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  1. #1
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    SoCal biker needs help re: possible relocation

    I really need help here and hope you dont mind. I just recently threw my resume out there a few weeks ago and things are moving faster than I thought. As such, MA is now on the radar as potential new job location. No offer yet but in interviewing stage. Given the wife will understandably nag me more than usual with questions I am reaching out for some solid input - google is useful, but random when it comes to getting me key info I really need.

    Right now the most promising places per new job search are MD and now MA. The current MA job would be in Cambridge.

    With kids, oldest in high school, education is the top priority. I fully appreciate traffic considerations so i know its a fine line as to how far one could go from Cambridge and not go nutz. Fortunately I have lived in Los Angeles and our freeways are also not my favorite

    (1) what city would provide the best school disctrict in your opinion? Acknowledging every school district probably has great schools...which are to candidates in your opinions that are driveable to work???

    (2) what is MTBing like...what are the popular/good places to ride so i can see that would be like for me in terms of drive from potential home and/or work? I know it wont be the same year round type of riding I am used to but to be honest, i am so focking busy with reality out here i dont even get to take advantage of it anyway.

    I really really appreciate your help.

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    Lots of choices

    There is a lot of mountain biking here with very different types of terrain. You also have many choices regarding where to live. You can easily stay within 1 hour commute and you can take the public transit system to work.

    You have the North Shore, the South Shore and the Western burbs. They all have riding. Lots of the towns in all of these areas have really good schools. MA is one of the main centers of education in the states, so there are plenty of communities with smart people and good schools.

    You should figure out how much you want to spend on a home and find communities that are within that price range and I will follow up with what I know and or what I have read.

    Good luck on the job front!

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    Hey man -

    I work in Cambridge. As you know, it's expensive. So i assume you're looking for something more affordable, yet not too far. Arlington is a nice option, but their schools are not quite as good as some other surrounding towns (but that's why it's a little less expensive). Newton is a nice town, 15 minutes outside Boston to the West (barely), but it's pretty expensive. Good schools. You could look at Winchester, which is just northwest, again, about 15 minutes (by the way, when I say 15 minutes, that's a weekend drive - for both towns i mention. during the week it's a different story - maybe 30-45 min commute by car). Nice town, nice schools.

    There are many other options.

    As for really local biking, there is the Fellsway (which is in Winchester by the way), a few miles further north you have the Lynn Woods (whoa, a bear of the place - could eat you alive).

    Also, there is Blue Hills in Milton, the famous "Vietnam", and i also like to go out to Callahan State Park in Framingham since i have a buddy out there (30 min from Boston?)...There are many others.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prophet Julio
    There is a lot of mountain biking here with very different types of terrain. You also have many choices regarding where to live. You can easily stay within 1 hour commute and you can take the public transit system to work.

    You have the North Shore, the South Shore and the Western burbs. They all have riding. Lots of the towns in all of these areas have really good schools. MA is one of the main centers of education in the states, so there are plenty of communities with smart people and good schools.

    You should figure out how much you want to spend on a home and find communities that are within that price range and I will follow up with what I know and or what I have read.

    Good luck on the job front!
    thanks...sorry, i shoulda mentioned home i am "willing" to buy, though i can but dont want to spend more or it defeats purpose of us moving. I am willing to spend $750K on a home. Top priority is schools so i there are some clear winners in terms of actual school disctricts/family cities you could recommend that would be perfect info.

    Fortunately, and perhaps the only good thing about coming from where i am is that both traffic sucks ass and its not cheap so at least that part will come in handy

    thanks so much!

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    Quote Originally Posted by starry
    Hey man -

    I work in Cambridge. As you know, it's expensive. So i assume you're looking for something more affordable, yet not too far. Arlington is a nice option, but their schools are not quite as good as some other surrounding towns (but that's why it's a little less expensive). Newton is a nice town, 15 minutes outside Boston to the West (barely), but it's pretty expensive. Good schools. You could look at Winchester, which is just northwest, again, about 15 minutes (by the way, when I say 15 minutes, that's a weekend drive - for both towns i mention. during the week it's a different story - maybe 30-45 min commute by car). Nice town, nice schools.

    There are many other options.

    As for really local biking, there is the Fellsway (which is in Winchester by the way), a few miles further north you have the Lynn Woods (whoa, a bear of the place - could eat you alive).

    Also, there is Blue Hills in Milton, the famous "Vietnam", and i also like to go out to Callahan State Park in Framingham since i have a buddy out there (30 min from Boston?)...There are many others.
    Thanks starry

    i suppose for me its less important how big a house, how much land we have, etc., but that we be in the right city per schools etc. and yes, within 45 minutes to work IF possible as well. If that makes sense...so basically I wont move to a city so I can get more house for my money if it means not quite the location for the other things like schools and proximity to work.

    I have 4 kids so yeah, a 2000 sq ft place will be tough but on the other hand, while it would be cool, I dont need 4000 sq ft with half an acre either.

    Thanks SO much for noting a couple cities already for me...will czech em out for sure!

    And thanks for the notes regarding biking. I have definitely heard of lynn woods but will likely feel like a tool if i even hike there!

    Cheers

  6. #6
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    Lots of choices

    I live in Cohasset, my brother lives in Hingham. Both have excellent schools and we ride in Wompatuck state park, which is in Cohasset, Hingham and Norwell. Norwell has excellent schools as well.

    These are all on the South Shore. You can take the Train or the commuter boat to Boston and hook up on the Subway to get to Cambridge. The ocean is there, important to me.

    From the South Shore area you can ride Wompatuck, Blue Hills, Otis and Trail of Tears easily. Others with a little effort.

  7. #7
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    I don't have much to add on the housing front (despite being a recent transplant myself--just renting till the wife finishes grad school), but something to consider about locating on the South Shore is that the shorter drive to Cape Cod on the weekends means a better chance for year-round biking at Otis & Trail of Tears (Barnstable, MA). They're both often ridable much of the winter.

  8. #8
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    well i live in hopkinton ma and that is were emc head quarters is and according to to news week or some thing like that its rated like 19th best place to live. and for trails near me i got Vietnam in Milford (the town over) and lots of secret trails you have to find that are hidden around town
    Quote Originally Posted by craftworks750
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  9. #9
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    I suggest Winchester or Lexington. Great schools, within biking distance of Cambridge, public transport option. Lexington has all these as well, but better biking option (50% bike path), less good public transport option (bus vs. train). I live in Arlington, which is between the two towns, and is even better for bike commuting and public transport (I commuted from here to Camb. for 5 years, usually by bike). I certainly pay a lot of taxes to support the school system, but I don't have kids, so I'll rely on other posts here for that advice. All three have access to excellent riding right out the door (fells, bedford) and stellar riding within 30 mins (harold parker, north shore). South Shore is nice, but Camb is north of the city, so you have to drive through it to get there from the SS, and the bike commuting option would be possible distance-wise, but riding through Boston is more likely to get you killed than riding through Camb and the northern burbs.

    No offense insanitlylevel9, but I think Hopkinton would be terrible for the commute. I commute from Arl. To Hopkinton, and it's not bad, but I can see the traffic going the other way, and it's horrible! Mass Pike at 7am is backed up all the way to Framingham. Better to just zip out here on weekends for the riding (no contest on that!)

    Quote Originally Posted by insanitylevel9
    well i live in hopkinton ma and that is were emc head quarters is and according to to news week or some thing like that its rated like 19th best place to live. and for trails near me i got Vietnam in Milford (the town over) and lots of secret trails you have to find that are hidden around town

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankypants
    I suggest Winchester or Lexington. Great schools, within biking distance of Cambridge, public transport option. Lexington has all these as well, but better biking option (50% bike path), less good public transport option (bus vs. train). I live in Arlington, which is between the two towns, and is even better for bike commuting and public transport (I commuted from here to Camb. for 5 years, usually by bike). I certainly pay a lot of taxes to support the school system, but I don't have kids, so I'll rely on other posts here for that advice. All three have access to excellent riding right out the door (fells, bedford) and stellar riding within 30 mins (harold parker, north shore). South Shore is nice, but Camb is north of the city, so you have to drive through it to get there from the SS, and the bike commuting option would be possible distance-wise, but riding through Boston is more likely to get you killed than riding through Camb and the northern burbs.

    No offense insanitlylevel9, but I think Hopkinton would be terrible for the commute. I commute from Arl. To Hopkinton, and it's not bad, but I can see the traffic going the other way, and it's horrible! Mass Pike at 7am is backed up all the way to Framingham. Better to just zip out here on weekends for the riding (no contest on that!)
    I agree the trafic does suck
    Quote Originally Posted by craftworks750
    Riding a mtb is like a reset button, 10 mins in and there is nothing else in the world that matters.
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  11. #11
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    Cambridge is not too bad a commute from suburbs in the metrowest and northwest. Ideally, for top public schools closest to Cambridge, I'd recommend Winchester, Lexington, and Newton. If you take a little further step west, adding 20 mins to your commute, which I think is entirely reasonable and many people do it, I'd recommend Concord and Lincoln. They're more bucolic feeling towns that have larger lot zonings and offer a very different feel than places right near the city. I grew up in Concord and for decades, that area has maintained top notch private and public schools. I should throw in Acton and Carlisle as well. There's a big road bike scene in Concord, Lincoln, Carlisle if you're into that, as well as access to a number of state parks good for mtn biking. Winchester gets you close to the Fells for biking, but I've always felt it to be a medicore place to ride given all the politics and resulting restrictions placed on it.

    The north shore of Massachusetts has excellent biking, but it might be a bit more difficult to reach Cambridge more north. Towns that I'd recommend on the north shore and north of Boston are Andover (likely an hour or more commute to Cambridge during rush hour), which has easy access to Harold Parker (an excellent place to bike), and a top school system, and Lynnfield, very good schools, though not considered the very top tier. Lynnfield has easy access to HP and Lynn Woods, and all of the northshore spots, AND a short drive to the seaside towns and beaches. Lynnfield is also 20 mins from Boston.

    Your budget will get you into any of those towns.
    Remember, you are unique, just like everyone else.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aust95
    Cambridge is not too bad a commute from suburbs in the metrowest and northwest. Ideally, for top public schools closest to Cambridge, I'd recommend Winchester, Lexington, and Newton. If you take a little further step west, adding 20 mins to your commute, which I think is entirely reasonable and many people do it, I'd recommend Concord and Lincoln. They're more bucolic feeling towns that have larger lot zonings and offer a very different feel than places right near the city. I grew up in Concord and for decades, that area has maintained top notch private and public schools. I should throw in Acton and Carlisle as well. There's a big road bike scene in Concord, Lincoln, Carlisle if you're into that, as well as access to a number of state parks good for mtn biking. Winchester gets you close to the Fells for biking, but I've always felt it to be a medicore place to ride given all the politics and resulting restrictions placed on it.

    The north shore of Massachusetts has excellent biking, but it might be a bit more difficult to reach Cambridge more north. Towns that I'd recommend on the north shore and north of Boston are Andover (likely an hour or more commute to Cambridge during rush hour), which has easy access to Harold Parker (an excellent place to bike), and a top school system, and Lynnfield, very good schools, though not considered the very top tier. Lynnfield has easy access to HP and Lynn Woods, and all of the northshore spots, AND a short drive to the seaside towns and beaches. Lynnfield is also 20 mins from Boston.

    Your budget will get you into any of those towns.
    wow!

    you guys (I assume you are all guys ) are great! This info is EXACTLY what i was looking for. If all goes well i will be coming out in 2-3 weeks! I have an interview in Maryland now the week after next so if nothing else, will give some nice perspective (I hope) versus Boston where the job itself is more appealing.

    thanks again to all!

  13. #13
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    Bring the bike

    Or you can borrow one from one of us. Boston is much better than Maryland. It is super hot and humid in MD in the Summer. And MD is too close to DC.

    But if you have to go there, post up and many riders will make it fun. If you're coming this way, many riders will show you the good stuff.

    New England is a good place. We have the best schools in the country, all due respect to Stamford, Cal Tech and Berkeley. MIT, Harvard, Yale , Brown, Dartmouth, Williams, etc....
    500,000 college students in Boston alone.

  14. #14
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    AUST95 is on the mark!. The Concord-Carlisle school system is rated in the top five in the state and has a bit more rural feel. Not as close to Cambridge as Lexington but real nice.
    Barry

  15. #15
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    I have a great suggestion (IMHO)

    Little background: I grew up on the South Shore of MA, moved to western MA for college/post college and then moved to San Francisco for 7 years. I came back here 7 years ago and lived in Arlington and bought a house in Reading on the North Shore. I agree that Lexington and Concord have great schools and are close to Cambridge, but for what you are looking for I would consider Reading. I work in Cambridge most days (I am in sales so I work from home as well) and during non peak hours I can be in Kendall Square in 20-25 minutes. Also, Reading has a commuter rail so you can take the train downtown in less than 30 minutes if you want to do that instead of drive. I can bike to Harold Parker and ride the trails there, which in my opinion are better than the Fells and Lynn woods (unless you are looking for big drops). Lynn woods is also very close-about a 10-15 minute drive. Lexington and Concord don't have as much great riding around (that I know of).

    Reading is a small town that is truly great for families. The schools are excellent (the Junior High was recently rated one of the best in the country), and classes are nice and small. There is a real sense of community here.

    Lastly, if you like downhill/freeride, it is just over an hour away from Highland Bike park, which is amazing for all skill levels.

    I have some customers that recently had to move from CT to MA and after looking in many of the towns mentioned in these posts, several of them decided on Reading. I also have in-laws in Maryland and I am familiar with that area too, I get homesick for MA after a couple days there. There isn't anything wrong with MD, but the Boston area has a lot more to offer in my opinion. So to sum up, I agree with a lot of the towns people mentioned-Lexington, Concord, Arlington, but Reading may surprise you and on the mountain biking side it's proximity to great trail systems wins out. Let me know if you need any more information and good luck!

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    Lots of good info for you there bling. One thing is for sure is that the Boston area has no shortage of good schools and great biking. With respect to drive times, there are a ton of great towns within a half hour of Cambridge that will fit in your budget and have you close to some great trails. It may boil down to what your hours are. If you're the early bird type and your job allows it, you can commute from towns well outside of Rt 128 and still get to Cambridge in a half hour. Like a 6am drive to work with a 3pm departure home. That leaves you a couple hours to get in a rip at your trail of choice and still make it home for dinner. You may want to look around Boston.com or Boston Magazines site for some of there "Best Of" lists to find a school system that has what you want for your kids. 750k will get you a pretty sweet pad 30 miles out of the city. Good luck

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prophet Julio
    I live in Cohasset, my brother lives in Hingham. Both have excellent schools and we ride in Wompatuck state park, which is in Cohasset, Hingham and Norwell. Norwell has excellent schools as well.

    These are all on the South Shore. You can take the Train or the commuter boat to Boston and hook up on the Subway to get to Cambridge. The ocean is there, important to me.

    From the South Shore area you can ride Wompatuck, Blue Hills, Otis and Trail of Tears easily. Others with a little effort.

    If a decent chunk of land is a necessity I'd recommend the South Shore also. Newton and Winchester will net you a postage stamp of land for $750k. Your commute is shorter but houses while nice are too densley packed for my liking.Prophet Julio neglected to mention Duxbury Woods in his riding options in that area.

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    Welcome to the state maybe, but if you're willing to travel 45 minutes to work, you could also consider Sutton/Grafton which is on the Mass pike and can get you to Cambridge in 45 if there are no major traffic holdups, and at the price range, you get a nice house, small town feel, good school system, and great biking within 25 minutes either way...and possible out your back door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spastook
    If a decent chunk of land is a necessity I'd recommend the South Shore also. Newton and Winchester will net you a postage stamp of land for $750k. Your commute is shorter but houses while nice are too densley packed for my liking.Prophet Julio neglected to mention Duxbury Woods in his riding options in that area.
    thanks Spastook...do you mind mentioning recommended cities in that area by name if you dont mind? I am not married to a particular area relative to Cambridge so long as it work for the family and if closer to MTBing all the better!

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    Quote Originally Posted by enchalata
    Welcome to the state maybe, but if you're willing to travel 45 minutes to work, you could also consider Sutton/Grafton which is on the Mass pike and can get you to Cambridge in 45 if there are no major traffic holdups, and at the price range, you get a nice house, small town feel, good school system, and great biking within 25 minutes either way...and possible out your back door.
    thanks so much...i am really hoping the Boston job works out to be the one since at this point based on discussions with the companies it sounds the best. Also trying to get in with a few other interviews per my recruiter to put myself in the best position with whichever company is the best fit.

    Yeah, overall, I do not mind a ~45 minute commute nor do i mind a bit longer to include one with public transportation (subway, etc). I am still trying to navigate around to understand that whole consideration

    Thanks for the city names....yeah, while closer is nice, this move is 50% career and 50% just better overall quality of life for the family so I do not mind going a bit further from work at all. Other city names I came across through my google research (all i got besides you guys ) a bit further out that are a bit "further out" (some mentioned by others in thread) are Andover, Sudbury, Acton, Southborough, Sharon, Sherborn, Medfield, Westford, Topsfield. Have NO idea about anything for these places other than they also have very good schools (on e-paper) and have homes that could also work for a family of 6, etc. Any obvious nays on these?

    Man, this whole thing would be a lot easier if I left my wife and kids I should just move, go to college and join a frat...yeah, thats it!

  21. #21
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    Obviously consider how your commute can effect your quality of life.

    Topsfield. Far. Many highway interchanges to get to Cambridge. Or if you go all the way down Rt 1 to Boston/Cambridge and then Storrow Drive to Cambridge, there's potential for heavy traffic. Altough there are a number of state parks in that area for biking. I'd consider Lynnfield before Topsfield.

    Westford. Too far. Better alternatives are Concord, Acton, and Sudbury.

    Andover. Far as well, but access to good school and Harold Parker State forest for biking! To get to Cambridge, you take 93 south which is always packed during rush hour once you get inside of Rt 95 perimeter, and then you get on Storrow Drive after that. I'd say 1 hour drive.

    Lexington and Winchester are good starting points for you. Belmont is as well. Though, 750K doesn't get you much land in Winchester or Belmont. Winchester does have a wide range of zoning sized depending on where you look in the town. Generally, closer to the town center, where the older Victorians and Colonials are built, the smaller the lots sizes and not much ground for the kids to play on--even on properties upwards to 1 million dollars. Winchester biking is mainly the Fells Reservation.

    That's my 2c regarding west and north of Boston. Someone else will have to comment on the towns more south.

    By the way, an alternative is to by into a cheaper town with lower property taxes and less competitive school systems and send your kids to a private school.
    Remember, you are unique, just like everyone else.

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    lexington & concord both have excellent schools no doubt yet are very expensive towns. 750k gets you an 1,800-2,000 sf ranch or split level house with a 1/4 acre lot. thickly settled. since you don't mind the commute, you can get way more bang for your buck by looking up to 30 miles outside the city. since your from cali, you may prefer to be close to the ocean? if that is a consideration, some of the towns you mentioned like sudbury, acton etc are landlocked and are many miles to the coast. something to think about when it's 90 degrees and humid. those towns roast in the summer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aust95
    Obviously consider how your commute can effect your quality of life.

    Topsfield. Far. Many highway interchanges to get to Cambridge. Or if you go all the way down Rt 1 to Boston/Cambridge and then Storrow Drive to Cambridge, there's potential for heavy traffic. Altough there are a number of state parks in that area for biking. I'd consider Lynnfield before Topsfield.

    Westford. Too far. Better alternatives are Concord, Acton, and Sudbury.

    Andover. Far as well, but access to good school and Harold Parker State forest for biking! To get to Cambridge, you take 93 south which is always packed during rush hour once you get inside of Rt 95 perimeter, and then you get on Storrow Drive after that. I'd say 1 hour drive.

    Lexington and Winchester are good starting points for you. Belmont is as well. Though, 750K doesn't get you much land in Winchester or Belmont. Winchester does have a wide range of zoning sized depending on where you look in the town. Generally, closer to the town center, where the older Victorians and Colonials are built, the smaller the lots sizes and not much ground for the kids to play on--even on properties upwards to 1 million dollars. Winchester biking is mainly the Fells Reservation.

    That's my 2c regarding west and north of Boston. Someone else will have to comment on the towns more south.

    By the way, an alternative is to by into a cheaper town with lower property taxes and less competitive school systems and send your kids to a private school.
    wow...thanks SO much for taking the time to help me out! I really appreciate it.

    As for your last suggestion, for me its really not the right option and defeats much of the purpose of us moving / trying to improve out quality of life - kids in private right now. The math is pretty simple, and sad...I have 4 kids so thats 4 x ~$15,000 year/kid = $60,000 year. And of course if I translate $60,000 year into mortgage instead, that's an extra ~$850,000 (6% 30 yr loan at $5k month) worth of house I may as well buy! I know, crude math, but the point is there. I shoulda got neutered after 2 kids! The point is that THIS TIME, I am going to buy into a great school and not be screwed by being naive and then having no choice but to do private (a$$hole realtor taking advantage of a young couple at the time)

    Also, acknowleding some of the cities may be further than others, is there not an option for public transit from some of these? Sure it may take over an hour or so doing that but at least it would be predictable, right? Unless I am choking using the website, seems even Andover can get to Cambridge Central Station in only a bit over an hour...

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by The Anti Bling; 01-31-2010 at 08:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stop Drop N Roll
    lexington & concord both have excellent schools no doubt yet are very expensive towns. 750k gets you an 1,800-2,000 sf ranch or split level house with a 1/4 acre lot. thickly settled. since you don't mind the commute, you can get way more bang for your buck by looking up to 30 miles outside the city. since your from cali, you may prefer to be close to the ocean? if that is a consideration, some of the towns you mentioned like sudbury, acton etc are landlocked and are many miles to the coast. something to think about when it's 90 degrees and humid. those towns roast in the summer.
    thanks for the comments. will definitely keep my research going to look more into cities by the ocean as well. Problem is I am such a newb I dont even know what "South Shore" really means yet

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    towns that are close to cambridge with good commute and schools would be. arlington, lexington, newton, winchester, belmont, i am a arlington native and went through the entire public school system. graduated HS in 2005 and just finished college. let me know if you have any specific questions. arlington, lexington and bedford have a bike path(flat!) that will take you straight to alewife station(public trans). you dont really want to drive into cambridge or boston to work. its crazy trust me. parking is crazy too

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