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Tips for moving to the Boston suburbs

Posted by Leslie Mann on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 @ 02:11 PM

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Relocating to the Boston suburbs can be very exciting. There’s so many wonderful sites to see and communities to get to know. If you’re planning a move to the Boston suburbs, here are some handy tips for making the most of your visit.

Choose the community first before the house. It’s easy to get swept up in all the beautiful homes for sale but it’s usually best to research communities first so you make sure to find an area that you and your family will love. Here are a few things to consider when trying to choose which Boston suburbs to live in:

Commuting distance. If you’re planning to take the train or subway to work, consider which station is closest to your office. For example, if you’ll be working in Back Bay or South Station, you’ll most likely want to consider communities to the west or south of the city since those train lines go directly to those areas. Likewise if you’ll be working near North Station then communities to the north and northwest would be the most convenient.

Check out our free Boston Commuting Guide for approximate travel times, costs, and more.) You can also find lots of helpful commuting tools at the MBTA website, including a trip planner and “service nearby” tool where you can enter an address to find the closest train or subway station.

Public school systems. Fortunately there are an abundance of highly regarded school systems here in the Boston Metrowest suburbs. In fact, four out of the top 10 ranked public high schools in the state are right here in the Metrowest. Here are some great sites to check out for comparing public high schools in the Boston suburbs.

* Boston Magazine’s ranking of the top Massachusetts public high schools

* U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of top high schools in the country

* Greatschools.org, where you can do side-by-side comparisons of schools and read parent reviews of local schools

Get insider advice. Interview a few buyer’s agents until you find one you’re comfortable with. Share with them what you’re looking for in a new community and ask them for advice on what towns and neighborhoods they think will best fit your needs, based on your lifestyle needs and budget. If you have friends, family, or colleagues who live in the area, ask them what towns they like best and why. Be sure to ask them about pros and cons of each Boston suburbs they mention. While not everyone’s tastes are the same, having this local knowledge can be very helpful for narrowing your search.

Check out some videos. If you’re not able to visit the Boston suburbs in person yet you can often learn a lot by checking out YouTube videos showing highlights of various Boston suburbs. Just type in terms like “living in Holliston” or “Town of Sherborn” and you’ll likely be able to get a good idea of the town before you schedule your visit.

Do some touring. Before your visit, ask your buyer’s agent to schedule some time to show you around the communities of interest before you dive into house hunting. This way you’ll have a real feel for what neighborhoods you like best. Once you’ve decided on a few areas to focus on, that’s where the fun house hunting begins!

Check out houses. Often when people are moving to the Boston suburbs they have a limited amount of time to find the right home. It’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed by it all as you go from house to house, but there are a few ways to help keep track of it all.

First, find a real estate comparison tool to help you keep track of what you like/dislike about homes that you find online. Then when you’re visiting, bring along your iPad or a notebook with this information so you can add to it as you check out the homes in person.

Jot down a quick note as you leave the home. For example, we often recommend to our clients that when they leave a home tour, make a note to yourself as whether the home is definitely not for you, is a home you like, or is in consideration. If the house is still on the list of ones you’d like to consider, jot down any major likes/dislikes as well as any open questions about the home. If it's off the list, just mark it off with an x and that way when you look back at your list of homes you'll be able to easily remember which ones are still in consideration and why. It’s a simple but handy way to organize your thoughts.

Stay nourished. Keep plenty of water and snacks with you along the way. If you're seeing lots of homes in one day, it's often good to have your buyer's agent schedule a break about half-way in between. It'll give you a chance to get a bite to eat, get a quick breather, and digest what you've seen so far.

If possible, allow more than one day to visit homes. This way if you have places you really like you have time to revisit them and further explore the neighborhoods the next day.

Consider childcare. Clients often tell us they find it less stressful to house hunt without the little ones along, especially if they're seeing numerous homes in one day. Throwing little ones off their routine can be stressful for them and their parents. But if you aren’t able to get a sitter, not to worry. There are many ways to make the experience pleasant for the whole family.

When small children are coming along on tour, we usually bring along plenty of games and healthy snacks to keep them happy. If time allows, it's also helpful to work in a break in the middle of the tour. For example, we’ll often plan a quick stop at a nearby park to give kids time to stretch their legs and run around a bit. The fresh air makes a world of difference!

Do you have more tips on making your house hunting journey a pleasant one? Please share them here! We’d love to hear from you.

[Image courtesy of Jessica Curtain]

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Topics: Boston suburbs real estate, best places to live in Massachusetts, best places to live in Boston, Boston metrowest real estate, Boston MLS, Boston suburbs realtor, Boston relocation