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Old 03-04-2011, 02:14 PM
 
21 posts, read 29,097 times
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So I know this is kind of a general question, but I haven't found the answer yet. I'm a born and raised Massh*le, currently living on the west coast, who probably won't get the opportunity to go back to MA anytime soon.

I used to live in Brookline and loved it, and so in every metro area I've lived in so far, I've been looking for its analogue and haven't found it yet. For those of you here who have lived in other areas but who also know Brookline well - can you think of any cities out there that are similar to Brookline in the following ways? (Keep in mind that this is a general, theoretical question and not a specific question about relocation).

- excellent public schools
- very close proximity to a big city
- integration into the public transportation/subway (aka, it's nice to have a car, but you don't NEED one)
- excellent walkability
- liberal/tolerant population
- low crime
- great sense of community involvement
- supportive of mom and pop stores
- clean air (it's not something you really think about back East, but now that I'm currently in SoCal, it really matters!)

I know that you some of you think you could name a bunch of affluent suburbs anywhere and say "hey, that's like Brookline." But I'm not looking for Newton here - Brookline is more urban than that. I'm looking for places that are similar to Brookline in the above ways, *especially* in the walkability/public transport/adjacent to a big city BUT maintains excellent public schools and a low crime rate.

Let me know what you think!
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Up North
3,301 posts, read 3,750,043 times
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No where in the state of Florida
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:16 PM
 
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Park Slope (Brooklyn) comes to mind, though Brookline is a much smaller version.
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Old 03-06-2011, 03:36 PM
 
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It's not a direct analog, but the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh comes very close - closer than Park Slope. Like Brookline, it's home to a large Jewish population as well.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:18 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Park Slope and Squirrel Hill are in the main city, and the main city school district, though. Park Slope, I know, has individual public schools that are good, but for high school the byzantine NYC system could put your kid anywhere. What makes Brookline unique is that's urban but has its own school district.

For the closest matches, I'd say perhaps Evanston, Illinois, Takoma Park, Md., Bellevue, Wash, University City, Mo. None is as close to downtown as Brookline.
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:43 PM
 
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How about Alexandria, VA? Not sure. Parts of Alexandria may be more urban than much of Brookline, and I have no idea how the schools are in Alexandria, but it seems to fit the general idea of inner suburban, affluent, close to the city, but has its own independent community feel as well.
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Boston
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^Alexandria came immediately to mind. I don't know about the schools in Alexandria, either. Also in the Washington area, Bethesda and Chevy Chase came to mind. They have MARC/Metro access and some walkable centers. These may not be quite as urban as much of Brookline (which is really mixed) though.

The geography of the San Francisco Bay Area (mountains and large bodies of water) lends itself to much higher density development. Many communities in that area might fit the bill.

Berkeley, CA came to mind too. Nice downtown, more urban than most suburbs, great neighborhoods and it's on BART and Amtrak. I'm not sure about the public schools, but it is home to U.C. Berkeley.

Sausalito would be an excellent (albeit, expensive) option. Beautiful, walkable, bikeable (you can fairly easily bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to downtown), and good public transit access (bus, quick ferry, etc).

The Bay Area has a number of dense suburbs with walkable neighborhoods (Palo Alto, Burlingame, Sunnyvale, San Mateo and more. The problem is that most of these are served only by bus and Caltrain (commuter rail) and not BART (rapid transit subway) or Muni Metro (light rail, like the Green Line). Caltrian serves that corridor well, but it's still a slightly longer commute to the city and Caltrain schedules aren't as frequent as BART or Muni (late night service, especially on Sunday, is poor). It's not difficult to drive to BART's outer hub stations and catch a train that way, though.

Within San Francisco's city limits, West Portal and Forest Hills would be ideal. These neighborhoods (to me, anyway) are almost identical to much of Brookline. Higher density, but a notch below the center of the city. Walkable neighborhood centers with LOTS of mom and pop shops. Light Rail access to downtown via muni metro (which is their version of the Green Line). I am fairly certain schools in these neighborhoods are quite good. Worth looking into.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrfox View Post
^Alexandria came immediately to mind. I don't know about the schools in Alexandria, either. Also in the Washington area, Bethesda and Chevy Chase came to mind. They have MARC/Metro access and some walkable centers. These may not be quite as urban as much of Brookline (which is really mixed) though.
Alexandria's schools are not great. There's actually a decent amount of poverty there. Other than the very expensive Old Town, the more affluent parts of Alexandria are decidedly suburban. I'd also say Chevy Chase and Bethesda (or at least most of it) are more like Newton than Brookline.

Palo Alto's definitely farther from SF than Brookline is from Boston, but it's not a bad comparison. Berkeley has wealth but also some fairly rough areas and I think the schools have some challenges as a result.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Quincy, Mass. (near Boston)
1,168 posts, read 1,726,438 times
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St. Paul, next to Minneapolis, on the Mississippi River.

Born there long ago, moved from the area at age 6, but I hear that public schools in St. Paul are very good...plus several universities there in addition to the U of Minnesota across in Minneapolis (aka the Mini Apple for its concentration of theatres outside of NY).

Twin Cities seem very liberal, gay friendly, always rank high in health care, education and overall quality of life.

St. Paul has a modern arena downtown for NHL hockey and concerts. Plus, the Fitzgerald Theater ("Prarie Home Companion") is downtown, near the Minnesota History Museum and the beautiful state capitol. Lots of neighborhoods, along with some declining ones, I've read. Sure, over 300,000 people or so, so much bigger than Brookline, but I'm sure it feels small, plus it's next to Minneapolis, a hip city. Buses rule although Minneapolis now has some light rail.

Plus, it's more "literate" than Boston according to a survey. Minneapolis is #2, St. Paul #4 (home of "Hungry Mind" bookstore...hope it's still open) vs. Boston's literacy ranking near the bottom of top 10 most literate cities. Betcha NOBODY here in sometimes elitist Boston would believe that!

Even better, on my only adult visit to the area 11 years ago, I enjoyed the Grand Ave/Summit Ave./Crocus Hill neighborhood just up from downtown St. Paul. All those shops, cafes and theatres reminded me of Coolidge Corner/Washington Square/Brookline Village.

I do realize that not many New Englanders/Bostonians would consider living in or even visiting anywhere in Minnesota (some in Boston might classify them as simple and stupid midwesterners?) -- but I feel that's far from reality.

I actually met a 30-year old male from St. Paul years ago, living in the South End of Boston, who liked it here, but planned to move back to St. Paul once his daughter reached school age. Why? He complained about all the "white trash" in Boston. When I expressed amazement at his statement, he said, "YOU know what I mean...". Not sure if he meant me or South Enders or simply the average Bostonian.

Many don't realize the Cities are home to many Fortune 500 companies...

By the way. it gets quite hot and muggy in the Twin Cities in summers.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:22 PM
 
Location: Up North
3,301 posts, read 3,750,043 times
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I think this means Brookline is like no other city, and its superior to most other places?
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