Where To Live, In and Around Boston
Our agents are experts on all of the following communities. Each of these areas offers distinctive characteristics that attract its residents. We have provided a guide below to help you find the area that best suits your needs and lifestyle. If you have any questions about these communities, please contact Gibson Sotheby's International Realty today and one of our knowledgeable agents can assist you.
Boston Real Estate:
Allston is a diverse and thriving hub of activity. Largely populated by students and young families, Allston caters to the individual looking for larger space at lower cost. Its streets are largely populated by specialty ethnic grocery stores, discount furniture shops, thrift stores, casual eateries, and live music venues. It is served by many bus lines, as well as the MBTA Green line.
The Back Bay lays claim to some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston. A stroll down Newbury Street will take you from haute couture to haute cuisine, offering exclusive fashion boutiques and elegant restaurants with world renowned chefs. Commonwealth Avenue has some of the most elegant townhouses in the city, along with the pedestrian-friendly Commonwealth Avenue Mall - a picturesque, tree-lined green, dotted with sculptures and park benches. Marlborough Street has become a lovely refuge from the bustling shops. Back Bay is also home to the Public Gardens, Boston Common, the Charles River Esplanade and the historic Boston Public Library. For more information on living in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood check out our Back Bay neighborhood blog.
Over the years, Bay Village has been known as the Church Street District, South Cove and Kerry Village. Many of the homes look like smaller versions of Beacon Hill townhouses because the craftspeople who built the Beacon Hill residences settled in this area and built local residences for their own use. It once housed major players in the film industry such as MGM, RKO and Pathe. In 1983, the City Council enacted an ordinance forbidding exterior alterations in Bay Village without the approval of a Historic District Commission. It is a charming neighborhood and is convenient to Back Bay, Downtown and the South End.
The beacon on this hill that used to warn settlers about foreign invasions is long gone, and today Beacon Hill is a close-knit community in a downtown location. The neighborhood's cobblestone streets and brick rowhouses directly border the Boston Common and the Public Garden, American's first botanical garden. The gold leaf of the State House Rotunda adorns the hill and shines across the Common. The base of the hill is home to Charles Street, with its charming boutiques, antique shops, specialty grocery stores and romantic dining establishments. This historic neighborhood offers some of the finest classic Boston architecture, including Louisburg Square.
Brighton is similar to neighboring Allston, but with a little less activity. The neighborhood, which is primarily populated by graduate students, young professionals and families, consists of an intricate network of streets lined with houses and small apartment buildings. Local family businesses mix with national chains of pharmacies and banks along Brighton's Washington Street, which runs straight through Brighton Center to Oak Square.
Charlestown, located at the head of Boston Harbor, is essentially a 19th century village with 16th century roots. Its historical heritage has given it a charming gaslit ambience that is appealing to young professionals who have recently moved to the neighborhood, joining families who have lived in Charlestown for generations. Charlestown’s streets are lined with townhouses and workers cottages, as well as modern condominiums that are either newly constructed or converted from historic buildings. The Navy Yard and the adjacent harborfront are also home to many condos and offices, as well as numerous businesses, Mass General Hospital, and of course an Urban National Park. All agree that it is convenient to take public transportation or Harbor Ferry to downtown Boston.
Chinatown is bordered by the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Boston Common. More than most other areas of Boston, it houses a wide range of restaurants, retail and office space. Residential properties co-exist with family owned and operated businesses, local institutions and some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. With four community murals and old ads still adorning the sides of brick buildings, a stroll through Chinatown is a cultural and historical journey through the past. Chinatown is also unique in due to its easy access via MBTA (orange, green, red and commuter rail lines are nearby) and major roadways.
Dorchester is Boston's largest neighborhood and also its oldest, founded a few months before the city itself. The neighborhood's historical diversity is exhibited in its architecture, from the old Victorian homes of wealthy Bostonians to the multi-family dwellings of later groups of immigrants. Today, Dorchester retains its diversity. Its main thoroughfare, Dorchester Avenue, connects many close-knit neighborhoods and thriving commercial districts. Some of its well known neighborhoods are Savin Hill, Wellesley Park, Jones Hill, Ashmont and Lower Mills. Dorchester is also home to the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the John F. Kennedy Library.
Downtown / Midtown
Downtown is really the heart of the city. It is bordered by Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the North End/Waterfront. Many companies and agencies have their headquarters in the area. Boston City Hall and the State House are also located here. The area comes alive each weekday around noontime as thousands of corporate business folks and other downtown employees break for lunch or run errands. It is home to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, two of Boston’s most famous tourist attractions. The Rose Kennedy Greenway offers a lovely eastern edge of the Downtown area.
East Boston is a very culturally diverse area. Though it is well known as home to the airport, East Boston is also full of wonderful stores and restaurants representing its different ethnic groups. Long-time Italian restaurants stand next to Brazilian cafes. Its housing is a mix of historic and new, with many three deckers lining its streets. In recent years, homeowners have been restoring the historic homes of the area to their former glory. It is accessible from the MBTA blue line.
Fenway / Kenmore
The Fenway, perhaps best known as the “home of the Red Sox”, is more than just a ballpark, it’s actually a dense urbanneighborhood with a considerable amount of green space (the "Fens"). Although the Fenway consists of a large number of college students, it also contains a significant population of professionals. Landsdowne Street, bordering the Mass Pike on the North and Fenway Park on the South, is home to many of Boston's most popular clubs and bars. Commonwealth Avenue offers a continuation of the townhouses of Back Bay. Fenway is also home to several universities, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If you spend time in the Fenway, make sure to keep your eyes open for the occasional home run ball that clears the green monster.
Tucked between the South End, Downtown, South Boston and the Seaport is Fort Point. Prior to the age of the automobile, Fort Point Channel was the critical link between docking ships and rail cars. Much of the land previously occupied by warehouses and manufacturing, has since been developed for residential use. Fort Point boasts magnificent lofts with open floor plans that feature elements of original architecture. Artist studios and modern furniture stores are now neighbored by some of the more trendy restaurants in the city.
Yes, Jamaica Plain is a part of the City of Boston; no, it is not its own town. Diversity is the strength of "JP," to which it is lovingly referred by residents. This rich diversity has created a strong character of social awareness and community activity among neighbors and residents. Centre Street and South Street are home to lots of small neighborhood shops and restaurants. You can rent a sailboat on Jamaica Pond or count hundreds of varieties of trees in the Arnold Arboretum. Don’t forget to see exotic animals at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Mission Hill was once filled with farms and most of the breweries in Boston. Today, Mission Hill is an architectural landmark district with a combination of freestanding houses built by early wealthy landowners, blocks of traditional brick row houses, and many triple-deckers. Many families and some students and staff from the nearby Longwood Medical Area come to Mission Hill for the affordable rents. A diverse community in proximity to downtown, Mission Hill offers its residents an excellent view of the city from an historic neighborhood.
The North End is most famous for its plethora of Italian restaurants and strong ties to Italian roots. With a different Italian Festival every weekend throughout the summer, there is rarely a dull moment in the North End. It is also home to the Old North Church, made famous by Paul Revere. Several recently built mid-rise buildings offer tremendous views of Boston Harbor, as well as access to nearby comedy clubs, restaurants and pastry shops.
A drive through Roxbury is both a history lesson and a tour of a modern urban neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, Roxbury has long thrived on its proximity to downtown while retaining its neighborhood qualities. Home to a great number of parks, schools and churches, a visitor can see Boston's history in the architecture and landmarks of the neighborhood. At the same time, Roxbury is a flourishing community with a multitude of housing options and a variety of ethnic shops.
Due to its prime location on Boston Harbor, the Seaport District of South Boston has seen revitalization over the last ten years. In addition to a variety of residential loft buildings, there are many new hotels and restaurants. It is also home to the Institute for Contemporary Art and the new Boston Convention Center. The Seaport offers outstanding views of the harbor, both of the sailboats on the water and the skyline of Downtown.
South Boston’s residents are famous in town for their love of and loyalty for their neighborhood. Southie, as it is referred to by locals, boasts miles of beaches and waterfront parks that culminate in Castle Island. There, visitors can enjoy the Revolutionary War era fort, get a bite to eat at Sullivan's, play in the playground, fish off the pier or simply take a stroll. South Boston is densely populated and is known for triple-deckers and row houses, but there are single family homes in the neighborhood too. South Boston is home to a great variety of bars, pubs and new restaurants. Year round, a visitor can find residents strolling up and down Broadway doing their shopping and greeting their neighbors.
The South End, with its blocks of Victorian brick row houses, upscale restaurants, and art galleries, has become one of the most popular places to live in Boston. It is a classic mix of old and new, and many of the row houses underwent renovation starting in the 1960s. Today, the neighborhood is filled with a diverse mix of families and young professionals and houses a culturally diverse community and a thriving artistic center. Trendy restaurants brush shoulders with coffee shops and Mom & Pop grocery stores along Tremont Street and its side streets all the way down to Washington Street, which is experiencing an artistic revival. To learn more about living in Boston's South End, check out our South End neighborhood blog.
Next to the North End sits a historic collection of wharfs along Boston's inner harbor, offering some of the most beautiful harbor views in the city. Many of the original buildings have been converted from warehouses into lofts and luxury condominiums. It is also home to the new Intercontinental hotel and luxury residences. Near to the North End, the Financial District, Haymarket and the Seaport, the Waterfront offers fine dining and shops along with splendid views of the ocean.
The West End, considerably impacted by Urban Renewal of the 1970s, is a small but significant community tucked behind Beacon Hill. Historically an ethnically diverse and vibrant neighborhood, the West End today is home to Massachusetts General Hospital. It is a popular residential neighborhood for medical staff from many nearby facilities, as well as professionals who work Downtown. It is home to Charles River Park, a high-rise residential community convenient to Beacon Hill.
Cities Beyond Boston:
The town of Andover is located in Essex County in the north eastern region of Massachusetts. It is located approximately 23 miles north of Boston and is located on the banks of the Merrimack River. Andover is bordered on the north by the cities of Lawrence and Methuen, on the east by the town of North Andover, on the south by the towns of North Reading and Wilmington, and on the west by the towns of Tewksbury and Dracut.
Named after the English town of Braintree in 1640, this city is the birthplace to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, as well as statesman John Hancock and General Sylvanus Thayer.
Brookline's evolution from an agricultural to a suburban residential community began when wealthy merchants purchased farms and built summer homes. As transportation routes were developed, Brookline became more readily accessible to Boston. It is home to world-class hospitals such as Children’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Brookline residents can enjoy strolls in local parks and shopping and entertainment in Coolidge Corner.
Across the river from Boston proper is Cambridge, home of prestigious universities like MIT and Harvard. With several distinct squares (Harvard Square, Central Square and Kendall Square), Cambridge’s diversity appeals to many people. It is also made convenient by the MBTA Red Line subway. Cambridge is home to a variety of unique restaurants and shops, as well as historically and culturally significant landmarks. Surrounding areas include Watertown, Somerville and the famous Charles River.
The Town of Canton is a primarily residential community conveniently situated 18 miles southwest of Boston. The town enjoys a prime location with easy and direct access to the state's major highways. Canton provides a high level of municipal services to its residents, including an excellent library, school system and recreation programs.
Well known for its historical relevance, Concord has a rich literary history as well. Concord was home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathanial Hawthorn and Henry David Thoreau. This significant collection of literary talent in one small town led Henry James to call Concord "the biggest little place in America." Bordered by the towns of Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Acton, Concord is only 19 miles from Boston and 23 miles from Nashua, NH. To learn more about living in Concord check out our Concord living blog.
As the second Town established by the General Court in 1635, Dedham is rich in history and culture and is the site of the earliest surviving framed house in New England, the handsome 1737 Fairbanks House. Dedham offers a very active Community House, Wilson Mountain Recreactional reservation, Home of Nobles & Greenough School, Urusline Academy, Dedham Country Day and the Rashi Jewish Day School.
Dover is a rural suburban community southwest of Boston. Incorporated in 1784, Dover relied on agriculture until the late 18th century when mills were developed. Since the late 19th century it has been a residential community with semi-rural character. Dover was ranked #1 in the Boston Magazine/Babson College survey of "the healthiest towns in greater Boston!" Thousands of acres of outdoor recreational areas sprinkled throughout the town.
Known to its residents as "the gem of Norfolk County," Foxboro prides itself on its small town community feeling. The town is well-known as the home of the New England Patriots National Football League franchise.
The Town of Framingham is located mid-way between Boston and Worcester and is the hub of the Metro-West region. Framingham offers a unique blend of urban and rural qualities. The vibrant retail area along Route 9 lies close by quiet residential areas and the town common. The historic strengths of the town have been its location and its people.
The Town of Franklin is a suburban industrial community on the watershed between the Charles and the Blackstone Rivers and is one of the highest towns in Norfolk County. Franklin named itself in 1778 to honor Benjamin Franklin.
The town's history is reflected in its many immaculately kept antique houses. Hingham is divided into six historic districts which will help the town maintain its unique character in the future. Hingham is proud of its location on the water, and construction of a new harbor park further expands the public use of Hingham Harbor.
Home to Walden Pond and the Minuteman National Historic Park, Lincoln is a small community with heritage in agriculture, land preservation and historical significance. Close to Waltham, Cambridge and Lexington, Lincoln has a commuter rail stop on the Fitchburg line. Lincoln is also home to the famous deCordova sculpture park and museum. Additionally, Boston Magazine named Lincoln-Sudbury High School one of the top 20 public high schools in Massachusetts in its September 2010 issue.
Medfield is a small but affluent community located 17 miles southwest of Boston. Medfield has a lot of old Colonial charm, originally founded in June of 1650 and was the 43rd incorporated town in the state of Massachusetts. The Medfield public school system has continually ranked among the top ten school systems in the state, offering five public schools and one private school. The town offers residents many amenities, including a nearly 500 acre reservation, several museums and numerous historical sites.
Milford offers many advantages to residents and visitors alike: an education system with modern facilities and excellent curriculum, newly constructed/rehabilitated municipal buildings, playing fields and parks for active/passive recreation, major shopping malls, a revitalized downtown, a Cultural Center, a regional hospital and a variety of restaurants and hotels.
Milton is an affluent suburban community between the Neponset River and the Blue Hills. Boston investors, seeing the potential of the town and its proximity to the city, provided the capital to develop 18th century Milton as an important industrial site with an iron slitting mill, paper and sawmills and the first chocolate factory in New England in 1764. Milton’s public school system is known for its French Immersion program and the town is home of Milton Academy. Its Blue Hills Reservation recreational area stretches over 7,000 acres.
Natick is a suburban industrial center on the upper basin of the Charles and Concord Rivers with an extensive complex of ponds. The town has become an industrial Boston-oriented suburban community with heavy strip development on Route 9.
The Town of Needham is located on rocky uplands within a loop of the Charles River, almost isolated from the surrounding countryside. Modern Needham remains a pleasant heavily suburban community with good access to Boston for commuters and a significant number of local job slots.
Newton, known as the Garden City, is a diverse, vibrant community comprised of 14 villages. Newton is desirable as a place to live and work due to its proximity and easy access to Boston, its attractive neighborhoods and its high property values. Newton is also highly regarded for its well-run municipal government and a strong, nationally-recognized school system.
Major corporations have found Norwood's proximity to Boston and access to major east coast population centers to be attractive for business. The town is now considered one of the more important manufacturing, suburban-residential, and wholesale and retail trade centers south of Boston.
Known by outsiders as the City of Presidents, Quincy is known by residents as an urban commercial and business center serving surrounding towns. Linked to Boston by rapid transit, Quincy has some characteristics of a suburban bedroom community, while retaining the earmarks of an urban center with its strong commercial and shopping areas.
Fifteen miles south of Boston, lies Randolph, a town whose location has been an important factor in its economic and social history. Today, as Randolph celebrates two full centuries as a town, the community feels itself to be one of the most culturally diverse municipalities on the South Shore.
Sharon is a beautiful small town located in Norfolk County in Massachusetts. In 2010, holding a population of just over 17,500, Sharon is the ideal place to live for those who intend to commute to work in Boston. Being a part of ‘Greater Boston’, Sharon lies only 17 miles southwest of the Hub. With 24.2 square miles of its own territory, Sharon embodies everything one would hope for with a small town feel while still being mere minutes to large shopping and dining areas, sporting events and the rest that comes with the bigger city lifestyle.
Somerville lies next to Cambridge and is a lively and fun place to live. With Davis Square and the Minuteman Trail, Somerville offers single and multi-family neighborhoods with metropolitan flare. Davis Square offers live music, restaurants and cultural venues.
With nearly 25% of the town covered by the Sudbury Reservoir, Southborough has retained a low density rural/suburban character. Located in the heart of New England and crossed by major highways, Southborough is a convenient location for both residence and business.
The Town of Stoughton is a medium sized suburban community with lots of diversity. Stoughton is a very comfortable community in which to live and work and has excellent schools.
One of the original colonial settlements, founded in 1639, Sudbury has retained its quaint, bucolic feel. Sudbury was largely a farming community. It is now primarily a residential community. Lincoln-Sudbury High School is a well-regarded institution, which was ranked #20 in Boston Magazine's top Masachusetts high school chart for 2010.
Walpole is a small town located about 18 miles west of Boston. It has a charming colonial neighborhood feel. First settled in 1659, it was originally considered to be part of Dedham until officially incorporated into the Commonwealth in 1724.
The own offers many parks, athletic fields and walking paths. The Francis William Bird Park is located in Walpole, which offers many tree groves, ponds, old granite bridges, grassy meadows and biking paths to its residents. This park is particularly active during the spring and summer months and offers many fun activities for small children
Walpole is located on the Franklin / Forgepark commuter rail line and offers two MBTA stops for those who commute into Boston.
Wayland was the first settlement of Sudbury Plantation in 1639. It became known a the town of East Sudbury and was incorporated on April 10, 1780. Finally on March 11, 1835, the farming community of East Sudbury became Wayland is a lovely Colonial town neighboring Sudbury and Weston. The Sudbury River winds through the western portion of the town.
As a part of the Greater Boston area, Wellesley is surrounded by Newton, Weston, Needham, Dover and Natick. It is well known for both Wellesley and Babson College, but also has a well regarded public education service. In 2007 Wellesley High School was ranked the 70th best public high school in the country (U.S. News & World Report). The town has a small Historic District and most of the houses in this district were built around the 1860s, making them protected buildings certified by the town's historic commission.
West Roxbury bordered by Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. Its main thoroughfare is Centre Street, lined with great local restaurants and commercial establishments. Today, the neighborhood's tree-lined streets and mostly single family homes give it a suburban feel in an urban setting.
Weston is the wealthiest suburb in the Boston area and has the highest per capita income in Massachusetts. Weston is among the 100 most affluent towns with 1,000 or more households in the United States. Weston also has the number one public school system in Massachusetts, according to Boston Magazine (2009).
The Town of Weston is an attractive suburban town on the perimeter of metropolitan Boston. The public education services of the town are well regarded, especially Weston High School; in 2007 it was ranked 60th best public high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, earning a Gold Medal. Historically, Weston was incorporated in 1714 and remained a dry down from 1838-2008.
In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Westwood 13th on its list of the 100 Best Places to live in the United States. The 11.1 square miles of Westwood is surrounded by Needham, Dedham, Canton, Norwood, Walpole and Dover. Largely populated by families, Westwood has five elementary schools and a new high school. The high school includes a multi-use artificial turf field and a synthetic track, both of which are open to the public. Westwood is home of Xavarian Brother’s High School. Westwood also boasts the Hale Reservation recreational area, which stretches over 1,100 acres between Westwood and Dover.
Weymouth is the second oldest town in the Commonwealth and the site of the first town meeting. As a coastal community, Weymouth provides much in recreational activity. The town offers an extensive program in water safety and swimming instruction and boaters can enjoy the waters of Quincy and Hingham Bays.