Best Places to Live

DOWNSIZING

The lawn is growing shaggier than Justin Bieber’s hair, and, frankly, you don’t need to be close to madam’s école de ballet anymore. Most downsizers are empty-nesters ready to shed suburban maintenance and rejoin the urban world of fabulous restaurants and art-house flicks. For them, the holy trinity of city living is ELG: elevator, laundry, garage. Though no longer the urban-market fire sale of 2009, solid deals remain for units in Boston’s full-service buildings.

BROOKLINE
Median Condo Price: $470,000
One-Year Difference: +1%

Downsizers put off by the Back Bay’s prices opt for Brookline’s A-plus real estate market. It still ain’t cheap, but your money goes further here — and you’ll be minutes away from a historic movie theater, a phenomenal independent bookstore, and some of the best restaurant meals in the Boston area. Where you should be looking: Coolidge Corner is, in theory, the town’s hottest neighborhood to buy in. But the Park Street Condominiums, at 70 to 80 Park, have elevators, a concierge, and an open parkway just outside the door. And you’re only steps from Beacon Street and the Green Line.

SOUTH END
Median Condo Price: $539,500
One-Year Difference: +5%

The food lover’s paradise has an ardent following among hipsters — and their suburb-fleeing parents. In fact, it’s common for the older generation to outbid the younger, which has kept the neighborhood’s property values buoyant (to the tune of $600,000 and up for a two-bedroom). Where you should be looking: The so-called Eight Streets Neighborhood: Waltham, Hanson, Milford, et cetera. The area is full of the townhouses the South End is known for, and is within spoon’s reach of Tremont Street’s restaurants. For those who want to skip the stairs, Wilkes Passage on Washington Street and the Penmark on Father Francis Gilday Street are two new condo developments with the sort of ELG that boomers favor. For roughly the same price as a sprawling suburban estate, you’ll have the best of city living.  

BACK BAY
Median Condo Price: $748,000
One-Year Difference: +16%

Behold, the gilded life: immediate access to Newbury Street and Copley Place’s shopping and restaurants; day spa and salon services; strolls in the Public Garden; and the gorgeous-in-all-seasons Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Where you should be looking: Two addresses on Beacon Street: 180 and 330. These are high-rises constructed just before the Back Bay Architectural Commission banned such buildings. Today they have all the swank an empty-nester would want, without the price tag of, say, a One Charles condo. Plus, you’re living on top of the city.

CHINATOWN/DOWNTOWN
Median Condo Price*: $2.1 million
One-Year Difference: +18%

For downsizers willing to navigate around the gaping hole of the old Filene’s building, this area is a comer. Textile-supply buildings have been transformed into chic lofts starting in the $400,000s. What these areas lack in a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods, they make up for in theaters and restaurants galore. And of course, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton embody all the services and fabulousness you’ll ever need. Where you should be looking: The Metropolitan on Harrison Avenue in Chinatown. The high-rise is near the Theater District, the Orange and Silver lines, and scores of ethnic restaurants; plus, there’s 24-hour concierge service. It’s like the Ritz, but closer to everything, and cheaper.
*Figures for the zip code 02111 only

 

  • Carole

    My husband and I were the original developers of Tall Pines, Sudbury. Thank you for recognizing this fabulous neighborhood. Carole Daniels,VP Coldwell Banker

  • Carole

    My husband and I were the original developers of Tall Pines, Sudbury. Thank you for recognizing this fabulous neighborhood. Carole Daniels,VP Coldwell Banker

  • Bob

    You capture the essence of Hingham but there’s a lot more here. A great place to buy a home.

  • Mike

    “Since 2002 the median home price has risen $20,000, or 7 percent.” Lipstick on a pig – that’s a 0.75% compound annual rate in 9 years. Stick your money in a CD.

  • marilyn

    I was surprised that Lynnfield was not listed in your report. Its a great little town just north of Boston. It has much to offer.

  • Mary

    As always a whole segment was forgotten. What about those of us who are established singles or couples without kids. We aren’t interested in the school system and can get more bang for our buck because of it. If you don’t want to have a bunch of kids then you never get included in any of these articles.

  • Mary

    As always a whole segment was forgotten. What about those of us who are established singles or couples without kids. We aren’t interested in the school system and can get more bang for our buck because of it. If you don’t want to have a bunch of kids then you never get included in any of these articles.

  • Joe

    Tall Pines in Sudbury is a nice neighborhood in a great town, but a new house hasn’t been built there in years. Also, Atkinson Lane is not in North Sudbury. Fact checking is important if Boston Magazine wants to be taken seriously.

  • maggie

    That home looks might familiar. I doubt it would sell for as little as $660,000. Very misleading, perhaps a mistake via layout.

  • Felisha

    I’m twenty and just going to graduate from my university. I want to get my first apartment in Boston, I’ve been wanting to move to the East Coast. I am from California, and I’m single and love the city. What areas in Boston should I look into?

  • gerhard

    you should stay in California…

  • George

    A recent ASPS survey asked mothers, if cost were not an issue, would you consider a “mommy makeover?”62% of Mothers Would Consider Plastic Surgery

  • d.

    Starting out, you’re saying Marshfield is the best place to live? Out of all of the fabulous towns in the Boston Metro. Or Roslindale? Fenway? Why not suggest actual good neighborhoods in Boston that are affordable and up and coming. We recently bought a house in East Somerville near the Charlestown line for a fraction of what your article is stating as the expected amounts for a condo to pay. You’re called Boston.com, not Bostonsuburbs.com, and not all of your readers aspire to live in the suburbs. If I followed your lead and bought in the Fenway area, I’d move out of Boston as a next stop.

  • Bob

    who came up with Marshfield as a great place to live? If I was going to pick a suburb south of Boston, I would pick Duxbury, Norwell, Hingham or Hanover anyday over Marshfield! Marshfield is kind of dumpy.

  • FLAmoveGuide

    This may all be true but how do these places compare to other areas? In Florida you can buy the same kind of place for half or less and live free for many years on the difference. Best asset protection state in US, no state income tax, etc.

  • Finneas

    Melrose is nothing like moving to Winchester. The schools are in freefall, and if you talk to families living there, they are either moving or scraping money together for private school. Their MCAS scores stink, their High School is on warning status, and they were cited for ELL and SPED issues in their last review. Maybe if you are older without kids…