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Should you check out the neighbors – as in median income and education – before you buy?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis December 20, 2010 07:16 AM

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Housing snobs rejoice - technology has made your job much easier.

OK, sorry for the ribbing. Let's just say Greater Boston has more than its share of discerning buyers.

The Globe has reported extensively on the new census data and the fascinating portrait it presents of the Bay State's changing demographics.

And as one faithful follower of this blog notes, all this newly released data also provides house hunters with a wealth of information on various communities, from how far most residents made it in school to median income.

Here's a link to a chart that allows you to check out median age, education and income levels in towns across the state. No more guessing games.

So does this - or should this - all really matter? More than a few buyers are stretching to break into pricier towns, arguing they need to provide the best possible school systems for their children.

So why not take it a step further. Instead of just weighing the merits of that Colonial you just saw and the test scores of the schools in town, should you also be considering how much money your potential new neighbors earn and how far they made it in college - or whether they went at all?

I'm skeptical, but here's what one contributor to the comments section on this blog had to say.

"Characteristics such as median education, age, and income should not be overlooked - it's certainly useful in considering what the priorities of the community will be and if they match your priorities.

After all, these are the people that will serve as town selectman, on various town boards and committees (finance, environment, health, school, etc) and will decide issues at town meetings (in some communities)."


What's your take? Will only an Ivy League neighborhood cut it? Is it important to pay any price necessary to get junior into a school system with children whose parents are intent on grooming them for the elite? Does it all matter in the end?

To me, this seems like a repeat of the old social class game the WWII generation - and generation upon generation before our grandparents and great grandparents - knew all too well.

The social leveling of the 60s and 70s seemed to turn some of these old assumptions on their head, but not for long.

But the old classism now appears to have made a comeback - and with a 21st century technological twist.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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