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Old 05-27-2011, 11:43 AM
2 posts, read 3,393 times
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I am a 25 year old African American female moving to Boston (a city I only visited once) for a new job. I'm originally from the South (Georgia), did college in DC, and am now moving from NYC.

I'm looking for a nice neighborhood to search for apartments in. I'm an energetic person who speaks to people on the street and love a friendly environment. In NYC, I lived in Harlem and LOVED the people I met. I'm looking for that same feel, but with convenience as my job will be in Downtown Boston and I do not have a car (no reason for a car in NYC), so public transportation is a MUST. I am also looking for neighborhoods with local shopping areas (groceries, convenience stores, etc) and community activities.

Many people have mentioned Allston and possibly South or East Boston. It's just me, so safety is an issue as well (but I've lived in the so-called "hood" before, especially during college).

Any suggestions?
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:17 PM
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What is your budget? Do you want to live alone?

I just did the opposite...Boston to NYC.
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:22 PM
Location: no longer new england
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Brookline is a nice place with friendly people, good public transport, some nice shopping centers, things to do and is safe. It's pretty easy to get to downtown boston from there, but it can be pretty expensive.
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:24 PM
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Do you have a certain budget for rent?

Allston- ghetto and lots of students, I lived there
South Boston- from what I gather from African American friends, still not a friendly area for them these days- very white/irish outside of the projects there
East Boston- don't know much about it other than there is a high Latino population and I think it's kind of dumpy.

I think maybe Mission Hill would be a good, middle of the road affordable choice, but I haven't spent a lot of time there lately. I could be wrong, but it used to be a good mix of people, like some students, but it's also very close to the medical area so you have some professionals as well, etc. There are some decent bars and restaurants out there and there is a grocery store that is fairly new (5 years ago?). The E line isn't the best to live off of, but public transportation is generally good in that area because you have the E line, the 39 bus and other bus routes.

If you're looking in a higher price range, then definitely go for something more central like Back Bay, South End or Fenway, those are all good areas with stuff to do, easy access to grocery stores, transportation and other conveniences.

Edited to add that you should check out Jamaica Plain, too.
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Old 05-27-2011, 05:43 PM
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Ya you can look options for Mission Hill,Fenway,Bolyston or Westland Av.They are good options to live in.And I guess it depends on you as well what neighborhood you want.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:29 AM
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It depends on your budget, as mentioned above, and also maybe on what you liked about Harlem. It may be difficult to find any one neighborhood in Boston with all of Harlem's features. If you liked being outside the big commercial districts yet still very much in the city, you might check out the South End (a different neighborhood from South Boston). That would be especially true if you lived in one of the gentrified neighborhoods in Harlem, and liked that feel. The S. End depends on your housing budget, though, as it's kind of expensive.

If you liked the mix of ethnicities in Harlem, you may want to take a look at Jamaica Plain. The only thing about J.P. is that you'd need to get some info on the particular neighborhood to find what you were looking for. Unfortunately, though I have general knowledge of J.P., I can't help you when it comes to nailing down particular neighborhoods. Some areas, though, are more middle-class and family-oriented, and mostly white, while a few areas may be borderline in terms of safety, so you really need good info if you want a basically safe neighborhood in J.P. that's also got a young, ethnically mixed population. Also, you might want to know that J.P. in most areas is not as "city" as Harlem, though it's not out in the 'burbs either. It's more like urban residential, probably more or less comparable to parts of Queens.

If you prefer having a significant black population around you, then Roxbury is probably generally a broad area you'll want to consider. As with J.P., I can't help you much with particular neighborhoods, but you'd want good info on those, because they vary in terms of safety, and in terms of where there are more young single people as opposed to families. I know this one neighborhood only a little, but one neighborhood in Rox. you might want to consider is Lower Roxbury. Looks nice from the little I've seen of it, and Lower Rox. has a reputation as a nice area, with, I believe, some young singles. One thing I'm not sure about in Lower Rox. is how much there is in the way of dining and entertainment right in the neighborhood. I'm not saying there isn't any, just that I don't know.

So, a lot of my suggestions have been based on general reputaions of broad areas, but I hope that helps add to the info others have offered as a starting point.
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:27 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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Fort Hill (aka Highland Park) in Roxbury is a "hidden gem" enclave between gentrifying Mission Hill and the still-ghetto Dudley Square commercial area. A good number of Boston's never-abundant AA professionals hang their hats there, in one of the brownstones or single-family houses along its well-shaded streets. The area was popular for Caucasian hippie communes back in the day, with one big dwelling sheltering the "Fort Hill Fa99ots for Freedom," and the demographics are still somewhat mixed.
Although the neighborhood itself is very walkable, albeit hilly (it's the highest point in the city), it gets sketchy PDQ no matter what direction you head in from there. Huge public-housing "developments" flank it to the west, northeast, and southwest, though two of them have been made over into multi-income complexes with some degree of success. As a transportation as well as shopping hub, Dudley Square teems with activity most of the time but a good bit of it is "unsavory." It's the kind of place where 12-year-olds get shot because somebody thought they were the cousin of a rival gang member's ex-girlfriend's baby daddy or whatever. And the main streets (Dudley, Washington, and Warren) bear only passing resemblance to fabled arteries like 125th St. You have your cheesy dollar stores + hair shops + take-out joints etc but no "cultural institutions" such as the Apollo or even Sylvia's. Toward the northern end of the district, though, you can buy pretty much whatever your heart desires in terms of delicacies from "the (Caribbean) islands" at Tropical Food Market. For "mainstream" grocery shopping there are Stop & Shop supermarkets in Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain, though they follow the typical urban-franchise model of charging more for less. Those in the know drive or take the bus to the Brookline location, whence it's not far from a Trader Joe's also.
Brookline is a location of contradictions in a way, because although a lot of students and yuppies make their home there it gets pretty quiet as the night wears on. There are no clubs to speak of, just a big Jewish deli/restaurant and lots of eateries serving various Asian cuisines, not to mention a sports bar and a few other low-key hangouts. And they're all mostly monochromatic if you catch my drift. Beacon St, the main drag - with its trolley tracks down the middle - looks like what Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway and The Bronx's Grand Concourse must've looked like in their heyday: long rows of mid-rise brick apartment (now heavily condo) buildings in between shopping/dining clusters. Like my take on the town itself, it's a contradiction in a way because it's pleasant to stroll its breezy blocks despite all the vehicular and streetcar traffic.
Jamaica Plain has historically been Boston's most "tolerant" community, where there's never been rapid or unnatural demographic turnover unlike in so many other sections of town. Like many urban enclaves from a century or so ago, you can be on a street of Victorians one minute and then turn the corner onto a block of apartment houses. Its principal commercial artery, Centre St, traverses the neighborhood in a "Z," with the middle and right portions crammed with myriad shops and restaurants. As I write, JP is in the midst of one of those classic city struggles. A grungy but beloved grocery store specializing in Puerto Rican and Central/South American foods is giving way to a Whole Foods following the unceremonious termination of its employees. That particular portion of the area, which had a population ratio of approximately 40% Black/40% White/20% Hispanic (with more of the latter in the immediate vicinity) grows ever paler with ongoing gentrification. Another local grocer sold out to CVS; an Irish dive bar morphed into a yuppie cocktail place - which has since changed hands and names at least once; you get the picture. Despite all this there are still plenty of spots with proprietors from the community and their own unique style. What I liked about JP when I lived there (and still do) is that nobody doesn't belong. Regardless of what street you walk down, the amount of melanin in your skin cells is no cause for nervous or hostile glances much less awkward scooting to the opposite sidewalk. It so happened that most of the folks in my building and on my block were "of color," and it was a non-issue. Sad to say, Boston's done a lot of growing up since the ugly stuff of the '60s and '70s but there's a ways to go yet. You'll know right away that you're not in Atlanta any more.
Allston, bleccccchhh.
The South End is one of those "precious" places where pocket parks are surrounded by wrought-iron fences that only residents have gate keys to get past. Look no further when you need organic dog treats or the latest gear for giving attitude at gay clubs in. Think 7th Ave in Park Slope. The power-washed brownstone row houses with their steep front steps are reminiscent of Brooklyn too. From my experience the yuppies and guppies and not so many buppies who've almost completely displaced the "ethnic mosaic" that used to reside there are not the type to say "hey" in passing on the sidewalk. But in all fairness none of Boston is that way.
So yeah, your best prospects for a happy home life would be in JP or Fort Hill. And I hope happy is what you'll be here.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:05 PM
2 posts, read 3,393 times
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Thanks everyone, especially GoyGuy. This has been very helpful.

My price range is currently $1500 or less a month to live alone. But if I like the neighborhood, I am open to other options such as roommates or uping my spending level to make it work.

What I loved most about Harlem was the convenience of being able to walk to anything I needed within a 10-20 block radius - at any time. I regularly visit Newark, and everything shuts down at 6pm or so, which makes it difficult to do anything after work. I also love that Harlem has different buildings like brownstones, apartment complexes, public housing and condos all in the same neighborhood. You are not limited to one type. Currently, I reside in a row house with a front porch on a block that transports you back to the 1950's.

I will definitely look into Mission Hill, JP and Fort Hill.
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Old 05-28-2011, 08:52 PM
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If you'll consider the inner burbs, I think a dark horse candidate you should investigate is West Medford. It was historically the place where middle class AA people settled after the Civil War (cf. Medford Historical Society -- Medford, Massachusetts). It's safe and even more diverse at this point. It's more Brooklyn than Harlem, but it might be worth a look since it's more in line with your budget. I have a colleague who bought there and loves it. When we hang out there, all of her neighbors are quite friendly in a very non-New England way.

You can hop on the Lowell commuter train that will take you straight to North Station. It'll take several more years, but the Green Line is slated to get extended from Lechmere to West Medford. Your basic shopping needs are near the train station and a Whole Foods is close by. A short bus ride takes you to David Square and the other amenities along the Red Line.
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Old 05-28-2011, 09:46 PM
Location: Quincy, MA
385 posts, read 1,401,142 times
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Maybe the Ashmont Hill area of Dorchester? That's a diverse area, right on the subway, with some restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Not sure exactly how far it is from the grocery store. I know there's one in Lower Mills, maybe a 15 minute walk, and you can take the T to some others. Lower Mills is another diverse and kind of hip area, but you have to switch from the regular subway to a trolley line to get there (or walk).

The Ashmont T station is kind of sketchy at night, from what I hear, but I've only been there during the day.
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