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Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Old Jan 8th 2014, 10:40 am
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Question Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Hello,

Wondering if any BE members live in, or are familiar with, the Boston suburbs? Specifically, areas to the west like Newton and Needham? I will be moving there hopefully when my visa comes through.

In particular, I'd like to know which areas or neighbourhoods you find friendly and easy to get around (I'm still learning to drive here in England but not sure I'll be a qualified driver by the time I get to the US), and what the schools are like if you are a parent with experience of that.


Many thanks!
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 11:45 am
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Originally Posted by Book Worm View Post
Hello,

Wondering if any BE members live in, or are familiar with, the Boston suburbs? Specifically, areas to the west like Newton and Needham? I will be moving there hopefully when my visa comes through.

In particular, I'd like to know which areas or neighbourhoods you find friendly and easy to get around (I'm still learning to drive here in England but not sure I'll be a qualified driver by the time I get to the US), and what the schools are like if you are a parent with experience of that.


Many thanks!
Newton is a bit posher than Needham. Also Newton has better public transport. If you can live close to Newton Center or Newton Highlands you'll have access to all you need.

Schools in Newton are very good. In fact Newton North is the most expensive and lavish high school in MA.

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/newto...w_high_school/
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 12:12 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Hello Nun

Thanks so much for your response. Newton Highlands or Newton centre look like good bets, especially in view of the transportation - I don't want to feel cut off. You mention the 'posh' factor which is interesting because I heard from a friend (a Brit) that he thought there was a bit too much of "keeping up with the Jones's" going on there but I'm not bothered by that. I think you can find like minded people wherever you go with a little effort. It can't be any worse than where I live now. Not a hugely friendly place.

As for the link you sent me to the High School - Oh my goodness!! I think I'd quite like to go back to school if it meant spending my days enjoying those facilities I've never seen anything like it.

My son will be enrolling at elementary school but it's good to know that such a place exists if we were to remain in the Newton area.

Thanks again, Nun.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 12:23 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Newton is the sort of place a family moves to when they have "made it". It has amazing services and great shopping, and is a quick commute or drive into Boston proper. The houses are big with a lot of really nice Victorians.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 1:10 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Wow, really tantalising glimpse into Boston life you give. I'm not sure we've made it yet though if the rental prices on Zillow for Newton properties are anything to go by!

But I'm so glad to hear that there are amazing services and great shopping though. I really wanted to hear something definitive about Newton from someone who knows. It's all very well searching online but so difficult to judge here from a distance.

Would you mind my asking how you are so familiar with the Newton area?
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 1:37 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Wow... I guess I'll move to Newton when I make it

I live in Needham. Myself and my family moved here about 18 months ago. I work in Newton - and yes, its certainly better served from a public transportation perspective - but its also more densely populated than Needham (think Chiswick rather than Windsor)

Both the towns you mention are great places. I could also reccommend Wellesley, Weston, Dover or Sherborne which all fall into the MetroWest area.

Having your children attend local schools is a great start to meeting people We were surprised that there were other British families that had kids at our school and we now have a number of British friends in the area, however, the fact that we met other families through the local school system means we also have just as many US friends as well. We feel a lot more settled in than other people we've met who've sent their children to the local British School.

Good luck with the move. I think you'll love the Boston area. Its a beautiful part of the Country.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 2:00 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Hi Mark,

So nice to read your post (not to mention reassuring). So funny that you should mention Chiswick because that's where we used to live until we moved to Surrey. The comparison makes it very clear. I kind of like the idea of living in a more densely populated area as I never got used to living out of London.

I did notice some very nice properties in Wellesley which you also mention. It's fun just looking and checking it all out.

The point you make about schools and friendships is so true. It would be really nice to feel part of the local community. I'm very encouraged by your words.

How did your children adjust to life in the US when they first arrived if you don't mind me asking?
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 2:18 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

When we arrived, our two children were 4th and 6th grade (9 and 12) I have to say they have adjusted to the school system fantastically well. The schools here are fantastic. We had our children in private school in the UK and they are absolutely better off here. Think that the schools in Mass are some of the best in the USA and the towns around the MetroWest have some of the best schools in Mass.

The appreciation of what your child requires with regards to specific help is very good and the staffing levels and class sizes - despite schools being very large here - are very, very good.

I would thoroughly recommend getting your child into some sort of sport. If you have boys then obviously soccer or American football, or even lacrosse depending on the time of year (I'd avoid Ice Hockey and Baseball - both mean long hours in either summer or winter) Girls seems to be either lacrosse or Soccer. That way they will make friends easier.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 2:37 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

This is really good to know. I've heard that MA offers a particularly good education system. I'll certainly be looking to get my son (8 yrs old - 3rd grade I think) enrolled in some kind of school club. It's so exciting! Roll on visa application please.

Will be looking out for your posts Markoncarp and appreciate you sharing your observations. No doubt I'll also be bending your ear with more questions in the near future
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 2:56 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

All the Metro West towns mentioned are really pleasant and nice. Wellesley and Dover are that bit farther out and beyond the T-lines and Rt128 and Dover is a lot more rural. Once you get beyond the T or bus lines or outside Rt128 you aren't in Greater Boston anymore.

The Metro West towns get a bit of stick from folks who live closer to Boston in the more blue collar neighbourhoods. Chiswick is a pretty good comparison to Newton though and the center is busy. The rest of the town is very residential with a large percentage of single family homes, but there's plenty of flats and rentals too. There's great shopping in Newton Center and at and around the Chestnut Hill mall which has some exclusive (expensive) stores like Tiffany and Kate Spade along with Bloomingdales and Apple etc. Best sushi in MA is at Oishii.There are also a couple of WholeFoods markets (think Waitrose) and it's very nice and you have easy access to downtown Boston as well.

Last edited by nun; Jan 8th 2014 at 3:10 pm.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 3:08 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Originally Posted by Book Worm View Post
This is really good to know. I've heard that MA offers a particularly good education system. I'll certainly be looking to get my son (8 yrs old - 3rd grade I think) enrolled in some kind of school club. It's so exciting! Roll on visa application please.

Will be looking out for your posts Markoncarp and appreciate you sharing your observations. No doubt I'll also be bending your ear with more questions in the near future
Schools in MA are very variable. Boston proper has some bad schools and some Western MA towns like Springfield and Holyoke had big issues a few years ago. But generally MA schools are good and the Newton schools have fantastic reputations. The town is basically rich with lots of well paid people who pay high local taxes so they can send their kids to good schools. Newton (like most of MA) is also pretty liberal and Democratic.....Obama got 71% of the votes in Newton in the last presidential election. There are lots of groups and clubs and plenty of opportunities to pursue any hobby or social cause you have.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Nun - So glad I joined BE! You're really building a picture for me.

Interesting that some schools in Boston proper are not rated very well - I noticed that when I first started researching. Seems this is common in urban areas everywhere. The schooling issue is really crucial for us as my son has some additional educational needs so if there is good funding for Newton schools, then the quality of teachers, programmes etc should be high by extension. It certainly looks that way from reading Newton public schools website. Trouble is no way of finding out which specific schools are particularly good for children with special needs. I will need to visit in person and see for myself.

Newton certainly sounds like it has some buzz in the centre and I will certainly be heading for some sushi when we get there.

I did wonder about the demographics there. 71% represents an amazing level of support for Obama. The last election was fascinating - I was glued to the tv coverage though the voting system there is incomprehensible.

Thanks again for the info Nun. You've been generous with sharing what you know :-)
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 5:51 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Originally Posted by Book Worm View Post

I did wonder about the demographics there. 71% represents an amazing level of support for Obama. The last election was fascinating - I was glued to the tv coverage though the voting system there is incomprehensible.

Thanks again for the info Nun. You've been generous with sharing what you know :-)
If you are coming from London you'll find Boston to be segregated by comparison. It's not nearly as bad as it was back in the 1970's when the old racist attitudes of the various Boston (Irish, Italian, WASPs) ethnic groups still held sway. It's now mostly segregated by income, although some towns still have some of their old ethnic bias...ie Brookline has a big Jewish community, South Boston - Irish. Newton is mostly defined as being a place where well off professional families live, but its very white....there's no Newton Carnival.
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 8:41 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Originally Posted by nun View Post
If you are coming from London you'll find Boston to be segregated by comparison. It's not nearly as bad as it was back in the 1970's when the old racist attitudes of the various Boston (Irish, Italian, WASPs) ethnic groups still held sway. It's now mostly segregated by income, although some towns still have some of their old ethnic bias...ie Brookline has a big Jewish community, South Boston - Irish. Newton is mostly defined as being a place where well off professional families live, but its very white....there's no Newton Carnival.
I lived for many years in London but now based in Surrey.

I do miss the diversity of London but more than that, I miss the energy and the buzz of city life. If the rents weren't so crazy, I wouldn't hesitate to live in Boston city but Newton's proximity is a real bonus. As with all these things, I try not to get too embedded in my own expectations and will just try to adapt to what I find. Having said that, I see myself going into the city a lot to explore once I'm there. I've only been to Boston once in 2010 and I loved it but the visit was too brief.

One place that I will certainly be revisiting is an ice cream shop in Cambridge called Christina's - marvellous, yummy and so many flavours to choose from
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Old Jan 8th 2014, 10:07 pm
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Default Re: Greater Boston Area (Metro West?)

Originally Posted by Book Worm View Post
I lived for many years in London but now based in Surrey.

I do miss the diversity of London but more than that, I miss the energy and the buzz of city life. If the rents weren't so crazy, I wouldn't hesitate to live in Boston city but Newton's proximity is a real bonus. As with all these things, I try not to get too embedded in my own expectations and will just try to adapt to what I find. Having said that, I see myself going into the city a lot to explore once I'm there. I've only been to Boston once in 2010 and I loved it but the visit was too brief.

One place that I will certainly be revisiting is an ice cream shop in Cambridge called Christina's - marvellous, yummy and so many flavours to choose from
Yeah, I ride my bike past Christina's quite often, it's a good place. Check out Rosie's bakery too, it's really close to Christina's and the Ancient Druid pub.
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