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Marblehead or Swampscott?

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Shadow Hills,Ca
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Marblehead or Swampscott?

Coming in July to look at real estate. Which area is nicer? Marblehead or Swampscott? We are only setting aside one day of our vacation to view properties. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Cambridge, MA
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791 posts
12 reviews
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1. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

Hi,

You've posted on the exact same subject before. Are you looking for more input from others than those who have answered? Or is there something that hasn't been gone over yet that we can help you out with?

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2. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

I was renting in Swampscott when a controvertial vote passed to build a new high school. There are now override votes being taken because the project is costing far more than originally estimated. Not sure whether real estate agents will be able to help predict tax increases over the next few years in Swampscott, but that may be part of why there are so many properties up for sale there now. Though Marblehead taxes may already be astronomical. Swampscott is nice, but both towns are so small that you could likely get a realtor to show you a few homes in both towns. Hopefully they can answer lots of questions in advance for you, and respect your specific requests.

Cambridge, MA
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3. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

bb, we should explain "override votes." About twenty years ago, "Proposition 2 1/2" became law in Massachusetts. It states that any increase in property taxes beyond 2.5% must be approved in a referendum first. School systems have been hard hit by this law because of how a lot of folks refuse to fund the education of "other people's children." A consequence is that a lot of towns now force families to pay additional fees in order for their kids to play sports, ride the school bus, or do any kind of extracurriculars. The North Shore town of Saugus - not exactly starved for tax revenue with all its Route 1 businesses and middle-class population - has done away with all of its scholastic athletics programs. Its inability to get Prop 2 1/2 overrides passed has forced the town of Arlington to drop a considerable number of advanced-level and elective high school courses. Kids veg in multiple study halls a day (if not "misbehaving") and overall morale is in the gutter. So what's happening in Swampscott is par for the course. If I had school-aged offspring I'd think twice about moving or staying there.

france
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4. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

Hi. I recently lived in Swampscott, and previously lived all over the country.

I disagree with previous posters about the commute: it can be a pain during rush hour, but it doesn't compare to trying to get around NY, or LA, or Dallas, or Washington, or any big city you name. And while the rats race anywhere, they sure slow down when you get home on the North Shore. Life is much different there... even the cold winters are more tolerable when you can watch the sunlight (and sunset) reflected off the ocean.

As far as getting into Boston, Swampscott is a 10 minute (or more, depending) shorter drive than Marblehead. In non rush hour, it takes no more than 30 minutes to get downtown. I never drove in in rush hour, but I know it can be aggravating. Swampscott (unlike Marblehead) also has a train station that takes you to North Station in Boston in 20 minutes (where you can connect to the orange or green T), or you can drive straight to the blue line T in about 10 minutes. All of these commutes compare favorably with most of the more well known, yuppy, western suburbs.

You don't mention if you have children; the public schools in both M and S are very good (you can check ratings online but both rate very high).

While people in Mass are indeed more reserved than some of the other places I've lived, it's more that they're not the kind to drop in when you move in than that they're aloof. Once you meet people, they're easy to get to know.

One thing I found really fascinating is the number of people who grew up there, moved away for college and starting out at work, and then came back to have a family. You also meet lots of high school students who are planning to settle there-- it's just that kind of place. People want to stay.

As for which is 'nicer', Swampscott or Marblehead, for me it came down to where I found the better house. I don't think they're that different (though locals would kill me for saying that). I love that they're not mall-driven, like many other towns I've lived in. People really do just hang out in local restaurants and at the beach.

If I were you, I'd consider renting for a little while, to see if you like it. In fact, I know of a great rental opportunity but don't think I can or should post it. If that's interesting to you, and there's a way of getting it to you, let me know.

Boston...
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5. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

have you ever looked at "Places Rated"? It's a book that comes out (I think) every year, and gives a fairly good overall picture of places based on cost of living, jobs, tax rates, poulations, etc. I bought one years ago, just for its almanac-type data, and found it very interesting... they may even have a website (?) I did a quick "Google" and found that you can get a copy for $4.99 and up (used)

From the real estate buyer's point of view... I found and bought my home 2 years ago on "isoldmyhouse.com". It was very easy, even for a first time home buyer, and I still check back frequently... just to see what's available.

North Shore...
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6. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

Swampscott just completed its voting on an override to the Propostion 2 1/2 property tax limitation. One of two options, the lesser one, was approved. The result was that for the publci schools system all faculty and administration were left intact and the curriculum was left mostly intact. Because the lesser of the two override options was approved, it is almost a certainty that all sports, music, band and yearbook activites at all levels of the public school system will be eliminated.

Salem, MA
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196 posts
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7. Re: Marblehead or Swampscott?

marblehead is also a pain to get to from anywhere. there is basically one route in and one route out and then you have to compete with the tourists going to salem. marblehead is expensive and bit snobby. swampscott is my opinion is easygoing and on the commuter rail line; tho i like the areas near salem better than the areas near lynn. nahant is nice too; surrounded by water.