Due to its prime location just six miles north of Boston, Arlington boasts exceptional connectivity with the entire eastern half of the United States. The I-93 S connects the town to Boston, and there’s even a metro line (Red Line) that’ll take you to Arlington from Park Street Station in Boston.
This being nearly Boston, where everything from gas stations to grocery stores try their darned best to make your wallet cry, expect renting to be a big drain on your expenses. With a median rent higher than the national average, getting a place here will cost you at least an arm, if not an arm and a leg. Of course, rental rates vary depending on the neighborhood which is one of the perks of living in a market economy. Stylish suburban single family homes by the Mystic Lake, for instance, will make you destitute (worth it, even if only to make everyone at Thanksgiving jealous). If you’d rather live in the bustle of the city where you can fall in love with some Harvard-going hipster-chick with nerd glasses and Pikachu t-shirts, you would want to move to Arlington Heights.
It’s not all as sad as the second half of A Walk to Remember though; there are some bright sparks about moving to Arlington as well. For one, the realty market is competitive, so expect professional, red-carpet treatment everywhere (as long as you got the dough, though). Second, most homes here are recently renovated, so you get swanky floors and brand new kitchen appliances that would make your mom really proud. Even the older homes that don’t have the new carpets and lighting fixtures, have something unique to offer a history older than the nation, a view thatll make your dates swoon, or a location just a long jog away from Boston. Plus, expect the people here to be Harvard-erudite, friendly, cultured and urbane, except that everyone sounds like Ben Affleck.
When to Start Looking
House hunting in Arlington is competitive. Expect to attack it with the ferociousness of a Flavor of Love contestant if you want a nice place. Being close to Cambridge, Arlington is the preferred haunt of Bostons scholars and post-graduates and college seniors. Which means come fall, finding a good apartment here is about as difficult as catching a flying pig slathered in Vaseline. Youll have a much better shot at getting a place in winter or spring, when your competition is either stuck in a blizzard, or getting drunk in Cancun. Even then, it is recommended that you give yourself a head start of at least a month.
Things You’ll Need
Arlington is an expensive city in which to buy a home, which probably explains why 40% of all the city’s homes are occupied by renters. As such, the city is pretty renter-friendly. This doesnt mean you can waltz in without any identity or income proof and tap dance your way out with the apartment keys. You’ll have to check all the right boxes proof of income and credit history to get a place in the city. Arlington landlords like to see how you roll; plopping a thick wad of cash for the security deposit on the table right after the handshake will show them that you are a real player. Not looking like a hobo in clothes thrifted from your grandfather’s wardrobe (were looking at you, hipsters, and Macklemore) will help as well. And like everything else everywhere else, you get brownie points if you can use the name Harvard or MIT anywhere in your rental application.
Arlington begins where Boston ends, but because no one really knows where Boston really ends, you can be forgiven for believing you are in Boston when you are in Arlington, and vice-versa. Which sounds almost like cheating, but Arlington still has its very own Arlington-y neighborhoods to choose from, such as:
Arlington Heights: This is the neighborhood Silicon Valley veterans who hate sunshine and warm weather dream of settling in. Nearly 16.1% of all residents here are engaged in computer/mathematical occupations, thanks to nearby MIT and Harvard. And since they all have more money than Mr. Deeds, home prices here can get real high. On the plus side, all homes are ancient, and there are plenty of chic restaurants favored by Harvard educated English and Art majors.
Arlington Center: Arlington Center is the (drumroll) center of Arlington. It’s the favorite hangout spot for students and young professionals. Which means that home prices here won’t make you wish you’d taken that stable, well-paying job instead of backpacking through Europe.
Arlington Historic Center: Arlington Historic Center has more history per square inch than the whole state of California combined. Homes here are not merely historic; they are ancient (and full of character). Like the rest of Arlington, prices aren’t inexpensive, but at least you won’t have to do a Walter White to pay for a home here.
Orivs Road: Teensy weensy Orvis road neighborhood is the place where students who don’t have trust funds and scholarships crash. Which means the place has plenty of character (and characters). Which also means that home prices here won’t poke you in the eye, kick you in the shins and make fun of the balance in your bank account.
Kensington Park: Kensington Park is the place you’d want to move when people start using the word "distinguished" to describe you. This is Arlington’s upper-class neighborhood of imposing brick homes, leafy parks, and well-manicured lawns.
East Arlington: East Arlington is where Arlington merges with Boston’s hoi polloi. In recent years, the neighborhood has been completely taken over by students, which means lower rent and even more inexpensive dining options. Great place to move in if you are young, willing to thrift, and like crashing Ivy-League parties.
Cambridge, right next to Arlington, has two of the country’s best educational institutions, Harvard and MIT. Which means plenty of students call Arlington home, particularly the eastern half of the city.Getting into Boston is easy, thanks to the Red Line subway which runs from Alewife to downtown. Theres also a bus service that’ll take you through Harvard Square which is popular with local students. P.S.: Boston’s MBTA is the oldest subway system in the country, and the fifth largest by number of passengers.
Cambridge is half an hour walk (yes, walk) away from Arlington Center and East Arlington. Whats in Cambridge, you ask? Well, just some of the best restaurants, pubs, museums, performing centers and libraries in the country for starters.Cambridge, just a few miles to the southeast, has more off-beat restaurants than hipsterhood central, Williamsburg, NYC itself. Chalk it up to local students who are more than happy to experiment with fava-bean stuffed pita-roti burrito curry at that new Thai-Mexican-Indian fusion place.Arlington and nearby Cambridge have a pub culture that would make an Irishman proud. There are the dive bars favored by locals, the pubs loved by Harvard’s intellectuals, and the upscale lounges where executives from Boston’s financial district crash.NNNNNN