Whether you’re a recent grad or a 40-something looking for a change of pace, there’s a Boston neighborhood for everyone. Boston is undoubtedly one of the most historic cities in the United States (thanks to some guys like Paul Revere), but it’s also one of the priciest. We’re breaking down the best Boston neighborhoods to live in, median home values, each neighborhood’s transit options, and our picks for where to eat/go in each neighborhood.
First, decide if you’ll be renting or buying a place. Will you have roommates? How far of a commute are you looking at? Do you care more about being right on a subway line or close to the best sports bars? These are all important questions in deciding where to live in Boston.
Boston neighborhoods in alphabetical order:
Technically two different neighborhoods, Allston and Brighton typically get lumped together due to their geographic location and proximity to Boston College and Boston University. Made up of primarily recent grads or current graduate students, Allston and Brighton have a somewhat collegiate feel to them. A-B sits just west of Boston, close to the Charles River and bordering ritzy Newton and Brookline.
You’ll find fewer craft cocktails and more beers on tap in the local bars. The benefit of a collegiate neighborhood? You can get into any restaurant in jeans, there is a plethora of take out options, and you’ll always have some sort of entertainment happening outside of your window.
Median home value: $515,000
Public transit in Allston-Brighton: Not the best. The B line (arguably the slowest of the MBTA routes) runs through here, plus there is the 66 bus that goes to Allston and the 57 and 65 buses go to Brighton.
Our favorite spot in Allston-Brighton: Pick a dive bar, any dive bar. $1 drafts? You’ll find those here.
The Back Bay is probably what every out-of-towner thinks of when they think of Boston as a city. Brownstones, wine bars, beautiful trees that bloom in the springtime… Back Bay is where old money has held onto properties for decades and new money buys property, hoping to fit in.
Median home value: $1.3 million
Public transit in Back Bay: The green line runs through the Back Bay. The most convenient spots are Hynes or Copley.
Our favorite spot in Back Bay: Bar Boulud is a favorite, and Stephanie’s on Newbury is a staple for people-watching.
Beacon Hill is charming, and it has the most photographed street in America. (Thank you, Instagram.) Some MGH doctors choose to live here, among others who can afford the high rents and higher purchase prices. In Beacon Hill you’ll find children’s shops featuring $500 cashmere blankets, antique shops, and more.
Median home value: $1 million
Public transit in Beacon Hill: The red line runs to Charles/MGH, which is just on the outskirts of Beacon Hill
Our favorite spot in Beacon Hill: 75 Chestnut, No. 9 Park, and Liberty Hotel are all must-visit spots in Beacon Hill. In the summertime you can find Alyssa at the Liberty’s “Yappy Hour,” where dogs are welcome to join their owners on the patio for cocktails and apps!
Charlestown has a coastal, historic feel to it. In more recent years, long-timers are moving out and young couples are moving in. (Friends tell us that Charlestown supposedly has the best moms’ group in the Boston area.)
Median home value: $715,000
Public transit in Charlestown: Take the water shuttle from the Seaport/Financial area over to Charlestown! It’s much more fun than the Orange Line to Sullivan Square or walking from the 93 bus.
Our favorite spot in Charlestown: Alyssa chooses the Navy Yard Bistro for its “water views and tasty cocktails.”
Dorchester is made up of young professionals, families, and typically liberal residents. The bars, coffee shops, and restaurants are diverse, though Irish pubs are popular in Dorchester. According to Thrillist, Dorchester is the eighth most diverse zip code in the United States!
Median home value: $415,000
Public transit in Dorchester: Red line to JFK/UMass, Savin Hill, Field’s Corner, or Ashmont.
Our favorite spot in Dorchester: Mike’s favorite is Molinari’s… “Get the pasta alla vodka,” he says.
Formerly made up of just row houses and Boston’s Logan Airport, East Boston (“Eastie”) is becoming more built up and populated with the latest building boom in Boston. Luxury condos are sprouting up, moving the median home value of East Boston up. East Boston has a large foreign-born population, but with the luxury condos come more Millennials and new money-types.
Median home value: $424,000
Public transit in East Boston: The blue line or water taxi in the harbor.
Our favorite spot in East Boston: Santarpio’s pizza is famous, because it’s that good! There are great parks in East Boston, too, like the Piers Park, which is right on the water.
Residents of Fenway-Kenmore are either BU students, recent college grads, or those in the medical profession who work in the Longwood Medical area. Residents are primarily renters (vs. owners). Good luck getting home during baseball season, when Red Sox fans take over the area (and the green line). Restaurants and bars cater to the sports-loving crowd.
Median home value: $501,000
Public transit in Fenway-Kenmore: The green line runs through Fenway-Kenmore.
Our favorite spot in Fenway-Kenmore: Hands down, Fenway Park. If you have visitors coming into Boston, take them on a tour of this historic ballpark.
JP is a diverse community, from 20-somethings to families and everyone in between choosing to make this neighborhood home. The bars and restaurants are just as diverse as the people, ranging from tapas to dive bars.
Median home value: $530,000
Public transit in Jamaica Plain: Orange line to Forest Hills or Green Street.
Our favorite spot in JP: Tres Gatos tapas!
Known as Boston’s “Little Italy” (though don’t call it that if you’re new to town – it’s just “the North End”), you’ll find cozy (read: small) restaurants and bars and even smaller condos and apartments. The North End is a tourist’s destination in the summer months, which can be energizing or frustrating, depending on how you look at it. This neighborhood is also home to competing pastry shops that are across the street from each other. Locals have a favorite – and stick to it. (You’re either a Mike’s or Modern kinda person.)
Median home value: $760,000
Public transit in the North End: There’s no transit that goes into the North End- it stops just right outside of the neighborhood. You can take the green or orange MBTA lines, or take the ferry.
Our favorite spot in the North End: There are far too many restaurants to choose from, but if we had to pick, Zach says, “The Daily Catch because it’s one of those places that you can stumble into and have an incredible meal. It’s tiny, no-frills, and all the food is bathed in garlic.”
The South End is full of two very different groups of people: Those who can afford multi-million dollar condos, and those who live in the housing projects or homeless shelters. There seems to be no in-between here. The South End has a fabulous art scene, including the summertime SoWa art market.
Median home value: $965,000
Public transit in the South End: The silver line of the MBTA, which is not actually a train line but a bus.
Our favorite spot in the South End: B&G Oysters for seafood, Stella for pasta, and Cinquecento for brunch.
Fort Point and the Seaport
Ten years ago the Fort Point/Seaport/Innovation District was full of dirt parking lots, and today it’s built up – and continuing to build. Tons of business professionals work and live here, plus empty nesters who wanted to leave the suburb life to return to their city routes – with their extra cash in hand. The Seaport has one of the highest costs per square foot in the Boston area, with more and more luxury condos being built everyday.
Median home value: $950,000
Public transit in the Seaport: Silver line
Our favorite spot in the Seaport: Row 34, a seafood restaurant, has one of the best lobster rolls in the city. It’s not cheap – around $34 last time we went – but it’s so worth it. See more of our favorite spots in the Seaport here >>
Historically an Irish neighborhood (as opposed to the North End’s Italian neighborhood), Southie is now full of 20-somethings and young families. South Boston is a popular spot for recent grads to rent, but it’s also becoming more and more popular as a place for Millennials to buy. Southie has some fun bars, a few great brunch spots, and Castle Island – perfect for the Millennial who wants convenience and culture.
Median home value: $608,000
Public transit in Southie: The MBTA red line runs to Andrew or Broadway, plus there are bus lines running through Southie frequently.
Our favorite spot in Southie: Lincoln for brunch
What’s your favorite Boston neighborhood?