What's the best Boston suburb that offers historical homes, vibrant downtown and is close to the water?

Asked by MovingToCT?, Chicago, IL Sun Jul 10, 2011

My husband and I are looking to relocate to the Boston area from Chicago and hope to find a place with good local restaurants and a vibrant downtown area. It'd be great to find a place near the water, with some history, and in a good school district. A reasonable commute to the city would be helpful too! Ideally we would like to find a 4 bed in the $600k-$700 range? Is this possible?

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Mikel DeFran…, Agent, Canton, MA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
The North End is not a suburb... as mentioned below, of course it will depend on your budget. But the town that fits your criteria the closest is Hingham, MA. http://www.hingham-ma.com/about_history.html Great schools, terrific downtown, on the water, has transport etc.
Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.SuccessInMass.com
2 votes
Michael Giles, Agent, Beverly, MA
Mon Jul 11, 2011
Massachusetts' North Shore has all that you want!

Salem can boast as much history as anyone and not all of it is based on the Witch Trials. Many of the homes in the historic McIntire Distirict have been converted into museums based on the time period or original owner. The Peabody Essex Museum is a cultural icon that brings exhibits from around the world.

A downtown second to none with many shops, restaurants, and historical venues that is always full of locals and tourists to keep things lively

Neighboring Beverly is another great option and while the downtown scene is much more tame, there is still a great mix of shops, culture and restaurants to choose from.

Beverly, in my opinion, makes much better use of its public access to the ocean. There is a long strech of coast line connecting several parks and beaches leading up to the crown jewel -- Lynch Park. This is a huge waterfront estate that boasts 2 beaches, a large rose garden (a popular spot for weddings), playground and large open space for picnics, and lounging at the weekly concerts or many family events that are held there.

Beverly also moved in to its state of the are High School last year that will soon become the model for other communities looking to upgrade. The majority of the elementary schools have been updated as well, leaving only the middle school to be addressed.

Both are on the North Station train line into Boston, Beverly has more access to major highways making it a bit easier to get in and out of.

If you use my site below to search each community, I think you will see that you can find a nce 4BR home for well below your budget.

If you would like to learn more about the communities north of Boston, feel free to contact me through my site or trulia profile. Best of Luck!
1 vote
Oh Give Me A…, Home Owner, Waltham, MA
Sat Sep 17, 2011
That's great, that you have the time to investigate further.

The North Shore area is very beautiful, and access to Boston very handy if you are situated in a town near the commuter rail. Beverly, Salem, and Lynnfield are in close proximity to that service. Beverly is a nice choice for being close to 128 and Route 1, but be mindful of the fact that there is a great deal of travel north on 95/128 starting usually by 4PM. If you expect to use your car at times for the commute, expect that travel north from Boston would be best before 3:00 and after 6PM. Being near 128/95 is also of benefit, due to the major link to 93, giving direct access into downtown Boston. Being near Route 1 as an alternative is nice, to provide options based on any traffic patterns.

The issue of traffic patterns and real estate tends to be underappreciated until you actually live here and have to use the roads daily. Close proximity to the major routes will help give you flexibility and ease in your travel options.

Beverly also has the benefit of a respected, community hospital. Lynn, right next to Lynnfield, also has a very decent hospital as well, with a busy ER. This demonstrates the town's commitment to the health and welfare of their residents.

Good luck with the search. Please feel free to continue to submit questions as you hunt.
0 votes
Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Sun Sep 11, 2011
It is possible for the price but you are more limited with all that criteria.

The 2 that standout near the water:



2 others that are awesome areas (gorgeous historical architecture and nice down towns) but not on the water:



Make sure you find an exclusive buyer broker :)
Web Reference:  http://www.territory.com
0 votes
MovingToCT?, Home Buyer, Chicago, IL
Sun Sep 11, 2011
Hi Everyone,

We are still looking but it'll be awhile before we make the move. We have a trip planned over the holiday's to have a look around and get a sense for some of the places that have been suggested. Based on the suggestions we are looking at Salem, Beverly, Duxbury and maybe some other surrounding areas. I think Salem might have all of the items we are looking for but maybe not the schools (as compared to Lynnfield, Andover, etc). The goods news is we are starting our family in the next few years so we have some time.

Thanks everyone! We'll keep you posted on what we think works the best!

Moving To Ma?
0 votes
Oh Give Me A…, Home Owner, Waltham, MA
Sun Sep 11, 2011
Hopefully, you can provide an update as to: 1) which locations you looked at, 2) which impressed you the most and why and, 3) what location ultimately you chose.

Coming from Chicago, I'd be especially keen to see what ultimately qualified as a "vibrant downtown area" for any of the suburbs here. Any suburban municipality in the Boston area would have a tough act to follow, comparing it to the "Windy City."
0 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Tue Sep 6, 2011
Lexington or Concord would be great options to the west. It will really depend on what you feel is a reasonable commute is? Best
0 votes
Oh Give Me A…, Home Owner, Waltham, MA
Sat Sep 3, 2011

I think you win the grand prize for regional pride!

Thanks for pointing out this little, historical, regional treasure of a town. Sounds like a real winner. Hopefully our Chicagoan is still on the hunt.

Its wonderful that Trulia provides a forum to allow the regional pros to share their experience and insight.

A Fellow Massachusetts Resident
0 votes
Lisa Scourtas, Agent, Swampscott, MA
Thu Sep 1, 2011
Near the water? It is surrounded by water. Close to Boston? An 8 mile easy commute. History? It is the former summer playground for President Roosevelt, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman and other buddies. Henry Cabot Lodge, the Lowells - all enjoyed the beauty of this seaside gem. Nahant is the smallest town in Massachusetts, at 1.04 square miles. Whether it is an historical homestead from the 1700's or the former governor's mansion built in 1888, this little known secret has it all! Surrounded by beautiful, resident -only sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, one of the lowest tax rates in the state, one of the state's top schools - Swampscott, a seaside golf course, nature trails, easy access to Logan Airport (without the noise!) and Boston is just a quick drive in. Don't care to go to Boston? Nahant is located just minutes to Marblehead, Salem, Beverly for fine dining or shopping and theater. Want a more funky venue to visit - Somerville is minutes away.
Live in paradise - like being on vacation every day! Affordable oceanfront properties in a beautiful setting, yet minutes to your choice of the vibrant downtown areas.
Feel free to contact me for more information about this very special place to live. Not only do I sell properties there, I am a proud resident as well.
0 votes
Oh Give Me A…, Home Owner, Waltham, MA
Wed Jul 13, 2011
Note, kindly Chicagoans, that your question has stirred up some regional pride for the various parts of Massachusetts.

Ah, the North End --- renowned historically for Paul Revere's home, the Old North Church, and the Great Molasses Flood of 1919! And the Italian restaurants are extraordinary.

Admittedly, for a "downtown," I think Boston would top any suburb. And there is definitely an advantage to being in a neighborhood in the city, having access readily to the many activities in the city.

Back Bay may be another crowded but reasonable consideration. You would have close access to the esplanade, community boating, and walks on the Charles. There are regular tours and talks related to Boston history ongoing in the area. And, for schools, the venerable Boston Latin covers 7 through 12 grade, and is readily accessible by public transit. Homes there are very expensive, though, and you might have to settle for a condo instead for that price range.

Be reassured, that there are likely quite a few areas that likely be delightful for your family.
0 votes
John J. Dean…, Agent, Boston, MA
Tue Jul 12, 2011
I would have to say the North End of the city offers everything that you have inquired about. It is one of the oldest sections of the city, close to the water, TONS of history. As far as a price range I would really need to understand your home needs. Please let me know how I can help.
0 votes
Louis Wolfs…, Agent, Needham, MA
Tue Jul 12, 2011
Moving to Boston,

My son just moved back from Chicago a great city.

I guess it depends on your price range and your needs for schools or private schools. Where you'll be working and the commute you want. Best communities are always the same Brookline, Belmont, Concord, Dover, Lexington, Needham, Newton, Wellesley, Weston and Winchester.

Water is available in these communities but it can be very expensive. I know of a couple of beautiful homes not on the market, but it depends on your price range. Last home I sold that the buyer wanted water was also not on the market.

Let me know.

Louis Wolfson
Web Reference:  http://www.LouisWolfson.net
0 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Tue Jul 12, 2011
Moving to Ma:

The answer to your question will be dependent on whether you want to live near the Ocean or near lakes and ponds. If you want to be on the ocean then you will want to stay within the Route 93 Belt around the city. There are many wonderful communities near the water, but your price point may be a tad higher if you want the best schools systems. In the north you can go to Marblehead, and in the south Hingham.

If you want to to be near ponds and lakes you can be looking at many more communities. Concord is a wonderful spot and you have access to both Walden Pond and Whites Pond. So many wonderful options in this area
0 votes
Oh Give Me A…, Home Owner, Waltham, MA
Mon Jul 11, 2011
First, congrats on the upcoming move. No doubt, the many neighborhoods and 'burbs of Boston can be overwhelming in a search. From the many responses already received, you may sense that there are many great choices in the area.

The one major question would be whether you would prefer being near the ocean, or would a river or large pond be fine? Also, in terms of commute, would you be able to use the commuter rail or MBTA? The latter as options can definitely expand your choices.

For history, beauty, and great downtown restauraunts, Concord is superb. The Colonial Inn is one of a variety of gourmet choices in the area. You can take a swim in Walden pond, or canoe in the rustic river. And, if you have any interest in hiking or birding, there are trails and an Audubon sanctuary to enjoy. Commuting to Boston, though, can be challenging on Route 2 in rush hour.

Newton is in closer proximity to Boston, has decent access to the river and canoeing in certain spots, and is well known for their excellent school system.

For the convenience of travel, though, you may want to consider Brighton or Watertown as well. Brighton is a neighborhood in the western part of Boston, and has canoe and kayak rentals nearby. On the weekends, the local park along the Charles is very popular. For Brighton, though, the local public schools are not as notable as the other towns and cities mentioned, but there are some private school options nearby.

Good luck with the search, and congrats on the relocation plans from the Windy City.
0 votes
Rosemary Con…, , Boston, MA
Mon Jul 11, 2011
Hingham is terrific, though not sure you will find what you need in that price range. I agree with Michael. The North Shore communities offer a greater range of beautiful communities that will suit your needs. A great Realtor (located in the gorgeous town of Manchester-on-Sea) is Jeremy McElwain of Keller Williams Boston. Happy home shopping!
Web Reference:  http://www.kw.com
0 votes
toyin Adeban…, Agent, Norwell, MA
Mon Jul 11, 2011
Braintree is a 15-20mins proximity to downtown boston with everything else you expressed.
0 votes
Kyle and Les…, Agent, Weston, MA
Sun Jul 10, 2011
I second the vote for Hingham & Concord, though it would depend where in Boston you're commuting to & if you're taking the train. They have two of the best vibrant town centers, highly regarded schools & good city access. The Hingham train goes into South Station and the Concord train goes into North Station.

Here are a few links that might be helpful.

Best public high school rankings: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2010_school_rankings/index.html

Train schedules: http://www.mbta.com

More info about Concord: http://www.positiverelocation.com/concord.php

More info about Hingham: http://www.hingham-ma.gov/about.html
0 votes
Matt Sullivan, Agent, Boston, MA
Sun Jul 10, 2011
The first town that comes to mind is Hingham, MA. It has a quant New England downtown with several great restaurants and a ton of family oriented neighborhoods with charming and historic homes. Hingham is located on the water, fourteen miles southeast of downtown Boston and has a population of about 22,000. Driving into Boston from Hingham can be a nightmare (similar to downtown Chicago traffic) but being on the water you have access to the water taxi from Hingham Harbor to Downtown Boston, and Hingham is also on the commuter rail which gets you into Boston in 30 minutes. The median home price in Hingham is $779K. Hope this helps. Let us know if we can be of any assistance.
0 votes
Masha Sender…, Agent, Newton, MA
Sun Jul 10, 2011
There is a home on the market in Newton (Auburndale). The school is as good as it's going to get, and you can walk to the river. With that said, there are plenty of waterfront properties around, just not too close to Boston, and you will need a good Realtor to drive around neighborhoods with to explore. Email me for the info on the Auburndale home. masha@preservationproperties.com
0 votes
Greer Swiston, Agent, Newton, MA
Sun Jul 10, 2011
You must be talking about Concord, MA. What could be more historical in America than the scene the earliest battles of the American Revolution? With access to the river and a quaint town center (or if you want a little more, it's not far to Lexington Center).

Give me a call if you want to find out more. Boston is the place for history ... Newton has GORGEOUS history and homes, but there may not be as much green as you may want in your price range ... I wouldn't call Cambridge a suburb, but it definitely has the history and the nightlife!

Let me know if i can help!
0 votes
Kenzo Tatsuno, Agent, Waltham, MA
Sun Jul 10, 2011
Hi Chicago. There are several areas that come to mind. Give me a call this week to discuss further. Thanks Kenzo 617 233 9651.
0 votes
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