Help me find a roof over my head
April 23, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What should I know about renting in Salem, MA?

The wife and I are looking at moving up to Salem, or vicinity. While I know the Boston area and the rental market forwards and backwards, I have some questions about the untamed northern wilds:

1. How much lead time should we expect? Surely less than in Boston, where many places are going up now for September. But how much less?

2. Is there anywhere we should be looking besides Craigslist/the paper?

3. Given that we need to be able to quickly get to the commuter rail, and we have a very active toddler who loves the playground, what neighborhoods should we look at, or avoid?

4. Anything else we should know?
posted by Dr.Enormous to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hey, welcome to the neighborhood! I went through this same process a few months ago.

1. My wife and I tried to look a few months out but nothing had been posted yet. I'd start looking no more than 8 weeks ahead of time, some of the better places will be posted early, but most will just go up from time to time.

2. I tried a few local agents but none of them worked well. The best places I looked at were from Craigslist.

3. I don't know terribly much about neighborhoods to avoid, but near Salem State College is probably not where you want to be. I live in the historic district and it's wonderful here. Anywhere not too far away from the Common is wonderful.

4. Pricing is all over the place. The nicest place we found was the lowest in our range. With larger cities these fluctuation tend to even out a bit more because any good deals are just immediately snatched up. Here, because the rental market is a bit more volatile and maybe even because a larger percentage of the housing market is provided by owners and not corporations, it's possible to get a really good deal. Also, you're not competing as much with college students which certainly helps.

If you need a hand or someone to check out a rental, just send me a message and I'll try to help!
posted by christopherbdnk at 11:03 AM on April 23, 2010

1. We moved to Salem from Boston in October '08, then to another apartment in Salem in October '09. There were always plenty of available places, with lead times ranging from immediate occupancy to 3 months. We used to live in Allston and did the big September first moving thing, it's absolutely nothing like that.

2. Not in my experience. Craigslist was all we ever used, and I've managed to find 2 apartments and an office with it, so far.

3. I live right off of Salem Common, almost all the streets/neighborhoods around it are really nice. A little pricey for the size, but not bad, and the location is great. Minutes to the T station, the Common, or downtown. My office is right downtown, and my walk takes around 8 minutes. The McIntire District (Essex, Chestnut, Broad St, around there) is even nicer, but more pricey. The farther south you head down Lafayette St (Mass 1A according to Google Maps) towards Salem State, the more skeezy it gets. Anything north of Derby (or New Derby) St is a safe bet, I've found.

4. October is a pain in the ass for locals, but Halloween is a ton of fun. Besides the annoyance of the "psychics", "witches", and "hauntings", Salem is a really nice little town. Everyone I've met since moving here has been really great.

Good luck!
posted by SamuelF at 11:07 AM on April 23, 2010

1.) I was looking for an August 1 move-in in May and June. (I eventually found a place in Lynn)
2.) That's the only thing I ever tried.
3.) I live in North Salem which, about a mile from the commuter rail. It takes me about 15 minutes to talk to the train or 5 minutes to bike. There is a playground directly behind my house which is great. The Chestnut Street neighborhood and downtown are also pretty close to the train. Maybe the Bridge Street Neck would work for you too. (Salem Neck is different and pretty far) Avoid The Point. It's rough and also a long way from the train.
4.) Here's a map. You will never love Halloween again. In fact, you will have your fill of Halloween on the first of October at the Halloween parade.
posted by mkb at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2010

Seconding with mkb said, North Salem isn't bad and prices are good, if I'm not mistaken.

My Halloween strategy is, enjoy the parade on Oct 1, hide for 30 days, then enjoy Halloween. The good news is, after the fireworks on Halloween night the Salem Police basically kick everyone out of town. By the next morning, everything is back to normal.
posted by SamuelF at 11:20 AM on April 23, 2010

I can't speak to the renting questions because we purchased in Salem. We live in the Bridge St. Neck area, close to Winter St. The area is sort of half-sketchy, half-young-families, and the work the city is putting into Bridge St. should make the area nicer in a few years. There are a bunch of families with young kids on our street. There's also an elementary school a few blocks down. The closer you go to Beverly the sketchier things get, and the walk to the commuter rail would also get longer.

It's a 10 minute walk to the commuter rail and about a 10 minute walk to get into the heart of downtown from our little neighborhood. The Common is close by, and there are a few little neighborhood playgrounds dotting the area (also, there's an awesome tiny beach at Collins Cove).

If you have any questions feel free to me-mail me!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 12:46 PM on April 23, 2010

Wow, it looks like we should have a meetup once you move in!
posted by mkb at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2010

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