The 12 best neighborhoods in Boston

aerial view of city buildings

Curious about the best neighborhoods in Boston to raise a family or buy your first home? Here are the 12 areas you should look at in Beantown!

As one of the best places to live on the East Coast, Boston has a lot to offer new residents. It’s an exciting metropolis in the historic state of Massachusetts and has proven to be a great place to raise a family. 

Many people first encounter Boston through their college affiliation, but after getting a taste of its beautiful brownstone buildings and international selection of restaurants, they decide to plant their roots and stay in Boston for good. 

Its highly-rated school districts, reasonably-priced homes, and wide range of leisurely activities make Boston an attractive place to call home. Almost 90 sq. miles in size, the bustling city has a total of 23 unique neighborhoods. Below we’ve listed the best 12 neighborhoods for you to consider moving to.

What you’ll learn in this article

  • The best neighborhoods in Boston for families. If you’re moving to Boston with your family, then you have several points to consider. Safety is most likely a big concern, as is living in a neighborhood with great public schools. Luckily, there’s more than a handful of those in Boston, such as West Roxbury and Brookline. Discover which one of the 12 neighborhoods cited below are best suited for your family’s needs. 
  • What are the most affordable neighborhoods in Boston for young professionals? The price of real estate is steadily increasing all over the country so you want to make sure you get the best deal for your home. But you also don’t want to live too far from any amenities. Quincy, Allston, and Jamaica Plain are the best options for affordability and lifestyle. Keep reading to find out why!
  • Things to do in each one of these 12 Boston neighborhoods. From shopping to enjoying international cuisine, the city of Boston has a lot to offer its residents. Each one of Boston’s unique neighborhoods has activities that keep locals busy on the weekends. We’ve highlighted the best attractions in each neighborhood for you to consider. 

West Roxbury

Located 30 minutes outside city limits, West Roxbury is one of the best places to live in Boston with a family. Its streets are lined with multiple single-family homes including Victorian-style and Gambrel-style houses, as well as new builds. 

West Roxbury isn’t as close to the city center as other suburbs, but it does offer a much more relaxed and slower pace of life. It’s a nice distance from the commotion of urban development happening in various parts of Boston. 

The neighborhood is about 10 miles south of downtown and is a 30-minute drive for those who own a car. If you plan to commute into the city, use the Needham line. Make sure not to confuse this suburb in the outskirts of Boston with Roxbury, a neighborhood 6 miles east of Downtown Boston. 

Things to Do: Enjoy Millennium Park’s walking trails, sports fields, and canoeing. You’ll also find a large crowd at Sofia, an upscale American restaurant serving some of the best steak in Boston. Feel free to check out Porter Cafe, one of the best gastropubs in the Boston area. 

North End

The Little Italy of Boston, North End is a great place to live for families and singles. Its proximity to downtown makes it a convenient home for commuters as well. Residents can head down to North Station to connect to the commuter rail and make their way downtown for weekend activities. 

North End is located by the water and hosts a few waterfront restaurants such as Joe’s Waterfront and Boston Sail Loft. It’s also home to the Paul Revere House, famous for his midnight ride throughout the city in 1775. 

Its attractive location for residential living makes its homes a little pricier. Condos go for about $1 million and penthouses in the area typically go for $2 million. One thing to note about North End is that there is no supermarket within the confines of the neighborhood. However, Haymarket is an al fresco marketplace that pops up on weekends with fresh produce and fish priced far below what you’d find at the supermarket.  

Things to Do: Enjoy some of the best cannoli in the state at Mike’s Pastry or traditional Italian plates at La Famiglia Giorgio’s Restaurant. You can also visit Hanover Street, the North End’s main avenue where you’ll find cafes, souvenir shops, and authentic Italian gelato. Langone Park is also worth a visit if you have kids.

Beacon Hill

A stone’s throw from the Charles River and Boston Commons, Beacon Hill is one of the most coveted places to live in Boston. It draws residents and visitors from all over New England. The neighborhood is filled with unique architecture dating back to colonial times in the US, as well as a wide range of antique stores and high-end boutiques. 

Most residents own a car but, if you prefer to commute to work downtown, the T stop isn’t far off. Acorn Street is popular for tourists, especially during Halloween, when homeowners go all out with full-size, home and lawn decorations. The only downside to living in this gorgeous town is the price point. Given its proximity to the city center, safe streets, and well-kept appearance, it’s one of the most expensive places to live in Boston. 

Things to Do: Visit Charles Street, the commercial heart of Beacon Hill to explore boutique shops and eateries. It has 17 restaurants and bars, 15 clothing boutiques, 10 beauty salons, and a gourmet grocer. Beacon Hill is also home to the Massachusetts State House, a beautiful gold-domed building open for tours.  

Allston

Just 5 miles from downtown, Allston is one of the best places to live in Boston for young professionals. Hop on the B-branch of the Green Line and you’ll be downtown in just 30-minutes. 

The area was once home to Aerosmith. Although the rock legends are long gone, the neighborhood still emanates their spirit and is home to a few local bands. Allston residents are known for inviting their neighbors into their homes for small music shows on the weekends. 

Expect to celebrate Christmas early with your new Allston neighbors as well. They throw an “Allston Christmas” every year on the first of September. Everyone moves out their old furniture onto their front lawns, leaving it up for grabs for anyone who needs it. 

Things to Do: Once known as the “Rock City,” Allston continues to host live music events in its Brighton Music Hall. Catch a live performance there on the weekends. Locals get together at Harvard Stadium to enjoy seasonal football. Residents enjoy outdoor activities in the summers at the Charles River.

South Boston

South Boston, or better yet “Southie,” is definitely one of the best places to live if you work in Boston. Located just two miles South of downtown, getting into the city center for work is easy. It’s a 10 minute drive or a 20 minute ride on the T to get to Downtown Crossing. 

Southie is known for its pizzerias, old-school diners, gastropubs, and strong Irish-American heritage. Depending on what part of the neighborhood you live, you’ll have access to different comforts and pleasures. 

City Point residents are close to Pleasure Beach and Castle Island, which are fun places for day-trips as a family or as a couple. If you’re a resident in Seaport, you’ll be near many hip shops and tech startups. 

Things to Do: Some of the best things to do in Southie are to take a stroll through the Seaport District and explore its luxury condos and the Institute of Contemporary Art. You also won’t want to miss Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall, where locals go to enjoy a beer and oversized soft pretzels. Castle Island is also frequently visited by both locals and newcomers who want to take advantage of its picnic and jogging areas. 

Drone photo of buildings in Back Bay, South Boston, MA near orange line station
South Boston (Southie) is a recognizable Boston neighborhood that has a lot to offer

East Boston

Easily one of the most affordable places to live in Boston, East Boston is somewhat of a hidden gem for newcomers. Although not as sought-after as the Seaport District or Downtown Boston, East Boston still has a lot to offer. 

Its proximity to Logan International makes it a safe haven for frequent flyers who want to avoid that ridiculous Boston traffic. With a total of 45,000 residents, it’s also one of Boston’s more sizable neighborhoods. 

The area is as family-friendly as it is budget-friendly. It’s considered to be one of the safer parts of Massachusetts. Some locals don’t even know that East Boston is home to some of the city’s best places to eat such as The Tall Ship Boston and Santarpio’s Pizza. 


Things to Do: East Boston Memorial Park has a playground, spray fountains, and sports fields for residents to enjoy. In the winter, amateurs can hit Porrazzo Skating Rink, a no-judgment zone for beginners. You also won’t want to miss Santarpio’s—they have some of the best pizza in town!

Brookline

Although Brookline is technically a city of its own, its proximity to Boston and commuter population makes it a Boston neighborhood to locals. Brookline borders several other Boston neighborhoods such as Fenway, Jamaica Plain, and Allston. 

Home to some of Boston’s highly-ranked public schools and multiple parks ranging in size, Brookline is also a great place to live with kids. Giselle Bündchen and Tom Brady’s previous home is located in the city-neighborhood, along with many other stunning mansions. 

Similar to North End, condos in Brookline approach $1 million, while the median price for a single-family home is about $2 million. 


Things to Do: Home to the Coolidge Corner Theatre and John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, Brookline is a cool place to live. Larz Anderson Park gives unobstructed views of Boston at the top of its hill and plenty of space for picnics and hikes in the warmer months. 

Cambridge

Cambridge is home to Harvard and MIT. The intellectual neighborhood hosts a variety of quirky bookstores, independent shops, and communal cafes. Throughout the day you’ll find students and office workers making their way through the neighborhood.

Along its streets you’ll find beautiful Victorian-inspired homes as well as several distinct squares including Harvard Square, Porter Square, and Kendall Square. Each square has its own personality and displays an authentic aspect of the Cambridge community. 

Things to Do: Take a bike tour through the historic neighborhood with a friend and grab a coffee at one of Cambridge’s many coffeeshops. Harvard Square also has a lot to offer in terms of shops, restaurants, and even street performers. 

brown concrete building under blue sky during daytime
Cambridge is home to MIT and Harvard, plus bookstores, boutiques, and cafes

Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain has become one of Boston’s hippest neighborhoods. Young families and creatives can be found all throughout Centre Street, the neighborhood’s main street. Plenty of shops and restaurants can be found throughout this diverse neighborhood. 

The community is tight-knit and has ample green space for its residents to enjoy. Spend the day at Olmsted Park or the Arnold Arboretum with the kids. Adults can enjoy a few relaxing hours at the Sam Adams Brewery, where visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at how beer is made. 

Things to Do: When living in Jamaica Plain, you won’t have to go far for leisurely activities. Jamaica Pond offers plenty of options for water-goers to ride rowboats, kayaks, and sailboats. Rent any one of these items from the Jamaica Pond Boat House. 

You also won’t want to miss Tres Gatos, a colorful, Mexican tapas bar that was previously a bookstore and cafe with an attached record store inside. The restaurant-record shop was rated among Boston’s Top 50 Restaurants by Boston Magazine.

Charlestown

Charlestown is one of the best neighborhoods in Boston to raise a family. Located just across the Charles River and north of Downtown, it offers a somewhat secluded environment. This notable waterfront neighborhood is home to many families and young professionals who appreciate its quiet and historic nature. 

Home to a solid portion of the Freedom Trail, Charlestown hosts a number of historic monuments such as Bunker Hill Monument, the USS Constitution-Actual Vessel, and the USS Constitution Museum. It also has museums and kid-friendly parks for families to explore on the weekends. 

Things to Do: You’ll see people at the Paul Revere Park on the weekends which hosts a dog park, a waterfront playground, and public artwork. In the summers, residents can go for a swim at Clougherty Pool, which offers swimming lessons for kids. Check out Grasshopper Cafe, a breakfast spot known for its delicious omelettes and blueberry waffles. 

Quincy

Nicknamed the City of Presidents, Quincy lies just outside of Downtown Boston. Given its proximity to the city center and its affordable housing prices, Quincy is one of the best places to live if you work in Boston. 

Scattered throughout the city you’ll find four Red Line stops, which makes commuting a breeze. You’ll get to downtown in just 30 minutes after hopping on the commuter rail. 

Increasing commercial development may irritate residents who prefer peace and quiet. However, it also signals a big opportunity for anyone who owns property in the area. Housing prices are likely to go up in the coming years. 

Things to Do: Visit Adams National Historic Park or Marina Bay for a midday stroll. You can also explore the USS Salem & US Naval Shipbuilding Museum if you’re a history buff. 

Somerville

Located just north of Cambridge and northwest of Boston, Somerville is its own city. But, similar to Brookline, its proximity to the city center makes it a Boston neighborhood among locals. It offers its residents a balanced mix of city and suburban life, as well as above-average public schools. 

There’s plenty of places to eat, shop, and explore in Somerville. It’s home to authentic Italian, Mexican, Ethiopian, Indian, and Irish restaurants. The city also has one of Boston’s best BBQ joints, RedBones. With more than 80,000 residents, Somerville is a sizable community with a lot to offer. 

Things to Do: Local residents enjoy shopping at Somerville’s unique Bow Market and rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders. You’ll also find locals at the Burren, a local Irish pub with live shows and excellent food. 

Wrapping Up

Whether you prefer to live in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of Boston with your family, or as close to downtown as possible, there’s a Boston neighborhood that’s right for you. 

Young adults will enjoy Jamaica Plain’s free spirit and progressive nature, as well as Southie’s proximity to downtown and large selection of leisurely activities. Families looking for affordable homes outside of the city center will find a home in East Boston. Individuals looking for upscale, historic living will want to place their roots in Beacon Hill. There’s certainly plenty of areas in Boston to explore. 

FAQ

What is the nicest neighborhood in Boston? 

Beacon Hill’s federal-style homes are built on beautiful cobblestone streets, making it one of the most visually-appealing neighborhoods in Boston. Most homeowners in the area have kept their classic shutter windows and adorned their exterior window sills with flower boxes and mini-gardens. As you stroll through its historic streets, you’ll be met with cascading greenery along the sides of homes, as well as towering trees that provide plenty of shade. 

What is the coolest neighborhood in Boston? 

The area South of Washington, or “SoWa” as it’s referred to by locals, is one of Boston’s most artistic neighborhoods. Originally a mill district where merchants would sell handmade shoes and pianos, SoWa is now home to several residential loft apartments, marketing agencies, and art studios. 

The neighborhood’s converted warehouses also host several trendy restaurants such as Bar Mezzana and Estragon. On the first Friday of every month local artists open up their studios to the public. From May to October, SoWa Open Market showcases local artists and craftsmen, a giant farmer’s market, and a bunch of specialty food trucks. 

What is the best suburb of Boston to live in? 

Back in the 1600’s, Newton was called “The Newe Towne” by its residents, as it was one of America’s very first commuter suburbs. Located just 11 miles west of Downtown Boston, the quiet neighborhood is largely known as one of the best in the Greater Boston Area.

The suburb comprises 13 separate villages, each with unique, victorian-style homes that range from Greek Revivals to Cape Cod architecture. A safe and familial town, Newton is occupied mostly by families and is a short train ride into the city. The Boston and Worcester railroads run directly through Newton, so getting around isn’t much of a problem for residents.

Where is the safest part of Boston? 

Newcomers may be surprised to know that the Allston-Brighton area in Boston is one of the safest parts of town. As one of the largest neighborhoods in the city, Allston-Brighton is an outlier when looking at safety statistics.

Bigger cities and neighborhoods tend to have high crime rates, however Allston-Brighton only has 317 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. It’s actually one of the safest areas in all of Massachusetts. According to AreaVibes, the neighborhood is safer than 82% of other cities in the Bay State, with a violent-crime rate that is 16% lower than the national average. 

About the author: Vivian Tejada is a freelance writer and small business strategist based out of Providence, RI. She specializes in writing SEO blogs, property descriptions and website content for real estate companies. She’s also an avid traveler, location-independent and enjoys trying out new restaurants.

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