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Old 06-25-2009, 07:11 PM
3 posts, read 5,626 times
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Hi my future Boston neighbors--

I'm moving up to Boston this summer to start grad school at BU's School of Public Health. I'm driving up tomorrow to look at apartments with another student that's starting in the fall too.

Of all the neighborhoods I've researched it seems like JP is a good fit for me. I'm moving from Astoria, Queens in NYC, and it seemed like JP could be a comparable neighborhood in Boston (diverse, on the less expensive side, has some green space--lots more in JP than Astoria actually, etc.)

I found a place I like on the east side of the Arborway a few minutes walk from the Forest Hills station. It looks like a really nice apartment on the inside, but I'm a little concerned, because other threads have said the Forest Hills stop isn't a great area, and it seems like it's basically on an outlying border of JP (close to Dorchester).

I'm used to living in an urban setting and getting around by myself in the city, but a little bit worried about whether or not I'd be safe coming home late from class at night (like 10/11 p.m.) alone.

Other neighborhoods that have been recommended to me are Somerville (but I think its too far from BUMC), Brookline (a little expensive) and Allston/Brighton. My roommate and I are trying not to spend over $1600 a month on a place, just so you get an idea of what we can afford.

Thank you guys so much in advance for any advice you can give me.
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:15 PM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,931,493 times
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You hit the nail right on the head by saying the Forest Hills stop isn't that great of an area. It's the terminal of the Orange Line rapid-transit train, which traverses some of the worst parts of town along the way, and other not-so-nice sections can be reached by bus only from there. Net of all that is, the station itself is decidedly sketchy at times - no more so than when the non-selective "district" high schools are in session and members of warring teen factions have it as their common transfer place. When I'm there at night no moss grows under my feet, LOL...but anybody who's lived in NYC would probably find it tame. There's also little reason to be hesitant about riding the trains themselves no matter the time of day, just remember that we're a suburb of New York and don't have transit service between 1 - 5 AM.
The Arborway section of JP is great - peaceful shaded streets, a convenient walk to all sorts of restaurants and stores, and of course the arboretum "right there." As soon as you cross Washington St from Forest Hills the entire vibe changes.
Another "rediscovered" Boston neighborhood which is even closer to BUMC is the portion of Dorchester situated between the JFK/UMass and Savin Hill stops on the Red Line train. In thirty years it's gone from a deteriorating and hostile territory, nearly 100% Irish-American, to a gentrifying haven with a diverse populace. Some streets still look more raggedy than others, but a lot of the "three-decka" apartment houses have gotten makeovers and some new townhouse complexes have cropped up. The presence of the UMass-Boston campus has hugely contributed to the area's newfound appeal, as has its close proximity to downtown as well as the South Shore (Quincy, Braintree, etc.) The "CT3" crosstown express bus serves BUMC out of Andrew Station in nearby South Boston, two stops from Savin Hill and one from JFK/UMass. One of my favorite chunks of real estate in the city is the section called Savin Hill Over the Bridge, OTB for short. The bridge in question carries Savin Hill Ave over I-93. At its east end, beyond the drab rows of brick box apartment buildings facing the expressway, you'll find a bucolic community of three-deckas interspersed with '20s bungalows and sweet lil' Victorian houses as well as an expansive brick residence building that defies description (at 252 Savin Hill Ave.) Savin Hill Ave loops around a park by the same name which is a glacial drumlin that's been kept in its natural state except for the grass being mown. All sorts of underage partying and lust consummation has probably taken place on and around its boulders, lol, but it's a fantastic spot to visit during daylight hours for its commanding view of Boston Harbor. The South Bay Plaza big-box store collection is close by, as is a Shaw's supermarket, to complement community businesses like the Patty's Pantry grocery store and deli.
Another of my favorite nooks of Beantown is the Audubon Circle section of the West Fenway, tucked between the Brookline border and Kenmore Square and BU's South Campus sprawl and the Green Line's D branch. Reaching BUMC is a breeze by way of the MBTA's 47 bus, and if you're an inherent masochist and want to rep a New York baseball team at a Sox game the hallowed bleachers of Fenway Park are an easy stroll away. Large-scale food shopping is available at the Boylston St Shaw's, some of the best Chinese food in town is purveyed by Chef Chang's House on Beacon St, and my used-book store of choice (Boston Book Annex) is also on Beacon thereabouts. And there's lots more where that came from. The less expensive rentals in Audubon Circle would be along Park Drive and the streets paralleling it to the east, but those buildings also harbor legions of undergrads doing what undergrads do. Quieter digs would be in the sector southwest of the Park Dr/Beacon intersection, along Keswick + Medfield + Saint Mary's St's.
In today's market, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a "crib" for under $2k a month, but the sooner you get crackin' the better. September 1st is the unofficial city holiday called Lease Day. Those in the know already had a place lined up in April. Word to the wise.
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:10 AM
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I lived right near the Forest Hills T stop when I was in grad school, a couple blocks UP the hill on Wenham St. As long as you keep your wits about you, you'll be fine. I never felt unsafe. My classes were at night as well, and I often stumbled home after hitting the bars. Again, I never felt unsafe. I loved living there and totally recommend it.

As far as Somerville being "too far", maybe not. If you're planning on taking the T to classes, you might find that the time it takes to commute in on the orange line and switch to green or commute in on the red line and switch to green are comparable. That was always one of my frustrations with JP...it's SO close to Brookline and other green line destinations "as the crow flies", but you have to go all the way downtown to go back out again.

Try the commute, you'll see what I mean.
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Old 06-26-2009, 05:50 PM
23 posts, read 156,858 times
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JP would be easier than Sommerville but neither would be out of the question. BU School of Public Health is at BUMC in the south end, so from JP the commute would be the orange line to Mass Ave and either walk or take the #1 or CT1 bus down Mass Ave. From Sommerville, the most likely commute would be the red line to downtown crossing and taking the silver line towards the campus. I would guess that the Sommerville commute would be much longer because the time on the red line would be longer than the time on the orange line from JP.
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