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Neighborhoods - The Definitive Boston Neighborhood Cheat Sheet

 
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One of the most common questions we receive is which part of town should I look into? If this is a question that you have asked yourself, you have come to the right place. For instance, if you have a car and are on a budget, avoid Brookline at all costs as there is no overnight parking allowed in Brookline and the cost of living per square foot is amongst the highest in the city . Are you looking for a nice quiet apartment to relax after work and on the weekends? If so you should stay away from most sections of Allston where undergrads rule and loud music is commonplace . Looking to rage with your friends every weekend? Welcome to West Campus. Having an experienced rental agency steer you to the neighborhood that fits your lifestyle the best is just one of many reasons that Preview Properties can help you find the perfect home for yourself.

Below each section you will find a link to apartments in that section. Of course you if have any questions whatsoever on the different neighborhoods please feel free to reach out to me directly at 617-792-3003 or adam@previewbostonrealty.com

 


Allston

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Allston, Ma, also known as "Rock City" due in large part to the birthplace of the band Aerosmith. Allston is split up into several different sub-sections, each with their own reputation and benefits. For instance, if you like to don a pair of skinny jeans while nursing a can or two of PBR's while lighting up a p-funk, you might want to consider Allston Village, home of the Model Cafe and truly a hipsters paradise. On the other hand, if no weekend is complete without using the phrase "I stumbled home last night" then the bar adjacent to Harvard and Commonwealth Ave may be more of your speed.

This isn't to say Allston is only for college kids and hipsters. If you are a young professional and are seeking an affordable house with an easy commute to the Pike and Storrow Drive you should check out Lower Allston. Lower Allston is a short bike red to Harvard Square, Cambridge. One other neighborhood to consider looking for apartments in Allston is along Commonwealth Ave near, aptly named, Allston Street. This area is preffered by many due to it's short distance from the Whole Foods grocery store as well as the easy bike/walk to Coolidge Corner in Brookline.

Regardless of which neighborhood you choose, apartment rentals in Allston are among the highest demand in the city due to their convenience, amenities and price. With more affordability then downtown as well as a wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops in addition to close proximity to the Green Line, Allston,Ma has a little something for everyone.

 


Brighton

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Brighton, Ma. Consider Brighton to be Allston's older, slightly more responsible sister or Newton's slightly less pretentious Brother. Brighton is broken down into the following neighborhoods, each with it's own appealing features and draws. Oak Square, Brighton Center, Cleveland Circle and Washington & Commonwealth.

Oak Square and Brighton Center are great area's for people who have graduated from college and don't want to be awoken in the middle of the night by college kids. If you are a working professional in your 20's, Brighton Center and Oak Square are perfect area's to live. Oak Square borders Newton on the East and is filled with tree lined streets. There is a good mix of families as well as young professionals in this area, not a lot of undergrads. The landmark in Oak Square is the Oak Square YMCA at the intersections of Faneuil Street and Washington, right by the fire station. If you are looking for nightlife, there is more then enough to be found. The Brighton Beer Garden in Brighton Center is as good a place as any to watch a game (same owners of The Joshua Tree) and in the spring and summer,Devlin's outdoor patio offers the perfect excuse to drink a beer or two outside. Finally. The Last Drop in Oak Square is a neighborhood staple and one of the few bars in the area open until last call. Looking for a quick slice you'll want to check out Little Pizza King in Oak Square.

Cleveland Circle is a fantastic area for the active student looking to live on the outskirts of the city, with easy access to all 3 Green lines, the B,C and the D. Also, Cleveland Circle borders the Chestnut Hill reservoir which is a great loop to run, bike and/or walk the dog. The reservoir is 1.56 miles around. Several shops and restaraunts can be found in Cleveland Circle, Cityside is a personal favorite. Make your way to the roof deck on a nice day for a great view of Cleveland Circle.

Brighton also has it's share of restaurants worth frequenting. If you are a fan of Tappas, Tasca (near the intersection of Washington Street and Commonwealth Ave) is a favorite destination of the locals. If Italian food is your thing you might want to check out Fiorelli's Express in Oak Square. Try the lemon chicken and you will be hooked (not to mention obese) in no time. For breakfast Jim's Deli in Brighton Center is really the only game in town and for a quick slice be sure to check out The Little Pizza King in Brighton Center as well.

One last thing to note about living in Brighton is that it's a commuters dream. Oak Square and Brighton Center offer much easier street parking then most parts of Allston and in either of these locations you're really close to both the Mass Pike and Storrow Drive. One thing to consider is that both Brighton Center and Oak Square are located along several bus lines but not the "T", that's the trade off for easy parking. Most people, once familiar with the bus system, prefer it to the T as it has less stops then the Green B line.

So there you have it, I've lived in Brighton for over 15 years and personally prefer it over any other part of town. With a lot of good restaurants and bars, easy parking and access to both the Mass Pike and Storrow Drive it's easy to see why Brighton has become a choice destination for young professionals in the Boston area.

 


Newton

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Sitting just west of Boston are the thirteen villages which make up the city of Newton, Massachusetts. Each has its own individual charm, options for mass transportation to Boston and multiple housing alternatives. From the apartment buildings near Boston College to the sprawling houses near Newton Wellesley Hospital, there is something for everyone in Newton. Whether you need to take the subway, commuter rail or bus into Boston or rail as far west as Worcester, Newton is a great city to call home. Take in a movie at the quaint theater in West Newton, pick up freshly baked bread the Great Harvest Bread Company in Newtonville, settle in for the big game at the sports bar in Newton Center, run part of the route of the Boston Marathon, or just kick back and enjoy a college football game in Chestnut Hill.

 


Back Bay

Rollerblading along the Charles River, wandering the shops of Newbury Street, strolling the paths of the Public Garden on a warm Spring day are all activities residents of the Back Bay enjoy just steps from their front doors. Treelined boulevards, gracious old brownstone townhouses, dining, shopping and recreational options abound. Bordered by the Theater District, South End, Charles River and Kenmore Square the Back Bay's appeal is also enhanced by its convenient location to these other exciting neighborhoods. Living in the Back Bay is a great option not just for people who work in the city but also for those who spend their days in office parks which line the 128 Technology Corridor. With convenient access to the Massachusetts Turnpike many young professionals call the Back Bay home to take advantage of the opportunity to build a career 9-5 outside the city and enjoy the amenities of city life the rest of the time.

 


Beacon Hill

The shining beacon of Boston's skyline is not her tallest building but one of the shortest, the Massachusetts State House which sits atop Beacon Hill, a true jewel of a neighborhood. Nestled into the side of Beacon Hill students, politicians, financial services professionals walk quaint cobblestone and tree lined streets where majestic brownstones sit shoulder to shoulder. Here you can stroll the same streets Louisa May Alcott, a young Senator John Kennedy, and Secretary John Kerry have all called home. Given the rich historical significance of the neighborhood amenities are limited on the Hill itself but within a five minute walk residents have easy access to the restaurants and shops on Charles Street, Whole Foods on Cambridge Street, and some of the finest hospitals in the world. Over the top one finds the seat of government of the Commonwealth and access to the Boston Common through which the waterfront and Financial District is only a few steps away. The diversity of age, background, career choices and housing preferences of the residents makes Beacon Hill a welcoming neighborhood for all people fortunate enough to call it home.

 


Charlestown

While technically a part of the city of Boston, Charlestown sits on the opposite side of the Charles River across the Washington Street Bridge from the North End and TD Garden. Historically a working class community serving the neighboring cities and the US Navy, Charlestown underwent a major renaissance in the first decade of this century which brought with it award winning new buildings, first class research space, and a renewed interest in preserving the past. City conveniences, gas lit streets, and a sense of community give Charlestown its charm. Within Charlestown many different housing options are available; loft living on the waterfront, condos in City Square, and brownstones near the Bunker Hill Monument all come together to make this a vibrant community. Restaurants, a grocery store, hardware store and even ice cream shops can be found within walking distance within the neighborhood which reaches up from waterfront on Boston Harbor and over the hill towards the Mystic River. "The Yard" as it is known locally was originally the home of the US Navy in Boston where small destroyers rolled off its shipways at a rate of one per day during World War II. It now hosts three marinas, the worlds oldest commissioned war ship, and a diverse selection of housing options with majestic city views. Many residents choose Charlestown for its access to not only the downtown core of Boston but also to points north and west of the city. Whether commuting by land sea or air, Charlestown is a convenient place to call home.

 


Financial District

Conveniently located between the shopping district and waterfront the Financial District has much to offer a buyer seeking a home in the city. Many corporations have offices in this section of the city which makes it convenient for residents to walk to work Monday through Friday and quiet on the weekends. As one of the newest residential areas of the city the housing stock in this area tends to be newer than other parts of the city with all the amenities of city living including open floor plans and concierge services. While not all offer parting, parking is readily available nearby in the Four Point Channel neighborhood and the quiet nature of the neighborhood makes parking on the weekends easier for out of town guests. At the heart of the Financial District is Post Office Square. A great place to relax and enjoy the live music at lunch time during the Summer.

 


Jamaica Plain

This little corner of Boston is a vibrant community complete with all the conveniences of suburban life on a smaller scale. Civic associations and pride in the community helped to transform JP into a vibrant commuter suburb to downtown while maintaining its own personality. Housing options in the area range from apartments in a classic triple decker to condos in exquisite old Victorians. Within its borders you will find activities ranging literally from A, the Arnold Arboretum to Z, the Franklin Park Zoo. If your tastes are more indoors than out, the restaurants in JP will pique your interest but you will need to book early at the most popular spots as they are invaded by suburbanites on the weekends. Aside from the variety of great restaurants like Ten Tables, literally all they have so book early, JP is home to many small independent shops like JP Stitch where you can take a sewing or knitting class and JP Licks, a local ice cream shop with a coffee ice cream that will delight even the hardest to please ice cream aficionado. Interested in something more portable? Pick up a few delectables at Blue Frog Bakery and begin to explore.

 


Kenmore Square

Located just steps from the famous Fenway Park, Kenmore Square sits to the west of the Back Bay along the Charles River. Home to Boston University, Kenmore Square has the vibe of a college town. It is the sports enthusiasts home in the Hub. For those who enjoy Division I NCAA hockey or basketball, BU's Agganis Arena is conveniently located nearby. Professional sports are only a block away - Fenway Park, or a quick T ride away - The TD Garden, home of the Celtics and Bruins. The nightlife caters to the college crowds from BU, BC, Northeastern and a multitude of smaller colleges nearby. Dining in the area ranges from local pizza joints to upscale dining at Union Creek Oyster Bar. After a long day working downtown you can take the T home or walk through the Common down one of majestic boulevards all the way from downtown Boston. The neighborhood tends to be more quiet during the Summer, except when the Red Sox have a home game at Fenway Park. When the heat is on, retreat to the banks of the Charles River for some cycling, running, stand up paddle-boarding or kayaking.

 


Brookline

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The city of Brookline affords residents the conveniences of urban living and multiple housing options from apartments near the T in Coolidge Corner to majestic old Victorians comfortably sited on the hillside near Brookline Village. Brookline's commercial district near Coolidge Corner boasts one of the few remaining independent book cellars, Brookline Booksmith, two Russian grocers, and a selection of dining options can be found in town from the corner bakery, Kupel's, to the Kosher Middle Eastern cuisine at Rami's. Brookline residents need not go far to find exactly what they need. A convenient T ride to Chestnut Hill or into Boston students and young professionals seeking a more laid back family oriented home base flock to Brookline for its convenient location and local amenities.

 


Leather District

As the name implies, this is the section of Boston in which there were tanneries during the early twentieth century. While its less than glamourous past may discourage some, do not overlook this area based on its name. Tanneries were large sturdy warehouses with wide open floor plans, enormous windows and heavy machinery. Take all that out, clean it up and you have some of the best built, most beautiful loft apartments imaginable. Located right next to South Station residents enjoy full access to the rest of the city via the T, suburbs via commuter rail, full Amtrak service and access to two major interstates. A convenient walk to the financial district but removed enough for those who prefer a little physical distance between their home and office, residents here enjoy easy access to the local gyms, restaurants and bars that keep the area lively after hours. When the bars close night life resumes at the South Street Diner, a convenient local place to keep the party going over the best burgers in town. Parking is available in some buildings and if your work takes you to the suburbs during the day, night time parking options abound when the offices which line the Leather District's perimeter clear out. Here in the heart of the city you can enjoy access to night life in Boston and the guilty pleasures of a quiet Sunday morning all within the Leather District's compact footprint.

 


Mission Hill

Conveniently located near Northeastern and Wentworth Universities Mission Hill is a rising star in the Boston housing market. Close to the Longwood Medical area, Fenway Park, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and two different T lines Mission Hill has a little something for everyone. Seeking a little creative outlet after a long week in Boston? Mission Hill residents have easy access to studio classes at the Museum of Fine Arts and Mass Art's extensive continuing education program just steps from the local Green Line T stop. The recent addition of a Whole Foods Market makes this corner of the city even more attractive to residents who want to pick up a few groceries or a quick dinner on the way home rather than schlep out to some suburban shopping center on the weekend. Given the number of young professionals and students in the area the streets of Mission Hill are a bit more lively than neighborhoods further west which provide sufficient foot traffic for the local restaurants to stay open a little later, a real bonus after a long day in the city proper. Thanks to the well planned city park system Mission Hill residents also enjoy access to the local trail system along the Riverway where one can run, cycle, walk, farm a piece of the community gardens, or just simply hang out and relax.

 


North End

The North End is rich in history and a food lovers paradise. Home to many of the city's finest Italian restaurants,, gelaterias and bake shops, there is always something to eat regardless of the time of day thanks in no small part to the flexible 24 hour a day seven day a week operation at Bova's Bakery on Salem Street. History buffs can explore The Old North Church, St. Stephen's Church, the burial grounds, and walk the Freedom trail as it meanders though the narrow charming streets of this neighborhood. Parking is an issue but remediated by garages to the west near Fanueil Hall and along the newly renovated waterfront. Living here one cannot help but feel a part of the great migration of people from foreign ports of call who pioneered life in Boston when it was originally settled. Over time the tenements were renovated into apartments and luxury living abounds in the old brick buildings one finds through out the North End. On the weekends in the Summer there are outdoor street festivals sponsored by the local social clubs so if you are in search of a quiet sanctuary rather than a busy street-scape, opt for a home on one of the shorter, quieter streets rather than the main thoroughfares. Interested in expanding your creative side? The North End is home to the North Bennett School, where one can explore classes in the lost arts of book binding, fine furniture making, paper making and other fine arts. If your preference is for the outdoors, the Harborwalk, a public pool, hockey rink and bocce courts can be found at the water's edge where the North End and Charlestown meet along the banks of the Charles River. The North End is convenient to the TD Garden, North Station and the waterfront where one can take ferries to other coastal towns for a quick weekend escape. Whether staying for a year or a lifetime, the North End is a great place to call home.

 


South End

Located just south of the Back Bay with convenient access to the shopping along Newbury Street and the selection of local restaurants the South End is an enclave of brownstones and pocket parks where you can hear the birds and the occasional barking of a dog or laughter of a child. The South End is convenient to the rest of Boston but since it was settled a little later than the North End, Beacon Hill and Charlestown more attention was given to its overall plan. As was common at the time of its development the streets are wider, house lots deeper and zoning requirements stronger to foster a more uniform neighborhood not unlike the Back Bay which was settled just prior to the South End. A strong sense of civic pride saved this area in the 1980's and helped it become a treasured neighborhood by the late 1990's. In general the area is less commercial than equally beautiful areas of the Back Bay and the deeper house lots afford residents an opportunity to exercise their green thumbs more creatively than on the smaller lots of Beacon Hill. There are two primary commercial areas in the South End where one can find outdoor cafes, a green grocer, a bakery and tucked in on Shawmut a beloved local shop, Formaggio where patrons can find a delectable selection of grocery items to spruce up the most mundane of Monday night walks home. Attention to urban living is further enhanced by the dog parks, a community garden and access to the parallel park named for Pierre Lallament, which runs from Back Bay Station to Jamaica Plain. For those who prefer mass transit over cycling the area is primarily served by the Orange Line and buses. Easy access to I-93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike make the South End appealing to those who may like to explore beyond the city limits.

 


West End

The West End is basically a residential triangle bordered by the Charles River, North Station and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Given the residential nature of the area it tends to be more relaxed than other parts of the city. Living here residents have the luxury of good transportation routes, a Whole Foods, premier health care services and access to the wide variety of recreational options along the Charles River. Transportation options in the neighborhood include commuter rail service, Amtrak service to Maine, the Red, Orange, and Green lines. Residents have the luxury of local access to the river roads and interstate 93 when their travel takes them outside the vibrant neighborhood in which they are fortunate enough to live. The neighborhood is attractive to people at all stages of life. Students appreciate being close to the local colleges by T, government employees enjoy the short walk to work on Beacon Hill, medical professionals find the proximity to the hospitals convenient in case of emergency and people raising families enjoy in town living with suburban amenities like the playgrounds, chid care options and local grocery store. Recreational options abound with easy access to the Charles River where you can rent a kayak, canoe, or sailboat. If you prefer land; cycling, a fitness trail, and rollerblading are also popular along the Charles. In the Summer concerts and free movies are only minutes from your front door at the Hatch Shell. The West End is a great option for young professionals who want to be embraced by the city but still have a quiet corner to call home.

 


Cambridge

The City of Cambridge has several different neighborhoods, each with its own special appeal. Whether you prefer the night life and college life in Harvard Square or the privacy of a single family home in Cambridgeport, Cambridge is a city of neighborhoods with a lot to offer. Residents enjoy the city's proximity to the river and 115 acre Alewife Reservation year round. Serious rowers, kayakers, canoe enthusiasts, stand up paddleboarders and recreational boaters all take to the water in the warmer months and until the river freezes the local crew clubs use the river on even the coldest of winter mornings to maintain their stride for the annual Head of the Charles Regatta. The banks are alive with the clatter of rollerblades, baby strollers, and cyclist who share the paved path which is part of a larger loop from Charlestown to Watertown, over to Brighton and onto Boston proper. The city itself is home to MIT and Harvard which provide their own cultural enrichment to their neighborhoods. Pranksters will get a good laugh at the MIT Museum and the more cerebral will appreciate the natural history collection at Harvard. Local college sporting events include hockey, football and lacrosse. Professional sports are only a T ride away at the TD Garden. To get a true sense of the neighborhoods of Cambridge take the time to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or sandwich in one of the shops in each of the neighborhoods. Local favorites include Voltage in Kendall Square, Sweet in Harvard Square, Lyndells in Central Square, and Hi-Rise in Porter Square. Cambridge is not just for people who work in Boston. With easy access to Route 128 the Alewife Brook neighborhood of Cambridge is a great option. Only three Red Line T stops from the busier sections of Cambridge the Alewife Brook section of town is a perfect option for those who spend their days in a suburban office park and still want to be a part of the vibrant city life nearby. So hop on a bike, get a T map or just start walking, there is a lot to explore here.