If you are lured to Chelsea for its amenities and charm, you are not alone. Hundreds of others are also answering the call of Chelsea, increasing the pressure on housing and making renting an apartment a high-stakes affair. The vacancy rate hovers around 8 to 9 percent, but netting the apartment of your choice depends on three things: timing, timing, and timing. A whopping 68 percent of the city apartments are renter-occupied, not owned.
How much will it cost?
Kiplingers rates Boston as the seventh most expensive city in the USA in terms of cost of living, and this has a spillover effect in Chelsea. Chelsea has a cost of living index of 124, which ranks unfavorably with the national average of 100, but is practically a steal compared with next-door Boston’s rank of 138.
Rentals have been steadily increasing over the years. However, it's nowhere near rents in San Francisco or New York, and still compares favorably to the rental costs of Boston.
What do you need?
As elsewhere, it's good idea to approach apartment hunting the same way as you hunt for a job, complete with credentials, recent pay stubs, credit reports, and references. Treat appointments with landlords seriously, and sport a professional demeanor. Have a checkbook ready to pay the security deposit on the spot to close the deal. It doesn't pay to delay.
With an area of just about two square miles, Chelsea is, in fact, a neighborhood in itself, so you won't see much variety among the different areas. Overall, the cost of living is on the high end, but not exorbitant, as compared with other suburbs of major cities.
Admiral Hill: The best neighborhood in Chelsea is arguably Admiral Hill, carved out of the old Chelsea Naval Hospital site, and noted for its row of brick buildings and tree-lined streets. The icing on the cake is the magnificent waterfront vista of the Boston skyline.
Up Market Streets: Many high-end apartment complexes dot streets south of the Adamski Memorial Highway, including Pembroke, Tudor, Beacon, Stockon, and Bellingham. These streets resonate with the character of Chelsea: quiet, working-class neighborhoods.
Revere Beach Parkway: Revere Beach Parkway is a historic parkway, noted for its splendid waterfront views.
Downtown: There are no slummy, rundown neighborhoods in Chelsea. Broadway, the downtown, has scores of affordable housing options, as does Chestnut Street, Prescot Avenue, Washington Avenue, Louis Street, and other areas near the downtown.
Chelsea today is a paradise for the urban set who are attracted not just by its well-kept homes, but also its tree-lined streets, ballparks, and playgrounds, and a bustling, friendly downtown. The mellow vibes radiating from multicultural eating joints, cafes, boutiques, and thrift shops add to the vibrancy of the place. The still-thriving seaport and merchant industry offer the city a gritty character.
The stretch between the district courthouse on lower Broadway to City Hall at Bellingham Square constitutes the downtown. Some businesses here have storefronts and signs that date back to the 1920s and ‘30s.
Chelsea has post-secondary campuses of Bunker Hill Community College and Everest Institute.
Chelsea's ultimate selling point is commuter convenience. Trains, buses, and the expressway bridge allow commuters to zoom into downtown Boston in a matter of minutes. The Tobin Memorial Bridge links Chelsea to the Boston Central Artery system, and residents enjoy a discounted rate of 30 cents as opposed to $3. In addition, there's the MTBA commuter rail service to Boston North Station. City living without city inconveniences and costs--Chelsea is wicked awesome!