This Suburban Jungle family cracks the code on what new suburban homeowners have to have once they leave the city
BY SUSANNA NOON
You find yourself in a ubiquitous big-box hardware store staring at the multitude of available power lawn mowers, weighing all your options.
Gas or electric?
How much amp?
Will I need to bag the clippings?
When our family first pondered moving out of Cambridge to somewhere in the suburbs (eventually landing in Beverly), we knew we were going to need a good lawn mower for our much-anticipated lawn. But what else were we going to need? Here are some of the top purchases to consider as you prepare for the big city-to-suburb transition.
One (or Two) Cars?
Most city-dwellers have only one car, or perhaps no cars. And while Cambridge or Charlestown is considered suburban to some, you can definitely get by living there without a car. However, this is going to be an essential purchase for most people moving to the Boston suburbs.
While your commute may still involve mass transit, you will need to drive for family outings and explorations, Target trips, and school activities. Of course, some communities have great commuter-rail options: examples north of Boston are Melrose, Winchester, Reading, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Swampscott, Belmont, and Concord. Granted, you should plan on replacing your CharlieCard with a Commuter Rail Pass…
That said, if you have visions of browsing at the local farmer’s market, you’re going to need a car, preferably with extra room. You may also need to consider all-wheel-drive, depending on the road conditions. In our case, the steepness of our new driveway made me wish we had sprung for the AWD version of our minivan back when we bought it while living in Cambridge!
It may be hard to anticipate what kind of handy tools you are going to need in your new home. A good hammer, wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers are essential. And don’t forget a real ladder, garbage cans on wheels, and perhaps even a snowblower…
But what about repairs that go beyond your ability? First, make sure to ask your Suburban Jungle Strategist for a great home inspector recommendation, so there are no surprises. Also, make sure to ask for a list of other vetted contractors. The days of calling your landlord to repair the fridge are over! You will need plumbers, electricians, pesticide pros, yard work and landscaping, and handy-people. Join a local Facebook group and search or ask for recs.
That afore-mentioned lawn mower is going to become a part of your life. Also important? Garden shears (for bushes and shrubs), garden hose (for potted plants, if not for a garden), an edger/weed trimmer (for those pesky tufts of grass in the corners of the lawn!), and various lawn amendments like fertilizers, grass seed bags, extra pots, soil, and tools, plus maybe a shelving system to keep it all together.
Even if you choose to hire a full-service lawn care company, you will still want a good pair of shears to tidy up between visits. And you might as well do some of this shopping before the big move: “We had to borrow a shovel the first day!” says Daniel M., who moved with his family to Wellesley from South Boston last year.
Furniture and Decor
This may seem obvious to most people, but along with more space in your new suburban home, comes the need for more furniture. You’ll need to be thinking about a dining room table and chairs, guest room accommodations, towels, sheets, and curtains and shades. And nightlights for the hallways—there’s no nighttime “city glow” to light your way anymore.
One piece of advice? Don’t buy everything all at once. Your personal style will develop over the course of the first year or two in your new home, so feel free to let there be a little extra space and empty walls before rushing to fill them.
Wood for Fireplace or Fire Pit
Whether for ambiance or actual heat, you will want to have an adequate supply of wood on hand for burning in a fireplace or fire pit. Remember, unseasoned wood needs six months to a year to dry before burning, so aim to buy seasoned wood. And don’t forget to hire a good chimney sweep for your yearly inspection…
Overwhelmed? Don’t be! Shopping is fun, right? Thankfully, Suburban Jungle is there for you—as they were for us—every step of the way, including following up with us after the sale was final. Our Strategist Barbara Hirsch asked about how we were settling in, and if we needed any resources or references. It felt great to have that Suburban Jungle concierge-style safety net intact, as we took the leap of our big move to the suburbs!
Choosing the right town to call “home” is the most important decision you’ll ever make—why go it alone? Get in touch and our expert Suburbs Strategists will help you navigate the ‘burbs and find the right town to call “home.”