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Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Atlanta, GA
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Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Hi, I've just returned from my trip to Boston and now I've realized that it's too bad I couldn't have taken more time to look for an apartment. I really wanted to move to this place in the North End, but it turned out that they only accept single people so my husband wouldn't be able to come with me! The places they showed us in the Fenway were just too pricey and I did not like Brighton, so finally when we were about to leave to catch our flight the realtor called and showed us this 1 bedroom in the South End for 1250. It was on Shawmut Ave. really close to Mass Ave. (I'm going to be going to school at the Museum School, so I guess I'd have to catch a bush.) Can anyone give me advice about this area? I heard that some parts of it are really nice and othes are shady, and I didn't have time to explore the neighborhood because we had to rush to the airport. I just wanted to make sure that she wasn't sort of "stretching" the neighborhood by calling it the South End.

Thank you for your help!

Boston
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1. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Good morning Dot73,

WOW that's a good price for a South End apartment, you better scoop that one up, take a look at it good first though, they're usually higher than that, these days! YES, Shawmut Ave. is right in the heart of the South End. For example one of my favorite stores that's in Cambridge is also in the South End now on Shawmut Ave. It's one shop that you'll be visiting quite a lot if you end up taking this apartment, so remember it and look for it, because it's just wonderful:

www.southendformaggio.com

Good luck!

Quincy...
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2. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Hi Dot,

So, I lived for 15 years on Worcester Sq., (until 2004), which is 1 block away from your potential apartment on Shawmut. I guess I can give you the inside scoop. Yes, it's definitely the South End.

The area has changed drastically from when I first moved in. It's gone much more upscale. One of the hottest restaurants in town just opened recently on the corner of Mass Ave and Worcester Sq (Toro). Condos are going for over 1 million dollars in the area now. The Silver Line on Washington St. makes it easy to get downtown fairly quickly. You can walk to most of the back bay and downtown from there, as well. There's a Walgreens two blocks away, and a nice little supermarket called Foodies, which is about a 10 min walk down Washington St. An excellent bakery called Flour is also there, and a great diner, called Mike's City Diner, next to Toro.

The number 1 bus will take you down Mass Ave, near the MFA, or you can take the #47 which goes right by (but takes a bit longer), the number 1 runs pretty frequently. You could actually walk it as well. I used to be able to walk it in 25 minutes or so. There's a very cheap gym ($250/yr) in the Boston Medical Center, 1 block away, with an indoor pool.

However, it's still mixed neighborhood, as is all of the South End. There are "unsavory" characters who hang out around the store 24 on the corner, and there is the occasional mugging in the area as well. Overall, it's not an unsafe area, but it's like Fenway and Mission Hill. Make sure you are OK with being careful and aware of your surroundings. That isn't to scare you off, mind you. But, I did have my car stolen and my condo broken into once each...but that was in 15 years, too.

Again, if you liked the apartment, I think you will be OK with the neighborhood and it's convenient for your schooling too. Try to get a monthly tenancy, instead of signing a 1 year lease, if you are worried. Otherwise, I say go for it.

Boston...
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3. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

I agree with BTMan... to get a place in that area for that money IS a good deal. I would elaborate on the location on Shawmut, though... Mass Ave. is what I would consider to be the boundary between "nice" and "shady". It's my opinion that anything EAST of Mass Ave would be desireable, but WEST would not. Of course, there are exceptions, but having lived in that neighborhood for many years until recently, and having many friends still there, that's MY 2 -cents' worth.

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4. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

I currently live in the South End and am very intuned to the realestate market becasue I'm currently on look out for investment properties. I think the reviews you are getting are very optimistic about the area. Within South End there are pockets of million dollar condos to very shady areas. Whether the price is good depends on the condition, size and location. Make sure you see the apartment first and walk around the area. Shawmut and Mass Ave (MassAve in general) is the very border of South End and not many people will pay Million dollars to live on Mass Ave unless the place is a palace. It's also few blocks from the BMC's methadone clinic. (i'm in medical profession). Hence the caution.

If you are on "student budget" and just want convenient location to South End with its trendy and overpriced restaurants, Mass Ave and Shawmut is okay. But if you want to live in quaint North End and South End brownstone atmosphere then it's a few blocks too far in my opinion.

As a general reference, my friend who was a Fellow at BMC was able to get an 1100+ sqft apt in that general location for $1100 (considered a good deal). She then moved to a 400 sq ft apt in the heart of South End for $800, but felt that her life-style was drastically improved.

Quincy...
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5. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Dot,

I don't think you need to worry about the real estate prices in the area, you just want to rent.

As far as the South End goes, the other edge of the South End (closer to downtown, around Tremont/Columbus avenues, Dartmouth and Clarendon Sts) is somewhat more gentrified. However, the South End is a mixed area throughout. There are huge public housing projects scattered throughout the area. The restaurants that are opening on Washington St. have brought a lot of after dark life to Washington, and it's not any more dangerous than walking down Tremont St. Granted, I'm a man and it's different. But in 15 years of living there, I never had an issue feeling scared. Yes, my condo was broken into, and that was bad, but it happens. Walking along the streets in the area, to and from Walgreens, the gym, Foodies, walking back from the Back Bay, I never felt nervous.

One other thing to consider. For your commute to the MFA, the Mass Ave end of the South End is much easier and quicker. As I said, you can walk to the MFA, or you have the option of taking two bus lines, one of which goes directly from that part of the South End, right by the front door of the MFA school. (#47...goes up ruggles st, past the MFA).

It's all an urban area. You are from Atlanta. There's plenty of crime there, as well. You wouldn't wander around downtown Atlanta without being careful, so don't do it here either.

If you want a neighborhood which is considered completely safe and has that reputation, the North End, Back Bay and Beacon Hill are it. Outside of those areas, it begins to be less certain. Your only other alternative is the burbs...Malden on the Orange Line, or Brookline/Newton on the Green Line, or Quincy/Cambridge on the Red Line.

Again, I strongly suggest that you find a place without a lease and live here a while, so you can explore more carefully.

Boston
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6. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

BeantownMan, can you tell me more about the gym at BMC?? I live next to it and never heard about it.

As for the apt, NEVER sign a lease for a property you haven't seen. I love the South End and have lived in two very different areas of it - both are great, but there are many dumps that the realtors are trying to pawn off !! Good luck!

Quincy...
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7. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

BostonGirl,

Here is some information:

bu.edu/dbin/…fitness_center.php

Although it says that the $250/yr is for students and employees, I showed them I was a neighborhood resident and I got that rate as well. The gym is in that tall nurses dormitory building on the corner of Harrison Ave. and Mass. Ave. Use the Northampton St. entrance to the building and it's on the 4th floor. There are NO signs of any sort, until you get to the hallway right outside the entrance, so ask if you aren't sure.

Atlanta, GA
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8. Re: Living in the South End? (Shawmut)

Wow, a lot of people replied. Thanks! I am starting to think that I need to actually take another trip to Boston because you really just don't know where you want to live until you actually see the neighborhoods for yourself and I didn't get to spend any time in the South End, I just saw the apartment really quickly and had to leave. Thank you everyone for your responses!