Finders, fixers.

first time home buyers in front of sold house

A guide to first-time home buyer programs

So you want to buy a house, but you don’t have a ton of money saved up (and you didn’t win the Powerball drawing)? It’s a common conundrum that many, many first-time home buyers face, but don’t worry: There’s an app(lication) for that. First-time home buyers are great for the economy — they make up about a…

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the best ways to save energy include installing LED bulbs

4 resolutions to save energy this year

This post is sponsored by Choose Energy, an online marketplace where you can compare rates from electricity and natural gas suppliers. I’m a bundle of good intentions. I’ve got so many New Year’s resolutions I can barely keep them straight. My phone alarm now goes off nightly at 8:45pm, reminding me to either exercise or practice Spanish for at…

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northampton entryway

Wish Listing: Northampton

My wife and I love Quincy, but it’s not like we grew up here or have any deep, philosophical connection to the town. We just felt like it offered the best bang for our buck when we were ready to buy a house: It’s got the ocean, pretty good schools, walkable neighborhoods with shops and restaurants,…

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rockport harbor

Wish Listing: Rockport

Earlier this month, we met some friends up in Rockport for the town’s annual Christmas celebration and tree lighting ceremony. Each year, Santa Claus arrives by lobster boat and leads a parade through town riding on an antique fire truck. Later we watched Kris Kringle light the big tree in Dock Square as a choir sang Christmas…

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leaky pipes; photo by 13 of clubs via flickr

Plumbing is sexy

A friend of mine recently bought her first home, and it’s an old one. Real old. Like 200-year-old farmhouse old. Now, as much as there is to love about an old house like that, you know you’re probably going to discover some unpleasant surprises — especially if you’re the first ones to update it in…

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5 cool gadgets to cut your energy costs

This post is sponsored by Choose Energy, an online marketplace where you can compare rates from electricity and natural gas suppliers. The cold is coming — and with it, higher energy bills. Heating is the No. 1 energy cost for most Americans, and that’s especially true in New England. And as people draw more natural gas to…

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Norman Rockwell's Freedom From Want via Denver Library

Wish Listing: Stockbridge

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, and maybe no artist is so distinctly associated with American life as Norman Rockwell. Put them together and you get “Freedom From Want,” Rockwell’s classic portrait of a 1940s American family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. Rockwell was living in Arlington, Vt., when he painted this portrait in 1942 — one in…

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mass save rebates for energy savings - wood pellets - photo by andrew writer https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato/

10 ways Massachusetts can save you money this winter

Here’s a little secret about government programs: There are TONS of them — especially in a progressive state like Massachusetts — and unless you’re some kind of mega-wealthy plutocrat (in which case you’re probably reading the Wall Street Journal and not my humble blog), a number of them can likely help you out in some way. They…

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5 home design pet peeves

There are plenty of bad design choices out there. All you have to do is gawk at a site like Bad MLS Photos or even just walk around Quincy — someone down the street from us has these garish, bright purple porch stairs that’ll blind your sense of good taste. Even seemingly fine choices made…

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caribbean vacation
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Live alone? 14 awesome things you could afford if you had roommates

Last month I wrote a piece for the Boston Globe Magazine praising the virtues of roommates. Almost everyone in Boston has shared a living space at some point — the rent here is just too ridiculous not to. But many people give up roommate life as they cross some psychological threshold — age 30 or 40 or whatever it…

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rooftop solar panels - photo by edmund tse
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3 green improvements that will add to your home’s value

I wish more people (myself included) would do good for good’s sake — and sometimes they do. But by and large, people’s decisions are driven by money and self interest. This is painfully true when it comes to the environment. Forget, for a moment, that an unfathomable half of Americans don’t even accept the scientific consensus around climate change…

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starter toolbox

15 must-have tools for DIY homeowners

Making the leap from renting to home ownership means fixing a lot more stuff on your own — and that’s not to be feared. It’s actually awesome in many ways. You might be surprised by how quickly you grow to enjoy the very visible, tangible reward of repairing and building things with your own hands. I used…

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