Maybe you’ve been in Boston for years, but you’re now having kids and looking to relocate. Maybe you’re planning a move to the Boston area from another city in the U.S. or abroad, and you’re trying to make sense of your options. Whatever the case, Boston Moms is here to help with a handy guide to some popular towns in the area! We’ll tell you about the vibe, income levels, schools, and fun insider info to help you figure out the best place for you.
(Also check out our guides to East Arlington, Milton, North Attleboro, Salem, and the South End!)
Vibe :: Urban suburbs
Somerville is only four square miles, but as the most densely populated town in New England (and one of the most densely populated towns in the country), there is no shortage of things to go, do, and see here. We moved here from New York City when our older son was a baby, and my husband and I joke that Somerville is as far into the suburbs as we can go. With an MBTA Red Line stop, incredibly high walk scores in almost every neighborhood, and more bike commuters than almost anywhere else in the U.S., that’s not very suburban. However, we live in a house with a yard on a fairly quiet street surrounded by great neighbors who are now also friends (even our pediatrician lives only five houses down from us!), so we constantly feel overwhelmed by small-town charm.
Walking around Somerville often feels like living in a Richard Scarry story — you can pop in to the butcher, bakery, or bank within minutes. And quirks also abound. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone driving a banana car — let’s be honest. Somerville can support both old school institutions like Capone Foods and new, hip eateries like Union Square Donuts. Somerville is the site of the first official raising of the American flag (way back in 1776) and also HONK!, the activist street band festival showcasing musicians from around the world.
Live :: Hip history — at a price
This level of hipness and history comes at a price, however. Somerville home prices are rising — rapidly. Most young families who do not already own can’t afford to get into this market. With a median home value of $659,000 and no way to increase supply, the competition is tough. Almost everyone in Somerville lives in a two- or three-family home (only about 10% of houses are single-family), and houses are bought up quickly by developers looking to renovate and sell them as condos. The woes of the housing market are a frequent discussion in every local moms group and are also a rallying cry for almost all candidates for public office. The city is under a lot of pressure to make sure long-term residents can afford to stay while also welcoming the young, affluent families increasingly choosing to stay in the city instead of moving further into the suburbs.
The population of Somerville skews very young, with the vast majority of residents under the age of 55. Neighborhood schools are a draw for many families, and a new high school is being built that will provide more space and better support kids who are anticipating going on to college as well as those hoping to train in a trade or the arts.
Play :: Endless options
Somerville offers all the typical amenities families are looking for, like parks in every neighborhood, three library branches, commercial shopping districts, and the community bike path that connects a large corridor of the city for car-free biking, walking, and strolling. We’re also a short drive over to the Fells, and our family goes birding on the Mystic with friends a few times a month. Groups like Parts and Crafts, Esh Circus Arts, and Brooklyn Boulders offer fun class alternatives to soccer and dance (though we certainly have that, too).
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful!
Stay tuned for more town guides to clue you in about Greater Boston’s many terrific family-oriented places to live.
Also, see our previous guides to East Arlington, Milton, North Attleboro, Salem, and the South End.