I’m not sure what triggered it, but I’ve started to feel the most minor little rumblings of panic about my upcoming (well, June 2003) move to Boston.

I think that the biggest part of the panic is just plain money-related. As a hematology/oncology fellow, my salary is most likely going to be slightly less than I currently get, and with it I’m going to have to make rent payments (in a real estate market that looks to suck as badly as New York City’s) and make car payments (something I’ve had the luxury of avoiding in my time here in NYC). Add to that a travel budget (since my whole family is in NYC, and Shannon may be in Washington D.C.), and I inevitably worry about it all. Luckily, the first year of fellowship is immensely busy, so I won’t have a lot of time to worry or to spend money in other ways.

Another part of the panic is that, over the past few months, I have achieved an entirely new level of comfort in my apartment. I’ve lived in the same two-bedroom apartment since July 1995, but I was never here alone; my first roommate was my brother, after that, a girlfriend, and most recently, an old friend from college and medical school. When it came time for him to start his residency, though, I decided to go solo, and in the time since he has moved across town, I have really made the place my home. I’m going to be very sad leaving this apartment next year.

And lastly, there’s the aforementioned fact that I may be 450 miles north of Shannon for a few years. This crossroads was pretty much unavoidable, since the fellowship decision process occurred only six months into our relationship. With much teeth-gnashing, I decided that I had to rank the best programs first, and that if Shannon and I are meant to be, we’ll survive any temporary separation. That doesn’t mean I have to be enthused about that fact, though, and throwing it into the already-nervous mix doesn’t help things.


what do you need a car for? I’ve lived near boston on and off for ten years, and never had any trouble getting where I needed to go with some combination of feet, bicycle wheels, and public transportation.

• Posted by: rabi on Oct 1, 2002, 1:35 AM

I’ve lived in three continents now, and if I’ve learned anything about moving it’s that if you’re not feeling a bit nervous about a move, you’re not really thinking about it.

That said, I’ve left houses and homes I adored - the attic room just behind Trinity College, Dublin; the terrace house in Darlinghurst with the iron lacework balcony and the bougainvillea growing in the window - and I’ve always landed somewhere better.

As my Dad likes to say, travel hopefully. Dad knows whereof he speaks. He lives in a Winnebago now. He and Mum are somewhere in Western Australia’s wine country, having spent the Southern winter going over the top end.

Do you know Paul Ford? (Don’t all you A-listers know each other?) He’s about to move to Boston too.

• Posted by: Rachel Chalmers on Oct 1, 2002, 2:27 PM

You can do it, old kid old sock.

So. Can I sublet your NYC place? :-)

• Posted by: LLM on Oct 1, 2002, 3:18 PM

I never had a car when I lived in Boston. Like rabi, I was perfectly able to get around with bike, feet, and T. Unless you plan to live out in the suburbs, I can’t imagine why you’d even want a car in Boston. It’s a horrible place to try and drive (streets go crazy directions, turn one-way on you for no reason, and everything is dug up and re-routed with the Big Dig). And parking is damn difficult as well. Go car free and have one less item to be nervous about.

• Posted by: megnut on Oct 1, 2002, 3:19 PM

Rabi & Meg, don’t think I haven’t thought about that. My situation’s a little different, though — I am on call to the hospital pretty much 24 hours a day, and that means that there’ll be quite a few middle-of-the-night trips in to deal with sick kids and their families. All of the current fellows that I’ve talked to tell me that it’s pretty much impossible to deal with the demands of the fellowship without a car.

Add to that the fact that most of my life will still be a few hundred miles south of Boston, and a car starts to make a little more sense, too.

Alas, I am still thinking about it…

• Posted by: Jason on Oct 1, 2002, 3:33 PM

Jason, you might think about a motorcycle, as well. Cheaper, easier to park, etc. Or a supersubcompact hatchback clown car… not sexy, but definately will get you around.

That being said, Boston is -hell- to drive in.

• Posted by: Karl on Oct 2, 2002, 6:23 PM

Ack! A donorcycle? :)

• Posted by: Jason on Oct 2, 2002, 7:00 PM

Jason, since you sound motorcycle-phobic ;), I’ll recommend the new Civic Si. It is reasonably priced, great fun to drive, easy to park, practical for a small car due to the hatchback configuration, and it’s a Honda so it’ll hold value and be reliable.

I’d be driving one myself if I hadn’t bought a new car last year that I love (Subaru WRX; turbo & all-wheel drive!)

• Posted by: Gen on Oct 3, 2002, 10:25 AM

I currently live in NYC, but having lived in Boston for more than a decade, and in 5 different areas to boot, I’d offer the following real estate recommendations:

If you love location, history and Italian food, the North End cannot be beat. It’s within short walking distance to just about anything downtown. 1 bed and 1.5 beds abound. Look around the N. End itself if you want to find a cheap place — most of the brokers in the area don’t advertise much. You can find a 1 bdrm for $1000 if you look hard enough. 1.5 bdrms add another $100-$200. Just tell the realtors you’re Italian and Catholic if they ask. :)

There are a few neighborhoods that used to be dodgy, but given Boston’s gentrification boom in the last 5 years, they’re now just called “ethnic”. Look into Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, South Boston and East Boston. These places offer good up-and-coming restaurants, cheap rents with big rooms, and are all T-accessible. I’ve seen all kinds of deals in these areas. $1100 for huge 2 bedroom apartments is not uncommon. A friend pays $1300 for an enormous 3 bedroom in Dorchester that’s near the T.

Avoid Allston and Brighton at all cost. While the areas are fun for college students, you pay a premium to live near BU and BC. The apartments are more shoddy due to high turnover and low expectations of the students. This area used to have some real deals, but now finding a 1 bedroom for under $1200 is difficult, and the commute to Boston-proper is about 30 minutes on the T (plus another 15 minutes waiting for it to arrive).

If you’re willing to cross the river, Cambridge still has a couple of small pockets that aren’t prohibitively expensive. Central Square and Porter Square are on the T, but if you venture a bit farther to Inman Square, you can find some really beautiful apartments in a very cool neighborhood. Expect $1400 for a 2 bedroom on the square, $1100 for a 1 bed a few blocks from the center.

Of course, if you’ve got cash to spend, try the Back Bay, Beacon Hill or the South End. My personal recommendation would be the North End, because it feels like a real neighborhood. Kids play in the streets, they have festivals every Sunday in the summer, it’s a stone’s throw from any place downtown, there’s the smell of fresh Italian pastries in the morning, the little old Italian guys drinking cappucino in the afternoon — really perfect. And when the expressway comes down in two years (when the Big Dig is complete) you’ll be lucky to get a 1 bed for less than $1500. Other recommendations would be Dorchester if you really want the most room for your money, and Inman Square, just because it’s a really cool neighborhood with great food and atmosphere. But be prepared to walk 5 minutes to get to the T.

• Posted by: Matt on Nov 7, 2002, 8:36 AM

Matt, I appreciate the advice! Be assured that, immediately prior to my first venture into the great north to start looking, I’ll be printing your message out and stuffing it into my backpack…

• Posted by: Jason on Nov 9, 2002, 11:05 PM
Please note that comments automatically close after 60 days; the comment spammers love to use the older, rarely-viewed pages to work their magic. If comments are closed and you want to let me know something, feel free to use the contact page!