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Old 12-14-2010, 09:03 PM
170 posts, read 373,585 times
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We have found a couple of good options and are curious if anyone can give us some extra info about these areas.

So...about us. We appreciate good food, local food, vegetarian food. Farmers markets are appealing. We are into recycling. However, we're also working professionals who are fairly straight laced. We tend to be a bit nerdy & academic...much more the coffeeshop crowd than the bar crowd (and always have been that way, even during college). We're not exactly "young professionals" (since we will soon be approaching our mid-30s), though we are married, have professional careers, and don't have children right now. We like supporting local businesses instead of the big chains but we do find ourselves at Target to stock up on toiletries and other necessities. So we're not totally crunchy liberals but we do tend that way in some areas of life. We are looking for an area that balances safety, a feeling of being "in" Boston, and having easy access to some of what it has to offer while being a good fit for our interests.

One apartment is south of Central Square in Cambridge. It's just a 6-10 minute walk to the red line, which is terrific because my husband's new job is a 10 minute walk from South Station. It is an urban location and feels like you're in Boston...something we want out of this move. However, it's also sort of urban in the "bad" way...a little grittier than we are used to, even though we have read enough to know it is fairly safe. Our standards would probably adjust quickly, but we've never lived anywhere quite so urban.

We've also looked at a couple of places in Brookline Village near Route 9/Boylston. They are pricier than the Cambridgeport location by about 400/mo. Those places are on the green line, less convenient to my husband's job, but still ok since he can transfer at Park St to the red line. It will probably add about 20 minutes to his commute (each way) compared to the Cambridge location.

We have a dog and much of our free time includes walking with the dog, sometimes for several miles. Of course, we'll have to take her for shorter walks during the week and don't want to be worried about being outdoors at 9 pm in the dark.

All the apartments include parking and have somewhat comparable interiors. The big differences are the commute time, whether the difference in rent would be "worth it", and which town feels like the best fit for us.

We've been looking at areas all over Boston. Just for comparison, Newton felt a bit too sleepy even though we know it is very safe. Arlington could be a good fit. We looked at a nice property in Winchester but most of the other burbs (such as Natick) are not a good fit for us.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:21 PM
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I lived in the Village and spent a lot of time in Cambridge, however, this was many years ago.

However, my first thoughts are that I would look for something in other parts of Cambridge, and keep Brookline Village in mind for if/when you have kids in school or heading to school. This is primarily for commuting reasons.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:26 PM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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I'm not sure how "south of Central Square" is being defined here, because I read that and then went on to read mention of Cambridgeport - which is due west of the square. The main intersection there (where Prospect St crosses Mass. Ave to become Western Ave) is the focal point of four fairly distinct communities. The section prosaically known as Area Four is by far the sketchiest; it extends southward from Prospect St (east of Mass. Ave) to Main St and includes two large and adjacent public housing developments. Some streets have a distinctly "gritty" feel to them - storefront churches, rundown stores and take-out joints, dingy row houses with barred windows, etc - while others are well shaded and neat. By contrast, Cambridgeport is mainly a more upscale part of town where "well shaded and neat" is the rule for its streets. The other two sections (Mid-Cambridge - the most affluent - and Riverside, where I live and which is a small step down economically from Cambridgeport) are situated on the other side of the parallel River St and Western Ave.) For the past 22 years I've dwelled happily in Riverside, first in a large apartment building near the square and more recently in a "three-decka" along a quiet side street. As is true in any urban setting, the likelihood of crime is somewhat greater but rarely affects one directly - a GPS grabbed from a car here, an unlocked bike stolen, that's about it for bad goings-on in my vicinity. This is generally the rule any place west of Mass. Ave, though the occasional late-night muggings do occur as pedestrian activity dwindles late at night. Taking Fido around the block wouldn't be problematic at any time during the evening up until 9 o'clock or so, and rarely after that.
More importantly, Central Square offers "everything within walking distance" as well as easy mass-transit access in all directions. We have a farmers' market on Mondays during the warm months, a food co-op grocery store, two Whole Foods stores, and also a Shaw's, for food shopping. Great places to eat abound - everything from Ethiopian to Chinese, with lots in between, in the "ethnic" category as well as "foodie" hangouts such as Garden at the Cellar and Rendezvous. Watering holes range from the Tavern in the Square to People's Republik. Even with escalating rents and a troubled economy, unique local mainstays such as Rodney's Bookstore and Sandy's Music (a haven for banjo pickers) stay in business. Starbucks only caused one coffeehouse to close down - and now the Atomic Bean is available as yet another independent alternative.
Many moons ago, I lived near Brookline Village for a while. There are similarities and differences. To me the vibe around the Green Line station and then again around Coolidge Corner isn't much different than that of Central Square. You have "ethnic" eateries (heavily Chinese and Japanese in Brookline, versus five Indian restaurants near Central Sq) and foodie destinations coexisting with chain restaurants, ditto for coffee places. There's a chain supermarket as well as smaller neighborhood groceries, but no food co-op or Whole Foods. A farmers' market visits Coolidge Corner in the summer. Scenic parkland best not ventured into late at night is close at hand. Brookline Village's main pluses, by comparison, are a lack of "projects" or rundown sections - until after crossing the Boston boundary - and superior public schools. (The puppet theater on Station St is also unduplicated.) To me, a $400/month price difference would more than justify opting for Cambridge, but that's me.
BTW Arlington does have its charms, all the more so since easing of the "blue laws" allowed for liquor to be sold in restaurants - which has resulted in a large expansion of dining possibilities. It can boast of the Capitol Theater for movies and the Regent for live performances. The police force keeps a close eye on traffic violations because there's little else for them to do. But it's bo-o-o-o-oring.
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Old 12-15-2010, 07:05 AM
Location: Brookline, MA
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You'll have a comparable urban experience in both areas. You'll have to exercise common city smarts whether you live in Brookline Village or Cambridge. It's just the tradeoff of living in an urban area; but they are both pretty safe.

Honestly, I would go with Cambridge. I think you'd like both areas, but all things being pretty equal - $400/month is a huge difference. Coupled with a noticeably shorter commute and it seems like a no-brainer. Hey, if you don't like the area, you can use the money saved to move after a year!
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:59 AM
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Location: Western Massachusetts
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Cambridge has more going on and its atmosphere probably would fit you better.

I always thought the houses in Cambridge looked well taken care of and the area was clean so it wasn't very gritty. After a bit of an adjustment you'll probably get used to the more urban atmosphere. Might be worth experience a more urban place at some point in your life.

If the rent is cheaper and the commute is cheaper and you even get parking in Cambridge, it sounds like it would be a hassle to live in brookline
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Old 12-16-2010, 02:31 PM
Location: Quincy, MA
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I agree with Reneeme'ssuggestion to look elsewhere in Cambridge. Maybe Porter Square, or Davis Square (which is technically Somerville but still on the Red Line and near the Cambridge border). Personally, I wouldn't want to transfer from the Green Line to Red Line at rush hour. It sounds easy, but things go wrong too often with the subways.
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Old 12-16-2010, 02:35 PM
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lz1982, why would you say to look elsewhere in Cambridge?
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Old 12-16-2010, 02:37 PM
Location: Quincy, MA
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Just that I personally find Central Square kind of sketchy, but everyone has different standards.
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:46 PM
Location: Dallas
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Another thing is there's really not much reason to switch from the Green Line to the Red Line except crappy weather which admittedly there is a lot of in BOS. But otherwise, whether you get off at Park or Boylston, it's about a half mile stroll to South Station. Straight down Summer St from Park St station is quite nice.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:16 AM
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Nothing wrong with either, but if I were you, I would look into a different neighborhood than Central; try Porter Square, two stops up from Central, and a better neighborhood in general, and better for dogs, too..

Last edited by MassVt; 12-17-2010 at 11:52 AM..
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