Susanna Noon and her family landed in a Boston suburb that wasn’t even on their radar
“The size of our family dictated the move to the Boston suburbs,” explains working mom of three Susanna Noon. “We spent our 20s living in Manhattan and moved to the Cambridge/Somerville area in our 30s for grad school. We loved being able to walk to Davis Square, Central or Inman Square for the restaurants and nightlife, but without the hectic lifestyle we’d had in New York. It felt pretty suburban to us at first!”
When the family added a third child—their daughter Ada—to the mix, though, things changed. Susanna and her husband Mike made a pro/con list and, ultimately, decided to leave North Cambridge. “We just knew the house was too small to hold three growing children,” she explains. “While the neighborhood, local school and community were fantastic for raising kids, there just wasn’t a lot of space.” Space, she notes, was always a challenge between the bikes, the backpacks and the books—her husband Mike works in publishing in Boston, and books are always finding their way home.
Starting their search, post-baby #3
Once Ada was born, the family kicked their search into high gear—and immediately realized they had a lot of specifications. In addition to space for her family, Susanna needed a place to teach her natural childbirth education classes. She recently launched BirthingWise, a company that hosts pregnant couples and provides insights into labor, pregnancy and newborns. She’s also certified in the Bradley Method® and teaches infant prep classes.
“At first we sincerely wanted to stay within the same neighborhood in Cambridge. We had lived in the area for 10 years and owned our home for seven, and felt that the roots we had put down were worth preserving,” Susanna explains. “However, it’s a very dense neighborhood, with mostly multi-family homes. Since one of our ‘must-have’ criteria for a new home was that it have four bedrooms plus space for me to teach birth classes, that was a difficult find in Cambridge. And with small kids, we didn’t want to do many renovations.”
Anything that fit her specifications, she recalls, was well out of their price range. “We began to slowly expand our search,’ she explains. “We were quickly overwhelmed by the hot market in the surrounding towns like Belmont, Winchester and Arlington. It was fun going to open houses, but we were getting discouraged by the volume of people buying homes in the area, and the cost.”
They also had to balance Mike’s commute to the city. “Eventually I just made a spreadsheet with towns, distance to Boston on the train, taxes, schools, median age and things like that. It was exhausting to continue to go to open houses each weekend to do our research with three kids in tow.”
In comes Suburban Jungle…
Soon enough, though, things changed—Susanna discovered Suburban Jungle and, with it, Head Boston Strategist Barbara Hirsch. “In stepped Suburban Jungle—and I said goodbye to my spreadsheet!”
Susanna and Barbara’s first phone call was more than two hours long. During that call, the couple chatted with Barbara about their “hopes, dreams, wishlist, budget and personal vibe.” From that, Barbara suggested four towns, setting up tours, realtor meetings more. “And the best part, it was a completely free personal consultation,” Susanna adds.
The family’s search ended quickly after integrating Suburban Jungle. They toured Concord and Melrose and were scheduled for Andover when they toured Beverly in spring 2018. Their Suburban Jungle agents showed them two homes and, instantly, they knew they were in the right place. In July 2018, they moved into one of the homes, “so we had a few months to enjoy the amazing beaches on the North Shore.”
While Susanna admits Beverly wasn’t on their radar—they weren’t even focused on beachfront communities. “But it’s by far one of the best things about living here. And the neighborhood of Beverly Farms is wonderful. Walk to get coffee? Check. Walk to the penny-candy store? Check. Train? Check. Beach? Check.” And, she adds, there’s tons in neighboring towns like Gloucester and Salem.
Never looking back!
Now that the family is well-entrenched in Beverly living, they’re never looking back. “I grew up in the suburbs so living here feels more like home than either Manhattan or Cambridge,” Susanna says. “And with the North Shore Birthing Center nearby, and a large community of birth workers including doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives, it’s a great place to teach my birth classes.” Mike, she adds, walks seven minutes to train, then rides 40 minutes to North Station.
“He’s able to work, read, or nap. It’s a great commute with no traffic, not too crowded, and has nice scenery,” she explains. “For me the commute is really, really great–I made sure that our new home had a nice teaching space in our finished basement where I could hold birth classes for my business, BirthingWise.
And while the kids inevitably miss their Cambridge friends, they do love the yard and the beach. Plus, one of the best things is inviting friends up here to visit! We are only about 30 minutes away from where we used to live.”
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.
Image: Susanna Noon