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Old 03-12-2010, 09:39 AM
6 posts, read 14,388 times
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Hi there

Thanks in advance to anyone with advice.

Am presently considering a move to Boston (from FL) and have no idea about the city or area at all- my job would be in the Brighton area.

As we have a new baby we need a family friendly neighborhood where we could get a 2 bed for less than $1500/month.

Any suggestions? We like somewhere we can walk around (anything to avoid driving all the time) and shabby boho chic is OK- doesn't have to be smart and fancy! Oh and I would happily commute as far as needed for more room/cheaper rent etc.

Thanks- and is Craigslist the best place to look for rentals?

Any and all advice welcome!

Last edited by pmoo; 03-12-2010 at 09:39 AM.. Reason: Add information
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:27 AM
Location: Newton, Mass.
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I don't think you'll need to go far. For a commute to Brighton, you should be able to find a decent 2-BR under $1500 in next-door Newton or Watertown.

In Newton, you should particularly check the northern neighborhoods of Newton Corner (right next to Brighton), Nonantum and Newtonville (just past that), West Newton (just past that) and Auburndale (last one on the north side of Newton). Newton Centre, south of newton Corner and Newtonville, is another possibility. Newton is a very nice town and each of these areas has a "village" downtown. Newtonville, West Newton and Newton Centre are probably the largest downtowns. Newton is suburban but somewhat dense on the northern side as well.

Even from Auburndale, the commute shouldn't take long. It's under 15 minutes without traffic. You can go through the streets of Newton the whole way, or hop on the Mass Pike at Exit 16 and get off at Exit 17, where you can get to Brighton through the streets (Tremont/Washington St) or along the river on Soldiers Field Rd. if that works better for you.

Watertown is equally close, just across the river from Brighton (there are bridges on Arsenal St and North Beacon St) and has a downtown area at Watertown Square as well as shops along streets such as Mount Auburn St. You might also consider Belmont, which has many rentals in two- and three-family houses near the Watertown border (which roughly follows Belmont St and Trapelo Rd).

If you're OK with being within city limits, you could like in Brighton itself, such as Brighton Center or Oak Square.

You could start with searching on Craigslist for these neighborhoods (suggest doing a search in quotes, e.g. "Newton Corner") or look up some rental brokers in Newton, Watertown or Brighton.
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Old 03-12-2010, 12:08 PM
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Thanks- these are great suggestions. I guess my main question would be which of the above areas is the cheapest!

Also- are there public transport options for making those journeys? I have heard driving can be difficult in and around Boston. I'd cycle if it was only a few miles (and if that kind of thing is safe enough around there).

My possible new workplace says it's on the 64 & 86 bus route. Are buses slow/reliable/cheap?

Thank you!

Last edited by pmoo; 03-12-2010 at 12:18 PM.. Reason: Additional question
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Old 03-12-2010, 12:37 PM
Location: Newton, Mass.
2,954 posts, read 12,304,632 times
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Generally speaking Watertown is the cheapest of the three, but you can find good deals for 2-BR rentals in all three towns.

If it's on both the 64 and 86, I'm figuring it's near the WGBH studio/Guest Street area. The buses can be slow at times but are basically reliable. A monthly pass for local bus is only around $40. But the 64 and 86 don't go to the areas I mentioned, and for the most part go only to more urban (and somewhat more expensive) areas. With the exception of the Oak Square area on the far west side of Brighton, which is served by the 64 bus, and Brighton Center, on the 86, the commute from from the places I described would require two buses. But waiting for two buses is no fun, especially in bad weather, and can be slow.

While it's true that driving in Boston can be difficult, a drive to the Guest Street area from any of the places I identified is not bad, especially once you've done it a few times and know the roads and landmarks. I, or others on here, would be happy to give you directions to follow from your general home area to your general work area if you do end up here.

About cycling, I guess it depends on your idea of safe. The main streets can be pretty heavily trafficked for biking, but there are paths (though a bit choppy in parts) along the Charles River that would get you to within a couple of blocks of your workplace if you can bike down to the river without going through busy areas. Also, the immediate area along Market St/Leo Birmingham Pkwy near North Beacon St is a bit heavily trafficked for biking, but it's only a couple of blocks.

Personally, I sometimes bike from my house to the train in Harvard Square, but I'm used to city cycling and it's only 2 miles. One thing to keep in mind is that snow, rain, etc. will make it very hard to bike to work many days in the year. Don't make a plan that depends on biking every day.
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Old 03-12-2010, 01:37 PM
6 posts, read 14,388 times
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Thanks- this is all great information and I appreciate your patience with these probably rather naive questions!

Yes I would be working near WGBH. Am I likely to save much by making a longer commute (eg by train from somewhere further out) and living somewhere cheaper or would travel costs wipe that out?

I've found out that the proposed salary isn't much so I am looking to keep costs low- either by getting a $1000 place to live or something else.
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Old 03-12-2010, 02:15 PM
Location: Newton, Mass.
2,954 posts, read 12,304,632 times
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Not at all. I wouldn't know the scoop on Florida. That's what the forum is there for. And Boston is a complicated area.

Rents do tend to be cheaper as you go from Boston, but unfortunately there isn't much in the way of a convenient train commute to the WGBH area. The 64 and 86 buses are pretty much the only transit that goes near there. There's talk of adding a commuter rail station at some point, but for now the train goes straight from Newtonville to Boston along the Pike without stopping in Brighton or Allston. The B line of the Green line trolley runs too far away, and only goes downtown and out as far as the Brighton-Newton line anyway.

A 2-BR place for $1000 will be much tougher to find. You might have luck in Watertown or Arlington (a bit north), but my instinct is that $1100 or $1200 will give you many more options. You can get to Brighton from Arlington via roads that cross Belmont and Watertown.

Another possibility is Waltham, which has many nice areas. You might want to stay away from the heart of Waltham center and the Moody St. area. Moody St. is fun to go to dinner but some of the apartments and blocks around there are kind of so-so. If you do end up in Waltham, do NOT commute via Route 20. Too much traffic. You're better off on the other streets.

Be careful about saying you'll happily commute any distance. I don't know what it's like where you're at now, but Boston commuting can be rough. You'll get into major traffic and tolls moving farther away. It may be cheaper (and a lot less stressful) to pay a little extra rent to be closer. Unfortunately many of the towns heading farther west from Brighton, by far the direction with the best road access to WGBH, are the more expensive ones in the area (including Weston, Wellesley, etc.) and don't have many affordable rentals. It gets more affordable in Natick or Framingham but I'm not sure the savings outweigh the extra commute cost and hassle.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:08 AM
6 posts, read 14,388 times
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Thanks- the only reason I mention the commuting is that I currently drive 1hr to work here (the traffic isn't a problem though) and that is a 40 mile commute because we like the little town we live in better than the city where I work. I used to live in London and cycle an hour each way because I got tired of the public transport.

Basically I am used to living some distance from work- for various reasons. Shame that moving away doesn't seem to make the renting options cheaper in the Boston area.
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