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Old 01-01-2008, 07:26 PM
Location: Valley Stream, NY/ New York, NY
6 posts, read 22,187 times
Reputation: 11


Hello there. I am college senior who will be moving to the Boston area at the beginning of August. I currently dorm in New York City, and I am from Long Island. I am used to lots of nightlife and cultural activities at school and open space and safe suburbia at home. I loved Boston's mix of both and I am really looking forward to living in or around there.

I will be attending either Tufts, Northeastern, Mass. School of Professional Psychology or UMass Boston for graduate school and most likely working at Starbucks as a shift supervisor.

I have a compound question.

1) What areas would be good to check out based on these qualities:
a. 35-minute or less commute to my school by either public transport or car (my boyfriend and I both have cars)
b. Decent-sized one bedroom apartments for two people (me and my boyfriend)
c. Safe neighborhoods
d. Easy access to cultural activities and nightlife (doesn't have to be in the actual neighborhood, but nearby)
e. Combined rent and utilities at under $1100 a month

2) My boyfriend currently teaches at a very good public middle school on Long Island. What areas have good middle and high school districts within a 35 minute commute? Does anyone know of the process a first-year teacher in New York would have to go through to get relicensed to teach in Mass.? When should he start looking for jobs?

3) Does anyone know anything about the school psychology programs at these four schools? Which school has the best one?

4) Does anyone work for Starbucks in Boston or the any surrounding suburb or know someone who does? How does the pay rate compare to NYC?

5) And lastly, when should I start looking for apartments? Is the market going to be competitive since its back to school time for a lot of college kids? We hope to move in by early August.

Sorry to be a pain with the barrage of questions! An answer to a few or even one would help out greatly!

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 01-02-2008, 04:23 PM
9 posts, read 54,405 times
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OK I can help you out with some of these:
The areas around Boston that have the best public schools are:
Lexington- about a 25 min commute in the morning,
Concord- about 30-40
Wellsley- 30
Winchester - 20-25
These are all upscale towns with great school systems.
a. Harvard Square, Central Square, would be great..they are pretty safe, and there is lots too do. The Safest/nicest place would be the Back Bay of Boston, but im not sure if you would be able to get a place for under $1100.

Im also guessing the starbucks pay should be pretty comprable to the one in NYC if not the same.

As for the schools: You can't really go wrong at Tufts, Northeastern is great becuase there really good at all fields of work. I probably would rank UMass last on that list. Im not sure about the Mass school.

Hopefully this helps a little .
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Old 01-02-2008, 04:42 PM
Location: Metrowest, MA
1,810 posts, read 10,462,639 times
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My friend had a theory... if a suburb town has a starbuck... the town is nice.

I figure a town is fairly nice when people living in them can afford $5 coffees when Dunkin Donut across the street is only $2.
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Old 01-03-2008, 01:42 AM
Location: Chicago
6,025 posts, read 15,291,269 times
Reputation: 8152
wow, the schools you have chosen are at opposite corners of the metro Boston area! where's a brief breakdown based on the schools you have listed:

1) Tufts: the main Tufts campus is on the border of Medford and Somerville, 2 towns close to Cambridge. I'm pretty sure you could find a 1bed in either area for $1100, esp. if your requirements are low (ie, you don't have pets/kids, don't need state of the art renovations, ok w/ on street parking, etc), though Medford tends to be a bit cheaper. there are buses that service most of Medford that passes right by Tufts, or very close to it. Tufts is also close to the red line so you can also try parts of Cambridge w/ bus access to the red line (apts in Cambridge right near the subway may be more than what you can afford).

the nightlife around Tufts is AWESOME and probably the best out of the 4 schools you have listed. Davis Sq, right near Tufts, has lots of good bars and stores, and you're very close to the Harvard and Central Sqs. scene as well. I used to live near Davis Sq. and LOVED it!

2) Northeastern: the campus is in the Mission Hill section. I think you should be able to get a 1bed for $1100 there, but prices have gone up quite a bit in that neighborhood w/ all the new businesses coming in. Northeastern is serviced by the "E" branch of the green line and by the #39 bus, so Jamaica Plain is a great, affordable option. you can also take the orange line to the campus, so your options for apartments are pretty open if you stick close to the orange (but AVOID at ALL costs living close to the Jackson Sq. T stop and also maybe the Forest Hills T stop). if your up for the longer commute on the orange, parts of Malden, Somerville, and Medford can also work for you (these areas are also close to Tufts).

Nightlife around Mission Hill is pretty low, but you're close to the South End and Back Bay, and not to far from downtown, so finding stuff to do won't be hard. also JP is pretty lively and artsy.

3) UMass Boston: this is in the Harbor Point/Dorchester area of Boston. serviced by the red line. Dorchester can be pretty inexpensive, but care should be taken when looking for apartments there. parts of Dorchester can be gritty or downright dangerous. of the top of my head, the best advice I can give for Dottie is to stay out of Codman Sq, stay away from Columbia Rd and Blue Hill Ave, and try not to live too close to the Fields Corner T stop. also check out South Boston for some inexpensive apts w/ good access to public transportation and the highway. you also have the choice of living in either Quincy or Braintree, which are south of Boston, accessible by the red line, and pretty affordable. also, the JFK/Umass T stop is serviced by branches of the commuter rail, so you can check out some suburbs on the South Shore as well

there are quite a few bars and pubs in Dottie and a couple of good sports bar. Dottie, and ESPECIALLY Southie has a lot of Boston's Irish population which is reflected in the social scene. compared to the area around Tufts and Northeastern, you're far less likely to find a nearby Starbucks in Dorchester (there may be one in Southie other than the one at the Target, but not sure).

4) Mass. School of Professional Psyc: I honestly know very little about this school, but from the website, it appears to be in West Roxbury. W. Roxbury is VERY suburban like w/ lots of SFHs and townhouses. it honestly doesn't even look like it would be a part of Boston. it's very nice and safe, however, public transportation is pretty lacking. other than 1 or 2 infrequent bus routes, your main option is the commuter rail

W. Roxbury is BLAND and quite boring sad to say. however, it's not to far away from Brighton, Newton, and Brookline so drive to those places for some good dining and fun

some more advice:

-finding an apt. w/ ALL utilities included for $1100 will be tough, even in the cheaper areas I mentioned like Malden and Quincy. Heating costs in Boston are CRAZY expensive and most landlords are loath to include heating costs in rent unless they have no choice. if you want an apartment w/ heat included, it would be best if you had stellar credit, solid references, no pets or kids, no major need for updated appliances, and you'll NEED to be in Boston to find this place. apartments like these don't last and a LL isn't going to want to deal w/ the hassle of renting to out of staters when plenty in Boston will jump on the chance to rent it. when you see a place that meets most of your requirements, don't hesitate and grab it pronto up b/c in August, there will be fierce competition for cheap heated apartments and no shortage of people lining up to take anything you hesitate on. plan on spending at least a week in Boston looking for an apartment

-in terms of public transportation, apartments right near the subway/trolley tend to be more expensive (w/ some exceptions), so try looking at places on bus lines. double check the bus schedules to make sure they work for you (Boston has NO 24 hour/day service and some buses stop at 12midnight or don't operate on the weekend). IMHO, the orange line tends to be the best in terms of service, followed by the red line, then the green line. the "E" branch is probably the second slowest branch of the green line (the "B" is the slowest, but it's also much longer than the "E") so keep that in mind when planing commutes (sometimes taking the #39 bus that runs right along the train is actually quicker!).

I know squat about these school grad programs, but I'd pick Tufts just for the chance to live in that area! I think that this area comes the closest to having most of what you want (great nightlife, good commute options, close to some excellent suburbs where your BF could teach, lots of Starbucks around, close to the river and parks, etc). Tufts does have a good reputation though, as does Northeastern, so like the previous poster said, I'd pick those two schools over UMass and the MSPP (though admittedly, I know nothing about the latter school)

once you've decided on a school, post here again for more specific advice on that school's particular neighborhood. good luck and I hope this helps a bit

Last edited by eevee; 01-03-2008 at 02:00 AM..
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:33 PM
Location: Valley Stream, NY/ New York, NY
6 posts, read 22,187 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks so much for the help so far! You guys are great!

Ok. Its been four months, but here's an update.

I got into Tufts with a full scholarship, so I am definitely going there. However, my living situation is not devoid of financial turmoil ...

My boyfriend and I are looking more at our (well, mostly my) budget with more scrutiny and $1100 a month, even with heat and hot water included is really going to be tough for us. $1000 a month with heat and hot water is what we're realistically looking at now.

My boyfriend got an interview at a middle school in Natick. Its not definite, but he would love to teach there.

Based on this, the question still stands: What would be the best neighborhood to live in based on:
1. Our budget, $1000 a month including heat and hot water.
2. Parking, as we will both have cars.
3. A 30 minute commute at most to Medford/Somerville by car.
4. A safer neighborhood. (Doesn't need to be perfect, but nothing like sections of South Bronx over here) For instance, I've heard some less positive things about the lower-rent areas of Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Malden and Lynn, but there are also areas of NYC that people claim to be terrible and aren't really that bad. Can anyone compare these areas to anywhere in the NY Metro Area?
5. Decent selections of one-bedroom apartments. (No studios as there are two of us).

My boyfriend claims to be able to do a 50 minute at max commute by car, so as not to limit his job openings.

I've also stopped caring about cultural activities and nightlife as my budget has significantly lowered.

2. Also, we want to find something for August 1st. When should we physically be in MA to start looking for and securing an apartment? I scanned craigslist and there are not many August openings up yet.

3. How feasible would it be to get a lease for August 1st? It seems most of the stuff is either for June 1st, or Sept 1st. Recent scans have uncovered some April and May openings, could it be that the August openings are just not up yet?

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:28 AM
5,816 posts, read 15,850,434 times
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Some places where I'd suggest looking: Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, Waltham, and, since you'll be attending Tufts, consider right in Medford itself. All of these communities are located within, or at least on the fringes of, the urban core that borders Boston. They're actually basically small cities in their own right, roughly comparable in terms of density to areas near NYC such as Yonkers, a lot of the north Jersey towns along the Hudson, much of Nassau County, in the sense of being technically suburban since they're outside of the metro area's principal city, but still fairly urban in character, so there are opportunities for jobs, and for eating out when you do find that the budget allows for it.

For the most part, the cities I've suggested are not really upscale, but are solidly working class and middle class towns, hence, reasonably safe. Despite being fairly urban in character, these towns do have plenty of single-family houses, just packed close together with tiny yards. With some digging you may find a place in an apartment building, but you're likely to be looking at living in a large older house that has been subdivided, as these are older cities for the most part.

Of the places I've suggested, Somerville and Cambridge, and maybe Medford, will be the places where you'll likely find more young professionals and grad students. Watertown and Waltham are more of a mix of demographics without necessarily being skewed so much toward young professionals. This is especially true of Waltham, which is the farthest of these towns from downtown Boston, and a little more suburban than the others, with more families, though all these places provide some demographic mix.

Medford would provide the longest commute to Natick, but probably within your boyfriend's range, especially since he'd be going the opposite direction from most commuting traffic. A town closer to Natick you might also check out, just to increase your options, would be Newton. It's west of Boston, more suburban than the others I've suggested, though still somewhat densely packed, sort of where you first shift over from urban to close-to-the-city suburban. Newton has a number of small neighborhood shopping areas rather than one large downtown area. I wouldn't suggest it as the first place for you to look. It's more of a family town, with less of a young professional or older student crowd than you'd find in some of the other cities, and its location may also push the limits on your preferred commuting time to Tufts. It's still another area worth keeping on your list, just to give yourself as many options as possible.

Regarding move-in dates, keep looking, and it's best to be ready to snap up a good place as early as you can. Aiming for August 1 may work okay, but you don't want to get too far into August, or you'll be competing with a couple of hundred thousand college students arriving back in town seeking housing. If you can arrange to move in June or July, so much the better, but definitely try not to get past very early August. I can't be sure about all the ads you've seen for rentals available in May and June, since I don't know where you've been looking. My guess is that you've been looking in areas with lots of students, where many rental properties will open up when students leave for the summer.

Speaking of students, the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods in Boston are fairly good midpoints between Natick and Medford, though maybe a bit far from Medford, but they're loaded with students. Younger students. Might be a bit noisy for a grad student and young professional kind of more mature young couple, plus you'd run the risk of encountering slumlords who rent cheap dives to students, so I'd recommend Allston or Brighton only as last resorts.

Hope this gives you something to work with. Tufts is a great school. Congratulations on your admission there, and best of luck.
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:05 AM
7,359 posts, read 10,247,030 times
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I went to Tufts for graduate school and lived in Medford, within walking distance. It was great. Tufts' website actually has a housing listing of apartments for students in the Medford/Somerville/Arlington areas. Definitely worth a look. Good luck!
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:36 PM
Location: Dallas
4,630 posts, read 10,428,335 times
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Originally Posted by eevee View Post

2) Northeastern: the campus is in the Mission Hill section. I think you should be able to get a 1bed for $1100 there, but prices have gone up quite a bit in that neighborhood w/ all the new businesses coming in. Northeastern is serviced by the "E" branch of the green line and by the #39 bus, so Jamaica Plain is a great, affordable option. you can also take the orange line to the campus, so your options for apartments are pretty open if you stick close to the orange (but AVOID at ALL costs living close to the Jackson Sq. T stop and also maybe the Forest Hills T stop). if your up for the longer commute on the orange, parts of Malden, Somerville, and Medford can also work for you (these areas are also close to Tufts).

One correction to your otherwise excellent post eevee ...

Northeastern is in the Fenway, with some of the campus spread over to Lower Roxbury. It's not really on the Hill. The Hill is a couple T stops down at Brigham Circle.

I live in Lower Rox directly behind the NEU dorms. Prior to that I lived in the Fens. 13 years here total.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:28 PM
39 posts, read 112,406 times
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Default Married with kids, considering BU

Sounds like some people on this thread have some great ideas about where to live. My husband is considering a PhD at BU. We want to know more about housing, etc. to decide if it's a good fit for our family. We have two young children, who will be in school (one immediately and one before we're done with the PhD). We're looking for some place with good schools and where we can make good use of the T as well as walking to many things (groceries, parks, school, etc.) so we don't have to drive much.

We've been told (on another thread) to check into Brookline and Newton (if we want to spend more time on the T). Any other suggestions?

Also, we're from the West. What should we know about living in Boston and the surrounding areas? For example, I've been reading about parking permits and registering your car in the town where you live and visitors passes and so on. That's foreign to us. Any other things we should know?

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Old 04-08-2008, 10:00 AM
Location: Newton, Mass.
2,954 posts, read 12,266,371 times
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Some car/parking issues:

-Wherever you live in Massachusetts, if you register a car there you must pay an annual excise tax to the town in which the car is registered. The amount is based on the value and age of the car. My girlfriend had an old clunker and the tax was $25, while a nicer new car could be several hundred for the year. That's the "registering the car in the town where you live."

-If you live in Boston, Cambridge, and some other more urban places, you will also need to get a resident parking permit, which is either free or very cheap. This will allow you to park on streets marked for resident parking only, which are most of the streets in those municipalities.

-In Brookline, there is no overnight parking on the street at all. You will need an apartment with a parking spot (which will cost more) or a private spot (at least $150/mo and often hard to find within 10 mins walk of your apt.

-Some of the urban municipalities have visitor passes. You can get a couple of these and if you have people over they can stick the pass on the dash and park in resident-only streets.

Brookline and Newton both have good schools. Brookline, or rather the northern half of it, would be more in line with your preference for walkability and public transit. One thing to consider is that some parts of Brookline are quite hilly, which makes walking around a bit harder with kids, so maybe it's better to look closer to the T. The Green line splits into 3 branches (actually 4, but the 4th splits off earlier and doesn't go to Brookline or BU). The B line is the line for BU, the C goes straight down Beacon St, Brookline's main drag, to Cleveland Circle, just about where Brookline ends. The D line meanders through Brookline south of Beacon St. and out across Newton.

A great place to get urban living, easy access on foot to BU, and great schools, is the area in Brookline between St. Mary's St and Harvard Av. just south of Commonwealth Av. Comm. Av. is the border with Boston (there is a narrow sliver of land by BU that wraps around Brookline so that Boston lies east of Brookline, but also west (Allston and Brighton are in the city of Boston)). From these northern streets of Brookline you could walk to stores, the T (B line and maybe C), and to BU. And it's a very attractive area., though somewhat expensive.

North Brookline Photo Gallery by Mike at pbase.com

From anyplace along the C or D lines, you'd either have to take the T into Kenmore and then the B back out to get to BU, or to get to the eastern part of BU, you could get off at a stop like St. Mary's and walk a few blocks or take the 47 bus.

Brookline south of Route 9 is a woodsy estate area where homes often top $5 million and it's very hard to walk around (though a nice drive).

Newton consists of a number of villages, so there are small downtowns here and there, but much of Newton is suburban and not pedestrian-centered. Parking is less of an issue there, and the schools are excellent, but it's less walkable and the commute to BU would require taking the D into Kenmore and the B back out, which would take considerably longer than coming from the northern part of Brookline.

Those towns are, though, the best of your choices. There is Cambridgeport, in Cambridge just across from BU, but the Cambridge schools have more urban problems than the Brookline schools. The same is true for anywhere in the city of Boston. (If you look in Brookline closer to Comm. Av, make sure the apt is in Brookline. Many brokers will advertise BROOKLINE (brighton), and you're looking at something in Brighton near Brookline. That would be fine except for the schools.

Otherwise, there is noplace that jumps out with good schools and much of anything resembling walkability that is all that easy to get to BU from by public transit.
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