Best place to live in or near Boston? (Cambridge, Newton: apartments, rental)
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I'm a recent grad of pharmacy school, and my friend and I both have gotten jobs in Boston. We plan on being roommates and renting an apartment together, but we both have very little knowledge about the area. We've done some research on the internet, but that hasn't really helped us that much so far.
We would like
+ to live in a safe neighborhood (we're both young women) - by safe I mean not a high crime rate. I understand that no matter where you live, you have to be cautious in certain situations (i.e. walking home at night). However, I'd like to not have to worry incessantly about it.
+ to be a part of the city culture - we both come from a very suburban type town and while we don't mind it, we're very excited to be a part of a lot of the city culture. We also want to be a short distance away to some restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, etc. However, we're not too interested in nightclubs, bars, etc. I want to live in an area where I wouldn't have to go too far for something to do.
+ We would love to save as much money as possible, but not sacrifice quality of housing. We need a 2 bedroom apartment (I saw some listings for 2 bathrooms as well, but having 1 is more than ok too). We can afford up to $2100/month, but are willing to consider paying a little more if we can live in a safer/better area or get better housing for the amount paid.
I know I might not get a place with all of the above, but is there anywhere that comes close to being a close fit? The places that we've seen so far are
- The Peninsula Apartments (which we can't seem to get a pricing for)
- Burbank Apartments
- The Parkside
- Harbor Point on the Bay (which I've heard is a dangerous area - someone got shot there a while ago or something like that)
Scratch The Peninsula and Harbor Point off your list. These are located near the UMass campus, but this is not the place to live if you want to be part of the city culture & action. There are some advantages; namely, being close to the subway (Red Line) and right next to the ocean & Harborwalk. But aside from that, this is not a very walkable neighborhood of Boston. There is surprisingly little to do within walking distance.
I'm not too sure of the exact crime statistics in Harbor Point versus Fenway-Kenmore (where the other two apartments are located). I mean... Fenway probably isn't the most crime-free area of Boston, but... it is a fairly lively and central location, with lots of young people and students.
If you're extremely concerned about crime rates, then try to look a little closer to downtown if your budget allows it (e.g. South End and Back Bay). Also consider looking in Cambridge, preferably near one of the "squares": Central, Harvard, Porter, or Davis (in Somerville). Central might have a slightly higher crime rate than the others, but all will put you right in the culture and activity of the city.
Depends what hospital you are working at. If you're working at MGH, there are excellent apts right next door and all of Beacon Hill. If you're working in Longwood, Fenway, Mission Hill, Brookline is all fab.
I used to rent from FRM which manages both Parkside and Burbank. They are very good - not excellent, but I would be happy to live with them again. That location is perfect - walking distance - for Longwood or BMC. I can assure you life in that neighborhood will be an excellent chapter on your life.
Boston is a very safe city. It's a girls town, you'll love it. I've worked in almost every hospital pharmacy in metro Boston. PM me if you want some really good insight.
I'd look in Beacon Hill or the North End. Both offer the kind of lifestyle you want and both have lots of new college graduates living there. Your budget should be fine for both places.
Note: most apartments here aren't in complexes with names (like the ones you mentioned) so if you limit your search to that kind of place you'll be missing a lot. It's much more common for apartments to be in brownstones, smaller buildings or two/three-family houses.
You could afford quite a nice place in Cambridge or Somerville on that budget. You get an urban ambiance with great restaurants, busy squares, and lots of young people but you can get more bang for your buck. I currently live about a 15 minute walk from Davis Square (though I'm moving at the end of the month to Medford because I have a car and my rental budget can go stronger). Davis, Harvard, and Central Squares would all be convenient to MGH and downtown. Its also very safe. I'm a 24 year old woman who is often out VERY late at night walking back and forth between friends' homes and never felt unsafe.
Do you plan on having cars? If not, I would also suggest Brookline. Parking is awful (most of my friends who live there have to buy their parking spots) but it's a nice area with gorgeous brownstones. Brookline is convenient to Longwood.
You didn't mention where your job/job prospects are, but my first recommendation is Central Square in Cambridge. It is dense city living like you want, with tons of restaurants and stores to check out. Lots of recent college graduates so a young area. It is also very well connected with mass transportation. Assuming you don't have a car or don't want to deal with driving it much, you have a Red Line subway stop. There is also a convenient parking garage if you have visitors and street parking is tight. Central Square is 1 stop from Harvard Square (2 minute ride), 2 stops from Boston (figure you are 8 minutes to Boston, and maybe 20 minutes to any corner of the city). Central is along Mass Ave, which has a bus that runs up and down it; there are tons of restaurants and things to explore along Mass Ave in Cambridge (Kendall Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, Arlington). You also have access to Watertown/Waltham via bus. Finally, walking between the squares or into Boston is pleasant/safe/quick.
You mentioned your draw to the city is mostly around things to do, but not necessarily bars/nightclubs, so I figure I'll throw out Newton as a suburb with things to do. Newton Center has an active downtown with a lot of restaurants and shops, that is walkable from a lot of the surrounding residential streets. It has bus service and the frequent Green Line light rail to Brookline (20 minutes) and Boston (25-30 minutes), and there are some parks in the area if nature is your thing. Chestnut Hill is another section of Newton that "could" work. Its not quite as pedestrian friendly as Center, but its a stop closer on the Green Line and has restaurants and stores.
As a representative for www.harborpointonthebay.com and www.peninsula-apts.com I definitely agree and disagree with some of the below comments. The location of both communities are off of the JFK/UMASS stop on the Redline so if you were looking to walk everywhere and be there in 2 minutes these are probably not the communities you are looking for. However many students and professionals throughout Boston find the 2 communities convenient as stated in the recent posts.
Both communities have easy access to the redline and the WICKED awesome HarborWalk. I have had first hand experience living at Harbor Point and although I am the type of person to want starbucks and a bar right across the street from my apt, I found Harbor Point's location reasonable to the "fun stuff" in Boston. Based on both communities value, amenities and features they are priced accordingly.
Regarding someone being shot at Harbor Point is not true. However there was an incident a few years ago where someone shot off a gun in the parking lot of the Bayside Expo Center. The reporters targeted Harbor Point in the news reports since it was the easiest target for gossip. Who wants to read about someone shooting a gun off in an empty parking lot?
Crime stats, well that is a tough one, in my opinion i don't think Harbor Point, The Peninsula or any of our neighbors consider us to have any higher crime than anywehre else in the city. But crime does happen everywhere even on the Whitehouse lawn in Washington DC, I heard that place is pretty well guarded but in the news recently...
HP and PEN have Public Safety officers on our communities but you do never know what is going to happen. Call me, "Justin", HP 617-825-2033 or Soma, PEN 617-436-0005 to chat.
Oh by the way i know you will be happy with the pricing!
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