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Old 12-01-2008, 10:11 AM
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Having two cars in the North End would be challenging to say the least, and unnecessary, unless both of you are working in places that aren't well-served by the T. Deeded parking is definitely not a given in that neighborhood, and street parking is difficult.

Somerville or Cambridge would be a much easier commute to Burlington, but both have a much different feel than the North End. Not better or worse, just different.
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:32 AM
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I would never live in North End/Charleston/Boston if I had to keep a car or two and drive to Burlington. I'd rather eat ground glass.
In your price range, you could easil buy something very nice in Cambride or Somerville- a new or newish condo, not an apartment conversion, with parking. Cambridge is much much nicer than Somerville, in my years of experience, and the walkable restaurants/etc. are much more like a village setting in many places, and have trees and all. In that price range, I'd happiy buy a new condo in Cambridge.
And you are smart to realize that you'd dry out on the vine outside the city areas. It's suburbia plus all the way up to Burlington.
Regarding condos, my favorite neighborhood in Cambridge is 02138 (although make sure you have parking). Victorian houses, trees, easy walk or train to activities/restaurants and so on. If you can do without the trees or a neighborhood feel, there are new condos across from the Museum of Science in Boston that seem to be going for a good price (view of the city and river). But no neighborhood feel.
The closer you are to the north border of Cambridge/Somerville, the easier the hop to highways to Burlington. Now, whenever I've been in Somerville, I feel an immediate downscale feel, depressing, even though there are enclaves of ethnic food and so on. It's still hardly cheap, not at all.
I'd forget about Boston completely. The commute and parking aren't possible.
Have you considered Arlington? It borders Cambridge/Somerville, is much quieter/low crime/low car insurance, much easier to the highways to everywhere, and has a wonderful Art Deco movie house with restaurants in East Arlington. Again, in your stated price range, you could do an awful lot with housing.
Best wishes!
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Old 12-01-2008, 12:31 PM
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Thank you very much for the great info. We have not considered Arlington, but mainly becasue we do not know much about it..so we would be open. We are ok with a neighborhood feel or a litttle less if we weren't surrounded by too much pavement. Main thing in priority, ease to shopping/cafes, being around young professionals, ability to park our two cars, ability to commute out of town for work, modern style of housing.
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:44 PM
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Then I happily suggest you find some new condos in the area of Cambridge between Harvard and Porter Squares. I lived there for years, and loved to walk to restaurants and so on. Just make sure the housing comes with parking- that should be easy with new or newer building.
East Arlington might have some newish condos. Further up towards Arlington Center and further out feels rather suburban to me, and certainly not walking to anything interesting. If you could find new building in East Arlington, that could be perfect. So would the northwest side of Harvard Square (toward Porter Sq.). There's nothing wrong with the other neighborhoods of Cambridge, but that neighborhood has the most trees and I think the easiest drive out of town for Burlington, etc.
Data point- the lowest crime rate is East Cambridge (old Italian/Portuguese neighborhoods, people who are "connected." There's also new building, which might interest you if it's walkable. I think the "young professionals" might be in that area- lots and lots of software/research companies and all. Absolutely must have parking.
When I first came to Boston and interviewed at a factory office in East Cambridge, tumbleweed blew across the weedy fields surrounded by rusty chainlink fences. The slaughterhouses and tanneries and all were gone. Then Lotus Corporation built a building there and a revival was off and running. I do find it too much of a concrete jungle and not much walking night life.

Best wishes. You have great options.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:22 AM
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Great information. Keep it coming! Thanks
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Old 12-03-2008, 03:15 PM
Location: Newton, Mass.
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I second the Cambridge/Somerville suggestions though parts of both cities are a bit more removed from interesting cafes, etc. so be precise in picking a location before committing. I'm not much of a fan of East Cambridge as a residential neighborhood. There are some normal urban residential streets but much of it is industrial and deserted at night and without much going on. The areas near Central/Inman/Harvard/Porter/ Davis Squares I like better. Harvard area is the most expensive of these.

Another possibility is Brighton Center or Oak Square in Brighton, which is the northwesternmost neighborhood in the city of Boston. It's not as urban as the North End but it's not a sprawling suburb either. Condos might be more affordable than Cambridge. Easy access, by car, on the Mass Pike to Logan, but not as easy by mass transit.
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:07 PM
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I think Brighton, even Oak Square, would be a fight every morning to get to a highway for Burlington. I don't think it's that much of a walking-to-cafes neighborhood.
For up to $600K, the OP could buy a condo most anywhere except maybe the waterfront. But the location for driving to Burlington, well, even a half-mile could make a huge difference in traffic.
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:00 PM
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ok...so from Brighton are we talking about a 30 minute commute, or 60 minute commute? Understand location and time are important. Assume a 715-730 AM departure.
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:23 PM
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If these insane toll hikes go through, people are going to be looking for shortcuts and ways to avoid paying them and Charlestown is ripe for increased traffic. Just a thought.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:18 AM
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i would say davis sq. in somerville or porter sq. in cambridge. lots of middle aged folks and just an overall nice, fun area. it is much more quiet. in the north end you will be closer to downtown, but that also gives it much more clutter and makes it more hectic. id say porter sq. or davis sq. would be a good fit.
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