• October 30, 2014
October 30, 2014, 9:02:45 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: For all you tweeters, follow The Chronicle on Twitter.
 
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: MIT/Cambridge/Boston  (Read 4980 times)
stanwyck
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,399


« on: April 25, 2012, 10:12:06 PM »

I read through some older threads on the Cambridge/MIT area (that 2006 thread devolved into clownery pretty quickly) but could use some fresh opinions. What would it be like living in the area as a post-doc or VAP? That is, the salary would be the equivalent of what I'm making currently as a VAP in a much more affordable part of the country--I can't see it going very far in that part of the U.S., but maybe I'm missing something?

I'm not interested in buying a house (have one, will eventually sell it). It's possible the position will extend beyond the 3-5 year contract; if so, I'd think about buying at that point. In the meantime, the Internet tells me the most affordable thing to do in the Cambridge area is share a flat or house. But although I'd be moving there solo, eventually my family would join me, so having roommates isn't the best solution.

I've been staring at public transit maps and trying to figure out what a realistic commute would be, but I'm having a difficult time imagining it. I'll be in the area in a couple of weeks (unrelated business) and should have some time to look around at rentals. Any advice on neighborhoods? Quiet, queer friendly (okay, yes, the entire state is supposedly queer friendly, but still), convenient to good pizza and public transit (in that order).
Logged
lohai0
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,977


« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 10:22:08 PM »

It's maybe a bit of a commute, but my twin lives in Somerville, which is still relatively affordable. It's on the orange line of the T.
Logged

I hate helicopter zombie grandparents. They are the worst.
zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,567


« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 6:19:37 AM »


There are thousands of grad students and post-docs who live in Boston and surrounding communities, so you should be able to find something.  I knew a post-doc from Harvard who, I recall, lived in JP (Jamaica Plain), but any of the suburbs on the T would be within an hour of MIT/Kendall.  In addition to Somerville, Malden, Everett, and even Salem come to mind.  (Salem you'd take commuter rail to the T.) 

About queer friendliness, you want to check out Bay Windows, a GLBT newspaper (and website) from Boston.  Perhaps to get a sense of things.
Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
stanwyck
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,399


« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 2:15:23 PM »

Thanks, this may answer my question. If the only way I can afford to take the position is to set myself up for a two-hour commute every day... I don't think I can do that. I had a commute like that before going back to graduate school and it made me bitter. I have a longer commute now, and it's made me even more bitter. No sense feeding the beast.
Logged
scampster
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 10,879


« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 2:22:53 PM »

Somerville is a trivial commute to many parts of Cambridge and Boston on the red line.

ETA: This does depend on where in Somerville and Cambridge/Boston of course. MIT is right on the red line.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 2:24:15 PM by scampster » Logged

When you are a scientist your opinions and prejudices become facts. Science is like magic that way!
macaroon
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,410

__/\__\0/__ Look out! Sharks!


« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 2:29:59 PM »

stanwyck, let me correct you on the queer friendliness.   The state is not queer friendly - the entire region is unfriendly to everyone, no matter what.  Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts because New Englanders have turned minding their own business into an art.  They aren't pro-gay, they are pro - "I don't care WHAT you are doing over there."  No one is going to be nice to you unless your relatives have lived there for 5 generations. 

But okay, Cambridge is pretty awesome and there is a vibrant academic culture.  That's a great reason to go!

If your family will only be joining you "eventually", why not share an apartment for six months with another Postdoc/VAP? 

Logged
collegekidsmom
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,038


« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 10:52:09 PM »

It really depends on what size of a house/property you are looking for. There are so many choices in the Boston area, all easy commutes to Cambridge, and lots of choices. What exactly do you need in terms of housing? Plenty of young people manage fine in the city and surrounds living on their own in decent places. Do you need a big house or outdoor space for children? Parking spaces in a driveway? What is your ideal or close to ideal setup?

And, no, New England is not likely going to be full of people all up in your business. I am from there so I guess that could be why I enjoy my privacy. Of course, Cambridge is full of everyone from everywhere.
If you'd like more specific advice, please let us know what you are looking for. A two hour commute is a long way in New England-for that distance you could come from Rhode Island or New Hampshire. It is not even two hours from there to Hartford, Conn-so no, not two hours for your commute. Of course, if you are driving and happen to get stuck on the Mass Pike, 128 or the Southeast Expressway behind a large traffic snarl, well maybe.
Logged
greyscale
Monochromatic
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,375


« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 12:17:00 AM »

I'm also browsing apartment listings there, right now. I haven't lived there in 10 years, but people tell me this is still true: If you want an apartment, don't rely on craigslist. Talk to an agent and look a month ahead or more (the agent's fee is a month's rent, usually, which sucks).

(My current city is completely craigslist-ified, has no such thing as rental agents, and apartments are posted about two days before they're available (and rented five minutes later) so it's an adjustment for me.)

Like others said: what counts as a good commute for you? Anything on the Red Line in Cambridge or Somerville would be trivial. There's a good bus along Mass Ave into Arlington, and many of my old friends have moved there after having kids. The South End of Boston (NOT "Southie") is the canonically gay neighborhood and Jamaica Plain was, last I knew, the canonically lesbian neighborhood. Davis Square in Somerville and Central Square in Cambridge are both also very queer-friendly. But really, anything near there will be ok.
Logged
forest_and_the_trees
Senior member
****
Posts: 341


« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2012, 12:17:40 PM »

Jamaica Plain was, last I knew, the canonically lesbian neighborhood.

Roslindale is the canonically married lesbian neighborhood.
Logged
niceday
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,974


« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2012, 12:32:17 PM »

Not that I have an offer, but I've pondered the region before but could not figure out if one could live somewhere decent in the area with a decent school system on a reasonable salary. Now that we are asking the question, any input?
Logged
zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,567


« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2012, 4:26:39 PM »

Not that I have an offer, but I've pondered the region before but could not figure out if one could live somewhere decent in the area with a decent school system on a reasonable salary. Now that we are asking the question, any input?

Boston and its immediate suburbs have their "iffy" pockets, but in general, the area is (mostly) decent.  Public schools in Mass are very good, again excepting pockets here and there.  The state department of ed publishes results of standardized tests, so the school data is pretty transparent.  Eastern Mass is a relatively expensive area, but salaries tend to be higher as well.  One couldn't buy a house in the suburbs with a acre of land on an assistant professor's salary, but that would be a realistic goal for a mid-career person or a dual income family (eventually).  (Of course, you'd get a commute, too.)  I've known all kinds of grad students and post-docs who went to school in Boston and suburbs, and lived at a reasonable commuting distance, in OK-ish (but not gentrified or tony) neighborhoods.   Of course, if the thought of living in a three-decker (aka Irish battleship), or having neighbors out of Good Will Hunting or The Fighter put you in a panic, it may not be a good fit.
 
 
Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
aysecik
Senior member
****
Posts: 250


« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2012, 11:45:31 PM »

I agree with the comments here. It basically depends if the school system is a deciding factor. If it is, I don't know enough to say much but the Arlington comment sounds about right, as well as other suburbs. If schools are not an issue, I would recommend Somerville, near either Porter or Davis Squares on the red line, or a bit farther from the T but within ~30 minute walking distance to MIT, towards the Cambridge/Somerville border (Inman and Union Squares, even Spring Hill near Porter). Rents are lower than in Cambridge, and the areas are often a bit more residential. And it is a very easy commute to MIT. Most post-docs and grad students I know live either in Cambridge or in Somerville, with a few exceptions only.

About feasibility, many do it so it is feasible. Having a roommate or two incomes in a family obviously help a lot, as rents are indeed expensive. But if you are in the city, you don't really need a car (you can get a Zipcar account, MIT has a discount) so that saves some money there.

Good luck!
Logged
totoro
Friendly Neighborhood Troll and
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,960


« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2012, 4:10:42 AM »

Any place on the red line T will be very convenient. Areas south of downtown Boston will be cheapest though I wouldn't want to live there. Harvard is easier as there are lots of buses that go there. A little more inconvenient to get to MIT. Changing T line also takes more time but feasible though anywhere on the Green line west of BU can end up taking a long time to get to MIT. I used to be at BU and live on the Green line to the west of there.
Logged
spork
If you are reading this, I am naked.
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 16,148


« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2012, 8:46:23 AM »


[. . .]

the salary would be the equivalent of what I'm making currently as a VAP in a much more affordable part of the country

[. . .]

Since you have a family, if the salaries for both jobs are the same, I would stay where you are, unless you can flip prestige of the job at MIT (I'm assuming) into a more lucrative career somewhere other than where you are now.

The only thing that would alter my reasoning is if I had a family member with a severe medical problem and was living in a place where adequate medical care was not easily available/affordable.
Logged

a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
stanwyck
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,399


« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 11:33:44 PM »

Thanks for all the responses--there's a lot of good feedback here. I didn't mean to start a thread and disappear, but the end of the semester has sucked my soul dry. I'll get back to this after I turn in the final grades (I hope).
Logged
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.