Living Options in Boston

Choosing a place to live in Boston could be difficult, especially if you don’t know your way around. Although Davis Square, Medford and JP seem to be the more popular places to live in, try to consider other options including Boston and Cambridge. All in all, if you do decide to live farther away from school, you want to live close to either the orange, red or green subway lines to make your commute easy and fast.
Let us know if we could help. In the meantime, here are some options you might want to consider- Union Square, Coolidge Corner and South End.

Living in Union Square

by Sarah Olliges

Rental market

Because it is not directly on the Red line, apartments in this area seem to be slightly cheaper than Porter or Davis.  Many people find apartments or roommates via Craigslist.  It does take some time to cull though all of the listings there, and you might end up with some crazy roommates.  Ideally, you will want to visit the city to see a place before you rent it- it is hard to tell from photos and emails.  Another option is to go through a broker- this is a service you will likely pay for though, and you will want to use a reputable broker such as Red Line Real Estate.

Transportation

There is not a T stop in Union Square.  Because of this, there is not a large student population there, which may be a pro or a con, depending on what you are looking for.  Union Square is approximately 1 mile from Central Square and just over a mile to Porter Square and Harvard Square.  It is about 2.5 miles from the Tufts Medford Campus.  If you are willing to trade some convenience to the T for cheaper rents, its a great place to live.  If you are willing to bike around the city, Unions Square is easily assessable to the Red or Orange line, to get downtown.   There are of course also bus lines that go through Union.

Attractions

The lack of a T stop makes Union Square a little more “authentic” feeling.  There are plenty of young professionals but are also families and an ethnic diversity you won’t find in Porter or Davis Square.  There are two great coffee shops in Union: Bloc 11 and the Sherman Cafe.  Bloc 11 have a relaxed atmosphere, great coffee and yummy sandwiches.  They also have a rarity for the Boston area- a courtyard and outdoor seating.  The Sherman Cafe also has good coffee and food, as well as an adjacent market that supplies many delicious locally produced foods.  You might not be able to afford many items in the Sherman Market on your student budget, but luckily you will have access to both Reliance Market, a Korean grocery and the to Market Basket, the cheapest grocery store in the city that also happens to have the freshest produce and worst parking.  In the warmer months you will also find the Union Square Farmer’s Market chock full of local veggies.

There are many bars in the Square, from the hole in the wall to the hip, including the Precinct, housed in the former police station, and the Independent, next door.  There are also many ethnic restaurants and on any night you could choose from Peruvian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, or Chinese.  The next morning you can role out of bed and beat the crowd to a Somerville classic- breakfast at the Neighborhood, where, for $5 you will get coffee, OJ, fruit, home fries, and a huge omelet.  Just get there early: on the weekends the line is out the door.

Cons

No T stop:  You will have to be willing to bus, walk, or bike to get to classes

No Tufts Contingent:  This is not a hot spot for Tufts students, so if you want to live around the corner from your school buddies, you may want to go for Davis or Porter Square

Living in Coolidge Corner

by Leslie Rathfon

Nestled intimately between Boston University, Boston College and the Longwood Medical Area rests zip code 02446: Brookline. As eloquent as its name rolls of the tongue, Brookline embodies all that this city has to offer, including: safe, manicured streets and jogging paths; parks and green spaces; quality restaurants that drive even Cambridge-dwellers; quaint coffee shops where the barista will remember your order; shoe smiths; a choice of drug stores; specialty shops, “Coolidge Corner”…and the list goes on. Though you’ll find a mix of people—from academics to young professionals to retirees—there aren’t as many college-aged kids living in Brookline compared with other Boston neighborhoods.

Rental Scene:

With its charm and quaintness, living in Coolidge Corner is never lackluster. Housing rates are slightly higher than average compared to neighboring vicinities. A one-bedroom apartment in Coolidge Corner averages around $1,450 per month including utilities. However if you are planning on splitting rent with a roommate, you can each expect around $1,000 to share an average two-bedroom, one-bath apartment. Often, laundry facilities are available in the building and sometimes parking is included. This is of importance if you’re considering bringing a car because parking in Brookline is tricky. First of all, there is no on-street overnight parking. So, if you have guests, they will have to park in one of the town’s guest lots for $10 per night. Because apartment hunting isn’t easy, especially when you’re new, allow a credentialed real-estate agent to guide you. One who knows the area like the back of his hand is veteran Boston realtor Bill McGowan at Keller Williams Realty (www.billmcgowan.yourkwagent.com, 617-497-8900).

Transportation 101:

In essence, Brookline relinquish the city’s hustle and bustle, yet still manages to maintain the urban feel. With access to Green Lines B, C, and D, make the subway, or “T”, trip downtown to school a quick jaunt. Like Boston itself, Brookline spans a large area, but is broken up into manageable neighborhoods. The previously mentioned Coolidge Corner (on the C line) serves as the congregational epicenter for Brooklinites. Incidentally, in April on Marathon Monday, hundreds of fans line up along the C line, which runs long Beacon Street, to cheer on the runners.

Pros:

There is a litany of perks attached to this walker-friendly locale.  Firstly, anchoring Coolidge Corner is the not-for-profit Coolidge Theater, which offers sleeper and artsy films. With an old-school theater feel that’s hard to come by these days, the illumination of the theaters’ lights at night make it a beacon of Coolidge Corner. On Thursdays, students can purchase tickets for $6.75 for any movie and you can bring your own snacks! Across from the theater is Brookline Booksmith, a celebrated local bookstore that offers weekly, mostly free, readings by renowned authors. Then there’s the famed farmers market (June 1-October 31), complete with slow-churned ice cream, which attracts farmers statewide. On the other hand, for general grocery shopping there are many options right along the C line: Trader Joes (right in Coolidge Corner), Stop and Shop and Whole Foods (in Washington Square).  To pick up a new hobby and meet new people, Brookline Adult Education Organization offers a mix of courses ranging from single baking or cooking classes to several week-long dance or language classes. Lastly, because you’re going to have studying to do, Brookline’s two public libraries offer a scholarly refuge with free wi-fi.

The restaurant scene is equally dynamic. Coolidge Corner is blessed with eateries that have received the prestigious “Best of Boston” award many times over. Such examples include: Matt Murphy’s Pub (Irish), Fugakyu (Japanese), Zaftigs (a delicatessen that has people lined up for over an hour on weekend mornings), Kupels Bakery (best bagels this north of NYC), Pho Lemongrass (Vietnamese), Orinoco (Latin), and Bottega Fiorentina (rustic, authentic Italian).

Cons:

Few and far between are the cons of living on the Green Line. Previously mentioned, parking in Brookline requires some getting used to. Firstly, there is a 2-hour limit for street parking, metered and not.  If police or parking attendants notice that you’ve been parked in a spot for more than 2 hours, you’ll face a $30 ticket. Unlike other subway lines, the Green Line runs above ground, and though the T runs frequently, it never seems fast enough in the (choose all that apply) blustery; windy; cold; damp; rainy; snowy; winter mornings. Luckily there are covered standing portals that shield Boston’s sub-optimal weather patterns.

All in all:

They say that green is the color of envy. So, it is no coincidence why Brookine’s Coolidge Corner is right on the Green Line. As soon as you see Coolidge Corner, it’s love at first sight.  It will make that big move just that much easier.
Living in the South End

by Laura Geraty

Rental Market…

Price range: one bedrooms range from $1,200-$2,800; two bedrooms range from $1,900-$7,500; three bedrooms range from $2,100-$7,500. (Note: high value represents top-of-the-line, newly renovated apartments)

Availability: Approximately 150 apartments are available at any given time; roughly 550 total apartments for rent in the South End.

(The above values are estimates from Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty)

Getting in and out…

Depending on your destination, one of the most convenient ways to get to and from the South End is on your own two feet. Even the furthest corner of the neighborhood is only 1.5 miles from the Friedman School, making your commute the perfect time to fit in extra exercise.

However, if it is raining, or you feel just plain lazy, there are also plenty of public transportation options. To access the subway, pick up the Orange Line at either the Massachusetts Avenue or Back Bay stops; another alternative is to catch the Silver Line bus, which runs down Washington Street and takes you directly to the Tufts Medical Center stop. With all of these options, having a car is a luxury but not a necessity.

Why choose the South End…

The South End is bursting with diverse boutiques, art galleries, public parks and open markets. A foodie’s mecca, this neighborhood offers more than 110 restaurants within its 1.5 mile radius. Whether you crave popular French or Italian cuisines, or something more exotic like Ethiopian or Cuban, the possibilities are endless.

Speaking from experience, this glut of options can be dangerous when living on a student budget. However, since the South End has nearly 30 well-maintained parks, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the neighborhood with a wallet-friendly picnic. Most of these parks also welcome dogs, making the South End a good choice for anyone with an animal companion.

The South End is best in warmer months, when many trees and private gardens are in full bloom. A delightful Sunday can be spent at the SoWa Open Market, snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers while perusing wares from artists, independent designers, and antique dealers. Finish your day with a local brew and some live music at the Beehive, and I’m sure you’ll agree: it could hardly get any better than Boston’s South End.

Why not choose the South End…

Although I’m a loyal South Ender, truth-be-told the neighborhood has several cons. First, it is expensive. In addition to the pricey rent, there are few cheap-eats in this area. (I’m still trying to find a decent pizza delivery place that’s less than $30 for a large cheese and salad!) However, a persistent bargain hunter will be rewarded (irresistible $5 sandwiches at the South End Formaggio, $6 chock-full-o-grilled-veggie burrito from El Triunfo, and free wine-tasting every Friday and Saturday night at BRIX).

Second, the South End’s crowd is decidedly older. The upside to this is that you won’t be kept awake by a college kegger going on next door; the downside is that it might be more difficult to make likeminded neighborhood friends. Also, while the bar scene is lively, high-end wine and martini lounges are more common than student-friendly Irish pubs.

Third, and this goes for all Boston neighborhoods, there are some dodgy areas. It is advisable to be on guard when walking alone late at night. Luckily, there is a large police presence ensuring your safety.

Laura’s South End picks

  • B & G Oyster: $$$ (550 Tremont Street)
  • Toro: $$-$$$ (1704 Washington Street)
  • Union Bar and Grille: $$-$$$ (1357 Washington Street)
  • Franklin Café: $$ (278 Shawmut Avenue)
  • Beehive: $$ (541 Tremont Street)
  • El Triunfo: $ (147 E Berkeley Street)
  • South End Formaggio: Artisan products (including cheese, meat and wine) from around the world (268 Shawmut Avenue)
  • BRIX Wine Shop: Bottles start at <$15 (1284 Washington Street)
  • SoWa Open Market: May-October (540 Harrison Avenue)
(reproduced from The Friedman Sprout, March 2010)

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