"I’m rich and smart, my home is charming, sense of irony well-honed. I buy used books and Britas, I snack on nuts and wine." (Jonathan Coulton, "Brookline") Read Guide >
The majority of people living in Brookline actually work in Boston, but prefer the feeling of the town life to the bustling city. This has led to a unique housing situation compared to many towns of similar size. Whereas most towns have a lot of single family homes, there are a huge number of apartments in Brookline -- from high-rises to small complexes. So you'll have a lot of choices when trying to find an apartment rental in the area, and you can have as many bedrooms as your heart (and roommates) desires.
The most important thing to consider when planning to get an apartment of any size in Brookline is money. Even by Massachusetts standards, Brookline costs you a hefty heap of dollars (or, in native-speak, "dollahs"). In return, you get lots of trendy shops and restaurants, top-of-the-line services, and you're within spitting distance of Boston. Brookline residents say it's all worth it, but be prepared to shell out some serious dough.
Great apartments are hard to come by, so be sure to have all your paperwork in order before you begin your search--you may need to pounce. Referrals from your employer, last landlord, and any important individuals you may know are necessary (got any senators in your contact list?). Proof of employment, credit checks, pay stubs, and bank statements are also essential in all but the cheapest rentals. Think of it as getting an impromptu audit.
Frankly, all of Brookline is nice, but some places are nicer than others, and some areas are more affordable. Here's a brief description of the various 'hoods, with relative price ratings.
Saint Paul Street: Situated in north Brookline, this is the best of the best, filled with high-rise apartments. If you can get a place here, you know you're on top, regardless of what floor you end up on. $$$$$
Westbrook Village: A fairly stable part of town filled with single family homes. Renting a 3 bedroom home or a small studio home (1 to 2 bedrooms) is possible, but there isn't an apartment as far as the eye can see. $$$$
Hellenic College: Filled with historic houses, this old neighborhood is a fantastic snapshot of old style architecture. $$$
Boylston St.: This is the most renter-friendly place in Brookline, with low-rises full of 1 to 2 bedroom apartments. $
Brookline Village: Another affordable neighborhood, Brookline Village always has a few empty units at the small apartment complexes and high-rise apartments that make up the community. $$
Brookline residents tout the peace and quiet of their hometown. But, because of its rich community -- filled with highly educated people and lots of big-city professionals -- it is also a place to connect, learn, and have fun. There are many options for recreation and entertainment in the area, including sports clubs, fancy restaurants, stylish boutiques, and trendy nightclubs.
For people who are more into relaxing than living it up, Brookline is filled with parks, cafes, historical sites, art galleries, and other more sedate activities to fill up your time.
Brookline is often considered one of the best places to live in the entire Northeast. If you can put the price aside, it's a rich and dynamic community to join.
Brookline, population 57,000, is an independent city-suburb just west of Boston's Jamaica Plain and Roxbury neighborhoods, and south of its Allston-Brighton boroughs. Over time, this once-exclusive sanctuary for Boston's wealthy has evolved into a well-resourced, better-rounded community whose identity that is harmonious with - but distinct from - that of Boston. And while Boston's body politic remains persistently snagged in the competing interests of its scattered constituents, Brookline continues to maintain a sleeker separatist sensibility that guards its status as a sovereign entity.
This means that Brookline enjoys an unusually supple command of its tax base, and hence, its resource allocation and long-term development. With the exception of a rather raucous collegiate population approaching Comm Ave at its northern border, Brookline has struck a healthy balance of quiet residential and distinctive commercial zones that overlap generously. Residents enjoy amenities unusual to urban living, including a solid network of modest malls at Chestnut Hill, a town golf course and skating rink, a working farm boasting seasonal fare, access to well-distributed and maintained playgrounds and parks, and - yes - good schools.
That's the upside. Brookline's bountiful assets also reflect a high cost of living, and a thin rental market, with the exception of the northerly student quarter. Street parking is ruthlessly monitored and often scarce. And Brookline is not particularly friendly or open, especially in comparison with its buoyant, freewheeling neighbors, Allston and Brighton. Its sense of reserve is slight but palpable, and is arguably the product of residents who know they've got a good thing going, and want to keep it that way.
Pros •Vibrant and unusual, well-funded community resources •Walkability, public transportation, and access to Boston
Cons •Somewhat guarded and cautious •Parking is beastly, except for residents who purchase permits
The People - Who Lives Here?
Brookline's 19th century identity was that of an exclusive retreat for Boston's wealthy. While Boston's Beacon Hill has kept this identity, Brookline has continued to evolve. It continues to be rooted in a strong Jewish heritage, with synagogues and distinctive shops reflecting Jewish pride and tradition. There are a solid proportion of Israeli and Russian immigrant residents, and a measure of Chinese families as well, but low African-American and Latino residency, and a majority of white people.
Social Scene - Bars, clubs, restaurants Brookline has lots of superb restaurants. Coolidge Corner is truly vibrant by day and early evening. Sadly, as is the case in much of metro Boston, late-night action is scarce.
Folks often voice the opinion that Brookline's somewhat restrained pleasures appeal more to people in their late 20s and older.
Transportation & Traffic
Close enough to a broad range of amenities and neighboring attractions that a car is not a must. Public transportation is well-distributed but a little slow: the Green Line often travels at street level, which confines it effectively to auto traffic patterns, and buses are not highly-reliable. Give yourself extra time, and you'll get to wherever you need to go.
The quieter side streets of Brookline provide resident parking, if you're willing to buy a permit. Do NOT tempt fate and attempt rogue parking: you WILL get whacked.
Rental Advice & Tips
Brookline includes a number of well-networked and walkable neighborhoods. Seek to take advantage of this characteristic: be sure to investigate a potential rental on foot to see what services and delights can be easily accessed.
Entertainment & Recreation - Things to do
Coolidge Corner makes for a great half-day stroll, bright, busy, and replete with shops, restaurants, and nearby cool and shaded parks. Larz Anderson Park is a grand pleasure, and Arnold Arboretum in neighboring Jamaica Plain is a regional gem. If you like golf, Putterham Meadows is a quite excellent public course. For mall-style shopping, the Chesnut Hill mall network on the west side is a handsome, pleasant and uncrowded place to enjoy traditional 20th-century department store browsing.
Public schools in Brookline are well-regarded by its citizens. They enjoy the benefit of a comparatively high-income tax base that remains separate from that of neighboring Boston.