Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scouting for accommodation in Boston

Boston seems a lot nicer once you get to Cambridge. On my last visit, I had an interview at Harvard and I was in and out real quick. Red line, silver line, Logan, Albany, not much to see and touch. This time I actually got to experience Boston. From the daily commute (I was staying in Natick with a friend, 45 min to South Station) to the peripheral neighborhoods (Quincy, Medford etc.) I tried everything. Back Bay is really nice with its fancy old boulevards and close to most things. The MIT/Kendall area suffers tremendously in terms of image since (I assume) it was (and still is, to some extent) a crowded former industrial area of Cambridge. Still, you read in the local papers how much is coming up these days. So no surprise, here I found some really bad and pricey prices (amazingly contradictory!). Getting the weekly Charlie pass helps so much to move around Boston. Just tap or slide and your problems are over. Worthwhile even for my three and a half days in Boston. Speaking of transport, this time, Megabus was a trully inspired choice. That even after they’ve change the schedule on me (on the same day I got an email that my bus is going to leave earlier from NYC); I was already on my way to NYC, so there was nothing to do but to wait for the next one. Being among the first on the ten people line in the middle of the week has its perks, beside the awesome price ($5 one way)…talking about the table with 4 chairs facing each other that helps with your overheating lap from the laptop usage. Obviously, free wireless and plugs get their fair share of appreciation. My adventure in searching for a place was indeed as the MIT housing website and person responsible coined it: “you will see everything from the bad, ugly and even weird”. And I did. Started with some mixed apartments in the Watertown; I really liked the area, also quick access to Harvard Sq. via fast buses (73 and 71 lines). Remained an option until the last day. Then scouted a bit of the Cambridge/Kendall area, Central Square and Lechmere. Not good. Overprices. Shady. Didn’t enjoy but still part of the overall experience. Finally, made my way to the popular (among students) Somerville: Davis Square was really nice, and I saw great places close to Teele Square. Hope started to emerge and once you have a back-up, I started brainstorming about a decision, although on the third day I managed to see some more places in Somerville, Cambridge and even Quincy area, after a long T ride and walk in the neighborhood. Some practical advices: 1. Get there on weekdays (people are at home and you can maximize better the search days if you include weekends). 2 Do zones (e.g. Somerville in one day; Cambridge the other, etc); 3. Go beyond the common newbie naivity (I want a place near Harvard or MIT): the red T line works flawlessly (especially off peak hours; otherwise, it’s not that peachy); Cambridge has bike lanes which is great; plus, MTBA trains are working great either from the South Station or the Back Bay one; finally, having your personal car gets you even further (suburbs, etc) although the costs might be pretty high in the Boston area…so leave it outside. 4. Check out the sites of universities for adds (I did Berklee and MIT, ask for help from friends etc) besides the main source (craigslist, for me). Many times I felt that the landlords were interviewing me before showing me the house. Obviously coming to MIT gets many eyes rolling (for appreciation, I hope) so flash your credentials to them, make them work. Finally, act relaxed but interested, even if you’re not. Being polite brings a lot. Your purpose is to find a place but nasty-ness you will not bring you closer to your final goal. Just be patient, persistent and SMART. You will get there.

1 comment:

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