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Live off Rt 2 Central MA? Tell me about your town!

909 Views 33 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Kerlowyn
Hi Mommas,

DH and I are looking to move from here outside Providence, to a town off Rt 2. Some of the towns where we have seen houses in our price range are Gardner, Templeton, Hubbardson...towns west of 495. We would like slightly or very rural. How is the town you live in???

Thanks for any input
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we live in fitchburg, but have friends who have a small farm in hubbardston, which is rural and beautiful. also they have a great town beach on a beautiful pond where we often swim in the summer.
happy house hunting!
Well, it's technically Baldwinville, which is part of Templeton. It's a bit rural. LOL--definitely nothing urban about it! The housing is pretty inexpensive in this area too. I'm pretty familiar with Gardner too (under 10 minutes from where I'm living). It's less rural, although some parts on the outskirts are nice. Let me know if you have any specific questions!
We live in North Orange, the town is really coming around with tons of commuters to Boston living here. It takes my Dh about 1.15 or so to get to his job in downtown. We live on an acre right on a lake, very beautiful. I would say if you are looking for rural this is a great place. For me it's been a bit of a shock, coming from Boston, but even with that, I still can't believe how beautiful it is here, and the BARGIN of a deal we got on a beautiful house! Plus I am getting used to the area and am finding many cool mama's and also some great farms, we joined a CSA, and there is a farm up the street from us that has raw milk and free-range eggs, meat, raw cheese... If you are into that. I just joined up with a food buying coop too and am getting to know the homeschoolers up here and on the PVHG group (pioneer valley homeschooling group... The PV is very progressive and family friendly and not too too bad of a drive from up here)
Sunshinemomma, that is exactly what we are looking to do. DH works in Woburn, and from where we live now he commutes at least 1.5 to 2 hours each way
and most of that is 128/95...yuck. Gas is our biggest expence after rent.
Even though we expect that he will end up having a 1 hour commute, maybe more...Rt 2 must be better than 128 for sure. Plus, we rent a house now, in the middle of suburban sprawl that is growing daily, and DH says he would not mind a long commute if it was to a home WE owned, in a setting like what you have.

So, how long does it take for you all to get to the Boston area? What is Rt 2 like at rush hour?

Also, how are the schools? I don't mind average schools, I can fill in the gaps in education myself. But awful schools I would rather stay away from.

Thanks Mommas!
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I grew up in the rt. 119 area so I'm very familiar with these towns. My advice is if you are sending your kids to public school, think twice about Gardner or Orange. Mahar Regional is one of the worst performing HS in the state. Bill Cosby actually funded an initiative to raise the MCAS scores and help these 'rural poor' families and children. There's a reason why the houses are so cheap here!
Rt 2 is much easier to drive on than 128 or the pike, which is why we ended up out here. My DH drives to work early, like 5:30 am, and says there is almost no traffic. It does take a little longer like and hour 20 or even an hour and a half to get home. The longest part for him though is getting into downtown, he works RIGHT in Boston, so he has to get all the way to Boyleston St (SP???) So you guys would avoid that.

I did go and look at the PS school here, and I agree, the school is not great. I hear it is better than Athol, which is supposed to be horrid. But we homeschool, so I don't deal with that. There is a great small private school in Royalston that we did look at, they have really good scholarship and financial aid and it's actually not that expensive compared to others. It is the Village School and it's in Royalston, the next town over, I would actually send my kids there, but we have 2 and I don't think I can send Caleb and not Meadow, and I am actually not really sure school is right for Caleb anyway.... But we did get so far as to apply, which is big for us
You could check it out, but also I have heard that the Orange School is not really that bad, we have heard mixed things, but all in all I think people around here are okay with it. Caleb will go to OT and Speech there, and the special ed people were REALLY NICE.

The other thing is, I see really really really nice houses still on the market here (I am kind of a addict) for great deals. So check it out if you like!
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Orange is not in the Mahar Regional HS, Orange has it's own high school, and it is for the towns of Orange, New Salem and Petersham.
Here is the article about Bill Cosby. I don't know much about commuting on Rt 2. We are checking out towns on Rt 495 right now.

Originally Posted by sunshinemama
The other thing is, I see really really really nice houses still on the market here (I am kind of a addict) for great deals. So check it out if you like!

Me too...we are loving this house....
Link to house

it has everything we want...ugh...but we have yet to start the morgage process, we are just at the beginning

MA mommy, thanks for the link!
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when thinking about commuting on rt 2 you should know there is a lot of construction in Concord, and they plan on eliminating the rotary by the prison... a big project that will no doubt take a long time and will make traffic worse before making it better (if it ever does that).
dh commutes from fitchburg to needham and it takes at least 1 1/2 hrs at rush hour, and an hour other times. we are finding the long drive to be very wearing, even though we love being out of the city...
We drive from Greenfield (a little west of Orange) to Littleton to visit the in laws on a regular basis. I love driving on rt 2! We looked at moving to Orange when we were house searching, but it was too far a commute, I love Greenfield, and we found a house in town where we could walk everywhere.

But one of these days, I'd love to get a few acres and move somewhere like New Salem, Royalston....
Kerlowyn that looks like a great house! I was just over to visit someone in Athol, on the Petersham line, and they live in a beautiful neighborhood too. So I would not diss the area, for us we were not into it at first either because of the (out of date I would say) stigma of the "hick" area. But more and more people are moving here, almost everyone I have meet has a Dh or some member of the family working in or close to the city. I think the idea of the "rural poor" is pretty much on the way out everywhere in MA. MA is an expensive state, that is a fact!

Anyway, I would not diss the area, it is beautiful here, and I am meeting cool families, and really you can't beat the price. We looked almost EVERYWHERE for a house, and we ended up getting an almost new (2000) house on an acre, that needs no work, (no we did not have to put in all new floors or a new roof before we could even move in, thank goodness) and we have a beautiful piece of the country, and not to mention that with the latest influx of Boston commuters coming this way, the house prices are just going up....
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Hey if you get that house, I am coming over to hike! I was looking at it again and it does look great!
Hi Kerowlyn--

I think the commute from west of Leominster to Woburn is going to be at least 1.5 hours to 2 hours if not longer. My husband commutes from Leominster to Wilmington, not far from Woburn. It is not a straight shot on Rte 2. He has to use either 128 or 495 and Rte 3.
Hi! We live in Ashburnham, about 15 minutes off Route 2. We moved here from Boston 3 years ago and LOVE IT! My husband commuted to Cambridge for over a year, and it took him about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to get there. Now he works in Waltham and it takes about an hour.

Yeah, that stinks BUT we live in a great neighborhood with a decent house and wonderful yard and garden, we walk up to the library and park, there is a market, a pharmacy, some cute shops and a beautiful campus of Cushing Academy ( a private boarding school) to walk through.

We've met some wonderful people here - yes, there is a certain "we've been her forever and you don't really belong here" mentality of some people, but there are a lot of artsy-type people and interesting folk - I've made so many "mom" friends here, too.

As far as the schools, I think Ashburnham has a decent reputation, but right now I am sending my daughter to a parochial preschool in Gardner that I have been pretty happy with. there are a lot of options, depending on what type of education you are looking for if you want to consider private school.

We are so happy we moved to Ashburnham. It's not perfect but I never expected to be so happy here.

Good luck in your housing search!
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Originally Posted by goatgrrl
Hi Kerowlyn--

I think the commute from west of Leominster to Woburn is going to be at least 1.5 hours to 2 hours if not longer. My husband commutes from Leominster to Wilmington, not far from Woburn. It is not a straight shot on Rte 2. He has to use either 128 or 495 and Rte 3.
Interesting...thanks for the info. DH knows he will have to spent some time on 128, 495 or 3...but compared to what he drives now
it's better.

Some time soon, DH will drive after work down Rt 2, see what it is like, and how far he gets in 1.5 hours.

I hope all you mommas are still around there when we move
I have family that all live a few houses away in both directions, and my mom lives with me. We are leaving them all behind.
No one wants to move up there with us. There is no way we can afford a house around here. We rent a ranch house now, been here for 11 years. When we moved in, the landlord had just taken it off the market, because he could not sell it for the $135K he wanted. The same size house across the street with maybe 1/3 of the size lot we have, just sold for $310K
: I am so looking forward to owning our own home, but so sad I have to move so far.
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Good luck w/everything. My dh said that w/no traffic he can get to work in under an hour (to Wilmington). He complains so much about the driving that this was news to me! Hmmmm. So maybe it's not as bad as I first said. I do know that to beat the rush hour he has to leave around 6 and leave work around 4. And it's true what someone else said about the rotary in Concord -- it's the reason he doesn't do 2 to 128 except on the weekends.

You may want to consider Leominster, too. It has the convenience of city life w/the feel of a smaller town...I like it here. There is a lot of diversity and so far I've been really happy w/the public schools -- preschool and kindergarten.
I'm in Leominster too and have been quite happy here

Would you mind posting or PMing me and telling me a little something about your public school experience? My neighbors have been unhappy with theirs and I need to hear the flip side! My daughter would enter K next fall (2006) and I am torn listening to them.

Many thanks in advance....and Kerlowyn, if you have any questions about Leominster I would love to talk -- have you considered Lunenburg? It's Leominster's country bumpkin sister
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We've been in Ashburnham for 14 years. When we moved, DH had to have access to Newton and I was working at Beth Israel in the Fenway. We tried going further, but this was the furthest we could muster for the commute. Since then it has gotten worse as more people have sought refuge from the crazy house prices near the city. He says it takes 1 1/2 hours even when starting early, but consider that Ashburnham is about ten to fifteen minute off Route 2 (and we live near the center, not out on one of the lakes where it could take 1/2 hour to get on Route 2). I think we all agree that the price of affordable housing is the commute.

Having said that, the tradeoffs for us - still after 14 years - are that you have to search for culture, for likeminded folk (they're here, you just have to work harder and drive further to be with them) and for good food. We still look to Boston for restaurants and have been known to drive forty minutes each way for a good pizza in southern New Hampshire. It just takes a different mindset. Today, Yarrow, my dd, and I drove to Cambridge to Whole Foods to stock up, an hour each way. It is totally worth it to be able to buy organic and wholesome food. The garden is kicking in so our trips will be less frequent this summer. And our property is just lovely. You would have to spend a sum way out of our reach to live like this anywhere near Boston.

The Ashburnham-Westminster school district is very well respected. All small town schools have the same issues in getting their programs funded (we regularly thank Bush for that - NOT), but friends whose kids are in the schools are very happy.

Good luck with your quest. When you settle, be sure to post your new location.

Heidi, mama to Yarrow, 4/17/04
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