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When looking at towns, sometimes average is best

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 20, 2012 06:39 AM

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Sure, everyone wants the best for their children. But mortgaging yourself to the hilt to buy a rundown house in a town with "great schools" seems a dubious gift to your offspring.

Lisa's search for a half-decent house in some of the more expensive towns north of Boston sparked quite a discussion on the comment board of this blog.

Pregnant and expecting her first child in September, Lisa and her husband are yearning to leave their Melrose condo and buy a single-family.

But months of searching for a three-bedroom in Melrose, Wakefield and Andover in the low- to-mid $400,000s have yielded only frustration, with Lisa and hubby after getting outbid more than once.

Sadly, much of the advice offered to Lisa on the comment board of this blog was outright rude and in some cases downright mean as well - but believe me that will be a subject for another day.

However, sorting through all the chaff, there was this short but sweet bit of advice from ProperBostonian, who contends (rightly) that Lisa's search is too narrowly focused.

Don't limit yourself to two or three towns and stop worrying about finding the perfect school system. Average isn't necessarily all that bad, Proper urges.


No idea what your price range is but my wife and I were looking in those same towns last summer. We got discouraged as well. Last year, folks were saying, "inventory is vast; quality is scarce." Seems like that is the still the case.

Our solution? We started looking just outside of the 128 area both west and south of Boston. Everywhere from Sharon, to Walpole, to Dedham, Wayland, and Framingham. We were all over the map.

We finally found the perfect house, on a perfect street, but in an average town with an average school system.

Our rationale? Considering the cost of day care, if the school system stinks when our child is ready, we can afford private school.

My advice: don't limit yourself to a particular town/city. A lot can change in 5-10 years.

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

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

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