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There's a lot of good advice on this thread. The only word of caution I have is for NORTHEASTERN (NEU) students.

You may find cheap housing near your school near the Longwood Medical center, on River drive or on the E line (green line). You should avoid this area, and anything on the E line past Northeastern, as it is quite dodgy. You are better off with a cramped shared apartment in Back Bay (the cheaper, run down student housing can be found just west of Mass. Ave around Hemenway street/ Westland Ave, Huntington Ave near the Boston Symphony, which is also on the good end of the E line.

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Could anyone tell me how easy (not too expensive, easy commute) it would be for someone to live in Davis Square while attending Brandeis? I would have a car but would want to use public transport too, probably. I like the idea of living in an area slightly more interesting than Waltham seems to be. Any thoughts/suggestions?

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Could anyone tell me how easy (not too expensive, easy commute) it would be for someone to live in Davis Square while attending Brandeis? I would have a car but would want to use public transport too, probably. I like the idea of living in an area slightly more interesting than Waltham seems to be. Any thoughts/suggestions?

The commuter rail to Brandeis leaves from Porter Square, which is about a 10 minute walk or less from Davis, or 1 T stop. From Porter, I think it is a 3 or 4 stop ride on the Commuter Rail. Very easy commute (approx 20 minutes).

Here's a copy of the Weekday commuter rail schedule between Porter and Brandeis from http://www.mbta.com

FITCHBURG/ SO. ACTON LINE TO NORTH STATION : Weekday Effective 10/29/07

OUTBOUND (Porter Square ---> Brandeis)

North Station 07:27 08:17 08:55 09:40 11:20 01:20 03:00 04:00 04:40 04:50 05:20 05:40 06:20 07:35 08:45 10:40 12:10

Porter Square 07:37 08:27 09:05 09:50 11:30 01:30 03:10 04:10 04:50 05:00 05:30 05:50 06:30 07:45 08:55 10:50 12:20

Belmont 07:42F 08:32F 09:55F 01:35F 03:15F 04:15 05:05 05:55 06:35 07:50F 08:59F 10:55F 12:25F

Waverley 07:44F 08:34F 09:57F 03:17F 04:17 05:07 05:57 06:37 07:52F 09:02F 10:57F 12:27F

Waltham 07:50 08:40 09:15 10:03 11:40 01:42 03:23 04:23 05:13 05:41 06:03 06:43 07:58 09:07 11:03 12:33

Brandeis/ Roberts 07:54F 08:44 09:19 10:07 11:44 01:46 03:27 04:27 05:17 06:08 06:48 08:03 09:11 11:07 12:37

INBOUND (Brandeis ---> Porter Square)

Brandeis/ Roberts 06:47 07:16 08:26 09:05 09:51 11:28 12:24 02:08 04:08 04:43 05:38 07:36 08:26 09:23 11:25

Waltham 06:52 07:20 08:05 08:30 09:09 09:55 11:32 12:29 02:12 04:12 04:47 05:42 07:40 08:30 09:27 11:28

Waverley 06:57 07:25 08:35 09:14 10:00F 11:37F 04:51F 05:46F 09:32F

Belmont 07:00 07:27 08:37 09:16 10:02F 11:39F 12:34F 02:17F 04:16F 04:54F 05:49F 07:46 09:34F

Porter Square 07:06 07:33 07:50 08:14 08:43 09:21 10:07 11:44 12:39 02:22 04:22 04:59 05:54 07:51 08:39 09:39 11:37

North Station 07:17 07:44 08:00 08:25 08:54 09:32 10:18 11:55 12:50 02:33 04:33 05:10 06:05 08:02 08:50 09:50 11:48

*Note that North Station is close to downtown Boston, right near the TD BankNorth Garden Concert/Sports arena.

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Davis and Porter are very close to each other. Depending on where you live (Highland or Elm Street, for example) you might be equidistant between the two stops.

The largest grocery market in the area is at Porter Square, that might make a difference to you too, since 10 minutes is a long way to walk with 20 pounds of spaghetti sauce and laundry detergent.

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It generally takes me about 20 minutes to get to Porter, whether by T (due to waiting time/time on escalators) or walking, and I live around 5 minutes away from Davis. So getting on the commuter rail and going to Waltham would take more than 20 minutes total. It still probably wouldn't be longer than any commute to central Boston that involves switching train lines...it's doable, I just wanted to give another estimate based on my experience. And yeah, it's a long way to walk with heavy groceries...maybe trying to live near Porter would be best.

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Miratrix, Good point.

I meant walking above ground, LOL! Yes, actually taking the red line one stop can take alot longer than just walking to Porter.

(But then, I lived a few blocks toward Porter, though closer to Davis, so Davis was the better choice for me on a snowy day)

And then the commute from Porter to Brandeis is an additional 20 minutes.

sdklos,

Should you live near Porter? Idealy, it sounds like it, but you might find a nicer apartment or a better deal closer to Davis, you never know. I would not avoid living near Davis, it's still fairly convenient to get to Brandeis and/or Harvard.

Beacon street in Cambridge (not to be confused with Beacon street in Alston or Back Bay) has a lot of pretty spacious triple decker houses that serve as student rentals and it's quite convenient to Porter. There are also a couple of apartment buildings on Mass ave across from Shaw's market and a few rental houses on nearby Beach or Elm street. There's a bunch of other side streets around there too, but those might be good key word searches for the Craigslist :)

Miratrix might be able to list a few more streets or nearby apartment complexes for your search.

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How 'really' bad is the weather? (I'm hoping against hope someone has something positive to tell :? )

I found it was very easy to deal w/in the city w/out a car to have to shovel out. It was a novelty for the first seven years, but now I'm ready to get the heck out of here and on to someplace warmer.

Oh, and to all the comments above re: having to get groceries. It isn't a big deal - you just get them delivered if it is something you don't want to carry a distance :)

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How 'really' bad is the weather? (I'm hoping against hope someone has something positive to tell )

This year was particularly icy with unusually heavy snow fall. Every year is different and the one saving grace of New England winter is that sometimes you get a 50 degree day in the middle of a miserable month. It breaks things up. That, and a spring break trip somewhere South or West makes it bearable.

I've been here 9 years. The first year was hard, because I didn't have the proper shoes and coats, but I tell ya, I've got plenty of great boots now :)

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It's not terrible, weather-wise.

Compared to the Midwest, I would say Boston is warmer, but gets more snow.

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How is the T compared to the New York subway? How long would it take to get, say, from one end of the Red Line to the other? How painful is it to have to transfer from, say, the Green Line to the Red?

(Might be going to Harvard next year, so I'm trying to figure out where to find affordable housing. Is there a Brooklyn-like area, where you can trade "reasonable" rent for a more seedy or dangerous neighborhood?)

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How is the T compared to the New York subway? How long would it take to get, say, from one end of the Red Line to the other? How painful is it to have to transfer from, say, the Green Line to the Red?

(Might be going to Harvard next year, so I'm trying to figure out where to find affordable housing. Is there a Brooklyn-like area, where you can trade "reasonable" rent for a more seedy or dangerous neighborhood?)

Try Allston-Brighton

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How is the T compared to the New York subway? How long would it take to get, say, from one end of the Red Line to the other? How painful is it to have to transfer from, say, the Green Line to the Red?

(Might be going to Harvard next year, so I'm trying to figure out where to find affordable housing. Is there a Brooklyn-like area, where you can trade "reasonable" rent for a more seedy or dangerous neighborhood?)

I would stick to the red line. The green line is notoriously unreliable (there won't be a train for a long time and then three right after one another), and they can be ridiculously packed too.

For what you are describing, I would try South Boston or certain areas of Dorchester. Use caution with both as far as neighborhood, but you can get some great deals w/some beautifully renovated places right on the red line. If you live in the Savin Hill area or closer it is really fast to get into town. Try:

http://www.athomeboston.com/

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(Might be going to Harvard next year, so I'm trying to figure out where to find affordable housing. Is there a Brooklyn-like area, where you can trade "reasonable" rent for a more seedy or dangerous neighborhood?)

You might try East Cambridge for cheaper, not as nice housing. There is a free shuttle between the Cambridge Side Galleria mall and the Kendell MIT redline stop during the weekdays (And Kendell/MIT is 2 stops-or 10minutes from Harvard Square, once the train comes). It's about a 15-20 minute walk to Kendel from the Cambridge Side Galleria in good weather.

Also, Inman square has pretty good sized/priced apartments but it's in a subway-less, pocket neighborhood between Central Square (red line) and East Cambridge. The busses at Inman are not bad. In nice weather, it's a 15-20 minute walk to Central (which is also a bit on the seedy-looking side, though an interesting, albeit overpriced neighborhood for how run down it is.) Inman also has some very good little bars and restaurants, including Dali's Tapas restaurant, Oleana, which is Mediteranean and Punjabi Dhaba, which most Indians I know give a thumbs up to for really good Indian food. There is also the world-famous-at-least-in-Cambridge Bukowski's super-dive bar near Inman. Both East Cambridge and Inman have most of the city's Brazilian concentration, so there are many little bars and restaurants that reflect that. Prices for eating and drinking are more reasonable at Inman and Union Square than the rest of Boston and Cambridge in my opinion.

The major increase in crime you can expect in these neighborhoods is break-ins, since houses are all very close together with easy access in the back and the side. Also, there are alot of pan handlers near Central, but I never feel terribly unsafe there, but I do know several people who's house has been robbed. No big screen TV and no cash and you're golden.

Union Square is another option if you don't mind bussing it. It's another of those no-subway access lost neighborhoods between Cambridge and Somerville.

Dorchester is pretty far from Cambridge, though it is on the red-line, and though I haven't checked the stats, my sense is that they have much more of the city's violent crime. The particular street you live on makes a big difference, though. The Savin Hill area of Dorchester, near the red-line, has some fairly nice neighborhoods and Dorchester Ave near the JFK Umass stop is also pretty nice, thought the traffic is pretty attrocious, since one, tiny, winding, two-lane street is pretty much all that links it to the city proper.

If you are willing to travel that far, try Arlington or Fresh Pond near Alewife. These are more suburban without the convenience of city/cafe culture, but cheaper rent.

Someone else on this thread mentioned Watertown already, which also links rather conveniently to Harvard by bus and is a cheaper though quite safe neighborhood.

Alston/Brighton has also been mentioned and is very accessible by bus, but tends to be an undergrad party heaven and, in my opinion overpriced and run down. Plus, bedbugs are not uncommon there recently.

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Apartments near Porter/Davis: sorry, I can't recommend any...unless you want to move into mine next year, but it might be on the wrong side of Davis for you, and you'd need 4 flatmates ;)

Weather: what's so bad about winter? So it's cold and it snows, I like it. The biggest problem is people who don't salt or shovel their sidewalks, so when you do get those 50 degree days it's like you're walking on a thawing pond. Grr argh public nuisances.

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I just got accepted to Northeastern for the fall. I've never even been to Boston and I have no idea where to start. Any tips or advice (especially the best location for housing) would be really appreciated!

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For Northeastern, I'd recommend searching on Craig's List in Brookline, Allston/Brighton (though there are lots of undergrads in this area), or Jamaica Plain. You'll have a much easier time finding a room in an established apartment. It's rare to find a studio apt for under $900/month. Perhaps the SLP department could link you up with other students who are looking for a roommate.

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Where's a good place to live near the school of medicine? I've never been to Boston. Money is sort of an object, but I still want to be in a nice area and get easily to school via walking or a very quick bus ride or something, so I'm definitely willing to pay more for that.

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This thread has been very helpful already.

If I go to Harvard, my husband is coming too, and it's hard to tell where he might end up working. He will be involved in theater and arts in some way, so that means he'll need to be able to get in and out of central Boston in the evening hours. I have friends in Watertown, which seems quite convenient to Harvard, but does it start to get annoying to get from Watertown to Boston? Or from Boston to Watertown at 11:00 at night? I know the T shuts down early, but what about the busses?

Ideally, we'd live without a car. We've lived in San Francisco for several years, so when Bostonians complain about driving and parking, I really can't imagine it being significantly worse than what we're used to. Same with crime. We've seen drive-bys, drug wars, riots, idiot cops, tweakers, crackheads, shootings, etc. So we're not overly concerned with living in the safest possible neighborhood since we know how to stay out of trouble.

I guess the question is, how far is too far? And would we feel out of the loop if we lived somewhere like Dorchester? Are there corner stores/bodegas in all these surrounding towns? How far do you go before you really have to have a car to get TP or basic groceries? How far can you go before you start to hate commuter purgatory?

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Dorchester is pretty far from Cambridge, though it is on the red-line, and though I haven't checked the stats, my sense is that they have much more of the city's violent crime. The particular street you live on makes a big difference, though. The Savin Hill area of Dorchester, near the red-line, has some fairly nice neighborhoods and Dorchester Ave near the JFK Umass stop is also pretty nice, thought the traffic is pretty attrocious, since one, tiny, winding, two-lane street is pretty much all that links it to the city proper.

If you are willing to travel that far, try Arlington or Fresh Pond near Alewife. These are more suburban without the convenience of city/cafe culture, but cheaper rent.

Someone else on this thread mentioned Watertown already, which also links rather conveniently to Harvard by bus and is a cheaper though quite safe neighborhood.

Alston/Brighton has also been mentioned and is very accessible by bus, but tends to be an undergrad party heaven and, in my opinion overpriced and run down. Plus, bedbugs are not uncommon there recently.

You get to Harvard Square from JFK/UMass in 21 minutes. Alewife is only 8 minutes, but I found that there were more reasonable (and nice) apartments available in the Dorchester/South Boston area that were very close to the T than around Alewife.

The bus from Harvard Ave (in the middle of the Allston student slums) takes 27 minutes and the T takes 44 (that's if you can get on the first try).

I just think it is a neighborhood that is really overlooked ;)

Boston is a small city...my husband and I used to take walks from Savin Hill to Harvard Square or to the Kendall/MIT area. At a leisurely pace and stopping, to chat, browse, etc. it took at most two hours.

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