lead paint or be lead free certified or built after 1978!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 16, 2008
Winchester, MASS would be what you need with the commuter rail right down down and great restaurants and shops, check out Winchester in Boston Magazine, and you can get what you need school wise and price point wise!

Dont forget school digger .com for school ratings!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 16, 2008
Thank you all for your responses. Each has been helpful in its own respect.
We will be moving into a rental in the Cambridge area for a couple of months. From there we hope to seek out and assess recommended areas - primarily Newton and Wellesley, but including certain towns in the Metro West region. We feel the North and South areas would not be in our best interest regarding a commute in to Cambridge. Saying that, a town like Arlington is not out of the question either.
Depending on the sale of our house here, and of course the market there, we could theoretically be comfortable with a pricepoint up to $1mil. Our needs remain the same: good schools (son entering preK), walkability, and access to the T. To this, I will add that we would like a decent sized yard since we will have two munchkins as of November. We are NOT in to the rural lifestyle at all and would have to have good access to Boston itself.
Currently we live in a very family-oriented community where we know most of our neighbors and have a multitude family and child-oriented activities and services. We walk everywhere (even to some of the top rated restaurants in the Bay Area) and have yet to put 10K miles on our car in two years. In essence, I would love to re-create these conditions in the Boston area with a 3-4bd/2+ba house with a great yard.

Thank you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 16, 2008
Hi Roxane, I love SanFran and, actually, considered moving in there :)... I live in Brookline and work in/around Boston proper often with clients out of state and those out of the country who start with a very similar question to yours. I really appreciate when people do their homework before they start driving around. It realy helps! Let me suggest an approach: 1- prioritize your needs & wants to help you zoom in on the area, 2 - research your top 3 places on the web - most towns have their own web sites, 3 - choose a realtor who knows that neighbourhood, most realtors are very resourcefull and will help you with relocation and other references, just like I can :), so...

here is a sample of 2 recommendations of my favorite towns:
- Consider Brookline if your top priorities are: 1- schools, 2- public transit, 3 -walkability
- Consider Newton, Winchester, Wellesley if priorities are: 1- schools, 2 walkability, 3 -public transit

Digging deeper into your priorities and values may open up additional options or other towns all together, so before suggesting a place for you I'd love to find out more what really matters to you, Roxane.
Web Reference: http://www.boc-re.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 2, 2008
There are several options open to you. Educating yourself about few different towns would be ideal. All the towns mentioned in the other posts do offer accessiblity to Boston and good schools. Let us know if you need assistance or questions answered regarding the ones mentioned or different areas. We have 20+ years of real estate experience throughout the Greater Boston area.

Helen Tarantino/Jesse Goldman Team
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://www.homesjess4u.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 1, 2008
I would like to make a suggestion.

Winchester, MA 01890

Beautiful Homes, Great Schools "Check them out on school digger .com"

Commuter Rail downtown into Boston and Bus stops to Boston as well!

Email me for local info or questions!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 1, 2008
Check out schooldigger.com

I am working with a family from maryland right now!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 31, 2008
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