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Old 06-24-2009, 11:01 AM
6 posts, read 41,019 times
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After my south end apartment fell through, and with lack of options for nice south end condos at the momment, I am considering buying a place in Charlestown and have heard so many conflicting things. I understand certain parts are safer to live than others.

What I'm curious to know is what people think about Charlestown and if its a good place to live? The conflicting things I hear are that its hard to commute from (i find that hard to believe since there is a T, and a Bus) and that there isn't much to do.

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Old 06-24-2009, 02:57 PM
Location: Brookline, MA
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I don't know anything about the bus in Charlestown, but I don't think that the T is an easy walk for a lot of people. Also, much of the "stuff to do" tends to be congregated in one area and somewhat limited (Olives, Figs, Tangierno, Warren Tavern although I'm sure there are a few others). I've also heard it described by people who have lived there as somewhat isolated and residential which comes as a surprise to some people considering how close it is to the heart of Boston. It could be a noticeable difference from the South End if you're used to walking out your front door and being a 5-10 min walk from lots of activity.

In general, the people I know who have really liked Charlestown tend to be in the late 20s and 30s and more settled. They like the proximity to Boston, but also like that there is less going on. I would seriously consider renting for at least 6 months before buying.
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Old 06-24-2009, 03:11 PM
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If you're considering C'town, consider South Boston too. They're very similar sociologically--predominantly white, formerly very working class but now gentrifying areas. I think Southie has more to do, including wonderful waterfront parks, and better connections to the rest of the city. Both still have poor people, housing projects, and drug-related crime (but then so does the South End)--in C-town that's mostly east of Bunker Hill Street. Charlestown has more of that Beacon Hill brick charm than S.B. Southie more than C-town has traditional Boston Irish who've made it and don't want to be in the suburbs. Both have droves of young and not-so-young professionals who come from other places. Neither one is much like the South End--too bad the deal fell through there.
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:22 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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I don't get the negativity about T convenience, either. The 93 bus runs between Sullivan Square and downtown "all the time," to the point of absurdity in fact. (Every 2-3 minutes during peak hours and not much less often at other times.) And you're at North Station and the North End in minutes on foot by way of the North Washington St bridge.
Charlestown is definitely less "happening" than the South End. It does have the places mentioned already to go out to, but they're really not places to be seen in the way so many spots along Tremont St and Columbus Ave are. That's not to say they're necessarily less expensive, lol, but neither would you have to wait hours for a table. If you're into clubbing, you'd definitely have to leave the neighborhood for that.
One of the latest "hot" areas in Boston is Audubon Circle, a small enclave wedged in between the Riverside branch of the Green Line and Kenmore Square and the BU campus and Brookline. A big, brand-new condo building opened this year at the end of Miner St (partially over the Green Line tracks) and another - tacked onto some rowhouses at 461 Park Drive - has pre-opening sales going on. Currently there's a unit for sale in a rowhouse that's about two years old which is on Beacon St a couple of doors up from the Boston Book Annex. Once you've walked away from Beacon or Park Dr, Audubon Circle is as quiet as suburbia with tree-lined streets and some small parks here and there. The "Landmark" shopping complex (REI, Regal Cinemas, etc) is right across the Green Line tracks, with a big Shaw's just beyond and Fenway Park less than ten minutes' walk away. And Beacon St is a treasure trove of places to eat - Chef Chang's House, Sol Azteca, Audubon Circle Bistro, and more - and shop (the aforementioned bookstore, Economy Hardware) with Coolidge Corner a quick trolley ride or fifteen minutes' walk away.
The key factor in your decision-making is duration. How long do you intend to stay in Boston? If five years or less, keep your options open. If you're thinking long-term, Charlestown would probably be a viable possibility. Since it tends to not be of-the-moment trendy it'd be a good place to put down roots. The section surrounding Main St is definitely preferable to the part around Bunker Hill St (those "projects" only get worse over time.) And Monument Square - can't be beat IF you can afford it.
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Old 06-27-2009, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for the info! We're actually considering Southie now... i have heard from different people the general rule is to stay away from the west side? Dorchester Ave and West Broadway? Does that seem right?
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:25 PM
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I'm from Charlestown originally and lived in Southie for close to 15 years. I know you will enjoy living in Southie a lot. You will absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE being near Carson beach. It's great for walking it, running or just chilling out with your IPOD. I really miss walking down Castle Island so so much. You are really going to find it extremely convenient with the MBTA bus going thru the neighborhood to bring you to either South Station or to Broadway station or Andrew. I myself never cared for the west side, it was always called the "lower" end by a lot of my friends that are originally from Southie. It's not what it used to be though, it's actually a lot nicer than it was when I lived there. They've ripped out and renovated so many places down thru there now, it's no where near the "lower" end any more. It's much more upscale and yes, out of this world funky with a lot of the places now. Oh, it can get shady though, you have to remember that you're in a city and no matter what city you're in, you have to have street smarts about you or you won't survive it at all, drug addicts are everywhere as you know and what does that bring? Crime. So watch your back and watch yourself, just walk thru places mentioned here in groups, never ever alone. You know what I mean, pay attention to your surroundings at all times thru these neighborhoods, especially at night, hop in a taxi or something, don't walk late at night around there if you don't have to, just common sense tips, that's all. I never had any issues in all the years living there, but it was safe because of Whitey's boys being there back then, believe me I felt very safe living there! I have no idea how it is now, we just hear a LOT about the drugs there now, how it's getting worse than ever, but as you are aware, that's life now, we have to cope with it and we do, right!

Also, YES definitely, stay up around the east side of Southie closer to the beach and you'll be better off, you'll see what I mean when you get there. I always liked the middle of Southie too which is near East Broadway & "K" Street, it's charming in thru there as well.

Charlestown is beautiful too though, IF you can afford it! You have to know where to live there too. You don't want to be near the projects down on Bunker Hill Street. I actually lived along the Freedom Trail, our house was one of the oldest in the town. Big bucks now though thru there, oh it's quite charming and quaint though in that one square mile! Tons of condos for sale I'm noticing, and a lot of them have been for sale for the longest time, I guess it's the economy now, but a few years ago? They'd be scooped up in days, even hours, not any more. I personally think that you get more bang for your buck in Southie, you can't beat it with a stick. I always used to wish I grew up there rather than in Charlestown, I could never say that one too loud in the town. I don't think you can have a car thru either of these neighborhoods these days, due to the influx of condo dwellers and every single level of a building some one is living in them now and every one has wheels, that's okay, but the resident parking is for the birds in my mind, but to each his own I suppose! When I was growing up in the City those 3 and 4 different levels of a building? They were single family homes, may be one tenant but that's about it. A lot of people had huge families back then and the whole building was their home. Those days are over in more ways than one. It might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing. It's life in a nutshell now in Boston and that's a fact.

I was just looking at a condo earlier today with my husband on the real estate site in Charlestown, it was going for $669,900. The condo fee was only 171 a month, what a bargain huh! The taxes were $3,060, you would think they would be way more than that for the amount they want for the condo right? It was absolutely beautiful online, just stunning, nothing was left out in the design of this magnificient place. It was a 2 level unit, 2 gas fireplaces, 2 master suites and a private patio. The condo actually was going for $614,900, the deeded parking space was NOT included, yet it was available in the courtyard next door for,
$5,000. I looked at it online and got the biggest kick out of seeing it, you know why? The courtyard they were referring to, was where I jump roped and played relivio AND where I fell and got 12 stitches on my knee as a kid in grammar school! It was my old school yard! Funny or what!

Enjoy your new venture in Southie, I KNOW you're going to really love living over there, it's a great choice, take a walk down to Sullivan's @ Castle Island for me and have one of their burgers or hot dogs, they're really yummy, I miss them a lot!

Last edited by CityGirl52; 06-30-2009 at 07:58 PM.. Reason: Corrected typos, sorry about that chief!
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:19 PM
6 posts, read 41,019 times
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Thanks so much for your response I really appreciate it! The common sense tips are always good to be reminded of. I hear way too often about people walking late at night and getting attacked! I hadn't really heard about the drug issues in Southie so that is good to hear.

The apartment we're in love with actually is on the west side.... so we're just trying to figure out what is the most important for us, whether it is a gorgeous apartment in a place that MIGHT appreciate in values b/c like you said its going through such a transformation, or an area that is much better/safer and the apartments will hold their value.

I went to Charlestown for the first time and you're right its adorable... but the area's we would want to live in (near Main St. Monument etc.) have minimal apartments available to buy so we moved our search to Southie.

I must say even if we end up in the West Side and I have to watch my back more than the east side, southie really is adorable. Its not at all what I was expecting. People make it out to be horrible. I mean naturally near the projects/Dorchester ave its a bit much but any section of Boston has those types of areas.

Any way thanks for the response! I appreciate it.
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