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Old 05-21-2009, 04:19 PM
1 posts, read 2,444 times
Reputation: 10


My boyfriend and I are moving to Boston this summer, and I need some advice regarding to where to seek an apartment! We are both 24.

I will be getting a grad degree at Simmons, and my boyfriend will be looking for teaching jobs. I'm comfortable with a public transport commute of a half hour or so, and I guess he can cross his commute bridge when he comes to it! :-)

We are looking for:

A one bedroom under 1200/month
A neighborhood with some cool stuff around it (we're both from the midwest so this could be a crazybusy area or a flipping Starbucks and a grocery store, we're easily excitable)
Relative safety (I'd like to be comfortable walking home at night)
And again, a reasonable commute to Fenway.

Any advice? We'll be visiting this summer with VERY limited time to view apartments so I'm trying to narrow it down as much as possible. Thanks in advance, you guys all rock!
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Old 05-21-2009, 10:00 PM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,962,531 times
Reputation: 6455
Good luck with finding a 1-BR for <$1200 a month
The cost of housing is probably the biggest sticker shock you'll be hit with when you land here. Few studios rent for that little. But Simmons probably has an off-campus housing office (or at least a desk within an office) where you could look over listings for places. Often faculty members at a college are happy to offer spare living space in a large house, or an "in-law apartment," to students of their school. You might also be able to set up a barter arrangement whereby you'd make grocery runs, mow the lawn, etc in exchange for paying less per month.
Here are neighborhoods to avoid, and why:
Allston (south of the turnpike) - Student Ghetto Central, with the highest crime rate in the city thanks to lots of B & E's and late-night street fights and fun stuff like that. Like NYC, it's a nice place to visit but you so don't want to live there. Enjoy the great variety of funky stores and "ethnic" restaurants - not to mention a couple of my personal favorite spots (Harpers Ferry for blues and alt-rock shows, and Sports Depot for tasty bar food and guess what else.) But be outta there before midnight.
Mission Hill - A challenger to the Student Ghetto Central title thanks to skyrocketing rents closer in to town in the South End and the Fenway. The community declined steadily for decades after WWII but has rebounded since its big public-housing "development" was knocked down in favor of "mixed-income" townhouses. But there's still an edgy feel to it, which only increases the farther away from Huntington Ave you go. This is an overstatement but not entirely off the mark: if you're not dodging muggers in Mission Hill, you're dodging "missiles" thrown by partying undergrads while their compatriots stagger and puke and everybody shrieks.
"Better," relatively convenient, communities are Jamaica Plain + Brookline + Allston north of the turnpike + Cambridge. However, rents are prohibitive unless you're connected.
Your best bet for finding a decent and affordable place would be in northern Dorchester, in the neighborhoods flanking Dorchester Ave (aka "Dot Av") near the Savin Hill and JFK/UMass subway stations. Bus route 8, out of JFK/UMass, even travels Brookline Ave right by Simmons on its way to Kenmore Square. The main downside to this area is that most of the rental units are in "three-decka" buildings - way more space than you'd need.
Sorry to not be more encouraging...
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:02 AM
Location: Chicago
6,007 posts, read 13,204,293 times
Reputation: 7963
come on, it won't be THAT difficult for them to find a 1 bedroom for around $1200. that's a pretty good budget to work w/ so long as they aren't expecting high end renovations or to live on top of Beacon Hill. a quick search on CL turns up a few 1 bedroom places for under $1200 in Allston, Mission Hill, and Brighton (though Brighton may not be as convenient). a few are obvious scams and miscategorized roommate ads (oh why is the Boston CL page so screwed up???), but I did spy a few legit ads, including one w/ heat included. granted, it won't be a piece of cake and it would be hard to find something drastically under $1200 w/o putting the OP far out of range, but it's not impossible at all

the biggest worry here is lack of time since the good deals take time to scout out and pop up suddenly, especially w/ the "Great Migration" (aka, Aug. 31st-Sep 1st) coming up and students coming in and leaving the area in packs. you (the OP) may need to get a realtor if you're really short on time, but it may be possible to go it solo if you plan wisely. you may need to ease up a bit on the commute time to allow yourself the option of checking out places on the red line in Cambridge, Somerville, or Dorchester

for Simmons, I'd stick w/ the orange line and green line I'm having a blank moment right now and am forgetting the exact location of Simmons, but believe it's off of Huntington Ave. if this is so, the "E" line would be more convenient, but it's also one of the worse train lines in Boston (probably ties w/ the "B" line for the slowest).

places to check out would include Jamaica Plain, Allston (though you may to transfer or walk down to the school a bit), Fenway, and Roslindale. in fact, Roslindale may work out great for you since the commuter rail at Roslindale Sq can get you to Ruggles in quick time (I think about 10 minutes tops) and that may put you close enough to Simmons. last I remember, the Roslindale stop was w/in the Boston zone so it's not that much expensive to ride the commuter train from that stop (the cost used to be included w/ the regular combo passes, but it may have changed recently). if you're okay w/ the extra commute time, you could go out as far as Malden, though it's somewhat dead out there
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:42 PM
406 posts, read 1,321,578 times
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I would second Jamaica Plain and Somerville. Both have lots to do within a fairly quick walk, as well as a fairly fast commute downtown (as long as you're within walking distance of the T). Welcome to Boston! And your comment about being easily excitable made me laugh.
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