What a difference a little time can make. Several years into its renaissance, Somerville has completely transformed itself without losing its identity. Today, Somerville is a trendy neighborhood, a destination for dining, shopping, and nights out. Needless to say, it’s quite an attractive place to live.
Tufts is one of the most prestigious research universities in the United States. And while the number of enrolled students has slowly, steadily climbed over the past few years, on-campus housing has not grown with it.
Fortunately, the university has a great relationship with its twin homes of Medford and Somerville, with off-campus housing becoming an increasingly attractive option for Tufts students. Many landlords and property owners have put a tremendous amount of capital into renovating their properties to attract renters that seek higher end more modern layouts and designs that match 2019 and beyond.
Many Tufts students live within a three-mile radius of the school, renting homes either in Medford or Somerville. While Medford also has a lot to recommend it (which we go into elsewhere on this blog), Somerville just might be “the place” for anyone looking at homes in the Greater Boston area. Why, you ask? Let’s get into it.
Affordable to Expensive Chic
Roughly 30.3% more Tufts students make their home in Somerville as opposed to nearby Medford, and there are several reasons why. Home of the quirky, hip Union Square, Somerville’s vibrant culture has a lot to offer anyone who isn’t thrilled with the idea of moving to a more traditional suburb. Neighborhoods, their local businesses and social amenities often make or break rental pricing in one direction or the other. Hip will often cost more money, but convenience and time saved often trumps many other factors. Preferences and details certainly matter in Somerville. Rental and sales pricing are all over the place. Take notes when looking for a place to live in Somerville.
For a lot of residents – and many students in particular – place is more important than space. To be specific, plenty of renters aren’t looking for a full apartment, especially if it’s their first place or they just moved to the area. In these cases, renting a room provides an excellent alternative to the cost of a whole apartment. A quick search through Boston Pads’ available listings usually has plenty of great options in the $800-$1100 range: often less than half what a full apartment costs, and that could be including a parking space! Renting a three bed in Somerville will absolutely get your more bang for the buck if you time the market right and find an often overlooked location. Keep looking and study the market. There are gems to be found in Somerville.
Somerville Apartments for Tufts Students…And Everyone Else
Of course, some renters want a space of their own, and Somerville is happy to oblige. With studios and 1 bedroom apartments usually hover around the $2,000/month mark, with 2 bedrooms going for roughly $450 more per month. But if you’re bargain hunting, you can find 2 bedroom apartments in the $1,800-$2,000 range from time to time. With time and a little patience, you can find some real hidden jewels in Somerville.
Having your own space, or one shared with a trusted roommate, opens up all kinds of options. Being able to host study groups, get-togethers of a more celebratory nature, or simply having the space for your whole group or family? For some of us, that’s irreplaceable. Scale matters and always drives down utility costs because for the most part you are sharing the same bills on common usage. Somerville parking can be expensive so make sure you work that out with your roommates and what is fair price if you don’t have a car. Perhaps contributing a bit to gas and other things in exchange for occasional rides to the grocery store helps everyone!
Is Somerville Right For Me?
Beyond the relatively affordable cost of living compared to Downtown Boston, there’s plenty that makes Somerville a fantastic place to live. In contrast with the more suburban Medford, Somerville has a vibrant local scene that’s a hit with anyone looking for a vibrant, rising local scene. You have some thinking to do on what works for you. You can scour the internet to see if your local needs are met within a 10 minute radius of your place. Think about where you will commute the most and work from that vantage point. Speaking of, Somerville is directly northwest of the city of Boston. We know commuting can be stressful in Beantown, but driving in and out of Boston from Somerville might give some commuters an easier day-to-day experience (not to mention an escape route before they hit a couple of notorious traffic hot-spots to the immediate north and west).
Great Bars, Pubs, and More
While Tufts underclassman won’t be taking full advantage, the 21 and up crowd will enjoy wine tastings at Bow Market’s Rebel Rebel, or the Spoke Wine Bar. or the choice selection of IPAs and craft beers at The Thirsty Scholar pub (which the observant might recognize from the film “The Social Network”). Whether you’re in the market for a strong drink or not, the fish & chips, burgers, and other hearty fare comes highly recommended in Somerville’s pub scene. Whether you hit up the Variety cocktail bar or not, the Comedy Studio – relocated to Union Square from Cambridge – is a hit with students and locals alike. And of course, the Somerville Brewing Company is a must-see for fans of craft beer.
Great Food in Somerville
Somerville has a fantastic dining scene, worth going into in its own right. There are too many great options to list them all here, so consider this an appetizer rather than the main course. Sarma’s Turkish meyhanes (tavern)-inspired small plates provide fantastic Mediterranean and Balkan dishes. From the seven-layer hummus complete with falafel crackers, to the harissa barbecue duck, to the roving off-menu options, it’s a dining experience. Inside the Areonaut Brewery (did we mention that this place loves its craft beer?), you’ll find Tasting Counter: a 20-seat, nine-course dinner experience (or a three-course lunch, if you prefer). While it probably won’t become a frequent haunt, it is definitely worth checking out. Finally, there are few better ways to celebrate passing a difficult class, than going to Rebel Rebel. It is the natural wine bar of your dreams, a cozy spot where you are always guaranteed a great glass of wine. They do not have a full menu, but they have delicious snacks (of the olives and cheese variety).
Should I Move To Somerville?
Plenty of people enjoy living in Somerville – about 81,000 give or take – and while students only make up roughly 1% of that number, the dynamic, emerging city has a lot more in common with university students than a traditional suburb is likely to.
Anyone looking for a hip, urban living experience – without breaking the bank – will find a lot to love about living in Somerville. As we mentioned, Somerville is more like a city neighborhood or a cool college town than a suburb. A lot of renters and homebuyers, be it young families, recent college grads, or full-on adults, are looking for somewhere with a more cosmopolitan energy. You know, the kind of place with adventurous drinking and dining options, a lively cultural scene, and somewhere where you can step out your front door and feel in tune with Boston’s beautiful, beating heart. So yeah, check out what this not-so-hidden gem has to offer at Somerville Pads. If Somerville is still in your maybe column, head over to Boston Pads and expand your search. Rest assured that we’ll help you find the home, apartment, or rental property of your dreams.