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Suburbs a bore?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 4, 2012 06:37 AM

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Meet Franksmartin, an unabashed cheerleader for living the life in hip urban neighborhoods like Davis Square.

When I knocked the idea of paying hundreds of thousands more to live in Davis or Cambridge as opposed to Quincy or Medford, Franksmartin, who lives in Porter Square, was ready with his zinger.

If I think it is nuts to blow money just to live with the hipsters, he thinks it's crazy to squander your money to live in some suburban bore-fest.

Now I like my Natick fixer-upper and the fact that I can walk with my kids to the center of town, which has come a long way over the past few years. It's a long way from boring.

But I'll concede that it's far from hip.

Anyway, turnaround is fair play, so it's time for Franksmartin to mount the soapbox here.

Many people want walk-able and bike friendly in addition to the option to have a car, a little more space than downtown, and less of the congestion. As for stuff in Davis for older people and families - what do you really need Markus? Flatbreads is possibly the best kid-friendly restaurant in all Boston. Diesel has some of the best coffee in Boston, Saloon has great high end whiskeys, JP licks for ice cream, a knucklebones(kids only) and the place is surrounded by playgrounds and it has a bike path going through it. It's an absolutely great place for kids. Sure most restaurants are not high end but that's great because they all have high chairs. I live in Porter not Davis, but just saying?

Lastly, part of the appeal of these areas is the fact that the "desirable" suburbs are un-walkable bore-fests. The boomer generation wanted quiet cul-de-sacs, big yards and too much house. Gen X and Y generally don't. I was in San Francisco last weekend, and we visited friends in the suburb of Burlingame. They have great schools, and walk-ability to a thriving downtown with ethnic restaurant, music, culture and arts. Compare this to the sleepy towns of Lexington, Belmont, and Winchester and you can easily see why people pay 700k for a place in Davis or Cambridge over these places. If they do feel forced to leave due to schools, they look first in Arlington - thus the huge demand there.

Jima - you typify the older generation that just doesn't get walk-ability. Once you live it, and you learn to embrace it, there is no going back without big regrets.

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

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