Quick history lesson to get you up to speed: The area was originally settled in 1630 as part of Cambridge, but the city of Newton was a rich farming community that transformed into a semi-suburban feeling city.
Newton is located a convenient 11-miles west of Boston, right off the Massachusetts Turnpike. This proximity means Newton, like many of Boston's suburbs, is linked via public transportation to the center of “the Bean” and is within close proximity to Boston's premier attractions. Additionally, Newton is home to the Crystal Lake, which has some public parks and beaches along its shore, two orchestras and is a major stop on the Boston Marathon route.
Unlike neighboring Watertown, Newton has a less dense, more family-friendly feel. Some of the youngest families around these neighborhoods may be in their mid-to-early thirties. If you haven’t crossed into 30-ville yet, don’t worry; Newton has plenty of entertainment options and access to some upscale shopping. If you’re coming with kids in tow, there are some great public school systems in Newton. See? Everybody wins!
Don't You Dare Call Them Neighborhoods
The city of Newton is laid out in a particularly distinct and charming way. Rather than having a main city center with neighborhoods expanding outwards from this center, frequently going from urban to suburban, the city is composed of distinct villages. These villages frequently have their own center, giving each of Newton's neighborhoods a unique small town atmosphere. All in all, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bad area in Newton.
North Newton Villages North Newton extends southwards from the Charles River down to Newton Centre and the city's central business district. North Newton is characterized by having a higher population density than the southern reaches, and is thus more urban feeling. Villages in north Newton include Aburndale, Nonantum, West Newton, Newton Corner and Newton Lower Falls. While most of Newton skews slightly older and more settled, the northern regions of town attract a younger crowd, due to the cheaper rent and more prevalent entertainment options.
South Newton Villages South Newton – that is, parts of the city south of State Route 9 – is generally considered to be a bit more bourgeois than the rest of the town. Villages in south Newton include Newton Highlands, Chestnut Hill, Oak Hill and Newton Upper Falls. Because these villages are a bit newer than the rest of the city's villages, they tend to feel a bit more suburban. The nearby golf courses, pretty much slam-dunks the ritzy, upper class feel. Rentals in South Newton will generally have more amenities, and thus will cost more.
It’ll probably be more of a challenge to find a rental in the south than in the north, as most southern village homes are owned outright. However, Chestnut Hill has some desirable rentals near the two upscale malls. Prices for rentals in south Newton are generally quite costly, with two bedrooms ranging from $1900-2100.
Newton Centre Newton Centre is, obviously, located at the center of the city of Newton and is home to several upscale restaurants, boutiques and shopping centers. In fact, this area is where often where wealthy Bostonians end up visiting when in the area. There are plenty of rentals available in Newton Centre, many quite affordable and with a good mix of the affordability of the North and the poshness of the South. Two bedrooms in this area generally go for $1700-1900.
OK, Newton isn't Boston, but the rental market is plagued by some of the more annoying aspects of finding a decent rental in the city. Begin your apartment search at least 60 days before your move-in date. You're going to need it.
As you begin your search, you'll have to decide whether you want to go through a broker or not. Brokers have access to a lot of apartments that you wouldn't otherwise be able to find, but they come at a hefty price. Be prepared to shell out some major cash for a broker (up to 10% of your annual rent), in addition to application fees and deposits. Or you could just use the site you’re already on. Just sayin’.
Almost everyone in Newton commutes to Boston. Your neighbors commute to Boston, your kids commute to Boston, and your pets probably do to. Trust us, you will commute to Boston. This means two things: one, that traffic will be pretty bad along the Massachusetts Turnpike into the city during the AM and PM rush hours, and two, that you should consider living close to a MBTA stop.
The hub of the city's public transportation is at the Newton Center station in the central business district. Here several train and express bus lines ferry Newton residents into and out of Boston proper. In addition to Newton Centre, Newton Highlands also has its own Green Line D Branch. Chestnut Hill has the most access to transportation, as it has a stop on both the Green Line D and B Branches. But, unless you enjoy riding with every Boston University kid along the way to work, you might want to just stick with the D line. Commuting into Boston via train generally takes about 30 minutes.
For the less-serviced northern villages, a commuter line runs every half an hour into and out of the city during rush hour, and buses operating into nearby Waltham and Watertown can also help keep you mobile. Many of the larger T stations will also have large free parking available to commuters.
There you have it, a brief overview of Newton. What are you waiting for? Boston can only control most American sports for a short only so long, get in there while the getting’s good! Happy hunting!