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5 things to know about living in Newton

Buying Luxury Newton
F. Lincoln Pierce House in Newton.
The F. Lincoln Pierce House in Newton. Wikimedia Commons / John Phelan

Money Magazine recently ranked Newton as one of the best place to live in America, noting “Heartbreak Hill, one of the most dastardly difficult legs of the [Boston Marathon], is located near City Hall. But the bigger heartbreak for most people is Newton’s lack of affordable housing.”

But Money Magazine also emphasized Newton’s New England charm. It’s close to Boston, but you can easily feel a world away in its historic single-family homes, secluded-feeling Boston College, and ample amount of green space.

Check it out.

1. You’ll live in…

Newton, MA - 1/17/2016 - Waban Square in the Waban Village of Newton, MA, January 17, 2016. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Waban Square in the Waban Village. —Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

… one of the town’s 13 villages. Newton prides itself on not having one city center, but instead of a variety of distinct areas, including Auburndale, Newton Centre, Newton Highlands, Newton Upper Falls, Nonantum, Thompsonville, West Newton, Chestnut Hill, Newton Corner, Newton Lower Falls, Newtonville, Oak Hill, and Waban.

Each of these villages has its own page on the town of Newton website, showcasing its unique qualities and history. Common threads include a multitude of historic homes, places to eat, and parks that are all very family friendly.

In fact, the Newton Villages Alliance exists in order to protect and preserve the character of the 13 villages.

2. You’ll pay…

Newton, MA.,04/28/15, The Home of the Week---45 Homewood Rd. in Waban. Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe
A Boston Globe Home of the Week in Newton. —Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe

… even more, on average, then you will in Brookline. The Zillow Home Value Index puts the median home value in Newton at $883,500, while in Brookline the median value is $746,400. Values have gone up 8 percent in Newton over the last year and are expected to go up another 2.4 percent within the next year.

For $800,000 to $900,000, you can get a single family home ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet that almost certainly has some historic charm. Newton’s average Walk Score is a 52, meaning that some errands can be done on foot, but many need a car. The villages of Nonantum, Newtonville, and Newton Highlands all get higher scores. The town also has a variety of MBTA Commuter Rail stops and Green Line stations with direct access to Boston.

3. You’ll hang out…

Chestnut Hill, MA--9/28/2014--Under summer-like temps in Fall, people walk and jog around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, on Sunday, September 28, 2014. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: standalone reservoir Reporter: XXX
People walk and jog around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir on a fall day. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

… in one of many parks. Newton is known for its green space, and is even referred to as The Garden City. The No. 1 rated Trip Advisor thing to do in town is to walk through the Hammond Pond Reservation.

Another great place for a walk and some views (even of Boston) is the Chestnut Hill Reservation. Considered “a nineteenth-century masterpiece of engineering, urban planning and landscape design,” the large reservoir is now used as a place for people to exercise. The reservation is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a City of Boston Landmark.

Gasson Hall at Boston College.
Gasson Hall at Boston College. —Wikimedia Commons / John Phelan

There are also plenty of historical sites to see and museums to visit around the city. The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College is a favorite, known for its “innovative, multidisciplinary exhibitions.” It is also free for everyone to visit. When you’re done at the museum, the beautiful Boston College campus can be a serene place for a stroll (unless its a football game day).

Other museums or historic homes to visit include the Jackson Homestead and Museum, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds, a 1734 farmhouse that has been restored and renovated.

6/24/11 Newton, MA -- Advance for Living. The deli case at Inna's Kitchen in Newton, MA June 24, 2011. Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe
The deli case at Inna’s Kitchen in Newton. —Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe

When its time to eat, Newton has a lot of offer with many highly-rated restaurants on Yelp. The No. 1 rated place to eat in the city is Inna’s Kitchen, which serves Jewish cuisine from all over the world. They even now have a location in the Boston Public Market.

4. Your kids will…

06/09/2014 NEWTON, MA Graduates listened to speakers during the Class of 2014's graduation ceremony at Newton South High School (cq). (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Graduates listened to speakers during the Class of 2014’s graduation ceremony at Newton South High School —Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

… go to amazing schools. There are a lot of public schools in Newton (even more than one high school), and all are ranked above a 6 on the 1-10 Great Schools rating scale, with almost all of them getting an 8, 9, or 10. Three schools in town get a 10, including Ward Elementary School, Mason-Rice Elementary School, and Peirce Elementary School.

There are also a lot of activities for kids in the town, like those at the Newton Free Library.

5. You’ll love…

Newton, MA., 09/20/11, The Newton Centre station on the Green Line is a National Register historic structure designed by the noted architect HH Richardson, of Trinity Church fame. The T is putting the building up for sale, minimum bid $700k. Preservationists say this might be a good thing, because the T is too broke to give it the care it needs. The structure is now the Deluxe Station Diner. Section: Metro, Reporter: Moskowitz. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
The Newton Centre station on the Green Line is a National Register historic structure designed by the noted architect H.H. Richardson, of Trinity Church fame. —Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

… the history behind Newton Centre Station. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and in fact, in 2011, the MBTA put it up for sale, according to The Boston Globe, though the current restaurant’s tenants lease goes until 2030 and must be upheld. The Globe noted, “the station was one of 32 designed for the Boston and Albany Railroad in the late 19th century by Henry Hobson Richardson, among the leading American architects of his day, and by close associates after his 1886 death.”

It was built in 1890 and was a vital part of Newton’s history, attracting residents who otherwise might not have thought to live in what was once a farm town.