Category Archives: Explore

EXPLORE: Living in Somerville

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It’s the city known for its zany festivals, hipsters, and arguably more artists per capita than most of the East Coast. Meet Somerville, one of the most densely populated cities in the country with just over four square miles to work with. Its enviable location is only two miles from Boston’s city center and close to popular Cambridge sites like Porter and Inman Squares. From its roots as a revolutionary hotspot to an industrial juggernaut, it’s now setting into its status as a vibrant, community-centered location with a bright future ahead.

History

Somerville first began as part of Charlestown when it was settled by British colonists in 1630. More than a century later, Somerville played a vital role in the American Revolution where it saw one of the first hostile acts by British soldiers at The Old Powder House, which is still standing today; it’s also the home of the first official raising of the American flag at Prospect Hill, critical for its views of Boston proper.

In 1842 Somerville officially separated from Charlestown and became its own township, and, due to the booming factory growth in the area, was incorporated as a city in 1872. Today, it’s undergoing a renewal renaissance, where it’s preserving its industrial past and crafting an innovative culture of forward-thinking residents with fierce pride for their city.

Urban Planning

Named Best-Run City in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe, Somerville packs an urban-planning punch only two miles from the Boston city center. It’s won the All-American City award three times since 1972 for its ideal walking and biking routes, and cities throughout Massachusetts and New England look to become “the next Somerville” in terms of its roaring success in residential initiatives.

Each square in Somerville not only holds a place in US history but offers present-day dining and shopping attractions as well. Assembly Square, Davis Square, and Union Square each have their own sub-cultures and worth at least a visit for their individual charms.

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Claims to Fame

Somerville’s deep roots in industrial work left behind a legacy as the birthplace of many products and well-known store chains. Marshmallow Fluff, for example, was first invented in Somerville; thousands flock to Somerville every year for its annual “What the Fluff?” festival that celebrates it and other Somerville creations.

With Somerville practically surrounded by water, it’s easy to visit renowned markers like the Mystic River, which is nationally known and referenced in poetry and film.  Other attractions range from historically renowned sites to institutions like Brooklyn Boulders and the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville Theatre.

Need more convincing? Somerville lies a stone’s throw away from Tufts University, only bested by MIT and Harvard as best university in Massachusetts. On a national scale, Forbes ranks Tufts within the top twenty due to its high caliber programs and internationalism.

Transportation

With Red and Orange Line connections, Somerville is easily accessible from Cambridge and Boston by both rail and bus routes via the MBTA. For further convenience, Somerville will soon have a place on the Green Line as well through the Green Line extension project, set to be completed in 2021.

Somerville is highly walkable and bike able with ideal grid routes, a rare and unusual trait for a city this close to Boston. Popular routes include the Somerville Community Path, which runs from Davis Square to the Cambridge border near Lechmere Square. Companies like Hubway have partnered with Somerville to support cycling and bicycle infrastructure with more than 300 bike parking spots and other initiatives.

Housing

Somerville’s Davis Square and Winter Hill areas have seen the highest increases in price over the past decade, seeing prices jump over sixty percent in both areas. Somerville is also a great location for singles as over half its residents are unmarried.

Due to excitement over the Green Line extension and its urban planning success, Somerville is rapidly becoming a valuable choice for homeowners and investors. Trendgraphix sets the average price of a single family home today at $789,000, an increase from the average price of $461,000 in 2007.

EXPLORE: Living in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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As one of the most sought-after places in greater Boston to reside, Cambridge has ample charm to go along with its history and intellectual fame. First established when America was still under British rule, it has aged so gracefully that its ivory towers and historical churches blend seamlessly with its thriving science and technology hubs. Combine all of these perks with easy access to the Hub of the Universe and Cambridge becomes a city almost unbeatable in its desirability.

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Cambridge is most distinguishable on a global scale for being the home of multiple top universities. Harvard University, established a year after Cambridge itself, is America’s first established university and needs no further introduction at the top of the Ivy League and the world’s most prestigious institutions. Its intimate ties with Cambridge shines best with the ample amount of cultural, scientific, and artistic museums and events available to the public.

A mere five-minute subway ride from Harvard lies the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose specialties in STEM education has brought a slew of advancements for the world at large. MIT’s focus on innovation has left its mark on Cambridge in everything from its quirky architecture to proffered programs and collections available for viewing.

As if two of the most prominent educational institutions weren’t enough, Cambridge packs itself with more academic power in schools including Lesley University and Hult International Business School. This amount of college-educated professionals serves the greater Boston area well, securing its place as one of the most educated metro areas in the country.

Attractions

Steeped in colonial history, Cambridge is a hotbed of historical architecture with residences, churches, and other buildings that stretch back hundreds of years. Highlights include Christ Church on Garden Street, a National Historic Landmark, as well as the Longfellow House on Brattle Street, which served as headquarters for General George Washington before it housed one of America’s greatest poets.

Looking for something a bit more contemporary? There are low-cost events offered daily via Harvard and MIT. Lectures, film screenings, festivals, and more can be found unfolding throughout both campuses. Additionally, their breadth of museums – including the List Visual Arts Center, Harvard Art Museums, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History – provide rotating exhibits and content for all ages to enjoy.

Transportation

Cambridge has several transportation options for visitors and residents: the MBTA offers service on the Green Line, Red Line, and with multiple bus routes that crisscross the city. On the commuter rail, the Porter Square stop connects Cambridge with both Boston and its father western suburbs.

With one in every four Cambridge residents (or 24%) commuting to work on foot, the walking paths and infrastructure are incomparable. With paths along its many squares and the Charles River, it’s no wonder it was named the Best US City for Walking.

Dining and Shopping

It’s earned the nickname “The City of Squares” for a good reason: Cambridge hosts a number of town squares, each with its own personality and mini-culture. Lechmere Square is best known for the Galleria Mall and just steps away from the Museum of Science. Kendall Square, also home to the MIT campus, is known as “the most innovative square mile on the planet” due to the high concentration of start-ups it houses. In contrast, Harvard Square holds court as the historic center of Cambridge. For a square that boasts more ethnic restaurants and live music venues, Central Square is the official Culture District to flock to.

For every square there’s a particular gem that’s a must-visit for both natives and newcomers. Check out the Garment District in Kendall Square after eating at Catalyst. Celebrate your offbeat find from Harvard Square’s Black Ink with a cocktail from the Russell House Tavern. Savor some ice cream at Toscanini’s after picking up a book from Seven Stars in Central Square. No matter your preference, Cambridge has a restaurant and store that’s sure to be your favorite.

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The average price of a single family home is roughly $1.9 million, according to Trendgraphix, making it one of the most expensive markets in the Boston area. Due to its surplus of college students and young professionals, more than sixty five percent of Cambridge units are rented.

Cambridge real estate has historically been highly valued due to its proximity to prestigious universities and to downtown Boston. Its diverse community and extensive opportunities further cement it as a highly attractive location for real estate interests.

To learn more about Cambridge and see the latest listings in the area, click here.

EXPLORE: Living in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

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With a very different style that distinguishes itself from more traditional Boston neighborhoods, exhibited by their eclectic restaurants and avant-garde charm, it’s hard to categorize Jamaica Plain, or JP as locals call it, as it is so unique.

Home to many of the jewels in the “Emerald Necklace”, Jamaica Plain has an abundance of green space for the outdoor enthusiast. This, combined with its artsy flair, easy access to downtown, and community feel make Jamaica Plain a top destination for Boston area residents.

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Outdoor Attractions
Once called the “Eden of America,” Jamaica Plain is bursting with natural beauty. The Arnold Arboretum, which is maintained by Harvard University, encompasses over 281 acres of unique horticulture. In addition to the Arboretum, Franklin Park, home of the Franklin Park Zoo, is known as Boston’s largest public park*. While technically not in JP, it does border almost the entire east side of the neighborhood and allots JP residents easy access to walking trails, golfing, playgrounds, sports areas, and more. Other outdoor attractions include Olmsted Park and Jamaica Pond, which are also a part of the “Emerald Necklace”.47 Holbrook Aerial

Housing
Close to Northeastern University, Longwood Medical Area, and Wheelock College, JP attracts a diverse population including students, young professionals, and families who call it home. Together with JP’s established community, they have formed an energetic and open-minded community. According to Trendgraphix, the average price for single-family and condo homes over the last year was $580,000 making this one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Boston.

Transportation
As one of the first “streetcar suburbs” in America, JP is an ideal commuter location with access to commuter rail connections, bus routes, and both the Green and Orange Line trains.

JP is also known for hosting numerous bicycle paths such as the Pierre Lallement Path which runs from Forest Hills to Back Bay, where you can hook into other bike paths depending on your destination. In addition, there are several other pathways that wind along the Jamaicaway and Riverway for a scenic ride into Brookline, Fenway/Kenmore, or the Longwood Medical Center.

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Dining and Entertainment
Foodies rejoice – Jamaica Plain’s restaurant scene is unbeatable, catering to every palate and budget while retaining top-notch charm. Local favorites include JP Seafood Café, Tres Gatos, Noodle Barn, and City Feed for their spectacular meals and atmospheres. jamaica-plain-best-of-71-of-89After enjoying lunch or dinner wander into a bakery or café for fantastic dessert options, like the cupcakes from Monumental Cupcakes and the celebrated ice cream flavors at JP Licks.

Even with its level of trendy restaurants and modern taste, Jamaica Plain still holds on to its historical roots via notable attractions and events throughout the year including exhibits and concerts at the Loring-Greenough House, community theatre at the Footlight Club and art exhibits at the Hallway Gallery.

To learn more about Jamaica Plain and see the latest listings in the area, click here.

*according to Boston.gov and Wikipedia,
Jamaica Plain image courtesy of Agent BJ Ray

EXPLORE: Living in Newton, Massachusetts

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Recently rated by Money Magazine as one of the top places to live in America, Newton Massachusetts is one of the most sought after communities in the Greater Boston Area.  Located minutes from Boston on the Mass. Pike, Newton offers its residents the convenience of city living in a more suburban environment.

The Villages of Newton

The City of Newton offers thirteen distinct villages, most with their own town center and all with their own character. The villages are Auburndale, Chestnut Hill, Newton Centre, Newton Corner, Newton Highlands, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Upper Falls, Newtonville, Nonantum, Oak Hill, Thompsonville, Waban and West Newton.

Housing

Due to the high ranks and quality of life in Newton, it does come at a premium cost. According to Trendgraphix Data pulled from MLSPIN, the town’s single family prices average over $1.2MM (Apr-Jun 2016), and single family homes ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet will run between $800,000 to $900,000.

There are also both MBTA Commuter Stops as well as Green Line T stations that offer ease of access into Boston. “Newton is very often at the top of a buyer’s list of desired locations,” states Jon Ufland, Broker/Owner of Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty. “The easily accessible location and great schools are always a big attraction.”

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Newton offers several different options when it comes to public transportation including bus routes, MBTA commuter rail and the green line train.

Recreation and Entertainment

Newton has a lot of offer its residents that enjoy the outdoors including many public playgrounds, parks a swimming pool that is open in the summer as well as Crystal Lake.  Other popular parks include Auburndale Cove and Cold Spring.

When it comes time to eat, Newton does not fall short of a lengthy list of dining establishments. Restaurants of all types of food and ethnicity can be found scattered throughout the city. Here are some of our favorites. For dining: Brio, Lumiere, Sycamore, Farmstead Table, The Farm Grill and Rotisserie and Fiorella’s. For a bite: Rox Diner, Village Café, Buffs Pub, Paddy’s and O’Hara’s. For pizza: Max and Leo’s and Bill’s Pizza. And for a tasty treat: Cabot’s has delicious ice cream!

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There’s plenty to see and do around town. The Shops at Chestnut Hill and Chestnut Hill Square offer a wide variety of retail, dining and shopping options. For those who are museum goers, Jackson Homestead and Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds are popular destinations.

To learn more about Newton and see the latest listings in the area, click here.

“Article information gathered is provided by Boston.com and their sources. This article was written by a third party and is deemed accurate but not guaranteed.”

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EXPLORE: Living in Brookline, Massachusetts

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Living in Brookline, Massachusetts

If Brookline, MA is on your radar as a potential place to live then it is clear how much it has to offer for a quality lifestyle. In fact, a report conducted last year by “Niche” ranked Brookline as the best suburban community in the entire country based on livability. The high grade was based on things including safety, weather, schools, access to activities, jobs, transportation and housing.

The charming town of Brookline is hard to beat with its amenities, character and close proximity to Boston. From popular villages with great restaurants and shopping to grand homes in the shadow of The Country Club Brookline makes for a great place to live. The Country Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious country clubs in the United States. It holds an important place in golf history, as it is one of the five charter clubs that founded the United States Golf Association, and has hosted numerous USGA tournaments including the 1913 U.S. Open won by then-unknown Francis Ouimet. Today, the club has nearly 1300 members.*

Here is a collection of notable facts about the town of Brookline.

Historic Districts

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Brookline has seven historic districts throughout the town. Preserved by the Brookline Preservation Commission, any design changes to historic structures requires approval by the group. Historic homes are peppered throughout Brookline’s diverse inventory of housing stock. The great mix includes apartments, condos, single-family homes and attached homes offering something for everyone. Take advantage of one of the many walking tours around these districts to admire the beautiful real estate.

The Real Estate

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Due to the high ranks and quality of life in Brookline, it does come at a premium cost. According to Trengraphix Data pulled from MLSPIN, the town’s single family and condo prices have increased over 17% when compared to the same quarter last year (Mar-May 2016 vs. Mar-May 2015).

The walk-ability and public transportation options are also a large value to the real estate in the area. Namely Coolidge Corner, Brookline Village, Washington Square, Fisher Hill and Cleveland Circle are among the sought after areas with their close proximity to buses and the MBTA Green Line.

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There are many things to do all over Brookline, but according to Trip Advisor, visiting the Coolidge Corner Theater is one of the top things to do. Originally built as a church in 1906, it was later repurposed as a theater in 1933 and continues to operate today. It is a great place to catch a current film or even one of the older films being featured from time to time.

Before you settle in at the movies, be sure to take advantage of many of the great eateries that are located in Coolidge Corner. Grab an authentic crepe at the Paris Creperie or a slice of pizza from Otto Pizza. Many shops that line the street offer great window shopping in between.

Lars Anderson Park

Lars Anderson Park

Lifestyle for Children

There is no shortage of great schools for kids in Brookline. In fact, all of Brookline’s schools rank very high according to the “Great Schools” rating scale. In particular, Lawrence School and Michael Driscoll School both rank 10 out of 10 on the scale.

When the kids are not in class, take them over to the Larz Anderson Park and admire the classic cars at one of their infamous lawn events. The Brookline Public Library and Allandale Farm both offer additional programs for children to take part in.

Popular Attractions

Among the popular attractions in Brookline is the John F. Kennedy birthplace where you can take a guided tour of the home where he was born. If history is your passion then visit the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and view the office and walk the grounds.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR CURRENT BROOKLINE LISTINGS

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Brookline Public Library

“Article information gathered is provided by Boston.com and their sources. This article was written by a third party and is deemed accurate but not guaranteed.”
*According to Wikipedia.

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