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Considering a Relocation to Boston

Considering a Relocation to Boston

Old Dec 6, 16, 9:14 pm
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Considering a Relocation to Boston

Fellow FTers,

I am considering a job that would require relocation to Boston. I lived in the metro NYC area for a dozen years, and am currently living the the metro D.C. area. I have been to Boston a few times, but have spent little to no time in the suburbs and never had to consider where to live in the metro Boston area.

I know that housing will be pricey. Probably more along the lines of metro NYC than metro D.C. My children currently attend private Catholic school, and I know that there will be no shortage of similar schools in the Boston area.

I would appreciate any information/advice folks are willing to share on the area, like towns we should consider for living. Quality of the schools is important, but, since I anticipate that my kids will continue with Catholic school, I'd be more interested in some recommendations on that front. I would prefer to live within a 3 mile radius of a recommended church/school, as our lives tend to revolve around that community based on academics and extracurricular activities.

I would also like to live in close proximity to a subway or commuter rail line, mirroring my experience in metro NYC. I took Metro North for my daily commute and, while it was not cheap, I found it civilized and convenient. I drove to my job in northern VA, and, while that has some advantages, I would rather not try to fight Boston traffic any more than necessary.

What should I expect to pay for a reasonably updated/maintained 3 bedroom/2 bath house within a 45 minute commute of downtown Boston? I've looked at realtor.com and Redfin, but it's somewhat iterative to try to evaluate neighborhoods when I know nothing about the demographics or the access to public transportation or where the better schools are located.

If any of our Boston representatives can chime in, or would be willing to PM me, or, better yet, would volunteer 10 minutes of their time on the phone so I could ask some questions, I would appreciate the help.

I am optimistic that the last round of interviews will go well and that I'll be getting an offer very soon. If those two things happen, I will likely have to respond fairly quickly.

Last thing to add: my wife and I are planning to make a trip to the area to explore a lot of these things in more detail and in person, but it would really help to "narrow things down" if we could get some recommendations from folks who live there or have lived there, especially any 40-somethings with middle- and/or high school aged kids.

Thanks in advance for the ideas/suggestions/referrals.
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Old Dec 6, 16, 9:29 pm
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If your kids are going to be going to private school, a lot of the "normal rankings" for suburbs will be flawed. Towns with good schools (Medfield, Belmont, Lexington, Sharon, etc.) also tend to have extremely expensive housing markets and high property tax rates.

With private school, my advice would be to find a town next to one of the top towns but with more affordable housing costs (e.g. Canton).

If you decide to send your kids to public school, it's really as simple as finding the best school district within reasonable commuting distance which you can afford. The towns with good schools are pretty much uniformly very nice places to live.
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Old Dec 6, 16, 9:59 pm
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I have lived in NY, the Bay Area, and the Boston area (both Cambridge and the suburbs). I am in London/Frankfurt about one week a month and spend time in Toronto, Calgary, and other places (we have a cottage on a lake outside of Montreal). What I love about Boston: there are more interesting people per capita than in any other city I have lived in or visited (doesn't apply for folks in fine arts or music). We meet interesting academics (from Harvard, MIT, Tufts, BU, BC, ...), interesting consultants (from BCG, lots of independent firms), biotech folks, investment folks (PE, VC, equities/bonds, hedge funds), artists, architects, psychologists/psychiatrists. Lots of interesting people. This is potentially relevant to you.

The kids of the folks will tend to be bright and motivated and a number of the public schools are quite strong. Plus, there are lots of good private schools. In an ideal world, your kids' worldviews are expanded by having classmates and friends from interesting families. Where does this happen? Cambridge for sure, but housing prices are pretty extraordinary there. Towns with good schools include those in the Western suburbs (Lexington, Lincoln, Concord, Acton, Weston, Newton, Wellesley, Harvard, Bedford, Belmont, Dover-Sherborn, Wayland), those more urban (Brookline for sure, Cambridge maybe), and those South of Boston (Sharon, Hingham) and others (Winchester). The following article shows a graph of how the school district performs (how many years the students in a town are above or below the national average) and income. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ares.html?_r=0. Notice that a significant percentage of the schools in the upper right hand corner are in Massachusetts. Houses in most of these towns are reasonably expensive to very expensive.

I don't know how to evaluate these ranking but here are a couple (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/best-s...-high-schools/, https://k12.niche.com/rankings/publi...massachusetts/).

As PVDtoDEL suggests, live in a less expensive town if you send your kids to private school, but it could be as he/she suggests, live in less expensive place, possibly next to a more expensive place.

Also, you need to think about whether you are going to commute by subway, care or commuter rail.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 12:06 am
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Originally Posted by shawbridge View Post
I have lived in NY, the Bay Area, and the Boston area (both Cambridge and the suburbs). I am in London/Frankfurt about one week a month and spend time in Toronto, Calgary, and other places (we have a cottage on a lake outside of Montreal). What I love about Boston: there are more interesting people per capita than in any other city I have lived in or visited (doesn't apply for folks in fine arts or music). We meet interesting academics (from Harvard, MIT, Tufts, BU, BC, ...), interesting consultants (from BCG, lots of independent firms), biotech folks, investment folks (PE, VC, equities/bonds, hedge funds), artists, architects, psychologists/psychiatrists. Lots of interesting people. This is potentially relevant to you.

The kids of the folks will tend to be bright and motivated and a number of the public schools are quite strong. Plus, there are lots of good private schools. In an ideal world, your kids' worldviews are expanded by having classmates and friends from interesting families. Where does this happen? Cambridge for sure, but housing prices are pretty extraordinary there. Towns with good schools include those in the Western suburbs (Lexington, Lincoln, Concord, Acton, Weston, Newton, Wellesley, Harvard, Bedford, Belmont, Dover-Sherborn, Wayland), those more urban (Brookline for sure, Cambridge maybe), and those South of Boston (Sharon, Hingham) and others (Winchester). The following article shows a graph of how the school district performs (how many years the students in a town are above or below the national average) and income. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ares.html?_r=0. Notice that a significant percentage of the schools in the upper right hand corner are in Massachusetts. Houses in most of these towns are reasonably expensive to very expensive.

I don't know how to evaluate these ranking but here are a couple (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/best-s...-high-schools/, https://k12.niche.com/rankings/publi...massachusetts/).

As PVDtoDEL suggests, live in a less expensive town if you send your kids to private school, but it could be as he/she suggests, live in less expensive place, possibly next to a more expensive place.

Also, you need to think about whether you are going to commute by subway, care or commuter rail.
Thanks for the ideas and feedback. I did ask specifically about this last point, and am very interested in thoughts on commuting. My preference is commuter rail, but that's very much influenced by my experience in the metro NYC area. I found Metro North to be great, but a bad commuter rail system could put me right back into my car. I was used to driving in metro D.C., but there really is no decent commuter railroad there (VRE has 2 lines, and neither serves the area where I live). Metro is woefully inadequate and would have resulted in a commute as long or longer than by car, at least to where I worked.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 5:52 am
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Speaking from a 30,000 foot level, I lived in Boston for two years after school.

I did not own, I rented. My job was in Waltham and I lived in the city. So my 8 mile commute was a reverse commute which was really easy.

All that said and done, if I were in your shoes, I would at least start by getting a map of the T and the commuter rails if you are going that route.

That should identify cities along the commuter rail lines and where they land (end). It will also give you and idea how long it will take to travel. Find out if those stops have parking, cost of parking and if they have any available spots

Those sites probably have the fares listed too from daily to monthly. If you haven't asked, does that new company subsidize public transportation (where I work now in NoVa there is a monthly subsidy & I'm guessing many companies do this but thats just a pure guess)

IIRC, the main thoroughfares into/out of the city are I-95 (north/south), I-93 NW into NH, and 90 (East West) with Route 128 (major freeway) as a closer loop and then 495 the way outer loop.

If I was making this move, working in the city, I would at least price it out inside of 128 (sort of like living inside the beltway here in NoVa); That said and done, it may not meet your price range.

Catholic schools there IIRC are like 7-11's here, one on almost every corner.

Other tidbits, you think NoVa drivers are bad, LMAO, Boston drivers are idiots, they are not called M.......s for nothing LOL

I hope this helps
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Old Dec 7, 16, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by dchristiva View Post
Thanks for the ideas and feedback. I did ask specifically about this last point, and am very interested in thoughts on commuting. My preference is commuter rail, but that's very much influenced by my experience in the metro NYC area. I found Metro North to be great, but a bad commuter rail system could put me right back into my car. I was used to driving in metro D.C., but there really is no decent commuter railroad there (VRE has 2 lines, and neither serves the area where I live). Metro is woefully inadequate and would have resulted in a commute as long or longer than by car, at least to where I worked.
I'm a Boston native and live there now. Will talk your ear off at your leisure. PM coming your way.

Mike

ETA: It would be my honor to buy your kids their first Red Sox hats.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 6:36 am
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Originally Posted by dchristiva View Post
Thanks for the ideas and feedback. I did ask specifically about this last point, and am very interested in thoughts on commuting. My preference is commuter rail, but that's very much influenced by my experience in the metro NYC area. I found Metro North to be great, but a bad commuter rail system could put me right back into my car. I was used to driving in metro D.C., but there really is no decent commuter railroad there (VRE has 2 lines, and neither serves the area where I live). Metro is woefully inadequate and would have resulted in a commute as long or longer than by car, at least to where I worked.
The commuter rail system here is, on a good day, mediocre. If you google it, you'll see article after article about the trains, which are old and chronically late. The plus side is that it goes everywhere and much of its bad reputation comes from the winter two years ago, when the city got nine feet of snow.

You have many, many options if you can take the commuter rail. You have fewer options if you don't. The T (our local subway) has a more limited range and is frustrating but gets the job done.

Boston is not New York, in that there are decent suburbs within a 45 minute commute to the city, so you'll be fortunate there. Likewise, you have more options because you're not relying on a town that has the single-best school system.

TrojanHorse is right about wanting to live within the 128 loop (128 and 95 are the same highway in many areas.) to minimize your commute.

Mike
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Old Dec 7, 16, 6:36 am
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What town is the job in? That will significantly impact your commute options.

3BR/2B house is not difficult to find but the 45 minute commute to downtown is a bit problematic.

I'd look for towns on the subway, not commuter rail. Something like Quincy or Medford.

The MBTA has been under-investing for years on infrastructure and the commuter rails can generate horrific delays. If possible - avoid the commuter rail unless you really want a house with a big lot. Given you lived in metro NY and DC, I figure that's not really a requirement.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 6:48 am
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Originally Posted by dchristiva View Post
I did ask specifically about this last point, and am very interested in thoughts on commuting. My preference is commuter rail, but that's very much influenced by my experience in the metro NYC area.
Is North or South station closer to the office you would be commuting to? If one is much closer than the other, then I would start by looking at the towns along the lines that go to the station closer to your office.
Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
The commuter rail system here is, on a good day, mediocre. If you google it, you'll see article after article about the trains, which are old and chronically late. The plus side is that it goes everywhere and much of its bad reputation comes from the winter two years ago, when the city got nine feet of snow.
Back in 2012, Boston made the mistake of hiring the head of Atlanta's transit system; my impression is that Boston is still recovering from that mistake. Here are some news articles whose headlines kind of explain what happened:

Boston Globe - Atlanta transit head hired to lead MBTA (September 25, 2012)

Boston.com: New T manager underwent professional counseling in Atlanta (November 11, 2012)

Boston Globe: With riders at witsí end, Beverly Scott quits as MBTA leader (February 11, 2015)


CBS Boston: Obama Withdraws Nomination Of Ex-MBTA Head Beverly Scott To NTSB (October 6, 2015)

Atlanta's transit system, MARTA, has dramatically improved in the last few years, after she left for Boston. Hopefully her Boston replacement is making similar progress there!
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Old Dec 7, 16, 7:11 am
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The T has been a problem for many, many years - long before any of the current administration was involved. If you are measuring time versus driving as your sole measure of transit, you will have to consider where exactly your workplace is before you decide on how your are going to get to work. If you factor in convenience and headache levels then ... yeah you are probably still going to have to consider where exactly. They have just removed the toll booths from the pike, so traffic flow has been completely upended in both good and bad ways. Are you working downtown financial district of back bay? If you live right near a pike ramp, and your place of work is right near the exit, and there is a parking garage you are willing to pay it might be faster.

I think your big factor here is finding a community you like more than anything, though. Are you looking for a conservative small town feel, or something more liberal and academic, or perhaps a diverse neighborhood? And will you be visiting the city with the family often, or is it for work only?

The challenge with the Boston area is that it varies so much from one town to the next.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 7:26 am
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Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
The T has been a problem for many, many years - long before any of the current administration was involved. If you are measuring time versus driving as your sole measure of transit, you will have to consider where exactly your workplace is before you decide on how your are going to get to work. If you factor in convenience and headache levels then ... yeah you are probably still going to have to consider where exactly. They have just removed the toll booths from the pike, so traffic flow has been completely upended in both good and bad ways. Are you working downtown financial district of back bay? If you live right near a pike ramp, and your place of work is right near the exit, and there is a parking garage you are willing to pay it might be faster.

I think your big factor here is finding a community you like more than anything, though. Are you looking for a conservative small town feel, or something more liberal and academic, or perhaps a diverse neighborhood? And will you be visiting the city with the family often, or is it for work only?

The challenge with the Boston area is that it varies so much from one town to the next.
Conservative in the metro Boston area LOL

Last edited by TrojanHorse; Dec 7, 16 at 8:35 am
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Old Dec 7, 16, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
Conservative in the metro Boston are LOL
Not to go too PR but there are a lot of conservatives in metro Boston. I know more than a few.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 7:54 am
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I wouldn't agree that the commuter rail is unreliable - in the 3 years that I used it twice a day, I can count on a single hand the number of times it was more than 15 minutes late. The later peak hour trains sometimes get caught up in congestion in the afternoon, but even then the delays aren't too bad.

Then again, I worked from home during heavy snow. If your job will require you to go in even in severe weather, it's probably worthwhile to find a place on the subway line. The subways are slow and dirty compared to the commuter rail, but frequency is a world apart.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 7:58 am
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Originally Posted by PVDtoDEL View Post
Then again, I worked from home during heavy snow. If your job will require you to go in even in severe weather, it's probably worthwhile to find a place on the subway line.
I wouldn't trust the Red Line until they replace most of their equipment, particularly the equipment from 1969-70. Won't start until 2019, won't finish until 2023.
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Old Dec 7, 16, 10:26 am
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Originally Posted by RatherBeOnATrain View Post
Is North or South station closer to the office you would be commuting to? If one is much closer than the other, then I would start by looking at the towns along the lines that go to the station closer to your office.
Back in 2012, Boston made the mistake of hiring the head of Atlanta's transit system; my impression is that Boston is still recovering from that mistake. Here are some news articles whose headlines kind of explain what happened:

Boston Globe - Atlanta transit head hired to lead MBTA (September 25, 2012)

Boston.com: New T manager underwent professional counseling in Atlanta (November 11, 2012)

Boston Globe: With riders at witsí end, Beverly Scott quits as MBTA leader (February 11, 2015)


CBS Boston: Obama Withdraws Nomination Of Ex-MBTA Head Beverly Scott To NTSB (October 6, 2015)

Atlanta's transit system, MARTA, has dramatically improved in the last few years, after she left for Boston. Hopefully her Boston replacement is making similar progress there!
Don't know about ATL, but it won't do much good in Boston. We have issues with the T that are greater than the individuals alone. The debt load is crushing and the trains badly need to be replaced. It gets the job done, but not much more than that.

Mike
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