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Moving to Boston!


I'm moving to Boston from Toronto in February. I'm looking to rent an apartment in a great food neighborhood.

I'll be working in the Longwood area and don't know much about the city proper and the surrounding areas. The area I presently live in is an up-and-coming area that is ethnically and socio-economically diverse and hope to keep this feeling.

Any help would be really appreciated!

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  1. This thread started by someone who asked a similar question should help:


    You might want to check out Allston, Central Sq. in Cambridge, East Cambridge, or the outskirts of the South End.

    8 Replies
    1. re: pollystyrene

      On the Central Sq front, the OP should note that the #47 bus makes for a very quick ride between Central & Longwood. I did that commute for a few years.

      If you're driving to work, I saw that JP was mentioned lower down. OTOH, unless you're an actual MD or a PI or something, I wouldn't plan on driving to work there.

      1. re: jgg13

        jp is an easy enough drive to longwood. parking, on the other hand, could be a pain. BUT if you live in jp and work in longwood, you should take the 39 bus. it's a straight shot, and on a good day can be 10 minutes or so.

        jp, or at least part of it, is as they say "transitional" "up and coming," etc.. it is relatively diverse, socio-econmically and ethnically, prob. more so than other boston neighborhoods. it has decent eating options, though not that great really considering its size. but not terrible. and it's more green than much of boston, and jp pond is really a gem.

        you might consider cambridgeport, which is relatively convenient to a lot of the restaurants and whatnot in cambridge (which has a high density of chow stuff), as well as easy access to allston (good cheap eats, though otherwise unappealing neighborhood), easy commute to longwood (could certainly walk it on a good day), and walking distance also to beacon hill, east cambridge, chinatown, etc.. rents tend to be high there, unfortunately.

        1. re: autopi

          While I'm not exactly certain what's "otherwise unappealing" about Allston, it does have the highest concentration of Chow at the moment, and as our own Allstonian can attest (my wife, who works at one of the Longwood hospitals), it's an easy commute on the 66 bus from the heart of Allston to Brigham Circle, which is sort of the end point of the Longwood Medical Area.

          These things tend to move in cycles, but I would say that currently Allston is more up and coming than Jamaica Plain, which has largely...well, up and came. Allston proper is centered around the intersection of Harvard and Brighton, which has an amazing stretch of restaurants. There is the drawback that there are a lot of college students in this part of the neighborhood, most of whom are such brain-dead morons that in 2005, BU had to actually issue a directive instructing their students NOT to walk on the Charles River when it was iced over. (That same year, two BU freshmen were run over by a commuter rail train while walking on a live train track, but that's just Darwinism.) However, if you know where to look, there are some lovely quiet enclaves where you get the best-of-both-worlds element of living in the heart of Boston, but in an actual house with front and back yards.

          There are even more of those enclaves in Lower Allston, which confusingly is actually *north* of Allston itself: the "lower" refers to topography, not geography. Lower Allston is less bustling than our part of Allston, but it's just as ethnically diverse (all of Allston is filled with Brazilians and folks from various Asian countries, which among other things means excellent Brazilian and Asian restaurants and groceries!) and has a wider socioeconomic variance. It's not as convenient to public transit as Allston proper, and it's also further away from all the good restaurants, but rents tend to be a bit lower, and Harvard Square is within walking distance over the Charles, which also provides easy access to the Red line of the subway system. (Allston itself is on the Green line: Toronto's elegant "a straight line and a U" subway system is way less confusing than ours, but you figure it out quickly.)

          I don't know what part of Toronto you live in, but you might have noticed that Toronto has Zipcars, which are a 24-hour car share service. Zipcar was founded in Boston and remains based here, and the city proper is lousy with Zipcars. (There are a dozen Zipcars within a five-minute walk of our house.) I strongly, strongly recommend ditching your car, if you have one, the second you move to Boston. By joining Zipcar, you don't have to worry about parking, insurance, gas, maintenance or any other other petty and expensive annoyances of owning a car in the city. You should also check their website when you're thinking specifically about where to live: they have maps showing where all the cars are. (Note: this is an unsolicited testimonial. I'm not an employee of Zipcar, just an enthusiastic customer.)

          But if not Allston, then yeah, JP.

          Oh, and one more thing: just so you know, when you move here, you're going to discover that you have suddenly become invisible. Don't worry, it's not you: Boston is a legendarily not-particularly-friendly town, and you're more than likely going to feel a distinct frostiness from your neighbors for at least a little while. On the other hand, Bostonians as a general rule aren't nearly as rude as many folks from other parts of the country think they are, so there you go.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            i was referring mostly to the stupid-undergrad-transient-student-sports-bar vibe that large parts of allston has. i'm sure there are lovely parts too.

            i absolutely agree with jp's status as already having arrived. it's just that people describing it still like to call it 'transitional,' for some reason. parts of it are still gritty-ish, but really only a small fraction.

            i also think allston has, inch for inch, more and better chow than jp.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Thanks much! I do not, and probably never will own a car. I signed up for CarShare which happened a year before Zipcar came on the scene here. I'm a huge fan, and also queen of the commute. Also are there any farmer's markets that happen? I love buying local!

              1. re: Dustygirl

                Lots and lots of farmers' markets in season. On the left bank (Cambridge side) of the Charles, and off the top of my head, there are at weekly markets in Arlington, Davis Square, Harvard Square, Central Square, etc. Have a look here for a real list:

                You might also be interested in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangement, of which there are many. Search the board here for CSA, and you'll find lots of discussion in the past couple of months.

                Finally, Davis Square is a great place to live. It's not the easiest access to Longwood if you need to be there early, but we know several people who do it. Our neighbor commutes to Longwood taking the T to Harvard square and the Harvard shuttle from there, and it seems ok for her. We had a doctor friend stay with us a few years ago and she ended up taking a lot of cabs to be on time for her very early morning starts, before the T starts up at about 5:30. Davis has also pretty much up and come in the past 10-15 years or so. Not so edgy any more, but still a great place to live.

            2. re: autopi

              With Cambridgeport, if you live close to the BU bridge, it is certainly walkable. I live towards Harvard and it only took me 30-45 mins usually to walk home from Longwood.

            3. re: jgg13

              For that matter, if you're working at a Harvard Medical School affiliated institution, there is a Longwood shuttle that runs from Harvard Square directly to Longwood and runs straight through the middle of Central Square along the #1 bus route. That would make pretty much anything in Harvard, Central/Cambridgeport or the southern reaches of East Cambridge within a fairly easy commute.

          2. Jamaica Plain would easily fit into the diversity part of your needs and pretty darn good food and convenient as well.

            1. (Dustygirl, looks like you posted two threads on this ... just reposting here)

              Welcome! Boston has a lot of great food options. Fortunately things are very compact here and it's easy to get around the city proper by subway... as long as you're in Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, etc. you will not have a problem getting to good food destinations. Somerville is great too but less convenient for the T (apart from Davis Sq). A lot of folks here think (and I agree) that Cambridge tends to have more interesting and diverse foodie options than Boston overall, mostly due to the good residential/commercial mix and large student and ethnic population. But it's a short T ride away and I wouldn't necessarily live in Cambridge just to be closer to the food...

              If you're working at Longwood, a great option (though pricey) is the South End, which is packed with fantastic restaurants and convenient to Longwood. Downside is that apartments there tend to be more expensive than other places in Boston.

              1. Bookline is not that culturally diverse. But they have diverse dining options and it is close to where you work.

                If money is not an issue, the South End has the Best dining.

                2 Replies
                1. re: saltyair

                  Second Brookline. Commuting to the Longwood area is not all that easy and I would give greater weight to that factor. And while Brookline has a wide aray of dining options, it is easy to reach many of the other areas mentioned from Brookline.

                  1. re: BBHound

                    I'll third Brookline, especially Coolidge Corner area. A little more expensive than Allston, particularly if you have a car, but you can get some good deals if you look. The range of food is fairly diverse and very convenient to many other local "foodie locations." Also very convenient to Longwood by bus from most locations. If you move around Brookline Village, you can simply walk to Longwood in good weather.

                2. I am going to throw my neighborhood into the mix. Union Square, Somerville, is both a great home-cook neighborhood with several remarkable markets, and convenient to some really delicious restaurants. The rents in Union Square reflect the fact that it is NOT on a T-line, but the CT2 bus goes directly from Union Square to the hospitals.

                  If you will be working odd shift hours, the CT2 might not have a schedule that works. You can get the bus schedules at www.mbta.com.

                  Welcome to Boston!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: smtucker

                    Thanks! I'll check out your 'hood next time I'm in town...

                    1. re: smtucker

                      I can add some perspective on this, as I lived for many years in Union Square and moved a few years ago to Brookline, halfway between Coolidge Corner and Allston.

                      Union Square has got to be one of the great ethnic food meccas of the whole Boston area, albeit slightly more skewed toward markets for home cooking than restaurants. Within a three-block radius you've got shops run by natives selling stuff from Japan, Italy, Korea, Brazil, India, the Carribbean, and possibly the best selection of Latin American products in town (La Internacional).

                      Brookline is, as previously stated, less diverse though still quite international (the main languages you'll hear on the street here are Russian and Hebrew, and you're more likely to hear Italian, German, or French than Spanish). There's a great farmer's market in Coolidge Corner every Thursday in season, and if you end up in our area you can walk to either Allston or Coolidge Corner in ten minutes.

                      Since you don't plan to have a car, transportation will be MUCH easier for you in Brookline. Two of the Green Line (subways that come become above-ground trolleys outside of downtown) routes run through it, and as previously stated, the 66 bus runs from Allston straight across Harvard Ave/St (it changes from Avenue to Street as it crosses the town line) to the Longwood area.

                    2. I've got to represent a little bit for my neighborhood Roslidale. I moved here from a "diverse," "up and coming" NYC neighborhood and it has worked out very well from the convenience and culinary viewpoints. Plus it is an extremely friendly, livable, and even "diverse" place by Boston's standards which, sadly, are different from Toronto, NYC, and other major cities. As long as you're willing to drive to work (though that may not technically be necessary, in reality it most likely will be), knowing a little bit about Toronto, I think Roslindale would fit your needs well.

                      On the food tip we have excellent and very affordable ethnic shopping at the Roslindale Fish Market (highest quality seafood and Greek items), Bob's Pita Bakery (produce & Middle Eastern), Italian meat market, Halal meat market, many fine bakeries about which you can read many posts on CH, wine store, cheese store, etc. For restaurants there are two Italian/Mediterranean places which are equal to pretty much anything in the Boston area (Delfino's and Sophia's), decent Sushi/Korean, surprisingly good tacos at Romanos pizza, diners, pub-type places, and more I'm probably forgetting.

                      And with what you'll be saving on rent, you can get a car which will take you to just about every other neighborhood talked about on this thread in approximately 15-20 minutes or less once you learn your way around and don't get lost anymore.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: skordalia

                        Shame on me for not suggesting my home of 35 years. It is actually a very easy commute to longwood by car or T. A bus or two will get you there.

                        1. re: trufflehound

                          yeah, me too--roslindale is indeed lovely, and doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves....

                          1. re: autopi

                            Groovy...I'll check these out as well. This has been extremely helpful! Also what's not to love about a site devoted to good food?

                      2. I think you've gotten some good ideas already. I'll reiterate Union Square, Somerville and Rozzy as "up-and-coming area[s] that [are] ethnically and socio-economically diverse". Agree that JP has already up & came, but it IS awfully pretty. Davis Square has already gentrified considerably, but it's still a cool place to live. South End is very convenient for your commute, but neither ethnically nor socio-economically diverse anymore, sadly. I'm not sure if Allston is up-and-coming, but it certainly has some of the most diverse & tasty eats in Boston. You could literally never have to cook again if lived somewhere between Packard's Corner and Union Square, Allston. Coolidge Corner in Brookline is not as diverse as Brookline Village, but both are excellent areas to live and check out.

                        1. If you are looking for something slightly more residential, with some ethnic options and a lot more within walking distance East Cambridge is potentially a better option than Union Sq Somerville. Union Sq has the CT2 which is good, East Cambridge the Green Line which is slow, but a bit more reliable on the off hours. You can live amongst Portuguese families with grapevines (as you can in Union), have easy access to the Charles river for jogging and biking. If you live near the green line, its a fairly easy walk to the North End for dinner, Inman Square, several local bars, and you are not too far from either the Red Line (walking) or Orange (green line connection) to reach other areas in the city. Its definitely up and coming and reflected in the prices for houses these days, apartments aren't so expensive for Boston but often in 3-deckers (common around Union Sq too). Also since you won't have a car, there is a new large Shaw's supermarket (bit expensive, but some decent latin american products), plus two of the best local fish markets. Chowing there is not like falling out of your bed like Allston or Union Sq Som, but as long as you are willing to hoof it (wind is quite chilly on Cambridge St or crossing the river this time of year), it is as rewarding as other neighborhoods. Portuguese, new american, Brazilian, sandwich shops, seafood, Italian, pizza, small taco place, new Taiwanese restaurant, ok sushi, bakeries and portuguese, cape verdean, and central american convenience stores. Independent movie theater roughly nearby. One of the few neighborhoods that you still see people shopping with shopping carts. It is changing due to the proximity to Kendall Sq, but is more ethnic today than Cambridgeport.

                          1. When I think socio-economically diverse and great food, Central Square gets my vote. If the bus routes are convenient from here this is a great place to live. While you would probably want to live between Central and the Charles for your commute, Inman Square is less than a 10min walk from Central and a great food square also.