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Old 05-04-2013, 11:00 PM
Location: Durham, NC
32 posts, read 54,880 times
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Hi. I'm a 29 year old male who works in Watertown (started last year, plan to be there for a long time). A few years back I lived on the eastern side of Davis Square near Ball Square, then moved to Rhode Island for work for 2 years, and moved back to the Davis area last May for this latest job. I currently live in North Cambridge near Mass Ave. The commute to work without traffic is 12 minutes, but with traffic can be 40 (it's 25 min by bike). I also feel like I already lived this life because I moved back to the same community, and am ready for a change. My work is by the Arsenal Mall, which I feel is very difficult to get to.

I don't like clubs, but do like having cafes, pubs with darts and live music (cover bands, acoustic, etc.), and things to do with people my age. Right now, I'm a little "old" for the Davis crowd. I'm also a white collar worker with blue collar roots-- I don't feel like I belong around (and don't want to date/befriend) hipsters or high maintenance types (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, etc.), and am definitely not a Cambridge guy. I'm single and looking to meet a girl similar to me (plus friends in general), so I'd like to be where they would be.

I considered a commute from the coast, and checked out some places in Hingham, but it was mostly families-- I don't want that. I feel Newton, Belmont, and Winchester fall into that category.

I feel trapped because the Pike and the Charles block the south (and Allston or Brighton are not on my list), the East has Harvard/MIT and Boston with their expensive rents and parking issues, the North has nothing I'm interested in, and the West would potentially involve a trip on the Mass Pike twice a day. Also, if I live north or south of Boston I have to face 93. There's no real easy way to get to Watertown, so I'm going to live in the general area.

What is Waltham like from a psychographic perspective? It's easy to stereotype the Cambridge / Davis folks, but what about Waltham? I drove through and it looked pretty lower income, working class, and gritty. Moody Street looked cute but that was it. If looking to live within walking distance of stuff, am I confined to Moody Street?

I don't want a roommate (currently have one), require off-street parking / laundry / outdoor space / non-carpet floors. After utilities I want to keep it under $1500. There are plenty of options in Waltham (more for 2brs around 1400 actually than 1brs at any price), but I know nothing about it. Do the Brandeis kids come out and take over? Who goes out there? Thank you!!

Last edited by dave1983; 05-04-2013 at 11:03 PM.. Reason: typo in title (had wrong age)
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:51 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,861 posts, read 12,893,181 times
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What you're saying without saying it is, you're looking for a stable middle-class "townie" type of area. I miss the days when North Cambridge, Davis Square, and Central Square fit that description.
Moody St is far less "townie" now than when its Restaurant Row started taking root about twenty years ago. One of the last unpretentious hangouts, Robert's, transitioned into a generic sports bar called Stadium not long ago. But farther down the street - tucked in among the international eateries, dollar stores, and "ethnic" grocers - Frosty's awaits. The joint seems frozen in time to the extent that I couldn't swear people weren't smoking inside. I doubt many Bentley or Brandeis brats go there. The question of where they congregate in large numbers is open now that their favorite, "New Landing," has called it quits. But Margarita's is the probable location, not that you'd want to hang there much anyway since it's a chain restaurant serving overpriced "Mexican" food. (You can get the real deal for less coin close by.) The Skellig and Watch City Brewing are large enough venues that they succeed in drawing an eclectic clientele and are in no way overwhelmed by what I've distilled into this description: "'Like'-strewing, phone-fixated coeds and the bro's chasing them." Those ridiculous hipsters - guys trying to make statements with their hats, glasses, and tattoos and girls trying to make statements with their glasses, tattoos, and dyed hair while both rock excess metal jewelry and actual or imitation "vintage" clothes? In Somerville and Cambridge (particularly Inman Square) I consider the quantity of them to be an infestation. But the annoyance grows much less once you cross the river.
There are two more alternatives which are close by where you work: Watertown west of the square, and the Oak Square enclave of northwest Brighton. In H2O-town there's been some incursion by trendy eating places but it hasn't gotten too bad yet. Along Main St there are several bars which give off a townie vibe as you pass by. (For instance, neon domestic-beer signs in partial windows - if there are windows - as opposed to unadorned walls of windows which can open and which show off dozens of flat-screen TV's inside.) You might like to do a casual drive-through around there, even today since the weather promises to be glorious again. Start on Pleasant St, which begins at Watertown Square one-way the wrong way but can be easily picked up by turning left off Main St anywhere beyond St Patrick's Church. Pleasant and the streets leading into it are laden with older duplexes and other small apartment houses, in which rentals would definitely be priced lower than in the parts of town closer to Cambridge. Stay on the same street into Waltham and the intersection with Seyon, where there's a supermarket and other stores, to get the full lay of the land. (As you roll along, take note of and maybe stop in at Russo's, a popular produce market where you can pick up prepared food to go.) At Seyon St take a right and return to Main St to complete the loop back to Watertown Square.
Oak Square is "just far enough" from BC that it isn't overwhelmed by students the way so much of the remainder of Allston-Brighton is. There are some around, to be sure, but for the most part they're older grad students who are in couples. Boston was of course never home to a large German population, and what did exist has dispersed to the 'burbs a long time ago. However, there are still some German families in this neighborhood along with the predominant Irish. Housing consists of many duplexes and some 3-deckas along with nice single-family homes which reflect the largely middle-class economic level of the community. Oak Square may or may not be too "quiet," though. Dining selections are confined to the abundant pizza/pasta/sub places, take-out Chinese, and a good wings joint. There are also several Irish pubs which would seem logical and promising for getting your drink on and meeting neighbors as well as chatting up the ladies. You don't run into too many hipsters or under-25 types until you reach Brighton Center. The main drawback of Oak Square is that it isn't super convenient for food shopping. Whether by foot, bike, or car you'd also have to go west into Newton Corner and then reverse direction at Watertown Square to reach Arsenal St. BUT it would be a quick n' easy commute regardless.
Back to Waltham, briefly, for residence options: the south side leading up to the river is a decidedly mixed bag. You'd not want to consider the area just past the bridge demarcated by Felton, Moody, Main, and Prospect St's as this is the city's closest thing to "ghetto." It's also a clash between cool and sketchy between the river and the intersection of High/Maple and Moody by the middle school. Beyond there to the Newton line the number of rooming houses drops off and the quantity of big nondescript brick apartment buildings diminishes. You'd be looking at living spaces in two-families or in carved-up Victorian houses for the most part.
Have you thought about Arlington?
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:51 AM
404 posts, read 777,141 times
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You should go out some friday or saturday night and see who is about in Waltham. It is mostly a 30s crowd, we moved to Waltham when we graduated from Davis Square in our early 30s. It is more Somerville-like than Cambridge-like. Still gritty and a weird mix of old Boston blue collar, marginalized central american immigrants and economic exiles from Somerville/Cambridge. The upshot is that you can drink some really good fancy beer at the Lincoln fka the Gaff, grab a papusa and head home to wait for your neighbor the plumber/exterminator/plasterer to show up and fix your house. We really liked it but lived in a house with a yard and walked to things. I can't comment on living down by Moody in a condo.

Last edited by SoFresh99; 05-05-2013 at 07:02 AM..
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:51 AM
Location: MA/NH
17,664 posts, read 38,267,915 times
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Why aren't you considering living right in Watertown?
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:54 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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"It's SF99 by a nose hair!" LOL!!! I know nothing of the "Gaff," is it in town but north of Main St?
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:01 AM
404 posts, read 777,141 times
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
"It's SF99 by a nose hair!" LOL!!! I know nothing of the "Gaff," is it in town but north of Main St?
It is now The Lincoln,( oops! I've only been gone a little while and it is all slipping away) and it is at the Maple St. end of Moody.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:01 AM
Location: Massachusetts
6,300 posts, read 8,897,228 times
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None of these will be a better commute but may connect you with a young more mature professional crowd by location:

Brookline would be the best town for you. Mix of professional families, couples and singles, more undergrads on the B line and around Cleveland Circle. Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village have great little pubs, restaurants and coffee shops. This is the top pick for people working and studying at the many medical schools in Longwood. Along with Brookline, you could check out Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain (once very hipsterish, now a mix of hipster, medical and business professionals).

Other possibilities:

South Boston is becoming more popular with professional singles, couples and families. Certainly a good pub or two there.

North End: a vibrant crowd of Boston professionals, good restaurants and access to the pubs around Faneuil Hall.

Cambridgeport: Yes it's Cambridge, but more connected to Kendall and MIT.

Orange Line Towns: Always has drawn more business singles due to easy downtown commute. Charlestown would be the best Orange line stop for a single in their 20's.

I don't think you will find what you are looking for on Moody Street. You will still be amongst the undergrad crowd from Brandeis and Bentley, quirky older people and newly arrived immigrants.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:09 AM
17,504 posts, read 30,745,429 times
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I think OP is looking for some place a lot less yupscale than Brookline but more single-friendly than Hingham.
I concur that Watertown would be a good choice, as would Waltham. I know what he means about Davis Square! I had lunch there recently and was amazed at the zombie world of young 20s glued to their freaken phones, alone and in groups, and the occasional grey ponytail person. On OP's budget, I think something modest in Watertown is a very real option. A co-worker of mine lives in a two-bedroom (older house, dog-friendly) near the Arsenal Mall for $1500. Best wishes in finding a place that works. I think the W's are just fine.
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:11 PM
Location: Camberville
14,777 posts, read 19,738,305 times
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This "Brandeis brat" loved the New Landing, goyguy. :P

Brandeis students by and large live on campus. Most people who live off campus are either involved in the very small Greek scene on Dartmouth street or are international grad students. If you stay off of South Street in Waltham, you'll have no trouble with Brandeis house parties. Don't know much about Bentley students, though I'd guess those that live off campus tend to congregate in North Waltham, though even when I lived in that area after graduation, it seemed to be mostly young families. Waltham's affordability attracts students and young professionals from all over. Several of my brother's friends when he went to Suffolk shared an apartment in Waltham, and lots of BC students have also chosen to live there.

Watertown near the Cambridge border (Mount Auburn street) is going to be your best bet in Watertown for meeting other young professionals while keeping your commute short. It's a short bus ride or walk away from Harvard Square.

Moody Street is where it's at for singles, and Waltham has a very active 20s and 30s Meetup.com group that I participated in before I moved to Somerville/Medford. I work in Waltham and am in my mid-20s and often spend time on lower-Moody Street - and probably will do so more now that I can get french toast AND beer at the new In a Pickle location.
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:38 PM
1,768 posts, read 3,003,366 times
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Watertown is by far best bet. Watertown has lot more single working people, than families with kids. You should be feel lucky, that your job site is in the town that will fits what are you are looking for. Really easy. Good luck!!
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