A Beginner’s Guide to Hub Neighborhoods

If only there were a saying in real estate about location, location, location… In Greater Boston, there is a myriad variety of cities and towns and, within each, neighborhoods and enclaves. You are bond to find the new Boston home.

  • Allston is a neighborhood along the Charles River known for a heavy—and heavily transient—student population. Their move-out/move-in days in September are known locally as Allston Christmas—a lot of free stuff can be had.
  • Back Bay
    Located on the Charles and in the middle of the northern middle of the city, it’s the toniest of Greater Boston’s tony neighborhoods (probably without anyone named Tony, though). It’s home famously to many local notables, not least of whom are Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen, who have been trying to sell their penthouse on Beacon Street since last fall.
  • Bay Village We think that Boston keeps this neighborhood around as some kind of historical curiosity, like Europe keeps Monaco. It’s the tiniest neighborhood recognized by City Hall.
  • Beacon Hill-The seat of Massachusetts government, you can almost smell the corruption as you stroll amid quite possible the most aesthetically pleasing urban neighborhood in North America.
  • Belmont-The town of roughly 25,000 west of Cambridge and north of Watertown.
    MSP: $605,000
    APPSF: $337
  • Brighton-Close to being Boston’s farthest west neighborhood (see also: West Roxbury). Plan commutes accordingly with all of these more suburban towns/cities/nabes.
  • Brookline-A separate town very serious about remaining so: It’s the birthplace of JFK and has never really lost that conscious exclusivity element about it, even though it’s nearly surrounded by Boston.
  • Cambridge-The city is home to M.I.T. and Harvard, and a remarkably diverse housing stock. Do not think, in other words, that the two universities are necessarily synonymous with the real estate. For more on Cambridge’s neighborhoods, click here.
  • Charlestown-It’s got the Navy Yard, the Bunker Hill Memorial and the banks of the Mystic, plus (for now) some of the most scenic ferry commutes in Boston.
  • Chelsea-Northeast of Charlestown and west of East Boston (got it?), this city of 35,000 is one of the most densely populated in the U.S.
  • Chinatown/Leather District-They seem to get smaller every year, but these fashionable slivers are home to some of the most expensive and cheapest residential real estate in the Hub.
  • Dorchester-The neighborhood is big in area and relatively inexpensive by Boston standards, especially considering the large single-families that can be had.
    MSP: $229,750
    APPSF: $144
  • Downtown Crossing-Boston’s main shopping district, and home to some of its biggest new towers, like the soon-to-be apartment and retail one over the old Filene’s flagship site.
  • Downtown-This can mean a collection of neighborhoods—basically from the South End northward—or it can mean that area of central Boston from the Common to the Fort Point Channel waterfront.
    MSP: $892,500
    APPSF: $815
  • East Boston-Buy in now, ‘cause the city and private developers have big plans for East Boston, especially its waterfront.
  • Everett-A city of 41,000-plus northwest of Chelsea and northeast of Somerville.
  • Fenway/Kenmore-They’re not just home to the ballpark. There’s the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall, too—and one heck of a short commute to downtown. There is also some serious new development about to get started there.
  • Hyde Park-Boston’s southernmost neighborhood (and it’s youngest—it joined the city in 1912).
  • Jamaica Plain-Probably the most diverse housing stock in Boston, JP is also probably the city’s most diverse demographically. Seriously good eats all over the place, and close to downtown.
  • Malden-The city of nearly 60,000 east of Medford, Businessweek in 2009 ranked it the best place in Massachusetts to raise children.
  • Mattapan-Dorchester’s leafier western neighbor. Though—and take this as you will—a slice of Hyde Park couldn’t wait to leave the neighborhood via a ZIP code change.
  • Mission Hill-Between JP and Fenway/Kenmore, the neighborhood is on a tear of a rebound, with new condos next to old brick row houses.
  • NewtonTony western neighbor to Brookline, the town is unabashed suburbia.
  • The North End-The old (and, in some places, current) Italian neighborhood, it has some of Boston’s most achingly beautiful homes.
  • Roslindale-A lot of rental and condo conversions going on in this leafy neighborhood.
  • Roxbury-Boston’s centrally located neighborhood, and one, with the city’s formidable help, undergoing a lot of redevelopment.
  • Revere-It’s the city of more than 50,000 north of East Boston and Chelsea, and it has one of the oldest public beaches in the U.S.
  • Somerville-Cambridge’s northern neighbor, the town is set for some big commercial and residential development along its northern border with the Mystic. Plus, if the Green and Orange lines ever make it out there, look out!
  • South Boston-The old Irish neighborhood that was once shorthand for “gritty” when people were talking about cities. It’s now quite gentrified and getting more so. Home to the Innovation District and the Seaport District (and the new Seaport Square developments). Southie is probably Boston’s busiest neighborhood in terms of transformation.
  • The South End-Curbed Boston readers in 2011 voted this the No. 1 neighborhood in Greater Boston. A thoroughly gentrified addendum to Back Bay.
  • Watertown-Western/northwestern neighbor to Allston, Brighton and Cambridge, it’s a town with a very suburban feel.
  • The West End-The small, grittier (relatively speaking—this is downtown Boston) neighbor to the North End.
  • West Roxbury-West of Hyde Park, the city’s westernmost neighborhood (see also: Brighton).
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