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Old 11-20-2010, 06:24 AM
2 posts, read 3,818 times
Reputation: 10


I would be grateful for an advice.
Next year (September 2011) I'm moving from Poland to US for a year long stay (academic research in Cambridge area). We have two kids 7+9. What are the possible towns around Boston to rent something (no car, so public transport and not more than 40 mins to Cambridge)? Good schools and safe environment as a priority.
Should I rather look for 2br apts or small house would be an option?
How should I estimate a low to moderate monthly budget in Boston area?
Thanks in advance
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Old 11-20-2010, 07:37 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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If you prefer a suburban environment, Belmont and Arlington are both adjacent to Cambridge and have better-than-average public school systems. Rents tend to be more reasonable, though still not cheap, by way of comparison to Cambridge in those communities as well. Small houses are considerably higher-cost to lease than apartments. Your largest selection of apartments would be in Arlington by far - everything from spacious duplex units to cookie-cutter (but still comfortable) places in nondescript "brick box" buildings dating from the 1920's to '60s. Arlington also has a good bit more in terms of local amenities than Belmont: supermarkets, numerous and varied restaurants, specialty shops, etc. But Belmont can boast that it contains its own small branch of Macy's.

Cambridge itself should not be ruled out by any means. Its schools are typically underrated, but you do have to "do your homework" - so to speak. There's definitely a variation in quality depending on which elementary school and program you opt into. (For purposes of inclusion, there is citywide open enrollment. Parents get to make preference selections, and are then subject to a lottery.) The Amigos, King Open, Cambridgeport, and Agassiz/Baldwin are perennial favorites. All elementary schools are for Kindergarten through Grade 8. And the obvious advantage would be that you'd be living and working in the same city - also not having to travel far to reach where exciting things are going on. (Suburbia is, well, suburbia. Dinner and a movie make for a big night out there.) Nearly all of the city's neighborhoods are close-knit and comfortable to live in. I can speak to this from 22 years' experience. Your housing dollar would go farthest in Cambridge if you settled in the northern part of town, nearest Arlington, where the neighborhoods are historically working-class and still more economical. East Cambridge is also relatively inexpensive, but the down side is that some portions are sketchy after dark.
A realistic estimate of rent ranges from $850 at best for a brick-box apartment on a main street in Arlington, to $3500 for a single-family house in Belmont. Cambridge tends to be "high end" on rental rates no matter where you look, but the variety of buildings is phenomenal and strict codes ensure quality living space. The only areas to definitely avoid are in the vicinity of the larger public-housing complexes: on/near Rindge Ave west of Sherman St on the north side of the city, and around Roosevelt Towers or the Washington Elms/Newtowne Court developments near MIT.
If "cultural identity" is important, the largest Polish enclave in the area is the so-called "Polish Triangle" in Boston. It's situated near Andrew Square on the Dorchester/South Boston boundary, not far from the Red Line subway which serves Cambridge. There's also a large Polish grocery/gift shop in Salem. I'm sure the local consulate would be able to offer a wealth of info as well.
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:45 AM
2 posts, read 3,818 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks a lot! That really helps. I assume that Cambridge is worth trying then.
Do you think I should search internet or contact real estate agencies? Do you think I would manage to find 2br furnished apt under 2000$?
Right now I feel like preparing for a trip to the moon and don't know where to start from
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