Torontonian mefite moving to Boston/Cambridge
January 20, 2011 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Any tips for a Torontonian mefite moving to Boston/Cambridge?

My wife (late 20s) and I (mid 30s) are moving to Cambridge MA from Toronto (I got a new job there), and I am heading down to look for a place next week. We have never spent much time in Boston, and we don't really know anyone there, so I am looking for a few tips about nice, safe and convenient neighborhoods.

I am aware of the Boston Crime Map, but I am not sure if it is reliable for the area north of the Charles.

Although I will talk to future coworkers about what they suggest, it would be great to have access to a bigger pool.

Our main requirement is easy access to public transit (red or green lines, to get to MGH or the Children's Hospital). Other than that, we would like access to good supermarkets close by (cool neighborhoods close to awesome and reasonable restaurants will not be ignored, but we are realistic). We were thinking of paying ~$2500 for a 2 bedroom apt.

Do such places exist in Boston? Recommendations welcome!
posted by TheyCallItPeace to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in Davis Square and love it. There are good supermarkets nearby and cool and reasonable restaurants as well. It's right on the Red Line, so you'd be at MGH in 20 minutes in the morning on the T. Very safe as well. You could also find yourself paying way less than $2500 for your apartment though. For that kind of money you could get a smaller place on Beacon Hill, which is walking distance to MGH with the Whole Foods nearby as your supermarket.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2011

Sorry, Metafilter thought I was putting in markup and lost some of the post:

Yes, you should be able to get a decent two bedroom near the T for under $2500. The more fun/cool neighborhoods in the area and on the Redline are Davis Sq (Somerville), Harvard, Inman and Central.

Harvard is probably the most ideal, but there's a lot of competition obviously.
Inman is the best value, because its a further walk to the T.
Central is very cool, with the nicer places south of Mass ave (Cambridgeport)
Davis is in Somerville, but it's a great neighborhood and on the red line.
posted by justkevin at 8:31 AM on January 20, 2011

There are Many places like this in Boston! I live a five minute walk from the Central Square T, have access to good groceries. I'm on the slightly more... urban corner of Central, but it still feels safe (I bought after living here for years). Porter and Davis are also great squares with easy access to groceries, and get a little more suburban as you go out.

The only one I'd steer you away from is Harvard Square, just because it's expensive.
posted by ldthomps at 8:32 AM on January 20, 2011

We're also in the Davis area, and it won't disappoint. You may also be interested in Cambridgeport/Central Square area - I would consider it a little "edgier" than Davis (as in less yuppified). There are a couple of Whole Foods, a "normal" supermarket (Shaw's) and the Harvest Co-op for your bulk and organic needs. Plenty of restaurants, walking distance to Harvard Square with more restaurants, and a very short hop to the green space along the river.

On the Green Line, you might consider Coolidge Corner in Brookline. A little bit of a younger population (Boston University is pretty close by), but there are some nice restaurants, a Trader Joe's, and a Whole Foods within walking distance. You'll probably pay more for a similarly-sized apartment here than in Central or Davis. It's walking distance from here to Fenway Park and its sphere of restaurants and bars.

We know some people that live near the Broadway stop on the Red Line (South Boston), and they seem to enjoy it there. Definitely small apartments, but plenty of places to go out and enjoy yourself.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:35 AM on January 20, 2011

And by many places like this in Boston, I obviously meant Cambridge, as that was all I talked about. You will find many nice neighborhoods on the Green Line in Boston and Brookline, too. But I wouldn't live on anything but the Green D Line, as the others are slower/street cars eventually. That, and I'm biased toward Cambridge - it's a great place to live!
posted by ldthomps at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2011

Since you're coming down here, it would be a great excuse to have a meetup since we haven't had one in awhile and Chicago and NYC are putting us to shame...
posted by backseatpilot at 8:37 AM on January 20, 2011

Nthing Cambridgeport (and Riverside, which is right next to it) as a good neighborhood to check out. Harvard Street (and the streets off it) between Harvard Square and Columbia Street is also pretty nice. Central Square has a... vibrant homeless population that scares some people, but I lived there for a year and have friends who still live there, and it's really very safe. Lots of fun grocery options, too (two Whole Foods, one Trader Joe's, one organic co-op, a big seasonal farmer's market).

In general, the Red Line is much faster and more reliable than the Green Line. That shouldn't be an issue in Cambridge, which is served by the Red Line exclusively (except for one Green Line stop near the mall). I'd live on the Red Line over the Green Line any day, hands down. Also, get to know the bus lines-- the T is a decent subway system, but it has a lot of dead zones that are filled by busses that go all sorts of surprising places.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:45 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm another person in Davis Square, and I'd certainly recommend it and nearby neighborhoods -- Ball Square and Teele Square -- as great places to live. Porter Square has a bit less of an actual "square" feel, but is super convenient for grocery shopping.

Personally, I'd avoid Harvard Square; I think it's overpriced for what it offers as a place to live; Davis now serves the social function than Harvard did before it got so popular.

Central Square is dense and urban feeling with lots of cozy quiet streets. You can also find place rather between Central square and Lechemere that would give you pretty good access to both the red and green lines.

I lived in Coolidge Corner in Brookline for a year, and I love that neighborhood, but I didn't like having the green line as my only rail option, and most of my friends live in Cambridge/Somerville, and it was surprisingly hard to get people to cross the river to visit!

And I echo backseatpilot in thinking we should use this as an excuse to have a meetup!
posted by rosa at 8:56 AM on January 20, 2011

Another rec for the Cambridgeport/Central area. Easy to take the Red Line to MGH and the 47 bus or LMA shuttle, both from Central, will take you right to LMA/Children's. And Central is my favorite neighborhood in the area, less gentrified than Harvard and Davis, not sterile like Kendall, nor slightly sleepy like Porter. $2500 for a two bedroom is more than enough for an apartment, too. Plus parking isn't the nightmare that Davis seems to be these days, not that you need a car (I never had one).
posted by 6550 at 8:58 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like the area between Harvard and Porter Squares. You are between 2 stops on the Red Line which makes for quick commuting into MGH and Boston. It is also close to Harvard Square but has more conveniences like a supermarket. You are also still pretty close to the Charles River and not too far from Fresh Pond a nice park around the city reservoir. I also think that there is a decent neighborhood feel.

This is probably a good time to look around because you can test out what your walk to public transportation would be like under winter conditions. The walk that might seem doable on a June day can feel like the Shackleton expedition on a cold January morning.

I also like the meetup idea!
posted by Athanasius at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2011

I'm living near Inman Sq. these days and liking it a lot. It may not be near any T lines directly -- you can take the 69 to either the Lechmere Green line stop or Harvard Square. There are plenty of interesting restaurants and cafes nearby. (I'm at Darwin's LTD at the moment). R. F. O'Sullivan and Sons is nearby and if I'm really in the mood for nice pizza or Portuguese food I can always walk to the far end of Hampshire and go to Atasca or Emma's.
posted by oonh at 9:30 AM on January 20, 2011

I used to live in Davis and work on Beacon Hill - on nice days it was a pleasure to walk home. It took maybe an hour and a half, maybe more depending if I stopped for a book or beer in Inman.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:46 AM on January 20, 2011

I moved to Cambridge from Mississauga/Waterloo in 2008. I lived in Beacon Hill near MGH and now I live in Central Square. My recommendation is that you live on the red line instead of the green line. Coolidge Corner is a cool neighbourhood on the green line that might be worth considering but the red line commute is much better in my opinion.

With your budget I'd recommend, in ascending order of distance from Boston Harvard Square, Porter Square or Davis Square. Central Square is cheaper but more student-y. Inman Square isn't really T-accessible compared with those two neighbourhoods.

There are some beautiful condos/apartments in Cambridgeport near MIT. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and a few decent restaurants not to mention east T access and a few buses that will take you directly over the bridge to Boston.

Feel free to PM me for more 905-to-617 advice.
posted by KevCed at 10:22 AM on January 20, 2011

Just popping back in to second the notion that the Red line smokes the Green in terms of speed and reliability, in case you are considering living in Brookline or Allston across the river.

Seriously though, meetup.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:54 AM on January 20, 2011

Response by poster: Wow ... thanks for the info, everyone! This should be more than enough for me to start a search with.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 6:14 PM on January 20, 2011

I live in Teele Square and think it's very pleasant but a bit sleepy - I spend a lot of time in Davis, Porter, and Central and would recommend any of them. I also nth that Red line kicks Green line's butt as a general rule (although I do love Brookline).
posted by naoko at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2011

I live in Belmont near the Cambridge/Watertown line. The electric trolleybus goes right down my street and winds up in Harvard Square in 8-15 minutes. It's quiet here, there's plenty of good food I can walk to, and it's easy to get anywhere. And my rent is half of what it would be if I were in Harvard Square itself.
posted by not_on_display at 8:22 AM on January 21, 2011

« Older Watching the rebels...   |   Embed Videos Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.