Guide to Cambridge Neighborhoods
If you are currently looking to buy a home or rent an apartment in Cambridge, you are in for a bit of a challenge. Like so many areas in metro Boston, this city – which sits directly across the Charles River from Boston – has been experiencing very competitive and fast-paced real estate conditions for some time. As a large city in its own right, it is split into 13 distinct neighborhoods, and it helps to focus your search on one or two of them to more quickly identify what you need. To help you with that, Boston City Properties outlines basic information for each neighborhood below.
Why Boston City Properties?
Before delving into detailed information regarding each of this city’s 13 neighborhoods, it helps to understand why this information matters so much. As mentioned above, the real estate market in this large city, which is dominated by institutes of higher learning like Harvard University, is fiercely competitive. In recent years, medical, lab and tech companies have poured into the city to do business, and this has added even more demand for suitable housing of all kinds. With students and university workers coming and going regularly, securing a home to buy or rent here can be tricky.
Thankfully, however, you don’t have to go it alone. Boston City Properties knows the intricacies of this thriving city’s real estate market, and we are prepared to help you to find the perfect place to buy or rent. Below, we provide quick overviews of each neighborhood to help you to identify which one would suit your needs the best. We also maintain one of the most comprehensive online databases of searchable MA real estate listings around, which also includes listings for places to rent, and we’ll give you free, instant access after you sign up using the easy form. Finally, we have skilled real estate agents in all 13 of these neighborhoods as well as across all Boston neighborhoods, and we can connect you with one whenever you are ready.
Here’s what to expect regarding the unique neighborhoods that make up this historic and vibrant city:
- East Cambridge – Also known as Neighborhood One, this one has a population of around 10,300 people. Around 26.6 percent of residents own their homes while around 56.6 percent rent them. Bordered by the Charles River to the east; Somerville to the north; the Boston and Albany railroad to the west; and Kendall Square to the south, this neighborhood was dominated by industrial and manufacturing facilities and boasted a working-class population for years. Since the 1980s, with changes in land use, commercial and retail have exploded here. Its main commercial and transportation hubs are Lechmere Square and Kendall Square.
- MIT – As the name of Neighborhood Two implies, MIT is dominated by the university that shares the same name. Bordered by Broadway and Main Street to the north, the Boston and Albany railroad to the west and the Charles River to the east, it is almost completely dominated by the MIT campus. Kendall Square serves as its primary commercial and transit hub, and the Charles River Reservation provides areas for recreation. The population of this neighborhood hovers around 4,800 people; fewer than 1 percent of residents own their homes while more than 56 percent rent them.
- Wellington Harrington – Also known as Neighborhood Three, Wellington Harrington has a population of around 6,500 people. Around 28 percent of residents own homes here while roughly 66.5 percent rent them. Bordered by Hampshire Street to the south, Somerville to the north and the Boston and Albany Railroad to the east, this neighborhood has the second-highest population density of any in the city. Inman Square, at one corner, serves as a major commercial hub. Cambridge Street, which runs along one edge, serves as another.
- The Port – Neighborhood Four, as this neighborhood was once known, is bordered by Hampshire Street to the north; Prospect Street to the west; Massachusetts Avenue to the south; and the Boston and Albany Railroad to the east. A former industrial area in the southern section, which is called Osborn Triangle, is now filled with MIT facilities and tech and medical lab facilities. The population of this neighborhood is right around 7,000 people. Around 26.4 percent own their homes while roughly 60.6 percent rent them.
- Cambridgeport – Known also as Neighborhood Five, Cambridgeport has a population of around 12,600 people. Roughly 58.7 percent of residents rent their homes while around 31.8 percent own them. Bordered by MIT to the east; River Street to the west; the Charles River to the south; and Massachusetts Avenue to the north, the neighborhood has experienced a great deal of development over the last handful of years and is now home to numerous retail establishments, restaurants, offices, labs and various institutions. Central Square, which includes the MBTA Red Line, serves as a major transit hub.
- Mid-Cambridge – This large, densely populated neighborhood, which is also known as Neighborhood Six, is bordered by Somerville to the north; Prospect Street to the east; Massachusetts Avenue to the south; and Kirkland Street to the west. Commercial hubs include Inman Square, Central Square and Harvard Square; the latter two also serve as public transportation hubs. Massachusetts Avenue cuts through the neighborhood and acts as its commercial spine. The neighborhood is also home to Cambridge Hospital, the Cambridge Public Library and many Harvard University facilities. Its population hovers around 13,400, and 32.4 percent of residents own their homes while 53.9 percent rent them.
- Riverside – Neighborhood Seven, as Riverside is also known, has a population of around 12,300 people. Nearly 68 percent of residents rent their homes here while 21.1 percent own them. Located on the Charles River, Riverside includes some of the oldest residential areas in the city. Central Square and Harvard Square, both major commercial hubs, are located on either end of the neighborhood, which is also dominated by Harvard academic facilities and student housing. Cambridge College is also located here, so the student population is considerable.
- Agassiz – This small neighborhood, which is also known as Neighborhood Eight, is fairly small and moderately densely populated. With Somerville running along its eastern border, the neighborhood offers a convenient location for the many students who call it home. Indeed, student housing for Harvard University and Lesley University proliferates in this neighborhood, which has a population of around 5,300 people. Around 34.8 percent of residents here own their homes while approximately 59.3 percent rent them. Located on either end, Harvard Square and Porter Square serve as Agassiz’s primary commercial and transportation hubs.
- Neighborhood Nine – Unlike the other 12 neighborhoods in this city, this one is simply called Neighborhood Nine and has no other name. The population hovers around 12,000 people, and around 51 percent of residents rent homes while around 37.5 percent own them. With its moderately dense population, this neighborhood has a more laid-back feel than many of the others in the city. Harvard Square and Porter Square, located at either end of the neighborhood, serve as its main commercial and transportation hubs. Concord Avenue features light commercial, and Donehy Park, which sprawls over around 50 acres, offers athletic and recreational facilities for locals.
- West Cambridge – Alternatively known as Neighborhood 10, West Cambridge has among the lowest population densities in the city. Its primary commercial and transit hub is found at Harvard Square, but commercial strips are also found along Concord Avenue, Mount Auburn Street and Huron Avenue. Bordered by the Charles River, Concord Avenue, the Fresh Pond Reservation and part of the CSX railroad, this neighborhood has a population of around 8,600 people. Approximately 56.7 percent of residents own their homes while around 35 percent rent them. Therefore, it may be easier to find homes for sale here than in other parts of the city.
- North Cambridge – As the name of this neighborhood implies, it is situated in the northernmost section of the city. Bordered by Arlington, Somerville and Belmont, it provides a convenient location for students and professionals alike. Its real estate market is diverse and includes single-family homes, multi-family homes and several large complexes with hundreds of rental units. Located in the southeast corner, Porter Square serves as its main commercial and transportation hub. Residential and retail dominate Massachusetts Avenue in this neighborhood, which has a population of around 14,000 people. Roughly 30.8 percent of residents own their homes while 63.9 percent rent them.
- Cambridge Highlands – Situated at the northeastern edge of the city, this neighborhood has a population of just around 1,300 people. Around 30.3 percent of residents own homes here while around 56 percent are renters. The eastern section of this neighborhood is dominated by commercial and light industrial, and a vast corridor of railroad lines sprawl across its northern border. The Triangle and the Quadrangle, office and industrial areas, are located directly adjacent, and the west end is largely made up of residential units. The west side of the neighborhood borders Belmont, and the south side borders the Fresh Pond Reservation.
- Strawberry Hill – The smallest neighborhood in the city in terms of geographical size, Strawberry Hill is primarily made up of residential units. Its real estate stock includes everything from multifamily homes to large rental buildings. The main commercial section here is found along Mount Auburn Street. Four MBTA bus routes serve this neighborhood, making it a convenient choice for many. Strawberry Hill is bordered by Belmont and Watertown. Its northern border is made up by Huron Avenue, and its southern border is made up by Mount Auburn Street. The population of Strawberry Hill is right around 2,300 people. Around 35.6 percent of residents own homes here while 56.7 percent rent them.
Real Estate: What to Expect
Now that you are up to speed regarding this city’s 13 neighborhoods, you’d probably like to know what you’re likely to find when looking to rent or buy a place here. Without question, you are going to want all of the help that you can get during your search, and Boston City Properties is here to provide it. In the meantime, here is some information regarding the current state of this city’s real estate market:
- Median home sale price: $824,000
- Change in median sale price versus last year: Up by $36,750, or around 5 percent
- Average price per square foot - $854, an increase over the previous year, which was $801
- Median rent = $3,300 per month
Home Prices: A Breakdown
Can you afford to buy in this city? Get an idea with the following information:
- Homes valued at $1.2 million or higher -- 22.1 percent
- $921,000 to $1.2 million – 18.2 percent
- $614,000 to $921,000 – 30.3 percent
- $491,000 to $614,000 – 13.1 percent
- $369,000 to $491,000 – 9.2 percent
- $246,000 to $369,000 – 3.6 percent
- $123,000 to $246,000 – 2.1 percent
Homes by Type
What type of home are you looking to buy or rent in this city? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to find during your search:
- Single-family homes – 91 percent
- Townhouses – 6.2 percent
- Apartments – 84.6 percent
There are more than 44,234 residential units in the city. Roughly 30.6 percent of them are owner occupied while 69.4 percent are rentals. Another 10.8 percent of housing stock is vacant, but that is unlikely to last in this climate.
Homes by Age
Finally, here’s a breakdown of the average age of homes for sale in this city:
- 1939 or older – 49.7 percent
- 1940 to 1969 – 19.5 percent
- 1970 to 1999 – 19.7 percent
- 2000 and later – 11.1 percent
How Boston City Properties Can Help
As you have probably surmised, buying or renting a place in any of this city’s 13 neighborhoods is likely to be an uphill challenge. In addition to its exploding medical and tech scene, the city continues to be home to thousands of university students and workers, and their comings and goings dramatically affect the real estate market. Boston City Properties is here to help you make sense of it all. From our convenient, searchable database of MA real estate listings to our connections with experienced local real estate professionals, we have you covered. Contact us today for more information.