Hooray! You’ve got your budget under control. Or at least, you’ve seen what affordability looks like in a spreadsheet. Bonus, you can see where your money is going each month and how much you are (should be) saving. Now what?
Well, in the great greater Boston area, it’s time to talk the first “L” of real estate. Location. Location. Location. And in Boston, we have more than a few to choose from. In the city? Or out of the city? North, south or west? Commuter Rail, T, Bus or Ferry. So, why not start with narrowing it down by area?
Some of the “community” lines on this map are a little off. But, then again, ask 5 different people what exactly the “North Shore” or the “South Shore” entails and you’ll get 5 different answers. Amiright? Also, there are many great towns not on this map. Andover & North Andover are missing for example. And, I’m no expert on Mass geography, so if some of these ‘burbs names are off, I do apologize.
When we started our search, we started with two very basic questions:
– North, south or west?
– Boston city limits or not?
We answered the first pretty easily. Although many people I know (through work) live on the North Shore, Mr. GMET grew up in Metrowest. Coupled with that is family proximity—his family lives in the “Blackstone Valley” region and I have extended family in Rhode Island. So, south it was.
The next question was one we didn’t figure out for a while into our search. We wanted to be close to the city, so we looked on both sides of the line, including towns like West Roxbury, Hyde Park and Milton in our initial search before we really focused in on one town.
How’d we narrow it down? We looked at a ton of stats and ratings. City-Data is a great starting place. Simply type in a town and you’ll get the median age, home price, income and more. Greater Boston Suburbs is another one if you’re looking to move beyond Boston. We looked at how long our commute would be on the Commuter Rail if we lived away from the MBTA bus/T. It turned out to be shorter than our typical commute on the Green Line, no surprise there.
So, armed with our narrowed down list and a bunch of research, we jumped in the car a few weekends in a row. We looked up the name of a restaurant in each of our top towns and headed out. We ate in each town, walked around the area where we ate, then drove through a few neighborhoods. We wanted to know what we were getting into, of course.
Finally, after figuring out our budget, we knew we were looking for a little more than a starter home. (We call it our “forever home.”) So, in addition to all the specs and stats, we also started looking at grown-up things like school rankings. Yes, we are that forward thinking. Keep in mind, we started this whole research and budget process more than 18 months ago.
All of these factors helped us settle on Milton and Dedham as our two key markets that we wanted to explore. Next up? The “fun” part. Exploring actual homes. Stay tuned.