What can I expect commuting in Boston?
July 19, 2007 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Commuting in Boston: where should I move to minimize the suck?

My office is currently located in Cambridge between MIT and Harvard. It's moving in the next 12-18 months to either South Boston or East Boston (South Boston currently looking like the most likely candidate, but it's already changed twice).

I am about to move. I'm looking around both East and South Boston, especially since prices in those areas are still relatively low, but I'd like to look in other neighborhoods too. Problem is, since I've been commuting just on the T (Redline, Kendall --> Central + walking, a total of 25 mins) or driving (along Mem Drive for 10 minutes), I don't want to add a TON of time to my commute -- I like not having to get up wicked early to make it in to work by 8:15.

So: what other Boston neighborhoods wouldn't suck? Assume I'm probably driving to work, but I'd still like to be near the T. Where is safe, fun, and caters to the n00b yuppie such as myself? One I have in mind is JP -- Google Maps says the drive to either potential office location would be 20 minutes or so, but what is that actually like in the morning?

Of course, I also need to consider my continued commute to Cambridge for the next 12 months...

Any recommendations greatly appreciated!
posted by olinerd to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where do you live now?

If your new office is going to be near the Broadway or Andrews T stops then the Red Line wouldn't take long to get there and you could avoid having to move.

Alternatively, you could move to the South End which is close to Southie, but more expensive. You'd either have to walk, cycle, or drive, and parking in the South End can be a real pain.

I don't enough about East Boston to give advise.
posted by zaphod at 5:17 PM on July 19, 2007

If your company's moving to the trade center, you can move anywhere with red line access or a commuter rail to South Station and it's a short bus ride.

You're not giving a lot of info, even where your company's moving to. Start with saying what kind of rent you can handle.

You could live off the Silver Line in the South End and do 25 or 30 minutes to the Trade Center, but we don't even know if you're going there.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:20 PM on July 19, 2007

I live in Kendall right now, and I am moving (reasons for moving = separate from office move) -- it's just a matter of where I can move to make the future commutes more convenient.

The new office will be right on the water in either Eastie or Southie, so likely T stations are either Maverick on the Blue Line or WTC on the Silver Line (or one of the T ferries!). Unfortunately those both have very different implications for the T commute, which is why I'd rather normalize the process to the driving commute, not the T commute.

(Plus, in the winter, I don't want to walk the mile+ the new office would be from either of those stops...)
posted by olinerd at 5:22 PM on July 19, 2007

Mayor Curley -- I'd rather not discuss rent here :) I'm just looking for neighborhoods that don't suck too badly for a driving commute, and I'll start narrowing down from there. I know a lot about neighborhood costs in the different neighborhoods, just not what driving between them at rush hour is like.
posted by olinerd at 5:24 PM on July 19, 2007

I understand. But I don't think there are a lot of good answers for you driving, unfortunately. The Pike and 93 are often rotten to the core, so it's either Boston Proper for you or Charlestown. I think Charlestown might work well, actually. You'd basically just have to around the North End, and then Atlantic Avenue and the area around Fort Point are decent for traffic. And it has every level of rent, too.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:40 PM on July 19, 2007

JP to almost anyplace at rush hour is not a good commute by car. I lived there for 5 years and commuted to downtown (South Station), Cambridge, Brookline and just outside of 495. There are too few "artery" routes, which means that everything is congested, and the J-Way can be harrowing to drive if only because other people are not very precise drivers. Bushwhacking on smaller side streets is invigorating for a while but it gets old fast. For quality of life, JP is hard to beat though. For context, I've lived in JP, Fort Point, Southie, Cambridge and the South End. I don't recommend the South End if you really want to drive because driving means parking and parking is very aggravating. I imagine it's only gotten worse since I lived there.

I think your best bets might be Charlestown, Chelsea, Fort Point or Southie. Perhaps Dorchester, though I don't know those local roads well. Basically anything on the east side of Routes 1 & 3. East Cambridge might be ok, too, but it doesn't seem like enough of a difference from your current home to justify a move. Also, anything that funnels you over the Charles will be a slowdown.

I think the differences between any of those locations--from the point of view of driving--will be splitting hairs. And I've gotta say, any of those commutes would be considered highly desirable and convenient by almost everyone I know, even with the walk (~15min in winter is my estimate). My general advice--given that you don't know where the company is moving and that any of those commutes is already pretty sweet--is to choose the place you think you'll like living the most, and not the place that's necessarily got the best commute on paper. It'll just make your life more enjoyable. My particular vote would be for Fort Point. You could walk to either State St or Downtown Crossing, minimizing the chances of two changes on the T if your company ends up on the blue line, and you can easily walk to the silver line if they end up by the waterfront. The red line is a stone's throw for your current commuting needs or for when the weather's really bad and you don't mind the trade off of two changes on the T. And Fort Point is quite the thing now (slightly tongue in cheek, coming from someone who lived there 15 years ago when it was really cool).

What I really recommend is commuting by bike. It would be faster than car and T, and more enjoyable most days than either (IMO). But that's an answer to a different question :-)
posted by cocoagirl at 6:40 PM on July 19, 2007

I had some thoughts, but then cocoagirl said them plus even better stuff. Essentially: no to JP (commute-wise) and I agree -- yes to Chelsea, Southie, Dorchester, and Charlestown. Fort Point is a great idea too. Quincy could be good if you're working in Southie--the drive wouldn't be so bad.
posted by jdl at 6:58 PM on July 19, 2007

JP is not a great place for what you described. When I lived there, it took about an hour by bus/T to get to Cambridge. The traffic isn't much better. I ended up doing exactly what cocoagirl recommends and biked for two year to work in Kendall. Cocoagirl really had some of the best places for what you're looking for.
posted by rodz at 7:21 PM on July 19, 2007

I would second Charlestown, they just finished up some road repairs there that makes it a bit easier to drive . .
posted by jeremias at 9:07 PM on July 19, 2007

FYI, I did a Davis Sq --> Aquarium commute for over a year, and even with the red->green->blue tsimmes I could make it in 20 minutes if I hit the trains right, 30 minutes on average.

If you are driving in Boston, it is hard to beat Charlestown, though. Easy to 93, Storrow, the Tobin, Cambridge, the North End, the Harbor/Financial Dist.

Also, let me add that I have seen several companies plan "imminent" moves that took at least 3-5x as long as they said they would (if they happened at all), so depending on your level of knowledge/involvement at work you may not want to plan for something that may never happen.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:54 PM on July 19, 2007

Thanks everyone. I hadn't been looking at Charlestown before -- that's a good one to add to my list. And it sounds like I'll take JP off it :( (too bad).

Appreciate the help!
posted by olinerd at 4:07 AM on July 20, 2007

My sister commuted from Brighton to the WTC for about a year and she said it took her 20 minutes to get there. We lived very close to the Pike so she'd just hop on that. It was a reverse commute, too, which helped.
posted by sutel at 4:14 AM on July 20, 2007

I live in South Boston, and I love it. Traffic in the neighborhood is never crazy, although you will always have to deal with all of the traffic lights and stop signs and double live-parking. It's easy to get to Broadway and Andrew on the red line (9, and 10 buses, among others), and to get downtown (9 or 11). And getting to I-93 and the Pike are a breeze.

And despite its reputation, most of Southie is safe and nice. I walk home alone from the T at midnight at least once every couple of weeks, and I never feel in danger.
posted by Plutor at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2007

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