Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from jj24. Show jj24's posts

    Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    Hello Everyone!

    I am new to this board and look forward to participating.  My family (DH, and 2 DDs) will be relocating to the Boston area next year and I'm hoping that you ladies would be able to lend your advice.  His job is being transferred to Cambridge, so we're looking at places both inside & outside 128.  I see that for some of the inner suburbs (e.g. Arlington, Belmont and the like) and frankly even some of the outer suburbs, that there are a lot of older two family homes that have been converted to 2-unit condos.  Should we even consider living in one of those places with a 5 & 7 year old?  I'm primarily concerned with noise (e.g. the neighbor complaining that our kids are too noisy and/or a childless neighbor being loud late at night, etc.) as well as yard space (I'm not quite sure how well a shared yard would work since most of these types of condos don't have a fence down the middle splitting the unit into 2 different yards).

     A single family home would be our first choice, but at our price range a lot of those condos look really nice (e.g. completely updated) while many single family homes in the same range are completely out-of-date and would require a lot of work (not just cosmetic, but often times major work like roofs, electrical, etc.)   Do you have experience, or do you know someone who has experience, living in one of these condos with kids?  I'm just wondering if we should even consider this option or take it off the table all together.  All advice is appreciated!  Thanks!

    P.S. -- A little background -- I went to college in Boston and lived there for many years after graduation so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the area. I moved away in 1999 though, so it's been awhile.  I didn't have children when I lived there, so I have a completely different mindset now.  

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from ajuly09. Show ajuly09's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    Welcome! As far as finding something nicer and updated in the areas outside of Boston, a condo is the way to go.  My friend rents in Belmont in a 2 family and has one child. The landlord lives downstairs and they share the yard.  They have a huge yard by apartment standards and are free to use it as they wish (the landlord hardly ever uses it). So if you had a situation like that, I think it would be absolutely fine with 2 kids.   
        I really can't answer if it would work out or not because I think how the yard is used is going to be different for each condo. You could find one with people who like to have BBQs late into the night and are always using it, or like my friend, one where they don't use the yard at all.  It would be a question for the realtor. 
       FWIW, we own a house outside Boston, it's an old fixer upper and sometimes I miss the days of our brand new condo in the city where nothing needed to be fixed, no lawn to mow etc.  I think a condo would be easier with kids as well as there is not as much upkeep.  
       Good luck in your search! 
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    We own a house outside of Boston (south shore).  There are a lot of great things about condos but we wanted a house.  My husband is very good with all sorts of carpentry, electrical work, etc.  He has a complete workshop (part of the reason we needed a house was to have room for all the tools haha) and whatever tools he doesn't own he can borrow from his father, who is also pretty handy.  It worked out for us but if you're not willing to put money and TIME into constant projects the condo might be a better route to go than a house.  Plus, where you're looking prices are a lot higher than here.  If we had bought up there we might have only been able to afford a condo.  I think it all depends on the situation.  As a previous poster said, sometimes everything works out and you feel like you've got your own yard.  You  just don't want to get yourself into a situation where someone is complaining that they can't stand the joyful sounds of children giggling at 6AM. 
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    The market hasn't fully bottomed out yet. Why not rent a house for a while and then buy when the prices go down? 

    I am a lawyer and before I moved away, I worked at firm that represented most of the condo associations in MA.  Condos under 10 units are nothing but trouble. If you can avoid buying in one, do it.  If you need a new roof in a 2 unit condo, you have to pay 100% if your other unit owner doesn't shell out, and then sue them in the name of the condo association for their half.  They can work out fine if you and your neighbor and co-owner get along, but if you get a difficult neighbor, or they start having money problems, you are looking at litigation purgatory.  Also, even if you have a wonderful neighbor when you move in, they can end up selling to your worst nightmare. Either keep looking for a condo in a larger association, buy a house that you can afford, or rent until you find something at your pricepoint for a single family house. GL.
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    I'm with Alf.  I've always heard that small condos are a nightmare.  Her roof example is a good one.
    I know prices are high in the Boston area, but with small children I'd want a single family if at all possible.
    Renting is always a great option until you find what you want.  My parents rented for 2 years when they moved here many years ago before buying.  And  great friend of mine rented in Wellesley for a couple of years before finding a house she could afford in the neighborhood she liked.
    Good luck!
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from jj24. Show jj24's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos


    Thank you very much for your advice.  I think that it's best that we skip the condo route (or, if we do go that way, that we should rent rather than buy in case it's a nightmare!)  

    With our relocation package we have a lot of incentives to buy, but I definitely don't want to buy a place that we don't like and/or where we won't be happy.  If that's the case we're better off declining some of the relocation benefits and renting.  I've been tracking a lot of places just to get a gauge of the market so that when our house hunting begins in earnest right after the start of the new year that we're not starting from scratch.

    Thanks again.  I look forward to "talking" with all of you on this board.
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from Krystabel. Show Krystabel's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    Hi JJ - the two towns you mentioned Arlington and Belmont have VERY different feels... Arlington is more urban and generally has smaller plots of land and a high percentage of renters (anyone living in Arlington pleace correct me if I am wrong) Where Belmont is a more suburbian feel, but VERY pricey - if you want a house with a yard, you can undoubtedly get more for your money if you look elsewhere.  

    You may want to read this recent thread - it is about the feeling of different towns in the area:

    Some of these discussed would be a tough commute to Cambridge, but Melrose, Lexington, Bedford, wouldn't be bad. .. you can look up the realitive locations on google maps to your DH's new job and I am sure people on this board would be able to tell you how the commute would be to/from various towns to Cambridge.  Also I don't think it was discussed on the above thread, by a friend just bought a house in Maynard and works in Cambridge and he has a very reliable 40 minute commute (traffic is not bad at all) and got a great new house with a huge yard for a steal.... you could ask others for their take on Maynard as well.  

    Just a thought.  Good luck and welcome to the area!

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from culhasa. Show culhasa's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    I have a friend who rented a house in Wakefield (commuting into Boston) and loved it.  We live in Melrose and love it here.

    Good luck!
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from jj24. Show jj24's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    I had previously read that entire thread on Towns with great interest.  I'm finding it a challenge to balance the whole schools/commute/price trifecta ;-)

    I was surprised to see several people in that thread say that they were disappointed in Arlington schools.  Based on test scores and rankings (which I know don't always tell the whole picture) I thought that Arlington schools looked like they could hold their own.  I know that they're not on the same level as Lexington/Concord, etc. but I had thought that they were pretty good.  Not so?

    What I'm having a very hard time pinning down is Melrose.  Everyone seems to love it, it's no stranger to Boston Magazine's "Best Places to Live" list, and the houses look adorable and reasonably affordable, but I have to admit that I'm not thrilled with what I see as far as the test scores are concerned (again, I know that's not the entire picture).  And recently I saw an article that for the second time in a row the high school is at risk of losing its accredidation.  What is the real scoop there?  

    Again, thank you all for your input.
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Winter2011Bride. Show Winter2011Bride's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    jj, I live in Stoneham (recently purhcased home) and I work in Cambridge.  It takes me 30 minutes to get to work (non highway). Teh schools are good.
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from Tangerine5. Show Tangerine5's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    Hi jj - we just bought a house in Arlington, and I've heard literally nothing but good things about the schools here. Admittedly, these are biased reviews, but everyone I've met raves about the elementary schools in particular (Brackett and Dallin more than others). We were thrilled to hear that a proposed $6.5 million override was just passed, so the school system (and roads - they need work!) will benefit.

    We had similar feelings about Melrose. Very cute town, charming downtown, and gorgeous houses that are much more affordable than in surrounding towns. But the schools just don't stack up, at least ranking-wise, and I wasn't thrilled about some of the surrounding towns. DH still likes it, though, and people I've met who live there love it. Our realtor felt that it's a town on the rise, so I wouldn't be surprised if prices continue to creep upward. Might have been a smart investment!
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kindalocal. Show kindalocal's posts

    Re: Moving to Boston -- Question about Kids & Condos

    West Woburn has a top-ranked Elementary School (ranked higher than 3 Lexington elementary schools - see for MCAS scores), and a new High School.  The area is less than 5 minutes from downtown Lexington, and there is new construction currently being put up (4 bed colonials ~2500 sqft) by a couple different builders.  Price advantage is substantial compared to Lexington (~40% less).  Commute to Cambridge is less than 10 miles to Alewife station, and there are already a couple PFE transfers here ;)