Moving to Boston

Parent Q&A

Considering move to Boston Feb 12, 2019 (1 responses below)
BPN in boston area? Mar 5, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • Considering move to Boston

    (1 reply)

    Our family is considering a move to Boston for a job opportunity, and  I'm looking for perspective and practical advice.  My husband and I went to grad school in Boston and lived in Cambridge and Somerville at the time (this was about 15 years ago), but I don't have a good sense of what it's like to live there with kids, especially as compared to here.  We have an 8 year old and a 3 year old.  We do have some family in the Boston area and up and down the east coast, so one major plus is being closer to them as well as to some close friends from undergrad and grad school who live in the Boston area.  In contrast, though we've made many connections in our time here, we don't have any family or a deep network of friends.  We're not from the Bay Area but have lived in East Bay and nearby for the past ten years, and love so many things about it - the weather, the outdoor lifestyle, the diversity, the amazing variety and quality of produce we buy every week at Monterey market, camping with our kids in incredibly beautiful locations that are only a 1-2 hour drive away, etc.  Although not totally turned off by the seasonal weather in Boston, I worry about the hassle of snow and cold weather with kids.  I would be working in Back Bay, and my husband most likely in Cambridge or the metro west tech corridor.  Cities like Lexington and Winchester are too expensive and too suburban for us, but Arlington is more in our price range and seems to be more walkable and bike-able.  Anyone in this community who has lived in that area?  I'd love to know about elementary schools, preschools, community, and general culture.  Also, generally, people say Boston is a bit less expensive than living here, but is it really?  Preschools seem much more expensive there, and I imagine utilities are more with heating in the winter.  Housing also still looks pretty expensive to me.  Would love advice!  Thank you.

    RE: Considering move to Boston ()

    We moved to the East Bay this past July after 8 years living in Lexington & Winchester. It’s good that you already know a little about the area & have connections there. That helps! 

    Lexington & Winchester are expensive, but each have nice walkable downtowns, very good schools (top 2 in the area), and Lexington has multiple pool clubs plus a great town pool. They definitely have a ‘small town New England’ feel. If you’re looking for a more diverse & urban area you may want to consider Jamaica Plain or Brookline. Especially if you’ll be working in the Back Bay. Arlington is nice, but the commute can be LONG, and the nicer neighborhoods aren’t necessarily near the main parts of town. 

    Like here, traffic & commute times can be terrible. The T is a hub-style setup, so may or may not be useful. I’d say the cost of living is pretty much equal to the East Bay. Especially if you allow for heating & AC costs, like you noted.

    Good luck! 

  • BPN in boston area?

    (1 reply)

    Hi all:  My sister is going to have a baby soon near Boston (arlington).  She is having trouble finding a resource similar to a BPN in her area.  Does anyone have any suggestions for her?  This will be her first kid, and I'm trying to help her line up some help and ways to deal with the slog of the fourth trimester, esp as her husband is away a lot.

    thanks in advance!  

    RE: BPN in boston area? ()

    Hello! While I don't know a BPN-ish group in Boston, your sister might want to check out Laura Owen's hilarious weekly parenting newsletter. She's in the Boston area and might know of something similar (and she's a great writer!): Congrats to your sister!

Parent Reviews

Our friends with preschool age children just bought a house in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Close to Boston by train and near water. They are very happy having moved to be nearer family and a lower cost of living. Check it out!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving to Boston- student mom with toddler

April 2014

Hi BPN, I have been admitted to a graduate program at Harvard and although I am excited I am also quite anxious about what this will mean for our family. My husband is very supportive and encouraging but it is really not wise for him to move as he is very serious about his career where he is at and does not want to lose momentum by moving and changing his work right now. Before applying we agreed that if I got in I would move with our 2.5 year old and he would stay. We are both ok with this except that I worry about how I will manage school, work and a kid basically on my own. I have never lived on the east coast as an adult, have no idea where to look for housing in Boston and could really use some advice on how to manage this transition. Looking at the BPN archives on Boston it sounds like Arlington is a good place for families and I have found the Arlington Parent Resource Center. What do you think of these?

Any other suggestions? Anything on where to live, how to handle child care and balance all this with study and work would be appreciated. Oh, and one more thing, when should we plan on moving considering that the program starts in fall 2014. And, do we need an agent to find housing... And gosh, my daughter has been at home with me so far, will I be able to find a decent childcare in time? She's very attached to me, how do we make a smooth transition. Should I make an earlier trip to set these up? Thank you sooooo much Overwhelmed!!!!

My partner was in grad school at Harvard from 2005-2010, and we lived in Cambridge and Somerville then. Though not with kids. That sounds very difficult to me, to be on your own with a toddler to care for, plus school. You don't say which program you're going to, so I don't know what campus you'll be on. But assuming you'll be on the main campus in Harvard Square, here's my major piece of advice: Find a place to live with easy public transportation to get to Harvard, because there is nowhere to park on campus, and it's virtually impossible to park anywhere near campus. If you live out in the suburbs, or one of the surrounding cities like Arlington or Watertown or Newton, you will find it useful to have a car there, certainly with a toddler. And even if you're in Cambridge or Somerville, you probably need a car for grocery shopping, etc. But your life will be so much better if you can figure out how to do most of your transportation by subway, bus, or walking. Biking is good too, but half of the school year it's too cold and snowy to bike.

So check out this map, which shows subway and major bus lines: You want to live somewhere on the Red Line of the subway, or on a direct bus route to campus. So that means one of these neighborhoods on the Red Line (which are called squares but are really just neighborhoods): Kendall Square, Central Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, Davis Square, or Alewife. Or you want to live on one of the bus routes, like in Arlington or Watertown. Don't live in Allston, because that's an undergrad student ghetto.

We lived in Porter Square in Somerville, which has some nice amenities like a Safeway and a gym and a local bookstore, and which is a great biking distance from campus, and also walkable (like 20 minutes). We also lived in Inman Square in Cambridge, which has some great restaurants; there's no subway line there but it's a great biking distance to Harvard and there's a direct bus route too.

In general it was nice for my partner to live outside of Harvard Square, just to get some distance from campus everyday. But mostly we lived in Porter because it was cheaper than Harvard Square.

I'm not sure what your budget is, but be forewarned that Boston has the most expensive rental market in the USA. Houses are a little cheaper to purchase than in San Francisco, but rentals are more expensive. Because there's such a HUGE demand for rentals. Literally half of the population in the Boston metro area are college students (which makes for an interesting summertime, when about half the city is gone). That also means that September 1 is moving day, when about a quarter of the city's population moves from one location to the other. Avoid that if possible, even if it means signing a lease for a place before Sept 1.

You can find every kind of rental listing on Craigslist. But you can also go to a rental broker, and they will drive you around and show you rental properties, and you only pay them a small fee if you end up taking one of the places they show you.

I do think it's a good idea to go early to find a place to live. Even months in advance would work. We showed up late, after everything decent was taken, and our first apartment in Inman Square was a dump, but it was all we could get.

Sorry I can't give you more advice about life in grad school with a kid; we knew some families with kids, but no single moms. I can't imagine how you'll be able to manage. Feel free to contact me if there's any more info I can provide. Summers

Not to worry - you'll love Boston (I've just moved here from there). Yes, Arlington is a possibility. It's a nice, safe community just west of Cambridge, lots of families and a nice mix of older, established, largely Italian families that have lived there for generations (and often own multi-family homes) and a variety that have moved in for its convenience to Cambridge and community feel. You might also look at Somerville (the Davis Square area is great, but there are a number of interesting communities) - also adjacent to Cambridge and a bit more lively than Arlington. You don't need an agent to rent - I would use Craigslist - and, as in all places, start early. I would DEFINITELY start early with childcare and check out places ahead of time.

I raised my son as a single parent in the Boston area (we lived in Cambridge until he was 5, then in Belmont, then bought our house in Lexington), I worked to support us and it was all very do-able. So, not to worry, if you've got energy and determination and this is a necessary piece of your family's trajectory, you'll find a way to make it work. And if it doesn't, you and your husband can always make adjustments and changes. (by the way, my son is a happy, healthy, productive 25 year old)

The other contributor makes a good point in suggesting that the location of your grad campus should figure into how much emphasis you might want to place on public transportation vs. driving, although you can also look into the parking situation through Harvard. Even around Harvard Square the University offers parking permits in their many lots for faculty and grad students and this might be obtainable for you if you'd like to be able to open the field a bit. Also, the buses are a real option and can broaden your range (although this would lengthen your commute somewhat over simply taking the red line). We lived in Lexington and the combination bus/subway to Harvard Square was 30-40 minutes (and the bus stop was at the end of our street). Really, you have a large number of public transportation options so you don't need to limit yourself as much as you might think.

Also, as to the expense of renting, I humbly disagree with the other writer. I think the rentals here are far more expensive, you get far less for your money and the competition for rentals is far worse than in Boston, unless you're looking in a student-laden area. In a place like Arlington, for example, you're much less likely to have a pileup of 50 young people all looking to rent the same apartment. If you're not absolutely wedded to public transportation you have MANY more options of safe, nice neighborhoods all within an easy ride (Belmont, Watertown, Arlington, Somerville, Medford all about 20 minutes to Harvard Square, all very nice).

Do feel free to contact me directly if you'd like more information or more of a back and forth. Raising a small child while working or in school is never easy and doing it on one's own has its challenges, but you'll be in a place with lots of single parents, lots of resources, lots of supports. Harvard has several excellent daycare centers (my son was at Radcliffe Child Care) which would make it very convenient for you. Best of luck to you. Amy

Moving to Boston for a job in Cambridge

Dec 2013

Hi all. We are considering a move to the Boston area (working in Cambridge) but have heard the commutes are worse than the bay area! We currently live in Lamorinda and would like to find town with a similar 'small town' feel that is within 45 min commute (either driving or public transport--door to door) to Cambridge. My husband would love a larger lot so he could have a wood working shop, and I'd like access to open space/running/biking trails. Have two school age kiddos so need good schools and a sense of community...does this exist or am I dreaming? Thanks!

Hi - for the things you describe, you might want to look at Arlington or Somerville - both easy commute to Cambridge, more affordable than Boston-proper, very family friendly, and with lots more open space. Some really great restaurants and walkability, depending on how close you get to Davis Square, Porter Square, etc. (Current Bostonian, but moving to Bay Area...)Good luck! SL

we were in similar shoes last year and moved to Durham, NH in August. My husband works outside of Boston (and yes, the traffic is very bad) but he doesn't have to go in every day. We picked Durham primarily because the schools are just amazing. My children are in K (16 kids in the class) and 3rd (20 kids). They have music, pe, art once or twice a week, a beautiful school, incredibly involved parents, a guidance counselor that works in all classrooms, great support for learning issues (my older child's IEP was expanded here in a way that never would have happened in CA) and the most amazing library I have ever seen in an elementry school. We bought a beautiful 3000 sf house for around $400k on just under 2 acres (property taxes are on the higher side but the majority goes to the schools). There is an amtrak train that goes from Durham directly to North Station (about an hour?) that is filled with commuters. The other reason we chose NH is we were over the taxing of CA -- no personal income tax here (mass is around 5 or 6%) and no sales tax. Plus the schools we looked at around Mass had many of the same funding issues we were facing in CA -- different programs being cut, parents being asked to pay for services previously paid for, schools over crowded -- and given I have 13 more years of schooling and we could pick a spot I decided to go for it with a community that supported its schools financially. All of this comes with a huge however: its really, really hard to move. I won't go into it but the east coast is a completely different culture from the west so be prepared. Another reason we picked Durham is that many people here are from other places - that may not be the case in many towns in Mass. It can be insular and non me if you'd like to talk more. Good luck. tkjbca [at] on the other side for a while

I lived in the Boston area for more than 10 years in several communities and love the outdoors. I commuted from Watertown to Cambridge via the bike path along the Charles almost daily, no matter the weather. My suggestions: parts of Brookline (on T lines), Watertown (bus), Newton, Waltham, Quincy. I wonder if there is some kind of housing forum you ould tap into for faculty at Harvard, MIT or B.U.? cocosar

Moving to Boston in May

Dec 2011

I read the archives, which seem to be outdated, so I'm looking for some fresh perspective on Boston. My family and I will be moving to Boston in May for my husband's job. At that time, our kids will be 2.5 y/o and 2 m/o. Could you provide some recommendations on neighborhoods/cities that are safe, affordable, walking distance to the T/shops/restaurants/parks, known for good schools, active parents group, etc? I know this is a tall order! Based on what we've seen and what has been recommended to us, we are looking at Brookline, Cambridge, Arlington, and Newton. Are there other areas we should consider? At first, we wanted to rent, but the rental market is so hot that it seems like we'd be better off money-wise buying a place. I'm apprehensive about this whole move because I hate the idea of leaving the Bay Area and leaving behind our family support network, so any advice/recommendations you can provide that would ease this transition would be great. Thanks! future Bostonian


We lived in Brookline from 2004 - 2008 right on Beacon street between Coolidge Corner and Washington Square. We rented as we were not sure that we would settle down in Boston (we rented in a high rise) - It helped because we didn't have to deal with snow removal etc. and we had a covered garage. While the rents are more in Brookline, we were able to offset that by not needing a second car for both working parents to commute. Coolidge Corner area is a great walking neigbhorhood.Renting also allowed us to pick and move easily. Brookline is very family friendly (lots of little parks and play areas and kid activities)

If affordability is an issue, Watertown (next to Cambridge/Newton is not a bad place to be). Newton, Cambridge etc. are also good recommendations.

On a general note, I would recommend renting for a year or two before you buy as you can get a sense of what community you want to live in and don't get stuck with a house/condo in a location you do not like.

Good luck Returned from Boston

We lived in a place next to Cambridge, Ma, called Somerville. Our children were very small at the time, and we did not have a car. Access to the T was very easy, plus walking to stores, or even to cambridge was easy to do. We 'survived' in the Boston area without a car for 10 years and only had to buy a car when we moved to Berkeley. Check out the Yahoo group Somerville Moms, I was with 4 or 5 moms who started this group to help schedule playdates, the rate with which the group/message board grew was phenomenal, it is still growing in numbers today. Somerville may be more of a renters market but still worth checking out. Also not sure about the schools as our kids were just babies and toddlers at that time.

I LOVED living in and around Boston and would move back anyday! Good luck

Possibly moving to Boston - would love resources!

April 2011

We just found out that we may be moving to Boston in a couple of months (work related). My husband's family is there and my family is in Vermont, but we've lived our entire adult lives in the Bay Area. We have two kids, ages 3 and 8 months. There are so many questions, pros and cons, uncertainties - but also opportunities. I would love it if anyone had any recommendations about neighborhoods (and towns), school systems, resources (like BPN, for example), etc. I would need to find a preschool for my daughter rather much to think about. We really appreciate any ideas, advice, recommendations, etc. (but please, nothing anti-Boston - this is a hard decision as it is and we are weighing many considerations). Thanks! ebrayg

I'm sure you'll love Boston. I lived there for 15 years and it's a great city. As for where to live--it really depends where your work is. The East Coast is 'smaller' than the West Coast in that the cities are less spread out and so people live much closer to where they work. It would be unthinkable to travel Bay Area distances to go to work in Boston. Figure out where your work is and find a neighborhood within a reasonable commute from there (public transport or by car). I lived in Harvard Square in Cambridge and I loved it (it feels like a mix between Berkeley and Cambridge, England). I had no kids at the time but I hear the public schools in Cambridge are by lottery and so friends and family in Cambridge who didn't get into the school of their choice usually sent their kids to private schools. I heard from friends that the public schools in Newton, Brookline, Belmont, Weston, Wellesley, and Lexington are all very good. These neighborhoods are expensive, so where you live will depend on what your budget is. If you are near downtown, I worked with a private elementary school called Park Street School and a preschool called Park Street Kids. I really like what they are doing at the school and the administration was great. Also had friends who sent their kids there and their kids loved it. You can google them and check them out. They are located in downtown Boston.

Moving to Boston - neighborhoods & schools?

Feb 2011

We just found out we may be moving to Boston in six months. My husband's job would initially be in Back Bay, but would probably end up in the tech corridor in Waltham soon. We're flying there in two weeks to start checking out places to live and schools for our kids (ages 3 and 7). We're looking for a liberal, semi-urban enclave - like Berkeley or Noe Valley in SF, where we live now. We're interested in the international school in Cambridge, since our kids now go to French American in SF, but we'd also consider a good public school. We would appreciate any advice on what towns/neighborhoods we should look at and what the schools are like. Dana

A wonderful neighborhood is Brookline. It's a suburb of Boston but has good schools and wonderful parks and has the sort of vibe I think you are looking for, although, like most of Boston, it's not cheap. A former Bostonian

I currently live in Boston (we live in Arlington which is the first 'family friendly' subdivision outside of Cambridge)

Where you choose to live can really depend on your budget. If you are in the seven digits I would look at places like Lexington (especially if working in Waltham) some of the greatest schools in the area. Not very urban, but a short ride into the city, easy access to everything, safe. Weston is also nice if you have a big budget, but it is a lot more suburban.

If you budget is less than a million, Arlington or Belmont are great. Walkable, good schools, a really great community. Closer to the city, so you will get a smaller yard, there is more congestion, less places to park, but still not super urban.

I would stay away from Waltham and Watertown. They are pretty industrial and don't have great schools.

Feel free to email me directly if you have specific questions.. We are moving to the East Bay this summer, so we will be trading places! Kim

We just moved to the East Bay from Boston and I miss it terribly, even with all the snow. Check out the Charlestown area (on the Cambridge side of the Charles right near the Boston Garden Stadium). There is an amazing network for mothers/families at It's a nice mix of being in the city, but surrounded my lots of history, parks, playgrounds, etc. with easy walking to just about everything. Brookline is also a nice city suburb. If you are looking for more space, try Waban, Chestnut Hill and Newton - all of which have great neighborhoods and schools. Good luck! rebecca

Parenting Network in Boston?

April 2010

We are relocating from the Bay Area to Boston, Ma. While we are very excited about this new adventure we will be lacking parenting resources. Does anybody know of a network like BPN in Boston? In particular, advice about finding good neighborhoods to live in and preschools would be very welcomed. Thanks! micmik

Hi there, Check out GardenMoms, the Boston equivalent of BPN. I think you'll find a lot of information about what you're looking for from other members there. I personally don't know a lot about the schools since we relocated to MA while I was pregnant with our first child and left before he turned two. We lived right outside of Boston in the town of Brookline, and I do know that the public schools of Brookline and neighboring Newton are highly regarded. Good luck with your move!


Relocating to the Boston area with a baby

Oct 2009

My husband, 7-month old daughter and I are relocating to the Boston area in December. We do not know the area at all. My husband's office will be in North Andover so we'd like to live as close as possible, or at least within 25 miles. We can't afford to live in Boston itself (budget of about $1,500/month rent) but are looking to rent a house in a family-friendly neighborhood. Right now we live in Alameda and really like the small town atmosphere with lots of charm and little boutiques. Does anybody have advice for us? We are excited, but sad to leave the Bay Area, and nervous about moving in the middle of winter!

Please check this link where they have a Quality of Life Guide to North Andover. You will fly in and out of Boston, but look for housing in North Andover. Find a real estate agent who knows the area and maybe get a rental at first. You will find quite discrete neighborhoods in the area and you want to feel comfortable, live where you would want your kids to play with neighborhood kids, etc. I believe there is commuter rail between that area and Boston if you want to go in for a day at the museums or other cultural events. Driving in Boston is crazy and even though I lived across the Charles for about 12 years, I tried to use the T (like BART) as much as possible to get around downtown. Please feel free to email me if you have more questions about life in Massachusetts. I loved it there! kl

My wife and I lived in the Boston area for about 10 years; we left there for NY and finally ended up in Alameda last year. Our kids were born in Mass. but we moved away when they were still babies. Anyway, we lived in Wakefield (about 20 miles south of N. Andover) and I would recommend that as a place to start. It is a nice suburb with a cute downtown, and a lovely lake to walk around. It's also close to the highway so commuting isn't too tough. Good luck, both with the move and the weather! Relocated North Easterner

This will be pushing your 25 mile limit, but we loved living in Arlington, Massachusetts. Great small town feel, wonderful schools, nearby metro. Fabulous parent resources- mainly Arlington Family Connection. There is also a separate Arlington parents email list. Some of our favorite things to do in the area- Drumlin Farm (with a trip to Dairy Joy afterwards), Walden Pond, Woburn YMCA, Gibbs Gym drop in playtime, Tumblekids USA open Gym time, Burlington Touch a Truck Day, Belmont Kidspace and the Museum of Science. The areas of Medford and Winchester are a bit closer to Andover and have a lot of family resources as well. You'll find lots and lots of California transplants. Hope you enjoy the area. MA is nice, but nothing beats Berkeley

Family friendly neighborhoods in Boston?

July 2008

my partner and i and our then 16 month old daughter are moving to the boston area this september to be near my family and my childhood home. i'm wondering if anyone knows about a resource like berkeley parents network in the boston area? i'm also open to suggestions about very family friendly neighborhood/towns, as far as where we should live. my family is in woburn, and i have friends in south boston and dorchester, so we're considering those general areas. i like city living and the ability to walk or take public transportation most places. my partner likes the suburbs/country-ish places better but would also like to live close to good public transportation. any great ideas? going east.....

I'm looking forward to seeing the replies your posting gets, as we are planning to relocate to the Boston area in the next 3-5 years with our growing family. I grew up in Newton, and my mother worked for the public school system there for 20 years. She believes that Newton itself, while a great place to raise kids for all sorts of reasons, does not have the strong schools it had ten or twenty years ago. We are looking at neighboring communities and so far I have really liked what I've seen of Arlington. My husband needs close proximity to either Boston or Burlington, and I would love to live somewhere even more rural-y than Newton, so we are focusing on Concord, Acton, Carlisle, and Lincoln. My best friend from 7th grade and her husband independently came up with the same focus area, and they've done a lot more research into school systems than I have. 3rd generation Red Sox fan

Hello, I spotted your message while I was cleaning out my email inbox. I haven't been keeping up with email because we have been busy moving this summer, from Massachusetts back to California (where we consider home) and soon to Virginia. We moved to Massachusetts for my husband to attend grad school, and luckily we moved to Arlington, MA. It is a lovely town. The Arlington Family Connection is a fabulous resource- lots of playgroups, etc. There is also a Arlington Parents listserv (not as vast at BPN, more informal and personal, but good nonetheless). My first purchase was The Compleat Daytripper which was written by 2 locals moms and details daytrips around the area. Other great things about the area: the Bike Trail, the Woburn YMCA, the Museum of Science, Drumlin Farm in Lincoln (with a stop at Dairy Joy afterwards) and KidSpace in Belmont. Our last weekend there we went to a party at a friend of a friend. I think the house was in Carlisle or Lincoln (just past d! rumlin farm) the setting was amazing, but I am not sure how many things we would walkable. Arlington is a nice mix of open spaces and walkable places. Be sure to check out Robbins Farm Park (with it's amazing slides) and Mentomomy Rocks Park. The Boston area is fabulous; hope you enjoy it. Like Boston but Love Berkeley

Moving to Boston (Newton? Arlington? Brookline?)

Feb 2007

Hi! Some good friends of ours have been given an amazing opportunity in Waltham (near Boston) and so they're leaving us this spring. They're two Oakland natives with a 5 year old son. Anyone have Boston wisdom they could share to help them out? (they read the archives, and would like a little more info) Right now they're most interested in Newton because of the good public schools and family oriented community, but Arlington & Brookline sound similar to them. Their specific questions are: 1. How ethnically diverse are these areas? 2. How are the public schools in these areas? 3. How safe, quiet, family friendly are these areas? 4. How hard would the commute to Waltham be from these areas? 5. In general, which of these places is most like Rockridge in Berkeley/Oakland? Thanks! already missing our friends

All three towns you mention are small towns, Newton is the least citylike of the three, Brookline is closest to the city. Newton & Brookline are pricy with large homes and more wealthy folks living there, Arlington is more affordable. Newton has the best schools. None of the three is like Rockridge, though Arlington is the one closest to shops, cafes etc, along Massachussets Avenue. Crime is a non-issue in any of these towns, crime in the greater Boston area simply doesn't exist like it does in the east bay. I felt comfortable walking home from work ...alone... at midnight; never once heard gunshots or had to call 911 like we do here all the time. Other towns your friends might consider right in that same area are Watertown, Belmont and Winchester, the latter two especially for good schools. Watertown is especially affordable, well-located on the T (bus)near Cambridge. missing Boston

I lived in Arlington for a year (then moved 20 miles north where we could actually afford a place to buy!!). We loved it there.... and Newton and Brookline are also great places. They each offer something different: Arlington, although 3 miles from Boston as the crow flies, could be considered more of a suburb, with tree-lined neighborhoods, playgrounds, good schools, accessible downtown, and close to everything. Newton is more of an ''upscale'' Arlington - housing is much more expensive, it's a bit ''busier'' than the streets of Arlington, upscale shopping, great schools, etc. I always considered Brookline a ''college town'' - mostly because the few people I knew who lived there were still students somewhere! It has a great downtown area, with awesome, local coffee shops, sandwich places, art galleries, anything you need.

To actually answer some of your questions, I would say that each town has a fair display of diversity (however, we're talking New England here, not Oakland). I know the most about Arlington in terms of neighborhoods and schools: there are good ones and bad ones (as in any town!!). Closer to the ''downtown'' or ''heights'' area is the best. As far as commuting, as the crow flies, I believe Newton is closest, and Brookline is the farthest, but my experience is that it's a pretty easy shot from Arlington to Waltham. And, in general, I would say that Brookline might be the most like Rockridge.......

So, given all that, I have a couple of suggestions - I have an excellent realtor to recommend (Bob Pawlak - lives in Newton and has lived in that area all of his life! - (617) 281-3339) I'd also like to recommend your friend check out Arlington's website: There is also a link to a listserve sign-up that is particularly helpful!! Finally, feel free to give them my e-mail if they have other questions!

Moving to Boston Area with 2.5-Year-Old

Nov 2006

We're thinking of moving to the Boston area with our 2.5-year-old this winter. We're New England natives, but not too familiar with Boston. We're looking for a family-friendly neighborhood; a progressive atmosphere; access to parks, museums, etc.; and a fabulous, play-based co-op preschool in the vicinity. We'd be looking to buy a 2 br house or duplex with a yard for under $500k. What towns and/or neighborhoods would fit our needs? Great preschools to recommend? Advice on things to do and places to go, especially in the winter? Fabulous realtor to recommend? Thanks so much! Boston, here we come!

My family and I just moved here from Boston (North Andover) 5 months ago with our 2 yr. old. Not sure how far you are willing to look outside Boston, but I am most familiar with the ''North Shore.'' Andover and North Andover are great towns (20 miles north) - incredible school systems, parks, etc. That being said, I would actually recommend Arlington (if you want to be closer to the city) - about 4 miles from Boston as the crow flies! Great access to public transport, parks, etc. They also have a great parents network in the town - very active town politically, and a great community all around. We moved from there before our son was born, so I don't know about specific schools, but do know that there are plenty of folks who can refer you to places. Housing prices there have taken a BIG hit - we know, we lost a ton of money on the place we just sold.... so you'll probably be able to manage with your budget, not a problem - for that much, you can even go larger, if you'd like! Feel free to contact me directly for other questions - happy to provide resources

I second the recommendation on Arlington as a great town in the Boston area for people with young kids. I lived in Boston for over 10 years, lived in a number of neighborhoods, and spent the last 3 right in Somerville, right on the border of Arlington & Cambridge. I think Arlington is the BEST, most family-friendly, most convenient ''sub''-urban place in Boston. Have several friends, with kids too, who have bought houses there in the last couple years. Please feel free to email if you want more specific info. on Arlington (or other neighborhoods) resources/places/ things to do. My husband and I are moving to Oakland next month!! so I am happy to build up good relocating karma by sharing info!! Catherine

Pregnant and moving to Boston

February 2006

A good friend just moved to Boston and is pregnant. She desperately needs recommendations for everything -- doctors, midwives, prenatal yoga classes, massage therapists who do pre-natal, resources for pregnancy/babies, etc. Anyone out there who's lived in Boston and had babies there? Thanks! boston baby friend

Your friend might want to check out the Isis Maternity Center ( I read about it in the Boston Globe- it's a lot like the Day One center in San Francisco. They have a bunch of prenatal classes, baby stuff for sale, etc. It was described as a place to go for ''Yoga moms''. Displaced Bostonian in Rockridge

How great for your friend! I lived in Boston for many years and had my first baby there. It was a fabulous experience. My OB/GYN's name was Lori Berkowitz and she is at Massachusetts General Hospital. I checked, she's still there. Most of my friends had their babies at Brigham and Women's Hospital and also had good experiences. As for new-mom community stuff, Jamaica Plain is the place to look. I found a great community there, literally just by walking around the Pond. Also, there are several stores and community centers on Centre Street that have postings for moms groups, etc. Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center (640 Centre) is a great place to start.

I know a lot of people like to compare Berkeley to Cambridge, but I really found in my many years of living there that JP is way more Berkeley-ish in the best ways possible. Good luck! Nicole

Boston is a big place so recommendations will really depend on which neighborhood your friend lives in - I had my first child at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, and then the second across the river at Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA. Both excellent places, positive experiences at both, great midwives & doctors. Tell your friend to check out the Somerville Moms Message board to find friends/advice in the Boston area (Somerville is a town just outside the city of Boston with memebrs from all around the city): Good luck to her, Boston a great place to live (despite the huge mounds of snow and freezing temperatures!) Cathy

Moving to Boston. Our health care provider was HCHP through Havard Vanguard. As an HMO it was so much better than anything we have experienced here. Our pediatrician was Thomas Krueger in the Cambridge office and he was awesome. Calm, not super high intervention, smart, kind, good listener and good with kids. Dr. Chin in that office is good too - we saw her when Dr. Krueger wasn't there and she was impressive. The nurse in that office, Jan, is great.

Beth Israel was a wonderful hospital to deliver at. The Brigham has a stellar reputation as well. My OB/GYN, Susan Mann, is smart, not very cuddly and in charge of risk reduction at the hospital. There is a Parents Paper available at Whole Foods and other stores that has a lot of resources. I took pre-natal yoga at Mystic River Yoga in Medford (just 10 minutes from North Cambridge) from a Swedish woman whose name I forget. There are a ton of pre-natal yoga classes available. Music Together classes are available in lots of communities and a good way to meet people once the baby is 18 months or so. Good luck. Tracey

I suggest she look at Massachusetts Friends of Midwives for a resource list. in peace Samantha

Moving to Boston with school-aged kids

October 2003

We are considering moving to the Boston area this summer, and I was hoping to get advice from others about neighborhoods and elementary schools. My sons will be entering Kindergarten and 4th grade next year, and have been in great Montessori schools here. We are hoping to find an area that has good public schools if possible, is family friendly, is not too expensive (housing-wise), but not too far from Cambridge. We would also be open to private schools if there are any amazing ones to consider. Do schools out there do lotteries and matching like they do in Berkeley, and will we be in bad shape if can't enter a lottery or apply to a school this winter?

We lived there as grad students 12 years ago, but my experience of life as a grad student is probably going to be much different as a parent! The postings on the web site are helpful, but I'm hoping to get more specific suggestions for elementary aged kids, e.g., schools, sports, music lessons, etc. Many thanks in advance Sima

We just moved from Cambridge to Oakland in '02. We miss Cambridge dearly. We used to live near Central Square, which is a fun, vibrant area. I felt like everything we needed could be found within the Cambridge borders. Housing is very expensive though not as eye-popping as out here. I don't know specifics about schools but do know there are numerous private schools both in Cambridge and in the area. I think public schools within Cambridge vary. I've heard Brookline has a great school system, has an urban/ suburban mix, and is minutes away from the city as well as the shopping malls and other fun places to go. But be warned, if you consider Brookline, the buses can be SLOW going into Cambridge and the trains require you to take an indirect route (changing trains downtown, I believe.) We used to live in Brookline and both work in Cambridge. It took an hour by bus and about half an hour by car. The reason is because there is one main artery that has lots of traffic lights and is travelled by everyone and their mothers. Newton is further away but the drive is easy if you're near Route 16 and the Charles River. I used to drive from Central Square to Newtonville in 15 minutes and really enjoy the beautiful drive along the river. Newton is supposed to have great neighborhoods and good schools. Watertown is between Cambridge and Newton and though it lacks some of the charm of Cambridge and Newton, a lot of people live there b/c it's cheaper and not too far away. Somerville, which is next to Cambridge and which may have been called ''Slummerville'' when you were grad students, has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. It has some nice pockets and neighborhoods (i.e. Porter Square), but the schools are not as great. In my experience, Cambridge was the best--more neighborly, easy to walk, bike or take public transportation around, family- friendly (with parks and restaurants). Once you get used to the New England culture, it will be a great place to live. Enjoy! East coast girl

Moving to Boston for 6 months

October 2002

Hi: We're spending 6 months in exile in Boston, and are looking for leads for housing, nannies, and online resources for parents, etc. Any advice is welcome. Joe

I can see why having to spend any significant amount of time away from lovely & fabulous Berkeley may seem like exile! :^) As an East Coast transplant, I wouldn't trade our li'l Berkeley bungalow for all the money in the world! But I lived in Boston for 10 years and assure you that you can have a wonderful time if you really try. I adore that place, though (brrrr!) not the winters! This is also the best time of year to go - Boston summers are fabulous! Sunny and warm with fresh ocean breezes. Except for occasional & usually brief heatwaves, you won't encounter the soaking humidity that pervades the rest of the East Coast.


First, I recommend that you find a sublet in Cambridge, if possible. It feels a lot like Berkeley and is a mere hop, skip and a jump across the river from Boston. I particularly recommend Porter Square. Brookline is also a very nice family- oriented area that borders on Boston. Somerville is cheaper & borders on Cambridge. And Arlington's really nice, though more suburban. Jamaica Plain is also really neat - and is one of the more lively & diverse areas of Boston with lots of families, students and artists - though parts of it are kind of hinky.

Sublets abound through the Cambridge and MIT listings and campus newspapers. The big rental agencies over there are Just Rentals ( and Boston Apartments ( Since it's a college town, realtors often do handle sublets. You can also check out the classifieds in the Boston Phoenix (Boston's alternative paper at, the Boston Globe (the main paper at There's also the Boston Tab, an outfit that publishes local papers (i.e. the Cambridge Tab, the Brookline Tab), but they don't have a Web presence.


When you get to Boston, pick up the Boston Parents Paper (free at any library or Borders Books & other locations). Despite the fact that I once had a grunty production job there, I still recommend it! ;^) You'll find this publication chock full of helpful information, ads and classifieds. Unfortunately, they do not have an online presence.

There's also Boston Online (, which has a childrens' section, and Beantown ( which lists events and activities for kids. ( and GoCityKids ( also have sections on kids and parenting.


Your posting does not specify your child(ren)'s age(s) ... But Boston abounds with historical & cultural attractions & fun things to do with kids. Especially in the summer. There's the world-renowned Boston Children's museum; The Freedom Trail (a nice long walk with historical sites along the way - though in some parts, the cobble stones can get kind of rough on strollers); lots of neighborhood festivals and fairs (the Central Square Fair is my favorite!) with fun for kids and grown- ups; concerts, movies and other free events at Boston Commons (a large park downtown) and the Esplanade (the park and recreation area along the Charles River). Kids also love exploring the U.S.S. Constitution (AKA ''Old Ironsides'') which dates back to the War of 1812. Castle Island in Southie is also a nice beach/park area.

You can also take tons of fabulous day trips. You can drive 20 minutes to Concord (or ride your bike along a pretty biking trail) to Concord where you can swim at Walden Pond, see Thoreau's house, and walk over the bridge where the minute men fired upon the British during the revolutionary war. Or travel 40 minutes to Salem - famous for its charm as well as its witches.

New England also offers something else that you won't find in Northern California ... pretty beaches where you can actually go swimming! The water's kind of cold, but nothing compared to the frigid Pacific Ocean. Gloucester's a charming old town with nice beaches. And there's Singing Beach in Manchester, NH - where the sand makes an odd humming sound when the wind blows. If you want to stay closer into town, there's Castle Island (which was officially declared ''Clean'' a few years ago).

And of course, you must see Cape Cod (I recommend Chatham and Provincetown) and take the ferry to Nantucket! Kids love throwing bits of bread to the seagulls. Or if the 3 hour ride seems too long, try a shorter trip to Martha's Vinyard.

There's also Faneuil Hall - a historic, semi-outdoor shopping area with lots of fun stuff to look at, eat and buy.

Whew! I've already gone on long enough. I hope you find this helpful & that you & your kids have a great time! Elisabeth

Try for the Boston Globe's site with real estate and rental listings. also has a Boston section. Most Boston area rentals go thru realtors, who charge one months fee to you for their service. To avoid this, look for 'no fee' listings. If you have kids, I'd highly recommend the Newton area. Although pricey (but still less than the Bay Area!), it has tons of families, playgrounds, parks, health food stores, and lots of rentals. Check out Warmlines on Walnut St in Newton for chilcare and playgroup connections. The Parents Paper is available at kids stores and the libraries and has tons of listings of things to do every month as well as camps, childcare, and stores (not online as far as I know). Feel free to email me if you have other questions. Jen

Joe, Where in Boston are you moving? Are you affiliated with a univeristy (on sabbatical?) -if so, go through their housing dept. We're moving back to Boston (Arlington) this summer. Check the Boston Globe (online classifieds) and TownOnline ( Also, has some listings for NO FEE and some sublets. If you have kids, you're going to be ''handicapped'' with the deleading laws. I'm finding that many real estate agents won't even tell me about a place unless it's deleaded. Good luck to you! bccporter

Moving to Boston for the summer

February 2000

My family will be moving to Boston/Cambridge for the summer, and then permanently in May 2001. We're hoping to find a parents' list like this one, and are especially interested in any housing tips, specifically a way to find a good sublet for the summer. Any suggestions welcome heather

Good sublets for the summer are usually not a problem if you have access to Harvard or BU's student or faculty housing offices. Housing is not cheap there, but it's a bit easier to find than here and mass transit serves more communities better. The biggest obstacle to finding housing is Massachusetts' draconian lead paint law, which drives many landlords to discriminate against families with children under age 6. (Essentially, it's illegal to, knowingly or unknowingly, rent out housing with ANY lead paint to kids under 6. And any place built before 1971 is likely to have lead paint. De-leading is a huge business with a 100 percent mark-up over standard renovations. So those units are very rare and rent for well over market rates.) Buying is pretty much the way to go, if it's at all possible for you.When we left two years ago, there was no comparable list to ours here. Playgrounds, particularly the one in Cambridge Common, play a big role in social networks. The Cambridge Public Library's storytime was also good for networking. There are places like ArtBeat and TotStop in Arlington that are nonprofit indoor project and play areas for wintertime. And parent coop preschools are much more elaborate than here, with great curricula and parent bodies (and yet less time commitment). We LOVED Newtowne School on Cambridge Common. If the teacher Martha is still there, she's not to be missed. Also, the state of Massachusetts funds Child Care Resource Centers in every city, which are the closest thing to Bananas. They can give you referrals to family day care providers and help you apply for child care vouchers and the like. But it's a real word-of-mouth kind of region. And child care is more heavily regulated there than anywhere else in the country, so it's even more expensive than here.