You are where you live

Having spent the past few days looking at different apartments in Boston, neighborhood envy is the name of the game these days.

Before coming to Boston, I was determined to be a glamorous urbanite and stay in posh areas of Beacon Hill, Back Bay or South End. These three neighborhoods retained many of the English architecture that makes Boston so un-American and gives the city its genteel feel. The streets are narrow and in Beacon Hill, antique gas lamps light the street at night. Okie okie the lamps use electricity now but still….


But nothing like reality to get you down. Rents in these areas are at least 2000 USD for a small small one bedroom and even then it’s hard to get a good small small one bedroom. Add in the utilities, cable, internet, parking fees, I’m looking at 2.5K for a space that is the size of my bathroom in Chicago.


So with a heavy heart, I’m checking out …ahem… more residential areas such as Watertown and Arlington. Rents are lower, spaces are bigger and the commute to my office is shorter. Sounds perfect I guess.

Afterall, I’m more than my possessions right?

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8 responses to “You are where you live

  1. Don’t be too sad! Come to Watertown! We have public transit, an arts center with a 300 seat main stage and a black-box theater with all kinds of new work happening. If you live in Coolidge Square, you’ll be able to walk to the fabulous Armenian markets and buy fresh spices, fruit, and pita bread for nothing. Unlike many of the urban areas you’ve listed, we’ve got intact, walkable, urban neighborhoods where you can walk to buy food, go to a hardware store, a post office, or any of a dozen places to eat. Our old industrial buildings now squirrel away tons of tiny innovative businesses from bakeries to Dusty Clothing or one of our three animation studios. Like the outdoors? We have miles of lovely pathways to bike on along the river. Get a $20 dollar rod and fish from the dam in the spring — don’t catch anything, that would ruin the whole experience of sitting and watching the stream go by. Want to go to Harvard Square? Hop on one of the cute electric trolleybuses and you’ll be there in a flash.

  2. Lisa: Great advice, I’m sure watertown is a really great place to stay, in fact many of my friends tell me that.

    But I guess it’s really all about perception, the whole idea of being in Boston downtown/Cambridge, surrounded by all beautiful architecture, innovative ideas, human capital. But again it’s perception, and it’s really to make myself feel good about moving to Boston.

    The whole posh Boston apartment/loft fantasy just really completes the symbolism of moving to Boston. 🙂

  3. Actually, I just moved into a decent sized studio in the South End for about $850 a month. There’s stuff out there. Central Square is still reasonable if you have roommates, and Southie is doable, too. Personally, I wanted to live in the city, and if I hadn’t, I guess I would’ve stayed in the Midwest. You’ll have to do a bit of searching, and you may have to have a roommate, but it’s still possible to live in town affordably, I swear. Good luck!

  4. Seriously, people in Boston don’t live in Boston. They live in Somerville, Arlington, Watertown, Malden, etc. Personally, I’m fond of Malden. If you have a car, this is a great jumping off point to exploring the North Shore. If you don’t, we’ve got the subway. (beat that, Watertown!) Its not as gentrified as Watertown, which may be a plus or minus depending on your perspective, but its slowly getting some urban amenities. Just got a shiny new Bistro in the center of town! Oh, and do you like hiking? Because the Middlesex Fells is right here. Depending on where your apartment is, you can get on up on a rock cliff overlooking Boston in about 10-15 minutes. My rent’s under $1,500 and has three bedrooms and 2 living rooms and for an apartment in a century old townhouse with a lot of character.

    The Beacon Hill brownstone or South End loft is really just a fantasy. Only the young and wealthy (or old and wealthy and wishing they were young) actually do it, and do you really want to be stuck with those people all the time? But BR’s right. If you’re willing to live with roommates, Cambridge, Southie, and even Brighton can become very doable.

  5. Huh? I’m a Boston people and I actually live in Boston. :-). Granted, not the South End or the Back Bay, and my neighborhood is totally not what Daniel is looking for (too sleepy, too far away from downtown), but anyway: Jamaica Plain is another possibility (which, like Southie and Brighton are part of Boston).

  6. I’m actually staying in Beacon Hill in a hotel and the area is such a fantasy landscape. But I do see what you guys are saying, it woul probably be quite a problem staying here since the houses are really old and the parking so limited. And studios are out for me because I cook alot and my clothes always smell of lunch/dinner when I cook in a studio….. watertown beckons! Thanks guys for all your comments, really appreciate it.

  7. JP is a good mix of green parks and urban amenities. It’s got real community spirit. You’ve just got to get used the multi-culti, slightly hippie ways of JP. And be OK with living in an area runs the gamut from gentrified to sort of ghetto.

  8. i am a broker in the south end so i am obviously partial to the area but i have rented 1000 sq ft quality 2beds for $2000 in the south end around washington st. u in the last few months. there are good deals out there.

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