9 Best Places to Live in Boston

By Betsy Burlingame and Braden Wood

GeoBlue International Health Insurance

Expat families, foreign students and retirees love living in Boston, Massachusetts. This city has a neighborhood or suburb for everyone. Here are 9 of the best neighborhoods and suburbs according to expats living in Boston.

Moving to the US - 9 Best Places to Live in Boston

  1. Back Bay
  2. Beacon Hill
  3. Cambridge
  4. Charlestown
  5. Brookline
  6. Newton
  7. Needham
  8. Wellesley
  9. Hingham

1. Back Bay

Population: approx: 23,000
Public Schools: Boston Public School system, closest public School options: Snowden International School at Copley (public high school, IB program, approx. 480 students), Quincy Upper School (public middle/high school, grades 6-12, approx 530 students) in Chinatown.

Back Bay is one of Boston's most beautiful neighborhoods. The shops, restaurants and bars on Newbury Street are at the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood. Back Bay stretches about 2 miles from west to east starting near Kenmore Square (Fenway Park) and ending at Boston Common. Newbury Street is a touristy area, but nearby residential streets like Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street and Marlborough Street are the type of streets that make people fall in love with the idea of living in Boston.

There are three schools with IB programs in or near Back Bay. The Newman School is a small, 7-12 grade private school with an IB program and boarding options that is located in the heart of the Back Bay. Snowden International School at Copley is located in Back Bay and offers the IB Diploma Program (DP) and Quincy Upper School is located in nearby Chinatown offers both the IB Middle Years Program and the IB Diploma Program. Other private schools in Back Bay include Commonwealth School,

Based upon recent sales, apartments in Back Bay range from mid to high 800s for an updated 1 bed/1 bath to 1.3M for 2 bed/2 bath apartments. If you have the budget to buy a beautiful brownstone, it will cost you 6-15M.

Boston Sports Club's Boylston location has an indoor pool and workout facilities. Greater Boston YMCA has nearby locations (with swimming pools) in Chinatown and on Huntington Avenue. Members have access to all of the Greater Boston YMCA locations. Other fitness clubs in the area include btone fitness (yoga, pilates, bootcamps), Equinox Dartmouth Street (cycling, yoga, boxing) and The Tennis & Racquet Club (tennis, squash, hardracquets, fitness).

Restaurant Recommendations: Enjoy an amazing burger in an unexpectedly upscale atmosphere (without the high prices) at Capital Burger, have brunch at Friendly Toast and have lunch at Eately.

2. Beacon Hill

Population: approx: 9,500
Public Schools: Boston Public School system, closest public School options: Snowden International School at Copley (public high school, IB program, approx. 480 students), Quincy Upper School (public middle/high school, grades 6-12, approx. 530 students) in Chinatown and Charlestown High School (public, 9-12, approx. 800 students).

Beacon Hill Boston

Beacon Hill is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the United States. Many of this historic neighborhood's cobble stone streets are still lit with gas lights. Boston's two most popular parks, Boston Public Garden and Boston Common lie within Beacon Hill.

There are a few private schools in Beacon Hill: Torit Montessori School (private, grades 1 through 6), Park Street School (private, pre-k-6) and The Advent School (private. pre-k through 6).

Restaurant Recommendations: House hunting in Beacon Hill? Stop by Figs memorable pizza (try the crispy calamari pizza), get a cup of clam chowder at 75 Chestnut and Grotto for mouth-watering Italian food.

3. Cambridge

Population: approx: 120,000
Public Schools: 12 elementary schools (1 of which is k-8), 4 middle schools and 1 primary high school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin (approx. 1950 students).

Cambridge
Harvard Square

The home of Harvard, MIT and Lesley University, Cambridge is directly across the river (Charles River) from downtown Boston and is so close that it feels like it's part of the city. You can take the subway, called the T in Boston, which takes about about 15 minutes. Or, you can walk across the Charles via the Boston University, Harvard or Longfellow Bridges. Cambridge has 13 different neighborhoods: East Cambridge, MIT, Wellington-Harrington, The Port, Cambridgeport, Mid-Cambridge, Riverside, Agassiz, Neighborhood Nine, West Cambridge, North Cambridge, Cambridge Highlands and Strawberry Hill (source: Cambridge Development Department).

In addition to the public schools mentioned above, Cambridge has two public charter schools: Community Charter School of Cambridge (6-12) and Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (pre-k through 12th). Cambridge has a number of private schools. Most notably for expats, International School of Boston (ISB) is a bilingual French and English school that offers both the French Baccalaureate and International Baccalaureate Tracks. Additionally, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (pre-k through 12) and The Cambridge Matignon School (Catholic, 9-12th grades) are popular choices.

Based upon recent sales, apartments in Cambridge range from high 900s for centrally-located, modern 2 bed/2 bath to 1.1 M for a nice single-family home -- and up to 15M for a mansion.

Cambridge Center for Adult Education offers language classes, acting classes, musical instrument instruction, cooking classes, wine/mixology classes and many others. It's a great way for newcomers to meet people. Gold Star Pool is the city's outdoor pool and costs $1 per person. Fresh Pond Golf Course is a public course that hosts numerous tournaments such as the Hot Dog Open and has several ladies leagues. There are also numerous youth sports leagues for basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading, track, baseball, softball and football. The War Memorial Recreation Center has indoor swimming pools, basketball gymnasium, weight room and outdoor tennis courts. Cambridge YMCA also has an indoor pool, gym, fitness center and classes and an indoor track. The Simoni Skating Rink has skating school, youth ice hockey and public skating. Lynch Family Skateboard Park is located on a once contanimated site under the Zakim Bridge that was turned into a skate park after years of planning and fundraising. Rowing clubs in Cambridge include Cambridge Boat Club and Riverside Boat Club.

Restaurant Recommendations: Enjoy an ice cream cone at JP Licks, a bagel from Bagelsaurus, tapas at Little Donkey, pizza or a sub from Pinnocchio's Pizza (an institution in Harvard Square). Vegan? Veggie Galaxy is the spot!

4. Charlestown

Population: approx. 20,000
Public Schools: 2 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 1 high school, Charlestown High School (approx. 920 students).

Newton

Charlestown is part of the north side of the city, located on a peninsula between the Charles and Mystic Rivers. It is a mostly residential neighborhood with a number of buildings on the water facing the skyline. Charlestown is known for a number of historical attractions, such as the Bunker Hill Momument, the USS Constitution, the USS Constitution Museum and St. Mary's church. The USS Constitution is the U.S. Navy's oldest commissioned ship, and is now utilized by the National Park Service as a historic attraction. Menino Park is also a popular location in Charlestown, which is open to the public and features a playground, and stretches of grass facing the water.

Residents of Charlestown enjoy year round skating and hockey at DCR Rink. In the summer, people swim at Clougherty Pool and take (affordable) tennis lessons through CHAD Tennis. BCYF Charlestown is a public community center with an indoor pool and fitness room. YMCA of Greater Boston has a location in on 3rd Avenue in Charleston with an indoor pool and fitness center. Harborview Health Club, located at Navy Yard, is private fitness club.

According to recent sales, home prices in Charlestown range from the low 700s for a nice 1 bed/1 bath with historic character to 1.5M for a 3 bed/2 bath modern, waterfront home all the way up to 2-3M for a beautiful single family home.

Restaurant Recommendations: One of the most popular restaurants in Charlestown is Pier 6. This seafood spot has a patio area and a deck on the roof that give diners a spectacular view of Boston harbor. Another restaurant in Charlestown that gets great reviews is Brewer's Fork. Brewer's Fork is a pizza restaurant on Moulton Street, and is known for its rustic feel and great food. The oldest restaurant in Charlestown is Warren Tavern. First opened in 1780, the tavern closed in 1813, and was reopened in 1972. Today, it is still widely regarded as a tremendous pub style food spot.

5. Brookline

Population: approx. 59,000
Public Schools: 8 elementary schools (k-8th) and 1 high school, Brookline High School (approx. 2,100 students)

Brookline
Harvard Street in Brookline

Brookline is situation 4 miles west of downtown Boston. It takes 15 about minutes to drive into downtown Boston. Brookline is a large city that borders six of Boston's neighborhoods - West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, Allston and Brighton. Brookline is home to numerous private schools including Dexter Southfield Prep School (pre-k through 12th) and The Park School (pre-k through 8th).

Based upon recent sales, apartments and homes in Brookline range from low 600s for an updated 2 bed/2 bath to low 800s for a single family 3 bed/2 bath up to 20-30M for mega manions, like the home in Brookline that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen recently sold.

Brookline residents can swim indoors at Evelyn Kirrane Aquatics Center, play a round at Brookline's public golf course, play tennis at Amory Tennis Courts (several other playgrounds have tennis courts as well) and play hockey outdoors at Kirrane Ice Rink. For the little ones, Brookline has a number of parks that have spray pools and splash pads. Private clubs include Park Terrace Swim & Tennis Club (pool and tennis), Brookline Paddle Club (paddle tennis), The Country Club (exclusive golf club).

Restaurant Recommendations: If you're checking out Brookline, Rami's has some of the best Middle Eastern-Israeli food around. Grab a sandwich at Cutty's (was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) or drop into Otto's for a pizza (Otto's has lots of unique toppings and the usuals).

6. Newton

Population: approx. 88,000
Public Schools: 15 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 2 high schools, Newton North High School (approx. 2,100 students) and Newton South High School (approx. 1,900 students).

Newton
Parish of the Good Shepherd in Waban

Newton is 7 miles west of Boston. It takes 20-40 minutes to drive into Boston depending upon where you live and traffic. Newton is a big "town" but in reality it's made up of a number of distinct neighborhoods, such as Chestnut Hill (home to Boston College), Waban, Newton, Newtonville and Nonantum. There's a long-existing rivalry between Newton North and Newton South. In the summer, you can swim at Gath Pool and Crystal Lake, both are public. In the winter, the rec department offers swimming at Newton North High School's Indoor pool on many weekends and weeknights. There are town-sponsored farmer's markets on Tuesdays at Cold Springs Park and Saturdays at Newton North High School. In the winter, there's ice skating at Auburndale Cove. In Newtonville, Bulloughs Pond is a beloved skating and ice hockey spot. Newton is also big on the badminton scene with tournaments, family play and summer camps.

Single family homes in Newton range from mid 600s for a 3 bedroom that needs renovations all the way up to 10M for mansions in Chestnut Hill.

Restaurant Recommendations: O'Haras, has some of the most loyal customers in Newton (tip: go hungry). Max & Leo's serves up some of the most amazing coal-fired pizza in Boston. Big Little Diner is know for its incredible ramen. And, if you're craving a burger, head to Cook Newton.

7. Needham

Population: approx. 29,000
Public Schools: 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school, Needham High School (approx. 1,700 students)

Needham
Townhall Park in Needham

Needham lies 16 miles west of Boston. It takes 30-50 minutes to drive into Boston depending upon traffic. Needham has a similar feel to its neighbor, Newton, but is smaller and has fewer neighborhoods. Needham has lots of recreational facilities, both public and private, such as: Needham Golf Club (private), Needham Tennis Club, Rosemary Pool (public), Needham Pool and Racquet Club (private) and numerous athletic fields and parks. Needham Sportsman's Club is a fly-fishing only trout pond with reasonable membership fees. In the winter months, the town publishes information about local ponds where you may skate and play ice hockey and the ice conditions.

Single family homes in Needham range from the mid 500s for a modest 3 bedroom/2 bath all the way up to 3M for large, updated or new homes with 5-8 bedrooms.

Restaurant Recommendations: If you're checking out Needham, Cook Needham (do yourself a favor and have a burger with fries), Farmhouse, Sweet Basil (many say it's the best Italian restaurant in the Boston area) or Blue on Highland in Needham Heights.

8. Wellesley

Population: approx. 29,000
Public Schools: 7 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school, Wellesley High School (approx. 1,500 students)

Wellesley
Wellesley Country Club

Wellesley is situated 16 miles west of Boston. It takes 30-50 minutes to drive into Boston depending upon traffic conditions. Wellesley is an affluent community that is home to two colleges, Babson College and Wellesley College. Residents enjoy swimming at Morses Pond Beach (public) and drop-in pickleball at the Warren Center. In the winter (when the ice is thick enough), you'll find residents skating and playing ice hockey outdoors at Rockridge and Longfellow ponds. Residents may also skate at Babson Skating Center (indoor), which offers lessons, ice hockey and more. Plus, Boston Sports Institute in Wellesley is an impressive indoor facility with 2 ice hockey rinks, a competition-sized pool and an indoor turf field.

Based upon recent sales, single family homes in Wellesley range from mid 600s up to 8M for historic mansions (updated).

Wellesley is home to several private schools: Dana Hall School (all girls, 5-12, some students board), Tenacre Country Day School (pre-k through 6) and the St. John School (Catholic, pre-k through 6).

Restaurant Recommendations: If you're checking out Wellesley, you can get a feel for the town by grabbing a sandwich or breakfast at The Linden Store (a local institution), having lunch at The Cottage and dinner at Wellesley Tavern or Juniper.

9. Hingham

Population: approx. 25,000
Public Schools: 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school, Hingham High School (approx. 1,300 students)

Hingham
Hingham Harbor

Hingham is an affluent, waterfront town that's 16 miles outside of Boston on the South Shore. It takes 30-40 minutes to drive into downtown Boston from Hingham. Some commuters choose to take the Hingham/Hull Ferry into Rowes or Long Wharf, which takes 40-45 minutes. A monthly round-trip ferry pass costs $329 and includes unlimited travel on all ferries, subways, buses and some railways.

The Launch at Hingham Shipyard has a number of shops, restaurants and grocery stores (Fresh Market & Trader Joe's) and hosts outdoor concerts in the summertime. Hingham has an impressive list of facilities for town residents that includes numerous sports fields, playgrounds, baseball fields, softball fields, basketball courts, outdoor hockey, tennis courts and more. Hingham also has a public golf course, South Shore Country Club, but the town's public pool is under reconstruction. For an interim outdoor pool, residents may join nearby Cohasset Swim Center

Restaurant Recommendations: If you're checking out Hingham, share a pizza at Peel Pizza Co, enjoy a nice dinner at Alma Nove (owned by Mark Wahlberg's brother, Paul) or dine at Scarlet Oak Tavern for American classics like seared tuna or filet mignon (you can add on a lobster tail if you'd like). A personal favorite is Burton's Grill, which is incredibly accommodating for the gluten free crowd (and delicious for everyone else, too).

About the Authors

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Braden Wood Braden Wood is a writer at Expat Exchange. He is a high school student at Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey who enjoys playing lacrosse and traveling. In addition to researching and writing feature articles for Expat Exchange, Braden is involved with site development and design.


GeoBlue International Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in United States from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote

Get a quote for expat health insurance in United States from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote Call  


 

Boston, United StatesGuide to Living in Boston, United States
Boston, United States: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Boston

United States Forum United States Forum
Join our United States forum to meet other people living in Boston, United States.

United States Forum Contribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Boston.

Healthcare in BostonHealthcare in Boston

Expats in Boston have access to excellent healthcare and hospitals attached to the best medical schools in the world. As with other parts of the U.S., it's imperative to know your coverage before you access any kind of care or purchase prescription medication.

Healthcare-in-the-USHealthcare in the US

Expats in the United States have to navigate one of the most expensive health systems in the world. However, when properly navigated, the quality of care is excellent when compared to the rest of the world.

Cost-of-Living-in-New-York-CityCost of Living in New York City

New York City is one of the most "international" cities in the world, but expats there also contend with one of the most expensive costs of living at the same time. Here's what you need to know to get a general idea of what those costs are.

Moving-to-the-USAMoving to the USA

Expats who want to move to the USA should do a lot of homework and carefully organize their efforts as they move through the immigration process. This article and the other resources linked will help you develop an understanding of how to accomplish this.

Expat Exchange Rental Properties

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.
addacomment
GeoBlue International Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in United States from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote

Get a quote for expat health insurance in United States from our partner, GeoBlue.
Get a Quote Call  

Boston, United StatesGuide to Living in Boston, United States

Boston, United States: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Boston

United States Forum United States Forum
Join our United States forum to meet other people living in Boston, United States.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Boston.

Healthcare in BostonHealthcare in Boston

Expats in Boston have access to excellent healthcare and hospitals attached to the best medical schools in the world. As with other parts of the U.S., it's imperative to know your coverage before you access any kind of care or purchase prescription medication.

Copyright 1997-2021 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal