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Old 09-04-2008, 06:42 PM
 
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My husband and I currently live in Montreal. My husband is searching for a job in the Boston area. We are second generation greeks and Montreal has a large Greek population with a lot of Churches, schools & restaurants. We would love to find a place to live that is close to Churches and that has a large Greek population. Any suggestions? We would also love to live in an area that has a good school system. We would appreciate it if someone can help us with our questions.
Thank-you
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:43 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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There are no communities in Greater Boston with an especially large concentration of Greeks and "Greek-Americans," but the closest thing to this would be the city neighborhood of Roslindale. The section with a tangible Greek presence is southwest of Roslindale Square (aka "Roslindale Village") along Belgrade Ave. (I do recognize the irony in the street's name, lol.) A large Greek Orthodox church sits on the border between Roslindale and West Roxbury, the latter being one of Beantown's most "suburban" sections. Needless to say, the main drawback to this locale is the fact that it lies within the Boston public school district: the elementary schools can be good, the middle schools are often scary, and if your child(ren) get in to Boston Latin for high school by passing the entrance exam they'd be in what's often regarded as the #1 public secondary school in the entire US. (If they don't make the cut...let's not even go there! If they do, they're set from 7th grade on and the middle-school problem doesn't exist.) "Rozzi" and West Roxbury are both quiet places by and large, with a middle-class feel to Roslindale's Greek-populated portion and a more upper-middle-class vibe in the community next door.

Neighboring Brookline is the home of Hellenic College and one of the state's best school systems, but there isn't all that much of a Greek presence there. Housing options range from apartments - or condos - in brick rowhouses or large multi-unit buildings to (in South Brookline and Chestnut Hill) dwellings that could safely be called mansions. It's one of Boston's urban suburbs, "close to everything" and boasting many dining and entertainment venues along with extensive shopping yet largely tranquil once you leave the main streets.

Cambridge is more "urban" than "suburb," but similarly to Brookline it offers a panoply of diversions along its thoroughfares while its residential areas move at a relaxed pace. Sts Constantine and Helen has occupied its twin-towered stone home in the city's Central Square for close to a century, and Speridakis St is nearby, but the only house in Cambridge most Greeks now have is that house of worship. Much as is the case in Boston, the city's schools can provide an excellent academic experience provided one knows how to work the system. There's a lottery system for school choice in the lower grades, then everyone goes to the same high school.

Abutting Cambridge to the northwest are Arlington and Lexington, each with their own Orthodox churches. The public schools of Arlington remain better than average, but have had to make compromises in the wake of repeated electoral defeats of property-tax-cap overrides. Lexington's schools are consistently considered to be top-tier. The latter community is a great deal more "family oriented" - few places to dine out or shop, even in the town center; next-to-no public transportation; almost no multi-unit housing options. Arlington, by contrast, has become a magnet for quality restaurants since the town relaxed its "blue laws" and now allows liquor to be sold by the drink seven days a week in its eateries. Some unique shops can be found among more mundane offerings in the commercial areas along Mass. Ave, particularly in Arlington Center and Arlington Heights. The latter part of town, along with the Jason/Gray section just west of the center and the area bordering Winchester, is the most upscale sector while East Arlington (predominantly duplex houses and "brick box" apartment/condo buildings) is the least.

Though most heavily peopled by Armenians, Cambridge's western neighbor Watertown hosts a sizable Greek Orthodox congregation. The town's school system is "average," its retail areas on the ho-hum side unless you really really like "ethnic" grocery stores! The Watertown and Arsenal Malls are also there for when you need to make a run to "Tarjay," Best Buy, etc. "H2O-ville" has become quite popular for folks fleeing the high cost of Cambridge housing; you can find plenty of duplex condo/apartments as well as free-standing homes from "cozy" to spacious, but no McMansions.

Somerville is the other close-in community with its own Greek church, Dormition of Mary. (I'm eagerly anticipating its annual festival this weekend.) The ongoing gentrification and trendification of Davis Square has now spread through most of the city, but the "ethnic flavor" is still largely Italian even as rootless students and yuppies pour in. The "classic" Somerville domicile is a big 2.5-story shingled two-or-three-unit house on a tiny lot along a tree-lined street, but there are some duplexes and many "brick box" buildings as well. Single-family houses are relatively hard to come by - in the first half of the 20th Century, it's said that Somerville was America's most densely-populated city. The schools are racing to upgrade and compete, and a few of the high school's alumni are "success stories," but the quality is little better than that of Boston.

Boston itself once had a "Greek corner" within its South End, but that population has dissipated to Roslindale and the suburbs. The big cathedral at Ruggles and Parker St's continues to be used for "occasions" such as visits by religious dignitaries and VIP weddings.

You'd probably enjoy a visit to GreekBoston.com, a site with its own social network along with event listings and the like. Opa!
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