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We may need to find a rental first. The real estate agent told us that we needed to have a signed contract on our apartment here before we could make a serious offer on a house.

I am confused--you can't buy a house in Northeastern Massachusetts unless you're already a renter there? I never heard of such a thing, and I have moved directly to a new house in a different state twice. Is your RE agent serious or simply advising to rent first before you select your house/neighborhood/town since the area is new to you? That might be good advice.

I know you're feeling young and spry, but it doesn't hurt to look down the road a bit. You might consider living close to a town center, where you could walk to restaurants and to do some errands and see people. That's something I miss since leaving NYC--I hate having to drive everywhere. While there's a sense of freedom while driving, there's a deeper sense of freedom and ability when using my own two feet (and not on the gas pedal ;-) Not to mention things there a nice senior center (if that appeals), convenient library hours not just oriented around school schedules (ditto), shuttle vans for people who are temporarily or permanently unable to drive (taxis cost more, but maybe that's not an issue for you)?
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