Steve Shultis can’t help but feel a little smug as he looks around his 3,500-square-foot, four-level home.
Shultis teaches Spanish at a public school in suburban Connecticut, but lives in downtown Springfield in a gorgeous brick row house filled with character — hardwood floors, a marble fireplace, and cathedral ceilings. And at the end of each month, his bank account is not depleted.
“Here in Springfield, I live in a mansion,’’ says Shultis, 51, who grew up in the city. “I have a beautiful garden in the backyard, and I can walk to all of these great places where everything is inexpensive.’’
On a typical weekend night, Shultis and his wife, Liz Lawton, walk to dinner (where the bill comes to $40 for the couple) and catch a performance of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra or a hockey game with Lawton’s 9-year-old stepdaughter at MassMutual Center. They love Springfield because it has the hustle and bustle and amenities of a big city without the high price tag.
“If I was living in Cambridge, we wouldn’t be able to afford the mortgage and wouldn’t be going out to eat,’’ he says. “Out here, my wife and I have invested in a local organic farm because we have money left over at the end of the month.’’
But Shultis admits it’s not Mayberry. The buildings across the street were abandoned (a company is rehabilitating them), and his wife gets catcalls when she jogs around the neighborhood.
Still, Shultis says he’d rather be where his stepdaughter can go to school, dance class, and music lessons all without getting in a car, which he contends is more dangerous than living in an urban neighborhood. Shultis has two daughters who went through the public school system, then went on to Smith College and Salem State University.
He hopes the addition of the MGM casino downtown will bring in new visitors who will appreciate the city for all it has to offer without being fearful.
“It could be the beginning of a renewal,’’ he says.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of acres that make up Forest Park, one of the largest municipal parks in New England. The property, which features a zoo, also is home to Bright Lights, an annual holiday-lighting display.
Number of inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame . The hall promotes and preserves the game of basketball, which James Naismith invented in Springfield in 1891.
Number of permanent jobs the MGM Springfield casino project is
expected to create
The year Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums is a tribute to the author, who at the time of his death on Sept. 24, 1991, had written and illustrated 44 children’s books. The Springfield Museums will open a museum dedicated to Geisel in 2016.
PROS & CONS
Check out one of the Springfield Museums (four in all) downtown, spend an evening at the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, visit the zoo at Forest Park, relive history at the Springfield Armory, or take in a minor league hockey game at the MassMutual Center.
The third-largest city in Massachusetts, Springfield has a high percentage of low-income residents and faces urban challenges such as crime, abandoned buildings, and drugs.
Abundance of high-quality houses
Nicknamed the “City of Homes’’ for its stock of elegant older properties, there is no shortage of inexpensive options whether you’re looking for a downtown row house, a Victorian on a tree-lined street, or a brick Colonial.
Jennifer Fenn Lefferts, a writer in Central Massachusetts, can be reached at email@example.com.