Author Topic: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?  (Read 6362 times)

Calvin

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Hi All,

I currently live in southern NH but am planning on moving to Boston. I like where I currently live, but I really don't like my job at all and was offered an internal position in a different group that does the type of work I'm interested in (think data science). I'll have to go to work at the Boston office for this position.

So, under the assumption that I'm moving to Boston, how do I do this? Below are a few questions I'd like some input from people on:

Where to live?
The office is in Back Bay. I don't want to have a stupid commute, so I would want to live somewhere within walking distance or near a T stop. I think someplace in Cambridge could be nice, would that be a reasonable commute time every day? Any other interesting places to live? My brother and close friend live near Alewife already.

Housing
Currently I live by myself (26, single). I'm thinking I'll probably try to go through Craigslist and try to find a roommate. I wouldn't mind sharing a place again. I know some other people in the Boston area, so I guess I'll ask if they know if anyone needs a roommate. Any other ways that you found your living situation?

Transportation
Any need for a car in Boston? I have a fairly new car, so I could just sell that and be car-less. Anything I should think about in terms of my location if I try to go without a car? I'm thinking I'll want to make sure I'm close enough to a grocery store that it's convenient.

Does anyone who lives in Boston have any stories to share about how to live well in Boston without breaking the bank?

Thanks!
Calvin

Kwill

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 05:10:02 PM »
I would try to live as close to work as possible or near a T stop on the same train line as work. Cambridge/Somerville can be nice, but the less you commute the more time you will have to play. If you have to walk to the red line and then switch to the orange line to go to Back Bay and then walk to your job, you could be looking at an hour each way. Jamaica Plain is similar in some ways to Cambridge in terms of its overall atmosphere but with less college students maybe, and you could probably find an apartment within walking distance to the orange line (Stony Brook, Green Street or Forest Hills stations). That's where I'd start looking if there's nothing affordable right near your job and if your job is on the orange line. Padmapper is brilliant for finding Boston apartments: https://www.padmapper.com/search/apartments/Massachusetts/boston/

Craigslist is alright for roommates. Just make sure you meet them and actually see the place inside. Better than Craigslist would be friends of friends, Facebook, and church/work/school/alumni networks. You might want to wait until your job situation is official before posting on Facebook, though.

I'd keep the car at least until you get settled. Some people go without cars in Boston, but it really depends.

Derrian

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2014, 07:56:27 PM »
Hey Calvin,

Welcome to Boston. Boston is an expensive city to live in but there are ways to do it in a way that grows your stache. I would avoid living in back bay (extremely expensive) and look instead in Somerville. It is right on the Orange line and you can easily get to anywhere that you need to go. If you are looking to save money, you could look at South Boston or East Boston, though it would be more difficult to commute. Another option would be to live outside the city and take the commuter rail to avoid the high cost of living though the commuter rail passes are expensive.

If you look in Somerville, try and find roommates or apartments with one bed open. By doing this you can avoid ridiculous brokers fees.

It is doable to live without a car. I would not recommend having a car if you aren't planning on using it and don't have off street parking. In Boston, you will get ticketed and you will get towed because of snow plows (you can see the tow trucks line up every night waiting to tow cars).

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2014, 11:44:51 PM »
Look into shopping at Market Basket.  It's like shopping at Costco without having to buy in bulk.  They make their profit by keeping prices low enough that they sell 50x as much as other grocery stores.  The one in Somerville on Somerville Ave. is very cheap (I guess I didn't really go visit the others).  I got CA produce cheaper there than in CA. :P  But don't ever ever go on a weekend.  It's a madhouse.  Best time to shop there is like 8pm at night.  They close at 9pm.  Not T-able, though.

You can live near a T, and use Zipcar when you need a car.

Absolutely do not own a car and live in Somerville without having an off-street parking spot.  Trust me.  They will ticket you up the a** and then some.  Street cleaning is (or was last I knew) twice a month on each side of the street.  So you could end up with 1st and 3rd Thursdays and 2nd and 4th Fridays, and unlike Cambridge, they won't come through with the guy on a bullhorn saying "Today is a street cleaning day, there is no parking on the right side."   And the worst part is that  the Thursday/Friday may not end up being in the same week, so it's easy to forget (and if you're REALLY unlucky, every street around you will have a DIFFERENT street sweeping schedule.  Try living somewhere where your street is 1st/3rd Thursday, 2nd/4th Friday, next street over is 1st/3rd Monday, 1st/3rd Friday, and the major street is Tuesday/Thursday Midnight to 6am).  Tickets are $40 or more per incident.  Luckily they don't tow you.  Then snow plowing days can also get you ticketed and towed.  And if you happen to park, oh say, 6" into a crosswalk--like your bumper is right where it starts to slope down, they'll ticket you too.  And 20 feet to curb is sometimes arbitrarily enforced and not painted on the sidewalks.  I once saw some poor soul with over $300 of tickets for parking 20 feet to curb, 6" into the walkway on a small one way street where we all parked exactly the same way.

And don't get me started on guest permits..... 

And do not ever be pregnant and have to go to Somerville's Traffic and Parking [Edit: I originally said DMV, but I meant T&P].  They have no mercy and no bathroom.

I will never ever ever live in Somerville again. 

Well.... maybe if my life depended on it.....

Naaaaaaaaah.   Not even if my life depended on it.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 12:09:41 AM by TerriM »

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 08:10:30 AM »
PS:  Where you should live would depend on the closest T-stop.  What are the closet stops to your job?  (Or vague location if you're willing to give some info).  Is it green line only or orange line too (Mass Ave. stop is orange line).  The orange line opens up a wide variety of cheaper housing options without having to transfer.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 08:20:10 AM »
I would avoid living in back bay (extremely expensive) and look instead in Somerville. It is right on the Orange line and you can easily get to anywhere that you need to go.

But the only bits of Somerville on the orange line aren't really that walkable...while I love Somerville, I wouldn't want to live too near the orange line in Somerville.

Keep in mind there are quite a few bike commuters in Boston now. Bikeyface is one: http://bikeyface.com/about/

http://www.mapnificent.net/boston/

Mapnificent is awesome for looking at potential locations. Put your work address in and you can see how far you can travel with transit. Hmmm covered here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2011/06/mapnificent but the site isn't working for me right now...

vhalros

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 08:28:03 AM »
Living somewhere near a T stop and (instead of in Back Bay) is going to save you a lot of money for a relatively short commute. Pick somewhere near a stop that is on the same line as your place of work. The subway is good, but I would avoid having to regularly rely on buses though, the time costs are just too high. You can use google maps transit option to figure out about how long it will take from different locations.

Bicycling is also good here and getting better all the time; they seem to be finally taking it seriously as a mode of transportation and are improving infrastructure regularly. It would be fairly easy to bicycle from Cambridge or Somerville into Boston.

There are some areas that are still a pain in the butt to get to with out a car (businesses along route 128, some parts of Everette). But unless you have to go to those places frequently, you probably do not need a car. ZipCar is good for occasional use.

Costco, Aldi, and Market Basket are all in the greater Boston area, and they are all pretty good places to shop for groceries if you want to save some money. It would probably be useful to be with in bicycling/walking distance of one of them. (Although I haven't been able to find any reasonable way to bike to Costco)

« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 08:31:28 AM by vhalros »

CommonCents

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2014, 08:55:00 AM »
When I worked in Fenway area right after college, it took me 2 buses or a bus+train to get me to work from Somerville.  That's a *huge* time suck.  I strongly recommend staying on the same train line (and same side of the river) as your work to avoid changes and minimize wait times.  Look to Allston/Brighton perhaps for a back bay commute.  I'd second trying to avoiding buses - they get caught in traffic with frequent delays.  If you are willing to be 15 minutes from a train stop rather than the preferred 10 minute walk range, prices will drop.

Also second no car.  I didn't have a car in Boston (or Philadelphia) for years, until my folks were getting rid of one and gave it to me (fixing it to pass inspection cost as much as the car was worth).  Then it was a hassle to keep remembering to move it for street cleaning.  I was probably lucky in some ways that someone hit me and totaled it after 4 months ownership.  No car again then until I met my husband who had one (and I learn to drive stick).

And for a splurge suggestion - get a place with laundry in it (in the basement, not the unit).  The one without (my first) was a huge pain.

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2014, 10:02:41 AM »
BTW:  If you like where you live in south NH, have you considered taking the commuter rail in?  I realize it's a long ride, but if you're single and you enjoy reading books , you could possibly stay where you're at if that makes you happy.  How far are you from the Haverhill stop?

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/

CommonCents

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2014, 11:20:00 AM »
BTW:  If you like where you live in south NH, have you considered taking the commuter rail in?  I realize it's a long ride, but if you're single and you enjoy reading books , you could possibly stay where you're at if that makes you happy.  How far are you from the Haverhill stop?

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/

My coworker living near Haverhill finds Amtrack less expensive. 

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2014, 11:26:41 AM »
BTW:  If you like where you live in south NH, have you considered taking the commuter rail in?  I realize it's a long ride, but if you're single and you enjoy reading books , you could possibly stay where you're at if that makes you happy.  How far are you from the Haverhill stop?

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/

My coworker living near Haverhill finds Amtrack less expensive.

I had no idea :)  Thanks!

jabber

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2014, 11:47:08 AM »
Recommend you sell the car, look for a shared housing (not fancy single occupancy apt/condo) option in the neighborhoods north of Wellington Station, near East Boston, or around Porter Sq., & favor Orange line to Back Bay over Green Line.  The most impact in reducing expenses will come from sharing housing, making your own food, negotiating a T-pass from your next employer, and exercising outside without a gym/club/class/X-fit membership.  Charles River and many parks for running/riding.

CommonCents

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 02:11:58 PM »
BTW:  If you like where you live in south NH, have you considered taking the commuter rail in?  I realize it's a long ride, but if you're single and you enjoy reading books , you could possibly stay where you're at if that makes you happy.  How far are you from the Haverhill stop?

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/

My coworker living near Haverhill finds Amtrack less expensive.

I had no idea :)  Thanks!

I was surprised too.  The downside is the schedule is less frequent apparently. 

Calvin

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2014, 12:31:18 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice!!

My work is near the arlington station on the green line or the Back Bay station on the Orange line. Let me know if that changes the calculus of where to live.

It sounds like it's very doable to be without a car, so I think I'll plan on that and avoid the tickets and street cleaning everyone mentioned. I'd prefer to err on the side of a shorter commute/more expensive housing vs longer commute and cheaper housing.

I checked out Bikeyface and Mapnificent, that was very helpful. Is it reasonable to bike down in that area of Back Bay? Do people do that regularly? I'm not sure if my office down there would work well for that. I don't know if they have a place to store the bike, for instance.

Also, I couldn't commute regularly from NH. I'm about an hour drive from the Fitchburg commuter rail station. It sounds like I might have the option to stay at the office I'm at in NH and commute to the Boston office once a week. I might do that and just take the commuter rail in when I need to go to the Boston office.

Overall, it sounds like there are some good options outside of Back Bay that should be a reasonable commute in and won't be as expensive. I'll try to get shared housing, I think that's the way to go.

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2014, 01:53:42 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice!!

My work is near the arlington station on the green line or the Back Bay station on the Orange line. Let me know if that changes the calculus of where to live.

It sounds like it's very doable to be without a car, so I think I'll plan on that and avoid the tickets and street cleaning everyone mentioned. I'd prefer to err on the side of a shorter commute/more expensive housing vs longer commute and cheaper housing.

I checked out Bikeyface and Mapnificent, that was very helpful. Is it reasonable to bike down in that area of Back Bay? Do people do that regularly? I'm not sure if my office down there would work well for that. I don't know if they have a place to store the bike, for instance.

Also, I couldn't commute regularly from NH. I'm about an hour drive from the Fitchburg commuter rail station. It sounds like I might have the option to stay at the office I'm at in NH and commute to the Boston office once a week. I might do that and just take the commuter rail in when I need to go to the Boston office.

Overall, it sounds like there are some good options outside of Back Bay that should be a reasonable commute in and won't be as expensive. I'll try to get shared housing, I think that's the way to go.

T followed by walking is probably your best bet.  Anything bikeable from there is probably more expensive than you need.  I'd trace out from the T-lines that are closest to your office and look for rental options on padmapper.com

That part of Boston is vaguely bikeable if there are bike lanes, but you still run the risk of being doored.   I would not do it without bike lanes.  I know students do, but I'm no longer comfortable with those risks.  Also, some streets are a lot better traffic-wise than others.

Keep in mind that people frequently double park while unloading, so even if there were a bike lane, there might still be someone in it.

When I biked in Cambridge and Boston, I always felt like people were out to kill me.  Now that I bike somewhere else, I'm certain of it, even if it was just in their subconscious. :)  The worst was bikers popping off the sidewalk on Mass Ave. coming straight at me in my bike lane.   I used to be the one to pull out into traffic, but I will no longer do so.  Just stop and let them figure out how to get past, but don't be the one to try to merge with traffic.   Also, be aware that most bikers will expect you to run red lights.  I actually got rear-ended by a biker once when I did stop at the red.  Then he got upset at me and proceeded to bike through it.   I hate idiot bikers.   They're more dangerous to me than cars.

vhalros

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2014, 02:38:26 PM »
I tend to bike primarily in the Cambridge/Somerville area, and generally feel very safe doing so. I get the feeling that they are trying to Copenhagenize those places. So you certainly wouldn't be out of place on a bicycle, even though Boston itself seems to be lagging behind Cambride/Somerville a bit.

While bicycling in the winter is possible, learning to get around on one in the winter is a bit daunting. I guess my recommendation would be to get a bicycle in the spring and give it a try. If you don't like it you can sell the bike for probably about as much as you paid for it. Reasonable bike-commuting distance is about 5 miles or less, or as long as 10 miles if you find you really like biking and don't mind spending extra commute time to do it. Or even longer if you are sufficiently crazy.


Of course, a multi-modal commute where you bicycle to a T station and leave the bike there is also viable.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 03:24:06 PM by vhalros »

4n6

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2014, 05:19:48 PM »
Welcome to Boston. If you want to be even a bit more frugal you could live in Quincy off of the Red Line. i lived there for four years and really enjoyed it. Our apartment provided transport to the train everyday. i could walk to everything and it was great. They are also totally redoing Dtown Quincy, putting over 1 billion dollars into renovations so it is going to be great. If you want to save a little more dinero I might consider it there. Message me if you want more details.

TerriM

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 10:25:34 PM »
Welcome to Boston. If you want to be even a bit more frugal you could live in Quincy off of the Red Line. i lived there for four years and really enjoyed it. Our apartment provided transport to the train everyday. i could walk to everything and it was great. They are also totally redoing Dtown Quincy, putting over 1 billion dollars into renovations so it is going to be great. If you want to save a little more dinero I might consider it there. Message me if you want more details.

That would require a transfer though.....  Wouldn't Forest Hills make sense if you're going to go that far out?

cambridgecyclist

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2014, 12:27:07 PM »
I echo many other's suggestions to live in Cambridge or Somerville and commute in to Boston by public transit or bike. However, you will pay a premium (on top of already ridiculous prices) for an apartment within a 10 minute walk of a subway stop. I'd apartment hunt in the areas a little further from the subway stations and ride a beater bicycle (or sign up for Hubway) to the subway; a 10 minute walk is more like a 3-5 minute bike ride.

Bicycling in Boston is much more stressful than in Cambridge or Somerville, but it's possible; for someone with limited cycling experience I'd work up confidence by starting to ride in the calmer parts of Cambridge/Somerville.

Owning a car in this urban area is best avoided if possible. It's not necessary and there's Zipcar for the occasional short trip where you need a motor vehicle.

CommonCents

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Re: Moving from Southern NH to Boston: How do I be Mustachian in Boston?
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2014, 01:28:04 PM »
BTW, Cambridge is pretty expensive.  Maybe you'll do better near Kendall (though it's fairly industrial so there might not be a lot of options), but Harvard Square and Central Square are all going to be quite pricey.