Help me find a place to live in Cambridge MA (2012 edition)
August 10, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

As seems to be yearly tradition, I'm asking the hivemind for help moving to the Cambridge area. I've just been offered a job at MIT that starts Oct 1, and will be moving from the west coast but leaving most everything behind.

Specifically, I'm looking for tips on how to find an affordable (1500/mo) 1 br apartment in Cambridge, Somerville, or wherever else is a good place to live within a 30 min public transportation commute to MIT. Previous askmefi's have given some ideas, but given that it's been a year since the last one, I'm sure much has changed.

I like more of the city feel (lived in Berkeley, CA for 10 years now); what neighborhoods should I be looking in? I'd really like to avoid undergrad-heavy areas if possible as well.

Is a broker absolutely necessary to find a decent apartment? If so, have you had good experiences with one you'd like to recommend?

I'll be staying in NYC early September while I look for a place (and doing 4-hour buses to see apts), will 1-2 weeks be sufficient?

Any and all advice you can give me is much much appreciated, especially from people who've done a cross-country move like this before!
posted by cuetip to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Other people will be better able to address Cambridge, Somerville, etc. I'm from the southern end of the Red Line, Quincy, which is just about 30 minutes out from MIT Kendall on the Red Line. It's city-like and a one-bedroom apartment for $1500 that's walking distance from the T is achievable. We have good Asian food and Asian markets and a nice beach. We also have very few undergrads.

If you're looking in Quincy, a broker is not necessary. Craigslist and the local paper (The Patriot Ledger) are easier and cheaper. This is not true in other areas, though.

1-2 weeks to find and rent a place is very optimistic, especially given the high demand at the beginning of the school year.
posted by pie ninja at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2012

Somerville or Cambridge will be great! I recommend to stay away from the Tufts/Davis Square area (lots of students), but any other neighborhood should be fine. Inman Square in Cambridge is great and super close to MIT, I live in Union Square in Somerville, 5 minutes north of Inman Square, also very close to MIT and affordable. To get a feel for the kind of apartments you can find I would just take a look at craigslist. But yea, Porter Square, Harvard Square, etc should all be great options too. I personally would not live across the river, I would stay north of the river because it'll make the commute so much easier, unless you live in Beacon Hill in Boston - but it's very expensive.

If you live in Cambridge or Somerville there's no reason for your commute to be longer than 30 minutes, or 20 minutes really. If you have a bike nothing will be very far either.
posted by carmel at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2012

I lived at Archstone Kendall Square for 2 years and loved the management there. It is a wee bit expensive, but I liked it a LOT. Zipcars were easy to get to and the T is 2 blocks away. East cambridge Shaws is 5 blocks away, and it is an easy to walk to a few really good restaurants. Their website shows all of their availability and you don't need an agent to get an apartment there (but if you DO get one, they will certainly try to take you there - don't let them - agents for buildings like that are a ripoff).

Good luck, go Sox!
posted by bensherman at 4:18 PM on August 10, 2012

Best answer: I would strongly suggest working with a broker if it's at all financially possible. Red Line Real Estate is very good; I've also heard good things about Maven Realty.

Don't forget MIT's own off-campus housing listings.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:37 PM on August 10, 2012

Best answer: I'm not sure but $1500 might be tight for the neighborhoods mentioned. East Arlington is at the end of the Red Line, you can get a nice 2BR for $1500. Like Somerville and the parts of Cambridge you'll be looking at, it's mostly 2 family frame houses, pretty densely packed. Unlike those neighborhoods, it's heavy on young professionals & light on undergrads & recent grads.

Besides the subway, biking is an option, at least most of the year. It's about 4 miles to MIT from here and pretty flat; the roads are wide & crawling with bikes & I think it's one of the safer routes to bike in the Boston area.
posted by mr vino at 8:06 PM on August 10, 2012

I can't say enough good things about East Arlington, right on the Cambridge line - it's filled with a mix of college kids, young families, hip couples, gruff elderly residents from other countries, and professors and professionals who commute into Cambridge and Boston. The Redline ends there, and there are many buses.

On preview, what mr vino says.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 10:02 AM on August 11, 2012

We live in a one bedroom with a large study about half a mile away from MIT. And it's $1500 a month. I would expect to be able to find a one bedroom for slightly less than that. Inman square, Cambridgeport, Central square are all worth looking at. Once you get closer to Harvard square, rents become unreasonably high. Look on Craig's list but you'll most likely end up working with a broker - most ads on Craig's list are broker ads anyways. Memail me if you'd like specific tips for the area, MIT, have questions, etc. Welcome to the area!
posted by Shusha at 11:04 AM on August 11, 2012

I'm a grad student at MIT. I live with my girlfriend in a 1-bedroom in Cambridge between Kendall Square and Inman Square. I'm a 5 minute bike ride to MIT. We pay around $1500. We found the place on Craigslist although the lease was completed through a broker.

Memail me if you have any other questions, or want to run specific neighbourhoods past me. Welcome to the area and to MIT!
posted by KevCed at 8:32 AM on August 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all your answers, this has been really helpful! Looking forward to meeting you all at the local mefi meetups.
posted by cuetip at 3:35 PM on August 14, 2012

Seconding Union Square! There's at least a few buses that go right into Kendall, it's not swamped by undergrads, plus lots of cool local shops, restaurants, and cafes (not to mention a great farmer's market right in the square every week). Way more diverse than a lot of areas of Cambridge/Somerville. And we've got a Market Basket. I love Market Basket.

Feel free to memail me with any questions about the area!
posted by sonmi at 5:20 PM on August 18, 2012

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