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Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Old Mar 20th 2007, 10:34 am
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Default Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Hello everyone,

I have been here for a few weeks, but kept a low profile as an impending move to the US wasn't certain and I felt it was a bit cheeky to crash your soiree. It is now looking a lot more likely, so thought I ought to pop my head in and say a proper hello to everyone - reading your posts has proved most helpful for a naiive little yellowbelly like me. I just wondered if anyone has experience of the Boston/Cambridge area that I could viscously suck dry for info?!

thanks
P
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 11:29 am
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by popcorn View Post
Hello everyone,

I have been here for a few weeks, but kept a low profile as an impending move to the US wasn't certain and I felt it was a bit cheeky to crash your soiree. It is now looking a lot more likely, so thought I ought to pop my head in and say a proper hello to everyone - reading your posts has proved most helpful for a naiive little yellowbelly like me. I just wondered if anyone has experience of the Boston/Cambridge area that I could viscously suck dry for info?!

thanks
P
Hello and welcome to BE Popcorn.

We have a friendly mod who lives out in that neck of the woods...I'm sure he'll be along shortly.

Last edited by Jerseygirl; Mar 20th 2007 at 11:41 am.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 11:58 am
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

11 random points:
1. Be prepapred for insane drivers. By this I mean... insane drivers. Also, parking is relatively horrendous compared to the rest of the US.
2. The green line goes everywhere but you can probably walk faster.
3. Fanueil Hall and Quincy market aren't much more than a tourist traps. Also, don't go to the Cheers bar unless you absolutely must. It's worthless.
4. Good burgers and frappes can be found at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, a Harvard Square institution.
5. Wellfleet has the best beach on Cape Cod, Duxbury on the South Shore, Ipswitch on the North Shore.
6. Acela to NYC is OK, but it's more fun to drive the Merritt Parkway through CT. The Mohawk Trail (Rt. 2) out to Williamstown is a good drive through rural Mass, as is Rt. 9 through the Pioneer Valley.
7. Sam Adams is really only the tip of the Boston/New England beer scene. Tremont Ale is damned good, as is Harpoon, Magic Hat, John Harvard, Long Trail and Smuttynose.
8. Paying a fortune to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park is worth it even if you don't like baseball.
9. The Boston Duck Tours is insanely touristy but a good way to get an overview of the city.
10. One more touristy bit: go to the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum, it's unique and fairly amazing. It's also just across the street from thew MFA.
11. Real estate here: http://www.boston.com/realestate/?p1=GN_RE
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 12:18 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Hi Popcorn, welcome to BE.

I live in Weston, a suburb 12 miles west of the city. Hubs works in Cambridge and I drive in to Boston a couple of times a week. Driving's not easy, but I wouldn't be doing it so frequently if it were horrendous!

Otherwise I'd agree with all Hiro's observations. I'd add that you'll need to be aware of the capricious nature of our winters! A little complacency snook into our household only last Friday when, after 12 Boston winters, my husband didn't watch the weather forecast before heading into work. He took the sports car (big mistake) and ended up having to abandon it overnight on the commute home as a snowstorm swept in and he couldn't get up a hill on route 2 You'd think we'd have learned by now.

Fire away with some specific questions and we'll try and help. Are you moving alone or with family members in tow?

Good luck with the planning.

Last edited by janj; Mar 20th 2007 at 12:23 pm.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 12:20 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

welcome and good luck on your move
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Thanks for the response so far! And - you asked for it.. here are the questions/ramblings of a half wildly excited half terrified soon-to-be expat!:

Hus will be working in Cambridge also. I won't be working initially, so my main thoughts are on where to live that is practical, but not too pricey! I don't want to feel too isolated as I will be at home a lot, but we also have a dog, so a top floor apartment in Boston isn't gonna work too well. I would love to live in a spirited, arty community if poss (I'm in the design/art trade, but won't be able to work). Hus had a recce a few weeks back and thought Somerville seemed nice? Initially we will be renting with a budget of around $1200-$1700 a month, need at least 2 beds. We will look to buy a little later down the line. I also wondered about the driving in Mass - do we need to re-take our tests? (I've emailed the DMV, but not had a response yet) I think I would want a few 'confidence boosting' lessons anyway, whilst hus is very happy driving as a righty, I am a little nervous! - I've done it a couple of times, but attempting the freeway on my own scares the bejesus outa me! Also, apart from using the exchange rate - how on earth did you figure out how your living/salary/taxes would compare to the UK?!
What were the things you were most suprised (good and bad) about moving to Boston/Mass?

OOOooo just thought I would add I currently live in a town 'officially' devoid of any culture whatsoever, so am interested in anything more cultured than my town's 'silk museum'...

Last edited by popcorn; Mar 20th 2007 at 4:22 pm. Reason: Addition...
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 4:54 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=406253

http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=376181

couple of old threads about Mass...quite a few folks in the cambridge area...bloomin' expensive, and a lot of it is a bit of a dump, despite the reputation and having MIT.

Also added some stuff to the city guide in the wiki with some places about the state and a few of the cities...it's a start till anyone else add's more stuff.

Welcome to BE
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 5:01 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by popcorn View Post
Hus will be working in Cambridge also. I won't be working initially, so my main thoughts are on where to live that is practical, but not too pricey! I don't want to feel too isolated as I will be at home a lot, but we also have a dog, so a top floor apartment in Boston isn't gonna work too well. I would love to live in a spirited, arty community if poss (I'm in the design/art trade, but won't be able to work). Hus had a recce a few weeks back and thought Somerville seemed nice? Initially we will be renting with a budget of around $1200-$1700 a month, need at least 2 beds. We will look to buy a little later down the line. I also wondered about the driving in Mass - do we need to re-take our tests? (I've emailed the DMV, but not had a response yet) I think I would want a few 'confidence boosting' lessons anyway, whilst hus is very happy driving as a righty, I am a little nervous! - I've done it a couple of times, but attempting the freeway on my own scares the bejesus outa me! Also, apart from using the exchange rate - how on earth did you figure out how your living/salary/taxes would compare to the UK?!
What were the things you were most suprised (good and bad) about moving to Boston/Mass?
You'll struggle to find a place that'll take a dog in boston, try the burbs...$1200 won't get you shit, $1700 will get you an apartment that's not small....look further afield and it'll get a lot cheaper like the metro west area...have a sniff in Newton Falls, it's on the T, Riverside, it's the last stop.

DMV sucks donkey balls, and you'll have to take the test...car insurance is expensive here and more so if you live in a dive....if you live in the burbs I can fire you a good insurance guy out in Sudbury, came up trumps.

Salary, look at lossing 40% odd after you've had taxes, medical insurance and all the other rubbish...utilities are expensive here and they'll pike you with all kinds of crap taxes, it's much cheaper to rent than buy.

Surprises...just how crap the roads are, how much you spend on tolls living in the burbs, so get an EZ pass...$30 for the box, but you can get one free from NJ, $6 postage and you don't have to be a NJ resident to get one.

It's a very conservative state....booze laws are utterly shite....everything shuts down way to early, taxis are utterly shite and there isn't public transport much past midnight....parking sucks big monkey balls, and even more so in winter...get a good shovel, metal with wood handle, well worth the investment.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 6:22 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

I lived/worked in Cambridge for a year (now moved up to the NH border). A lot of these decisions come down to taste - e.g. Central Square in Cambridge - some of my colleagues wouldn't walk there at night, I found it refreshing to find somewhere down to earth and diverse. Some people like a detached house and garage and an hour's drive to work, others want to be able to walk to a cafe or bookshop.

If your husband's not addicted to driving, I'd suggest trying to find somewhere that's a reasonable walk/public transport to work. We did fine without a car - parking is a pain, and there are plenty of Zipcars ($8 an hour, swipe a card to open) when you need a car. Unless you have a good reason to live on the Boston side of the river, I'd suggest you stick to Cambridge/Somerville, as it will make the commute much easier.

Rent depends very much on location - goes up as you head towards Harvard Square or a Red Line station. I have friends paying $1100 for a 1 bed apartment on the Cambridge/Somerville border, but you'd get a lot more choice at the upper end of your price range. boston.craigslist.org is where a lot of the private landlords list. Keep in mind heating bills - a poorly insulated electrically heated place will add a significant cost in the winter.

Both Cambridge and Somerville are very varied in terms of atmosphere - there are some really posh bits of Cambridge, and some really grotty bits of Cambridge/Somerville. Somerville doesn't have a great reputation, but some parts are up and coming and fun - particularly Davis Square. We lived in Cambridgeport (close to the river/MIT), which was a friendly area - lots of artists open studios in the summer, for example.

So far as tax goes, if you're not working, the US treatment of married couples filing jointly means that your husband won't be taxed as much as if he was single.

Good luck,

Richard

P.S. Second Bob's comments on the roads - it's amazing that a country that put a man on the moon can't work out that putting drains at the highest point in the road is never going to work. They repainted the lane dividers on the I-93 recently and painted down into the potholes and back up the other side.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 6:47 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by rew1000 View Post
I...........So far as tax goes, if you're not working, the US treatment of married couples filing jointly means that your husband won't be taxed as much as if he was single.
I note that you won't be working 'initially' Let me guess - the dreaded H4? If so, what category H1b is your husband on? If EB3, you could be in for a VERY long wait - think YEARS... If EB1 or EB2, do you have written promise that the company will start the GC process immediately?

That's assuming that you WANT to work of course! Also bear in mind that if you are going to be self-employed, you will not get a tax-free allowance as in the UK, and the tax kicks in at a very high rate. In addition to federal tax (~ 28%), there is state tax (DK what it is in Massachussetts - here in CA it's nearly 10% ). To this you will have to add self-employment tax, which is 12.3% - more ... So you can easily pay half your income in taxes alone, and the business deductions seem less generous than in the UK.

Don't want to put you off, but just thought I'd mention this as it came as a bit of a shock to me.

PS: But the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum is lovely!!
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 6:47 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by rew1000 View Post

Keep in mind heating bills - a poorly insulated electrically heated place will add a significant cost in the winter.
yeah, even oil heated isn't cheap, anything from $200-600 a month depending on the size of your gaff and how warm you want it during the winter months.

65F ain't bad, but even so, that's still not cheap to maintain.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 6:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
(DK what it is in Massachussetts - here in CA it's nearly 10% )....
ain't called taxachussetts for nothing...or mass-ass-chusetts for nothing
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 6:54 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by popcorn View Post
Thanks for the response so far! And - you asked for it.. here are the questions/ramblings of a half wildly excited half terrified soon-to-be expat!:

Hus will be working in Cambridge also. I won't be working initially, so my main thoughts are on where to live that is practical, but not too pricey! I don't want to feel too isolated as I will be at home a lot, but we also have a dog, so a top floor apartment in Boston isn't gonna work too well. I would love to live in a spirited, arty community if poss (I'm in the design/art trade, but won't be able to work). Hus had a recce a few weeks back and thought Somerville seemed nice? Initially we will be renting with a budget of around $1200-$1700 a month, need at least 2 beds. We will look to buy a little later down the line. I also wondered about the driving in Mass - do we need to re-take our tests? (I've emailed the DMV, but not had a response yet) I think I would want a few 'confidence boosting' lessons anyway, whilst hus is very happy driving as a righty, I am a little nervous! - I've done it a couple of times, but attempting the freeway on my own scares the bejesus outa me! Also, apart from using the exchange rate - how on earth did you figure out how your living/salary/taxes would compare to the UK?!
What were the things you were most suprised (good and bad) about moving to Boston/Mass?

OOOooo just thought I would add I currently live in a town 'officially' devoid of any culture whatsoever, so am interested in anything more cultured than my town's 'silk museum'...
Finding a rental with a dog...especially if it's not a small breed...could prove very difficult. We looked in the Chicago area and in New Jersey and couldn't find anywhere that would allow us to take a large dog.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 8:22 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by rew1000 View Post
P.S. Second Bob's comments on the roads - it's amazing that a country that put a man on the moon can't work out that putting drains at the highest point in the road is never going to work. They repainted the lane dividers on the I-93 recently and painted down into the potholes and back up the other side.
Total agreement, the Mass Department of Transportation and Turnpike Authority are (literally) a bunch of lazy ass crooks. In terms of general wear and tear, one thing you have to remember, is that the winters are much more harsh here than they are in the UK. Salt+frost heaves+freeze/thaw cycle+ ridiculously big trucks everywhere= destroyed roads.

Having said that, we have even worse winters here in Chicago and the roads are much better here than they are in MA.
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Old Mar 20th 2007, 8:38 pm
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Default Re: Hi! Boston/Cambridge

Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Total agreement, the Mass Department of Transportation and Turnpike Authority are (literally) a bunch of lazy ass crooks. In terms of general wear and tear, one thing you have to remember, is that the winters are much more harsh here than they are in the UK. Salt+frost heaves+freeze/thaw cycle+ ridiculously big trucks everywhere= destroyed roads.

Having said that, we have even worse winters here in Chicago and the roads are much better here than they are in MA.
hell, the roads are better in Maine, and I thought they were shite

the best roads here is the pike, because they spend all that toll money on it instead of scrapping the tolls like they were meant to have done years ago...

frost heave is a big problem, but properly built roads wouldn't break as much, but then again would cost a lot more than slapping on another layer of skinny and calling it good.
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