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Any insight on the living expense, nice neighborhoods to live in, ways to commute to school (Harvard or MIT), places to hang out, or crime rate? Thanks :D

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Cambridge is a nice neighborhood (/city), and crime in boston is pretty low everywhere except the inevitable poverty-stricken virtual ghettos of Roxbury and Dorcester. As for expenses on the other hand, Boston recently (this year) surpassed New York as the most expensive city in the US (I can't source that, but I'm 90% sure of it). Rent for a large 1bdrm with "problems" is about 1200/mo. I can only compare that to Seattle, where 1200 would buy you a beautiful and huge 1bdrm.

Cambridge has the best hangouts (try Charlie's Kitchen--mmm lobster rolls) and you can take the subway past harvard, mit, and straight to downtown. In general Boston mass tran SUCKS, but the red line is ok compared to the green line, which services areas west of boston. Basically, if I decide to live in Boston another year, it's going to be in cambridge.

Hope that helps. Feel free to pm me if you have other specific questions.

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Oh and one other thing about renting, I have heard that there are so many colleges in the area that prices spike hugely during the late summer. So you might want to consider coming in early summer if possible to try and snag a lease on the cheap.

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Guest dave

Late summer? It's expensive here all the time. I'm sharing a place with 2 others in Back Bay and it's 600 a mo. Last year I had a place for 450, but this was in Somerville. Find roommates now.

Other than that, boston is great. not too big. I've been here for my undergrad and have liked it a alot. There's always plenty to do, especially in the way of academics. Since you can walk 12 steps and be on another campus, you'll never have trouble finding the resources you need. Lots of great restaurants, etc, everything closes at 11or 12 though.

re: transportation - I don't have much to compare it to, but I think the T/busses are pretty nice. I use a bike these days.

good luck!

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Guest Guest

Another nice neighborhood is Allston. There are lots of apartments, close to the subway (known as the "T") and there are grocery stores, Dunkin Donuts, etc. within walking distance.

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Yeah and a bedbug problem so large the city has a funded initiative to fight it. From the west coast? Think bedbugs exist only in fairy tales meant to frighten children? Think again. You will when you get infested.

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Guest Lambda

If you're planning to go to Harvard, I highly recommend living near Cleveland Circle. I live there now and commute to Harvard (where I work full time) and I *love* the area. It's near three branches of the Green line, and the #86 bus goes to Harvard quite regularly. I can get to campus in 25 minutes during rush hour. Rent is high everywhere, so you will need to have roommates if you are not planning to live on campus (both Harvard and MIT have graduate student housing on campus).

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Guest g

Hi,

I moved to Boston (somerville, actually) after I graduated from undergrad and my husband will be a grad student at either Harvard or MIT next year. We live in Somerville, between Davis and Porter squares, right now and have really loved it. It's a great location - right by the red line, as well as walkable to grocery stores and everything else you'd need - two T stops to Harvard, or you could walk there in under half an hour. Somerville, especially near Davis, is a fun place to live and feels less hectic/crowded than harvard square. It's also cheaper. The closer you get to harvard square, the smaller the apartment you'll get for the price. We rent our current place for 1200/month, 1 bedroom, 4 rooms total, not in the greatest condition but it's huge and pretty nice. For the same apartment in harvard square it would cost at least 1600 dollars. We're actually moving across Massachusetts Ave. to Cambridge next month, because we can afford a nicer place now, and for 1500/month we'll have an 850 square foot place with a modern kitchen, heat and hot water included, in a building with a pool and other amenities. You have to hunt around, but it's possible to find good deals. Definitely live with other people to make it cheaper.

I've found the public transportation here to have its costs and benefits. Usually it's great, sometimes it's frustratingly slow or not moving at all. Learn at least three different ways to get where you need to go, and you'll be fine. (seriously, I know four different ways to get from my house to my job via public transportation). Boston is a walkable and fun city - I didn't think I would like living in the city, but I've really grown to love it. Housing will be your biggest expense, so if you can find a good deal there, you should be set.

The different neighborhoods have different feels, too. If you're looking for something that's more intellectual and more the coffee-shop environment, try Davis, Porter, Harvard, on the red line in somerville/cambridge. If you're looking for a more bar-type area, Allston or Brighton are good choices. I don't know much about Kendall/MIT since I don't live there or spend much time there, but I hear it's cheaper than other parts of Cambridge. Lots of grad students live in Central Square, which is between Harvard and MIT, but I find Central square to be crowded, loud, and a little sketchy for my taste.

Good luck! Feel free to post with any more questions.

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Guest Pittsburgher

wow, thank you so much. I appreciate all of your responses.

I checked out the housing websites at MIT and Harvard. The cheapest room is about $600 per month and I understand that it would be really really small. Does any of you have any comment on the on-campus housing at MIT or Harvard? I am very tight on budget and would be willing to pay $800 a month at most for housing :cry:. From what I gathered, it would be difficult to find a nice single room off-campus at the price. So I guess my options are:

- find roommates and live off-campus. I prefer having a bedroom of my own but can share common room, bathroom, kitchen, etc.

- on-campus housing. 140-200 sq. ft. single room. Any insight on Ashdown House, Green Hall, Tang Residence Hall at MIT or Child Hall, Conant Hall, Richards Hall at Harvard? especially on single rooms.

I will try to check out the neighborhoods that you mentioned when I visit the schools . Is there any good online resource for finding off-campus housing in Cambridge and the Boston area?

Thank you all so much! :D

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Guest

The best thing to do IMO is start looking at craigslist or similar sites. I don't know if your school has a graduate school off campus housing department, but that might be a better place to look than CL.

If you do decide to sign a lease, make sure you find a realtor that won't rake you over the coals. Many charge a full months rent for the fee!

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Guest aaronp808

I second the craig's list suggestion, its the best way to find anything here. boston.craigslist.com.

Consider looking into Watertown. The 71 bus goes from Watertown to Harvard Sq in 5-10 minutes and runs every 7 minutes at peak time. It is very convenient. The 70/70A runs from Watertown to Central Sq (close to MIT). I think it takes about 20 minutes and runs every 20-30 minutes at peak. You may be able to find a $800 single bedroom in watertown. It's a nice town. Very safe, pretty, small and a mixture of urban life and suburban green space. It's on the Charles River so you can walk/run/bike to Cambridge or even all the way into downtown Boston if you want and never have to be on the road.

I agree with pretty much everything said here. I fall on the PRO side of the mass transit debate. I come from Texas, with no mass transit at all, so I'm not picky and just love the T. We have a car, but when it dies we aren't planning to replace it.

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Guest

I am going to Masachusett, but to Amherst. Can you tell me anything about the city, especially housing renting price ? I am going to Umass, Amherst

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Guest
Any insight on Ashdown House, Green Hall, Tang Residence Hall at MIT or Child Hall, Conant Hall, Richards Hall at Harvard? especially on single rooms.

I've been at MIT for five years (ugrad/grad), so I can comment a bit on the housing. Ashdown closest dorm to campus and oldest dorm, but very unpleasant, old-looking, depressing inside. Puts the dump in its moniker, "Ashdump." zero social life. I lived in Green, it's a female-only hall, I hope you realize that if you're a guy:). Right in the heart of campus, very small and tight-knit community, good international/american mix, wonderful housemaster, at least in 2004-2005 year. Rooms are recently renovated and light and airy,and best of all, can't beat the price. I'm paying 5-something to live in an apartment in Soemrville (around same as I did at Green), and my heat doesn't even work half the time:( If you're comparing off-campus and apartments, definitely take the utilities fees into account. I believe Tang is organized into suites, two or so people have rooms off a common room, apt-style. Never been inside myself but have heard good things.

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Guest

Does anyone know anything about Brandeis University or the Waltham area? Is it fairly easy and inexpensive to commute to Boston for work? And what do you like most/least about Brandeis?

Thanks!

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Hi! I'm a ten-year Bostonian and have a little insight on this subject -- here are a few thoughts:

1. It's a very expensive place to live. Cheaper rents can often be found in East Cambridge, Somerville, and Allston. I lived in Allston throughout college. The cheapest rent I ever had was $450/mo (subletting in a big apartment with 6 other people, something I wouldn't really recommend as graduate-student friendly); the most expensive was $650 (neither price includes heat/electric). Some areas of Somerville are wonderfully quiet; Allston is a bit on the dirty side and most buildings are full of rowdy young undergraduates. Brigham Circle is also a great place to live; neighboring Mission Hill is somewhat cheap but the neighborhood isn't the best (I did live there during high school, though, and personally have no bad experiences to report).

2. Watch out for your heating bill. It can get really expensive. Places where rent includes utilities are a good idea, although the temperature may not always be optimal.

3. It's really nice to have a car in Boston/Cambridge, especially when it's time to go grocery shopping. However, it is extremely hard to find parking if you have out of state plates, as many (maybe most) streets only allow those with neighborhood-resident stickers to park there. You may end up either parking far away from your apartment or paying a lot for a space. If you're there for the long haul (i.e. if you're entering a PhD program) it's a good idea to get MA plates and a resident permit sticker for your neighborhood (it costs about $15 and enables you to park on many streets).

4. I have no clue what the actual statistics are, but the crime in Boston is really not that bad -- stay out of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan when you are alone at night if you are really worried (even those places are not the urban jungles they are sometimes made out to be, but still there's no reason to risk it). There was a rash of muggings in Allston last year, but nothing too crazy. Overall, it's a pretty safe city and I always felt comfortable there.

5. Places to hang out: someone's already mentioned Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge. Some good music venues are TT the Bear's, the Middle East, Paradise Rock Club, and Great Scott. There are tons of good coffee shops around. There are dive bars, hip bars, and yuppie bars. There are a million book shops where people tend to congregate. You'll find good places no matter what your taste, I think.

Good luck. Do post again if you have more specific questions. Congratulations!

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Guest dave

re: commuting - there is a 'commuter rail' station nearby that takes you right into the city. It's a bit pricey though(3-4 bucks a pop and monthly passes aren't cheap). I believe brandeis acutally has a shuttle from campus to harvard square, though that was two years ago.

I've only been there twice for various reasons. I wasn't really impressed by the campus and Waltham is pretty boring. I can't say anything about the school itself though.

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Guest

Also re:commuting, if you're lucky enough to have a car, the commute is definitely no problem, especially to the Cambridge area. It's not far at all. I work in Brighton and it takes me about 15 minutes to get from there to Waltham.

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I visited the campus before Christmas. I met very nice people - everyone was so helpful, and very friendly. the commuter rail (train) is a 10 minute walk from campus. it takes 20 minutes to Cambridge, and 30 to Boston. once you are in Cambridge/Boston area you have excellent connections to the metro and bus. Also, Brandeis does have their own bus that goes to Cambridge etc. often. The prices for the commuter rail can be found on the website http://www.mbta.com. I believe that a monthly pass would be around $110 and will give you unlimited access on commuter rail, buses and metro in the whole Boston/Cambridge/Waltham area. I did not see a lot of Waltham, it just seemed to be a suburb, lots of houses, with easy access to highway. Cambridge was lovely, vibrant and dynamic - but housing there is more expensive.

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Guest Marie

Judith- thanks for the information!

Do you know if housing in Waltham is significantly cheaper in Boston? And is Brandeis a school that you would consider, based on your experiences during your visit?

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Hi Marie,

It seems to me that Waltham area is cheaper than Cambridge or Boston. I think you have to consider if you want to live in a suburb (and most likely have to depend upon a car) and live close by campus, or have the conveniences of a big city and rely on public transportation.

Brandeis is a school I do consider, since this is so far the only acceptance (still waiting for 5 schools!!) I got. More important, the interaction I had with faculty and staff was very positive. People I met and interacted with by email are open-minded, friendly and intellectual stimulating. Brandeis seemed to me a small scale university, with a personal touch (versus larger universities, large scale programs). The program I got accepted to seems to me an excellent fit - therfore I truly consider attending Brandeis. However, I do want to see what other programs and schools have to offer and am patiently waiting to hear back from the rest of schools/programs.

Judith

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Guest GoIllini

I have a question - how early is too early to start looking for apartments in the Boston area? I'll probably be looking in the Medford/Somerville area (unless there's a reason to avoid it??). I'm not familiar with Boston at all and will be moving there from Chicago. In my experience in Chicago, it's almost impossible to find anything more than 1.5 months in advance, but I know things can vary widely.

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Guest gianna
I have a question - how early is too early to start looking for apartments in the Boston area? I'll probably be looking in the Medford/Somerville area (unless there's a reason to avoid it??). I'm not familiar with Boston at all and will be moving there from Chicago. In my experience in Chicago, it's almost impossible to find anything more than 1.5 months in advance, but I know things can vary widely.

Hi - I live in Somerville currently, and Somerville and Medford are great places to live, especially for students, since it tends to be cheaper than Cambridge/Harvard Square. Craigslist is a great resource. Good areas of Somerville to check out: Davis Square/West Somerville, Union Square, Tufts. Right now, (end of March), you are just starting to see some listings for May 1 and June 1. Most stuff now is for April sometime. When I first moved to the area, I came and looked in mid-April and saw lots of apartments for June 1.

Hope this is helpful - feel free to post with more questions about somerville.

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Guest Marie

Judith,

Thanks for all of the information. I'm not sure if I'll be able to check out the campus before I apply, so it's nice to hear good things about the school and faculty from a source other than the prospectus and website!

Do you mind if I ask how their financial aid is? I'm hoping they offer some type of tuition assistance.

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Guest brandeis alum

Brandeis is not an exciting campus and it is just far away enough from Boston and Cambridge to make it a major pain in the butt to get anywhere. Even downtown Waltham is at least a 1/2 hour walk away and just getting to Main Street is about a 20 minute walk. Public transit in this area - whether it is state, local, or just Brandeis campus transit like the Boston shuttle - run infrequently. The Boston shuttle ran only a few times during the weekend evenings when I was there, which was aout 5-10 years ago, but I was back there just a few weeks ago briefly and I don't think too much has changed in that regard. However, there IS a ton of construction work going on, with new dorms and buildings being built everywhere. It is very possible but also very expensive and inconvenient to get to major off-campus locations if one does not have a car. A bike is definitely helpful, a car even more so. Rents when I was there were far cheaper than Cambridge and Boston - summer sublets at $350-425/month are not uncommon. When I was subletting for the summer, I made it a point not to rent anything more than $400/month and I was able to find a good number of places. Hope that helps.

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