5 things to know about living in Waltham

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It calls itself the “Watch City’’ and has a history in manufacturing, but don’t let its industrial past let you look past its present.
It calls itself the “Watch City’’ and has a history in manufacturing, but don’t let its industrial past let you look past its present. Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe

Nicknamed “Watch City’’ for the long history of watch making in town, Waltham was once a hub for industry. The Boston Manufacturing Company, formed in 1813, was the first modern factory in the United States, and the Waltham Manufacturing Company made bicycles — including one that is now in the Ford Museum.

Though there are plenty of buildings and even some museums in town to remind you of its industrial past, Waltham has recently developed a blossoming food scene and has become a place close to Boston where young professionals can settle down.

1. You’ll live in…

The Merc at Moody & Main in Waltham is a 269 unit apartment complex that is taking shape on the site of the historic Mercantile Building in Waltham center. —David L Ryan / Globe Staff Photo

… a wide range of options. As The Boston Globe points out, Waltham has a diversity of housing options. You can get a classic New England colonial home, but you can also get a loft apartment in a renovated factory building. New apartment complexes, including the Merc at Moody & Main, are also in development.

You can also expect some college students to be living in the neighborhood, as both Bentley and Brandeis universities are located in Waltham.

The town also has a variety of historic districts and neighborhoods.

2. You’ll pay…

Exterior of Victorian in Waltham with views of the Charles River that was a home of the week. —Michele McDonald for the Boston Globe

… about average for the Boston area. The Zillow Home Value Index puts the median home value for Waltham at $462,100. As with most areas near the Hub, home values have gone up 7.2 percent over the past year and are expected to rise 2.3 percent within the next year.

For $400,000 to $500,000 you can get a home or condo that’s about 2,000 square feet. Waltham’s Walk Score is 49, so about average, but the most walkable neighborhoods in town, Chemistry, South Side, and Bank Square, all rank higher.

3. You’ll hang out…

Watches through the ages along with some clocks are on permanent display at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, which celebrates Waltham’s origins as a watch making city. —Joanne Rathe / The Boston Globe

… at one of the many museums. Given its rich history, Waltham has plenty of museums, such as the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, and the Waltham Museum, which has a variety of artifacts from the town’s more industrial days.

The Embassy Cinema, which is known for showing mainstream and independent films alike, is the No. 1 rated Trip Advisor thing to do in town.

If it is a nice day out, Prospect Park, a part of the Waltham Land Trust and one of Waltham’s many green spaces, has 250 acres of undeveloped land with plenty of places to hike and picnic.

Solea Restaurant Tapas Bar on Moody Street in Waltham usually gets busy starting around 8:30 or 9pm. —Sean Proctor/Globe Staff

When it’s time to eat, making a decision is going to be a tough one as Waltham has a bustling food scene that is only getting better and better. The Boston Globe recently wrote, “Waltham residents are lucky: They don’t need to head into Boston for a special meal out,’’ mentioning that Moody Street is a “culinary wonderland.’’

Eater Boston just reported that a new Italian steakhouse is opening in town called Osteria Posto, which seems to achieve being both hip and classy. Not into steak? That’s okay, as the choices in the Boston suburb are pretty endless, ranging from Cuban to Mexican to American.

4. Your kids will…

Kids color with markers at the Waltham Garden Club booth at the 26th annual Sheepshearing Festival on April 27, 2013. —Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

… go to some pretty good schools. All of the public schools in town rank between 5 and 7 on the 1-10 GreatSchools rating system. There is also the option to go to Gann Academy or the Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall School, both of which are private high schools.

There are also plenty of activities in and around Waltham to do with your kids without needing to go all the way into the city.

5. You’ll love…

Lyman Estate, and surrounding grounds and greenhouses in Waltham. —Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

…the number of historic homes in the town. Two homes you can visit and tour are the Lyman Estate and the Gore Place. The Lyman Estate is, according to Historic New England, “one of the finest examples in the United States of a country estate following the principles of eighteenth-century English naturalistic design.’’ Gore Place is a Federal Period historic house that is also a great example of a country home.

If this history isn’t enough, Waltham is also home to the National Archives at Boston, which has archives from all of New England. They have a variety of public programs, genealogical research, and educational resources for the public.

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