Are you a young family on the prowl for your first home? Well first of all congratulations. That’s a big deal. And if you’re reading this, chances are you’re doing your searching in and around Boston, Massachusetts. For that, I do apologize — seeing as how Boston continues to rank as one of the most expensive cities in America.
But there’s another ranking that might be a bit more appealing to you: Boston consistently ranks as one of the top ten cities in the United States to raise a family. So which neighborhoods stack up in that regard? And what should you be looking for as you weigh your housing options?
When looking for the right neighborhood there are a number of factors to consider.
One thing’s for sure. Young families need to think about their children’s futures. A big part of that is the public school system. So when looking for your first house, it’s vital that you consider the state of public schools in the area.
Just outside Boston, in the city of Newton, Massachusetts, lies the West Newton neighborhood — in which reside 13,545 Massachusettans. According to Niche.com, West Newton ranks highest among all Boston-area neighborhoods for public schooling. For the youngins, that includes A.E. Angier Elementary and Cabot Elementary. For the young adults, Newton North High School ranks among the highest public schools in the region.
Downside about West Newton is that it’s not very affordable. The median home value stands at a hefty $701,758. Compare that to the National average of $178,600.
- Runner-Up Neighborhood for Best Schooling: Oak Hill
What family, young or old, doesn’t want to feel safe in their own home? It may be a luxury of the middle and upper classes, who notoriously reside in areas with less crime than urban populations. Nonetheless, crime rates remain an important factor when considering what neighborhood to settle in.
The Sudbury suburb of Boston boasts one of the best grades for crime rate on Niche.com. Coming in with an A-grade for crime and safety, it’s easy to see why some 18,397 people call Sudbury home. This grade is divided into two categories: violent crime and property crime. For violent crimes, the national averages for assault and robbery are 273 and 133, respectively. In Sudbury, the average for assault is 10; for robbery, 0. For property-related crimes, the national average stands at 2,051 thefts a year. In Sudbury the number is 236.
So if you’re looking for that safe, secure suburban feel you’ll find it in Sudbury. Just make sure you’ve got a household income of around $165,745. The median home value in Sudbury? $640,700. But surprisingly rent is a bit more affordable at $569 — although that number is a little skewed because 94% of the residents in Sudbury are homeowners, not tenants.
- Runner-Up Neighborhood for Best Crime and Safety: Lexington
Cost of living
This is probably the biggest factor for most prospective home buyers. Young families, especially, are avoiding home owning more and more as combinations of a tight job market, student debt, and other factors push them toward renting. Nonetheless, homebuyers are out there — even with the National market still in recovery mode from the 2008 bubble collapse.
Well as we’ve already mentioned, Boston consistently ranks as one of the most expensive cities to live in in America. So if you’re looking for actual affordability you might want to move to Iowa. But for those hard-headed homebuyers out there, the top choice in affordability is, again, Sudbury.
Other options include Ayer and Devens. Both of these small suburbs have relatively low median home values compared to other parts of Boston.
Final advice for young families
Rent. Save. Rent. Save. Rent. And save.