Tell me about New England
January 26, 2017 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Rather unexpectedly, I've been confronted with the possibility of moving to New England. I'm not entirely thrilled about this, but I guess I need some more information to properly make a decision. The thing is, we don't really know where to go, so suggest some places for me. Backstory and criteria inside.

For several years, my wife and I had been planning to move back to her hometown (Buffalo, NY) after she's done with grad school and her postgrad fellowship. That's this August. We just had a big wrench thrown in those plans, though, when her mom bought a condo in New Hampshire. Although it wasn't the only reason we were planning to move to Buffalo, having her mom nearby was a major benefit. (Her dad - they're divorced - is retiring in a month to his lake house an hour outside the city.) I still like Buffalo well enough, but at this point, it's no different than any other random city. I like Milwaukee too, but why would I move there?

The reason her mom moved is, in part, because the rest of her family lives on the east coast. She has a sister, niece, and nephew in Portland, Maine; a sister in Boston; a sister in Brooklyn; and her brother is in the process of moving to Cambridge. Her mom chose Exeter, NH, as it's roughly halfway between Portland and Boston. Now, my wife feels a bit left out, and she wants to be near everyone else, too.

In particular, she grew up very close with a few of her cousins (one of whom now lives in Jamaica Plain, and another who is most likely going to start grad school at Tufts in the fall), and she wants our daughter (and any other kids we have in the future) to have the same thing. For various reasons, my brother and sister are unlikely to have children, and so any cousins our child(ren) would have would be on her side. That, combined with having her mom nearby, has given her a strong desire to move to somewhere in New England.

Now, I like New England well enough. I've been to Portland and Boston both a couple of times, and I spent a week in 2008 going to a bunch of little towns in New Hampshire during the primary. Great place to visit. But I think most of the places I've traveled have been great places to visit. It doesn't mean I'd want to live there. I'm from the midwest (Ohio), and that's a pretty strong part of my identity. It would be a big psychological change for me to become a northeasterner. My preference would be to stay here in Ohio, but in order to make that case, I need to at least know what I'm arguing against, and who knows? Maybe I could find a place that would change my mind.

So here are my criteria:

-Within a two-hour drive of Portland. This limits the search area to southern Maine, southeastern New Hampshire, and northeastern Massachusetts.

-Within a one-hour drive of Exeter, NH. This is probably redundant, as Exeter is an hour from Portland, although it does rule out other cities in Maine north of Portland.

-Not exurban. I'm OK with suburbs, but the inner-ring, early twentieth century kind, not sprawling McMansion-and-chain store places where you never even go into the city center. We currently live in between Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington in Columbus, and I've lived in University City in the St. Louis area, if that gives an idea of what I like. My wife lived in Somerville, Mass for a while before we met, and I think that area is fine.

-Reasonable cost of living. We pay $975 for a 2br apartment in Columbus, and I'd like to stay around that range if possible. Long term, if we buy a house, we'd probably be looking in the $250k range, I imagine. (So Somerville's out.)

-Good public schools. Our daughter is only two months old, so this is a while off, but I don't want to have to move again when she starts school. Public schools are important; I'm not interested in sending my kid to a private school.

-Midwestern feel. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and that's something I enjoy. Mom-and-pop hamburger stands, miniature golf, soft-serve ice cream, lots of corn and cows. You know, Main Street America stuff. (Interestingly, part of the reason I was so on board with Buffalo is because Buffalo has this midwestern feel to me.)

So give me your best shot. Is there a place in New England that's so great I can't turn it down?
posted by kevinbelt to Travel & Transportation (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
New England, actually, is a wonderful place. I'm not sure why you are so worried about it. Well, not Connecticut. I'd stay out of Connecticut. But Massachusetts overall is a wonderful place. And I am born, bred, full life in New Jersey. The only thing that kills me is it's about 10 degrees colder than NJ.. but Ohio-wise, weather, you should be right in there.

To that, also I'll add I went to school in the Pittsburgh area, so lived there for 4 years, which I think the suburban areas around Pittsburgh are Ohio-ishy. And my family lived in the Boston greater region for about 10 years, so I'd go visit. Which is to say Rhode Island is pretty nice, too.

The home-town feel is what New England is all about. Boston and Cambridge are a bit more hustle/bustle.. but there's lots of places between say, Worschester and Boston like Hopkinton that are subrban home town kind of communities... there's also variety.. so you'd have to decide if you want more ocean, more mountainy, more river/lake, etc.. because they all have their little nuances.

There's mom and pop places, soft-serve, maybe less corn, some cows depending where you go...

Not sure what the work requirements are, but for the $$ your talking, you will likely need to be a bit outside any main city center.
posted by rich at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oh, I should have clarified. Small towns are good. I don't mind being out in the middle of nowhere; in fact, I'd probably prefer it. I just don't want that in-between state, where you've got the remoteness of being in the middle of nowhere, but you're surrounded by crap development and McMansions.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:46 PM on January 26, 2017


Also, I'm aware that the answer is "Vermont". :) But alas, even the closest parts of Vermont are still too far from Portland. Otherwise, that would be a no-brainer.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:48 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Sending you a Memail!
posted by damayanti at 2:55 PM on January 26, 2017


Portland itself seems pretty close to what you're looking for. I don't know it well, but I've been a couple of times. Any chance you could spin out what you're looking for that strikes you as "Not Portland"?
posted by LizardBreath at 2:58 PM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


I grew up in New England, very near Boston. I am almost certainly priced out of my hometown. If I were to move back to New England (which isn't going to happen), I would be primarily interested in living in Providence, Western Mass in the Amherst or similar area, or Portland. Two of those are ruled out by your distance requirements. I don't like NH.
posted by vunder at 3:25 PM on January 26, 2017


I'm not familiar with more affordable parts of New England because the places where my family members lived are no longer affordable. (Winchester, Newton, median home prices now over a million, oof.) But I want to offer: I think small town New England is going to feel more familiar than you think it's going to. My mom's family relocated from Massachusetts to NE Ohio for my grandfather's medical residency and stayed there; I don't think the opposite direction is going to be culturally difficult. There's less corn and more people who say "soda". After growing up in small town Ohio in the 50s and 60s, my aunt moved back to the Boston area and lived there happily for many years. I've often felt like a lot of small towns in Ohio are trying to feel like Massachusetts and not always succeeding, at least in part because they're struggling to keep population in a way at least Boston's surrounding towns weren't when I was growing up.

"Sprawl" is not quite so much a thing in the sense that it is when you get further west. When Boston sprawled, there were already towns there, so it just kind of started to absorb them. Everything was always closer together. Things were built on a scale that originally anticipated horses, not cars. The impact this has on housing prices is unfortunate, but incomes are also different, as are job prospects.

The one thing I think is worth thinking about in this day and age is that the politics of small town Ohio versus the politics of small town New England are likely to be VERY different, and how you feel about those things (or how much you feel like engaging in daily activism to change things) is likely to make a big difference in how happy you are in one versus the other. Not that everybody in New England is a liberal or everybody in Ohio is a conservative, but the dynamics are going to be different.

I've always liked small town Ohio--in theory. In practice, I wouldn't want to move there without a lot of energy to try to make things better. Housing might be cheaper, but a lower property tax base in Ohio almost always means struggling schools, especially in terms of funding electives and extracurriculars. Massachusetts at least--not sure about surrounding states--has a much better track record on public schools. Not perfect, but Ohio's kind of a trash fire on school funding and this is not likely to improve before your kids graduate high school.
posted by Sequence at 3:34 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I would look at Ashburnham, Westminster, maybe Lunenburg.

Massachusetts schools are excellent. If you go any farther east you'll it will get pretty expensive. (Other than a couple small cities that don't fit your criteria)
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:36 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yup, North central Mass should do you well. The farther from Boston the better the bang for your housing buck. There are plenty of small towns around there, and southern NH, that you will feel comfy in. My SO is from Exter (make sure you get Moe's sandviches!) and I grew up around Worcester. Do you ski? Wachusett mountain is a great perk if you do.

Providence is quite groovy and puts you in striking distance to NYC, Boston, and other points north. Again, small towns outside Provy proper will have better housing costs.

I lived in NYC from 1997 to 2013, now I'm back in fairly rural Mass and I love, love, love it. JOIN US.
posted by vrakatar at 4:20 PM on January 26, 2017


Hi! I grew up in Columbus, moved to Boston, and then lived there for ten years for college + work. FYI, I spent my first 2-3 years hating Boston. Not that I would move back to Cbus - I really wanted to escape - but it took me a while to get into the New England way of life. Now, I love it, and living in SF now I am the grumpy East Coaster refusing to give up my East Coast ways.

The things I liked that reminded me of home - apple picking in the fall (except EVEN MORE APPLES). Similar winter, except more snow than rain (YMMV if you're from above the lake effect line in Ohio), and more blue sky than grey, so yay for that. Similar summer, except less humid. Tomatoes are better in Ohio, but the corn in Mass isn't bad. Small towns in Central/Western Mass are really, really nice.

Lots of north and south shore towns have little mom'n'pop softserve places, clam shacks, cheesy things like minigolf and arcades, etc. They're really nice to visit in the summer. You'll have to drive to find this, but I'm pretty sure you're not finding it in UA either, so hopefully that won't be too much of a change.

It is more expensive to live in Mass, and near Boston in particular, but you also get paid more than you do in Ohio and yeah, the schools are so much better. Have a look at Acton; we were looking at moving back to Boston earlier this year and Acton was where we decided to look at housing, since there's an express commuter rail train into the city from there.
posted by olinerd at 5:15 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm from Italy and I moved to the Boston area a little over a decade ago for college. I have since moved further out from the city (first Cambridge, then my beloved Somerville for 7 years, and now I live in Concord, MA) and I adore it here. My husband is from NH (northern NH, best described as "poverty and moose") and we both agree that NH is not for everyone.

If we didn't want to be relatively close to Boston and family I would have loved to move to central or western MA because it would have been cheaper to get some farmland but alas. I love how liberal MA is, I love the seasons (expect mud season, mud season sucks), I love the landscape, I love the food. I love how welcomed I've always felt, I love the arts and the educational opportunities, I love the schools for my kids, I love the old town centers and the museums, and I love the history.

I've actually not yet come to terms with how much I love NE, but man, do I love New England. Give it a chance!
posted by lydhre at 6:01 PM on January 26, 2017


Buffalo is a great city and incredibly cheap. Jaw-droppingly cheap. So cheap that I would really consider that even if you visited New England several times a year, you might still come out ahead.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:11 PM on January 26, 2017


New England is FULL of beautiful natural space, small towns, and local economies. Maybe you've read articles about the "Boston-D.C. Megalopolis" and you're imagining that it's all as densely populated as New York? But it isn't. And your location criteria would put you north of the megalopolis anyway.

Speaking as a New Jerseyer, this is how I would describe New England:

The whole region is rooted in its history. There's tons of 400-year-old buildings. Newer constructions will imitate older architectural styles. People are tapped into older ways of doing things. You'll find a huge variety of people - bluebloods, rednecks, socialists, libertarians, academics, Irish Catholics, hippies - even in rural areas. (these people will mostly be white, outside of Boston, but still.)

You should check out Cape Cod, even though it doesn't fit your criteria, because it is b e a u ti ful, it has so much protected natural land, and it's full of those small-town mom-and-pop stores, although the economy is mostly seasonal. And because it's on the ocean it doesn't get so cold.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 6:13 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


even the closest parts of Vermont are still too far from Portland.

It's not even that far, you just can't get there quickly because the big highways don't go that way. I'm a lifelong New Englander (except for a half decade in Seattle) and I love it. The big thing, I think would be to acquaint yourself with the real differences between NH, ME and MA. I say I love New England but honestly you couldn't pry me out of VT with a crowbar because the state politics thing is too important to me. There are some big differences between the states in that way and if you care, you might want to look into it.

Cost of living is tough in MA but the schools are excellent. You mention driving but you might also want to look into public transportation options? You can get much further out in MA (for example) if you want to be in Central MA and you can still get a train into the city. I have a friend who lives in Madbury NH which seems decently affordable and he's forever riding his bike to the farmer's market and doing all those quaint New Englandy things. Do you have jobs to worry about?

I have a good friend who lives in MA who is like you, his whole family is in Ohio and he drives back a few times a year to visit. He's also a MeFite I'll see if I can get him to chime in here.
posted by jessamyn at 6:37 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Check out Boxborough!
posted by vrakatar at 6:48 PM on January 26, 2017


that's actually where I grew up, it's a great town but nowhere near affordable. great schools though.
posted by jessamyn at 7:01 PM on January 26, 2017


We recently moved from central MA to further east. The government structure in new England is very town based. I grew up in central NY where county government is dominant and this difference has some subtle but important effects. On the downside, every town is individually responsible for its own roads and snow removal and other infrastructure things, which is remarkably inefficient based on my observations. But I think there are more pluses - people are remarkably involved in local government in the smaller towns, I think because it is so clear that it matters. Some communities have more going on than others and each focuses its limited resources on different things. But I digress - another effect of strong towns is that every town is a little different from all the others. When we were moving, I knew this and was looking for some details on how to pick a town - here are the answers, which will give you a lot of flavor regarding towns north of the mass pike and in the 495/128 corridors (including acton mentioned above). Spoiler alert, we moved to bolton - we did get our acre+ for under $500k but there was limited selection. Bolton, Stow, box borough, Lancaster, Berlin all have images of being bucolic picturesque little towns with quite a lot of fans and orchards, but living in most parts, one is not at all in the middle of nowhere as you fear.
Question
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:29 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I live in Portland. Portland is awesome. There are smaller towns around Portland that you would probably love. What exactly is it that you don't like about Maine ?
posted by pintapicasso at 9:12 PM on January 26, 2017


If you don't mind being in a town, it sounds like you might want.....drumroll... Exeter, NH. Have you been? It is a New England Main Street USA.
posted by athirstforsalt at 11:54 PM on January 26, 2017


SIDEBAR on "Main Street USA". Minigolf, cows, pick your own farms, corn, burger shacks: yes yes yes. But let's talk ice cream. As a native New Englander I can assure you that it's all about hard ice cream. Seriously-- if you visit Ben and Jerry's, Richardsons in Middleton, MA, Herrell's in Northhampton and Lizzy's in Waltham and don't come away recognizing New England as the ice cream capital of the USA, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
posted by athirstforsalt at 1:00 AM on January 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I was born and raised in the Southern US, and I came up to the Boston area for college and then never left. (It's been 11 years or so at this point.) I absolutely love it up here, and I think a lot of people have already mentioned some of this stuff.

Where I grew up, there was so much suburban sprawl, and sure, there is the occasional strip mall I guess, but there are also so many quaint and often beautiful towns. It is definitely more town focused, and the towns are much smaller and closer together than what I was used to. Also agreed about towns/cities having more control of things than in some places. Overall, I also feel like, at least in Eastern MA, a huge value is placed on retaining the history and natural beauty of the area, which is great.

Of course, the big down side is affordability, although I have found that a lot of jobs seem to pay better up here than they might other places (although maybe not so much in the minimum wage/service industry, but I can't really speak to that). If you do live in one of the more NE towns outside of Boston in MA, definitely see if you can find somewhere that has the commuter rail/train into Boston. That can be pretty handy. There are also a lot of really great schools.

I've only been to Portland once, but I really liked it. Since you have family there, that area might be something to consider.

Other things I love about New England:

Seriously, the history! Like Walden Pond, Minuteman National Park.

And it's nice to have so many neat places so close by. Providence, Portland, Vermont, Cape Cod, and even NYC is only about 4 hours away from Boston (by train or by car, although with traffic, it's more like 4-6 hours).

Also, a lot of great food options, including plenty of small, mom-and-pop type places. Like, just take Waltham. There are several great Indian Food restaurants, at least one good Thai place, and a couple really great breakfast places, that have a really great atmosphere.

We pay $975 for a 2br apartment in Columbus, and I'd like to stay around that range if possible. Long term, if we buy a house, we'd probably be looking in the $250k range, I imagine

Affordability will also depend on whether you're okay with a 2 bedroom condo or a house with an acre or more. I know someone who was looking at a little condo in Acton (right next to Boxborough), and it was right around this price range, but that was a few years ago. Acton and the surrounding area is really nice, and the public high school, Acton-Boxbourough is a great school. But I think a lot (most?) of the schools in Mass. would be good options (at least compared to the ones where I grew up).

Also, in this political climate, there's a lot to be said about moving up here to Massachusetts (assuming you're okay with the liberal atmosphere...although I believe central Mass, especially the Worcester area, is a little island of red surrounded by a lot of blue). I think the main reason the schools up here are pretty great is because money is actually spent on education, unlike, say, Florida, where that just wasn't the case. Also healthcare.

if you visit Ben and Jerry's, Richardsons in Middleton, MA, Herrell's in Northhampton and Lizzy's in Waltham don't come away recognizing New England as the ice cream capital of the USA, I'll be a monkey's uncle.

This was actually the thing that surprised me the most about New England. Like I said, I grew up in the Southern US, and I figured up here in New England, where there are only like 2 months of summer, ice cream would not be a thing. But it's huge up here, year round. (Alas, I've yet to find a decent smoothie place. And no, Jamba Juice and Fresh City don't cut it).

But yay Lizzy's!

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is that I think New England is a great place to live. I absolutely love it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:04 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


"What exactly is it that you don't like about Maine ?"
"Any chance you could spin out what you're looking for that strikes you as 'Not Portland'?"

No objections to Portland per se. It's quite pleasant, and I know my way around enough (Pizza Joint, Elevation Burger, etc.) that I wouldn't have to use Yelp to find somewhere to eat the first week. If that's the best option, I'm open to it. My reluctance is based on the fact that my sister-in-law is already there. Not that I don't like her. It's just, my wife is the middle child of her family, and her Portland sister is the oldest, and their personalities and family dynamic are such that my sister-in-law tends to overwhelm my wife. I'd like my wife to have some space of her own, so that she can live her own life and not just be her sister's little sister, you know? I mean, there's a reason that I'm the one asking about moving to New England, rather than her sister asking about moving to Ohio.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:21 AM on January 27, 2017


The same is true, to a lesser extent, with Exeter. Nice town, I've driven through, but we'd be in the shadow of her mom the whole time. It's one thing in a bigger city like Buffalo, but another in a smaller town like Exeter.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:33 AM on January 27, 2017


Say no more, I completely understand. I want to throw Portsmouth NH into the ring. Great little city/big town.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:18 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I grew up in the Boston area, my wife was born in Vermont, and after we were married we lived in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and then Massachusetts again. I love New England. I still consider myself a Bostonian (now that we live in North Carolina).

I think you would really love New England. The history of development means that there really aren't many exurbs in the way that you find in places that are less dense and more recently developed. There are certainly rural areas between the cities, but because the cities developed close to each other in the Colonial period, there was no room for exurbs. By the time you go far enough from a city to where an exurb might congregate, you are already in another city.

Personally, I would encourage you avoid New Hampshire. I did not enjoy living in NH at all, despite having an excellent job and an excellent day care situation for my young daughter. Perhaps it's changed enough in the 10 or so years since we left, but we felt like it was very unwelcoming and unfriendly overall. Obviously, that's just my personal opinion - I know plenty of lovely people who quite enjoy the state. That said, the schools are certainly better in Massachusetts, but as Tandem Affinity mentions, it varies by town, rather than region, for the most part.

Your price range might be tough in Massachusetts, but the small towns outside of 495 are probably your best bet, though they are also the most likely to be victims of what little exurban-type development exists in the state. You will have to examine the are carefully to find the kinds of neighborhoods and communities you like.

You don't mention your jobs, so I assume you are remote workers or finding work is otherwise not a major consideration, but if it is, that may make for a difficult commute into an urban center for you, so that is something to consider - traffic can be terrible in eastern Massachusetts.

I don't think you can rule out New England based on your priorities, it's just a matter of finding exactly the right place for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:41 AM on January 27, 2017


Welcome to Salem, MA. We have more than just witches and Halloween. We have all the stuff those things pay for with tourist dollars that you will not see in many small New England cities - a thriving international museum, restaurants beyond gastropub, small locally owned shops, a walkable downtown, etc.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:43 AM on January 27, 2017


Dover, NH. Ever since Amtrak arrived it's become quite an up and coming place. But I don't know about the schools.
posted by JanetLand at 7:52 AM on January 27, 2017


Geographically, the northern tier of Massachusetts seems optimal, but... My impression is that it's comprised of rather wealthy towns (Andover) and hard luck cities (Lawrence), i.e. places you can't afford to live and places you don't want to live.

I have cousin who lives in Somersworth, NH and commuted to Boston via Amtrak for a while. I don't think he went every day, but as JanetLand noted, it's possible. Personally, I'd look in the general Portsmouth area.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:10 AM on January 27, 2017


I grew up in Sandusky, OH and went to college in Dayton. Then I lived in Maine for a few years, then briefly in New Hampshire, and now have been in Massachusetts for 10+ years.

Thing #1 I want to say is avoid living in MA if at all possible.

Beyond that, I think I'm just echoing what others have said: Portland sounds perfect for you (aside from the sister thing) but is honestly worth considering. I was there for 3 years and miss the walkable small-town feel of it terribly. Westbrook and Gorham may be okay too, but close enough to just live in Portland.

Dover, NH is where I lived in 2005, which I also loved. Small town, nice downtown with places to walk to, plus it has the train line. A little further out is Concord, NH, still small town feeling, but it might be pushing your distance limits. There's also Milford, NH, which is much smaller and further from Portland, but still nice. Portsmouth has always been a nice city to visit, but never struck me as somewhere I'd want to live (and I believe is fairly expensive).

I'm sorry I can't help with schools, and that probably is the advantage MA has over other New England states - more taxes means better funded public institutions. New England is great overall and you can be very happy here, but the town you live in means everything for a day-to-day happy life. Stick to Maine and New Hampshire if you can: Massachusetts is traffic, people, restrictions, and high costs almost anywhere you go. The northern New England states are just not like that.
posted by herzogbr at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2017


New England has a *lot* of that small-town, Norman Rockwell, Main Street USA sense-of-place. I recommend Portsmouth, NH or Salem, MA which have already been mentioned.

Other possibilities: Manchester, NH - the "largest city in New Hampshire" still has a fairly small-town feel - certainly smaller than Buffalo. Great downtown, parks and museums.

If you're willing to consider a bit further afield, head an hour north of Portland to the Mid-coast region of Maine - many wonderful small towns, such as Freeport, Bath, Boothbay, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, and Rockland. Note that many of these places are heavily dependent on summer tourism - summer in coastal Maine is divine.
posted by Ardea alba at 8:46 AM on January 27, 2017


People have mentioned a lot of good options above. But where are you and/or your wife hoping to work? A long commute when you have young children is just not a very good idea. Like, your kid gets sick at daycare and you're both over an hour away is not good. So maybe before you figure out where you should live you should look into where you might work and then look within a reasonable commute. Traffic can get pretty crazy, with or without lousy weather.
posted by mareli at 9:39 AM on January 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Manchester and Portsmouth NH are decent choices. There are some beautiful parts of Lowell, MA that might fit your criteria, too, or Fitchburg - many of the towns in North Central MA work. Outside of 495 you're mostly away from the exurbyness and into small-town feel, and these small towns are often pretty great. I'm from Michigan and have lived in Cambridge for 17 years now and am sort of baffled as to how you find it very different from the midwest. We have farmers markets and ice cream and minigolf (seriously, visit many Richardson's locations - they even have bumper boats at one, or at least used to). Unless you're allergic to hills, New England is pretty, town-centered (instead of sprawly), close to the ocean and mountains, and has lots of universities around to keep things interesting. Ok, I miss the Great Lakes, but it's still worth it to be out here.

Your biggest determinant is going to be jobs. The most and best paying jobs will be nearer the more expensive cities, and you really don't want a long commute (which, as you know, in Boston can be the 5 miles that take 45 minutes in rush hour).
posted by ldthomps at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2017


Apologies for threadsitting, but I'd like to hear more about Manchester, Lowell, and Lawrence. I've seen them described here and elsewhere as "rough", but how so? Like, I'm aware that they're deindustrializing and somewhat run-down and less affluent as a result, but I grew up in a pretty lousy Rust Belt town, and we were considering moving to Buffalo, which isn't exactly glamorous. I have a pretty high tolerance for abandoned factories and urban decay, as long as there's a nice neighborhood nearby with a good school.

As for jobs, that's not a concern at this point. It's too early in the planning process, and even later on, it might not be a concern. My wife works in a specialized subfield of higher education student services. She has solid credentials, excellent recommendations, and a pretty good network, plus there are hundreds of colleges scattered across the region. As for me, my position is not particularly specialized, and it's something that can be done remotely very easily. In fact, I'm pretty sure my current job will let me stay on remotely, at least temporarily. Once we have a couple of finalists (and we actually decide if we're moving or not), then we can evaluate job options.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2017


Lexington and Concord are quite nice for this description. Steeped in history, good schools, still a little bit small town feeling in comparison to Boston. Easy drive to Portland and NH. I also second Salem and the Peabody area.
posted by donut_princess at 5:58 AM on January 28, 2017


Lowell is a few towns over from where I grew up and, like Lawrence, it's a place that sort of had the bottom drop out of it and didn't really come back. Nice multicultural populaton. The thing I think of when I think of Lowell besides all the great mill buildings and the history is the drug problems. Which can translate into a lot of nuisance property crime type of thing. Which... not a terrible deal as these things go, but it depends on how up for it you are living in that sort of situation. And you'd want to pick your neighborhoods carefully. It has some fascinating history. Real estate is affordable, it's very convenient to the highway, I don't know much about the schools but their reputation isn't the best. At the point at which you're that far north, you're almost in New Hampshire and you could live in the Nashua area for significantly less (again, check into how you feel about the politics of the various states). Lexington and Concord are both terrific in an old-tymey New England sort of way but not at all affordable to live in. Very good schools.
posted by jessamyn at 6:44 AM on January 28, 2017


Going around coastal Northshore: Swampscott, Salem, Danvers, Beverly, Manchester, Gloucester, Rockport, Magnolia, Ipswich, Hamilton/Wenham, etc... I grew up on the nawthshah, and the schools were generally okay-to-great, it was easy to get into the city by bus or commuter rail (except if you lived in Pee-bih-dee where I grew up), and so on. Real estate isn't cheap though, so I dunno what I'd expect in the 250K range, but I am sure there's something. In the inner-ring closer to Boston, Winthrop's kinda cool, a very town-like feel to it but, right next to Logan Airport. (I used to take my son to Winthrop to watch the planes take off and land.) Lynn, Revere, Chelsea, East Boston and Everett have the cheaper and more ethnically diverse, first-generation feel to them. Charlestown is getting way too pricey. (But you're also a skip and a jump away from the Middlesex Fells, a giant forest refuge.)

In any case, easy access to a local beach is fun in the summertime, too.
posted by not_on_display at 7:47 PM on January 28, 2017


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