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8 best neighborhoods to live and rent in Boston

8 best neighborhoods to live and rent in Boston
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Boston, Massachusetts, is a vibrant city with a rich history and a thriving rental market with many diverse neighborhoods to explore. Home to world-class universities, a diverse population, vibrant sports culture, and a strong economy, Boston offers an array of exceptional neighborhoods to live and rent. Read our complete guide to Boston’s housing market for an even more in-depth idea of the important trends and demographics affecting Boston in 2023. If you’re interested in investing or purchasing rental property in Massachusetts, we’ve ranked our top six picks for investment real estate in Massachusetts.

“This is Boston, a city with courage, compassion, strength that knows no bounds.” – Thomas Menino.

In this guide, we've curated a list of the top 8 neighborhoods to live and rent in Boston, considering accessibility, safety, and local amenities. Whether you're looking for a bustling urban environment, a picturesque waterfront location, or a quiet, tree-lined street, you'll find the perfect place to call home in this iconic city.

Back Bay

First up, we have Back Bay, a popular neighborhood in Boston. Back Bay is an upscale neighborhood known for its beautiful brownstone homes, charming tree-lined streets, and high-end shopping on Newbury Street. It’s famous for its Victorian brownstone homes, which appear in multiple neighborhoods we discuss in this list. Victorian brownstones are row houses with dark facades commonly seen across the east coast,  most prominently in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, and Chicago.

With its easy access to the Public Garden and the Charles River Esplanade, residents can enjoy plenty of green spaces and recreational activities. Back Bay is great for those who appreciate historic architecture and a sophisticated urban atmosphere.

Back Bay's residents include young professionals, families, and affluent individuals who appreciate the neighborhood's historic charm and upscale amenities. For more information on this popular neighborhood, check out the Compass neighborhood guide to Back Bay.

The housing stock mainly consists of historic brownstones, luxury condos, and high-rise apartments. Rentals in Back Bay are highly sought after, with many properties offering a blend of classic architecture and modern amenities. The rental market in Back Bay is competitive, with average rents on the higher end of the spectrum.

Key decision factors for someone considering moving to Back Bay include its historic architecture, upscale shopping, and easy access to green spaces like the Public Garden and Charles River Esplanade.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is one of the oldest and most prestigious neighborhoods in Boston. It is a historic neighborhood with narrow cobblestone streets, elegant brick rowhouses, and gas-lit lamps. The Massachusetts State House, with its iconic golden dome, is a prominent landmark in the area. This charming neighborhood offers a quaint, European atmosphere and is perfect for those looking for a picturesque, walkable community with a strong history. Learn more about the Beacon Hill neighborhood with this in-depth guide from Boston Magazine.

Beacon Hill attracts a mix of professionals, families, and long-time residents who value the neighborhood's historic charm and a strong sense of community.  Beacon Hill offers a quaint, walkable environment with local shops, cafes, restaurants, and proximity to downtown.

Known for its narrow, gas-lit streets and Federal-style rowhouses (red brick with restrained ornamentation), Beacon Hill is steeped in history and charm. The neighborhood is characterized by elegant brick rowhouses, with some luxury condos and renovated apartments available. Beacon Hill is a desirable rental market, given its central location and proximity to government buildings, shopping, and dining.

The picturesque, European-style streets, quaint historic charm, and walkable environment are some of the top factors to consider when choosing Beacon Hill.

South End

The South End is a vibrant neighborhood in Boston, featuring more beautifully preserved Victorian brownstones, a diverse community, and a thriving art scene. With its numerous art galleries, theaters, and trendy boutiques, the South End is ideal for those seeking a lively, creative environment with a unique architectural charm.

South End is home to a diverse community of artists, young professionals, and families who enjoy the neighborhood's creative vibe and unique architecture. South End's residents enjoy a lively arts scene, trendy restaurants, and cafes. Conde Nast has a great traveler’s guide on where to eat and what to do in Boston’s South End.

You’ll find classic Victorian brownstones, modern condos, renovated lofts, and newly constructed apartments in the South End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.  South End's rental market is robust, offering a variety of price points and property types for renters to choose from.

South End has a lively and highly cultural neighborhood boasting a thriving arts scene, chic boutiques, and various restaurants that are loved by many residents. The South End's unique atmosphere, diverse community, and classic architecture are key decision factors for potential renters looking into this neighborhood.

North End

Known as Boston's "Little Italy," the North End is a tightly-knit community with a strong Italian heritage, narrow streets, and various local bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. Residents can enjoy the waterfront views, historical sites such as the Old North Church, and easy access to downtown. Learn more about The North End neighborhood on Boston University’s feature on this neighborhood. It’s perfect for those who appreciate a strong cultural identity and a bustling urban atmosphere.

The North End's residents are predominantly Italian-American families and young professionals who value the neighborhood's strong cultural identity and bustling atmosphere. North End's residents enjoy a vibrant urban lifestyle, with waterfront views, delicious Italian cuisine, and easy access to downtown attractions.

The housing selection in North End comprises mainly of multi-family buildings, converted lofts, and modern condos. The rental market in North End is active, with properties in high demand due to the neighborhood's unique charm and central location.

The neighborhood's Italian heritage, bustling atmosphere, and waterfront location are major factors to consider when choosing the North End neighborhood as your next home.

Cambridge

Cambridge, located across the Charles River from Boston, is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Learn more about the impact of these top universities on Boston’s economy and employment in our comprehensive guide to Boston real estate. With its mix of students, professionals, and families, Cambridge offers a diverse and vibrant community featuring numerous cultural institutions, museums, and bookstores. This neighborhood is ideal for those seeking an intellectually stimulating environment with easy access to educational resources.

Cambridge is home to a diverse mix of students, professionals, and families, with many affiliated with Harvard University and MIT. Housing options in Cambridge include historic homes, modern condos, and student apartments.  The rental market in Cambridge has a steady demand, catering to students, faculty, and professionals alike.

The presence of prestigious universities, major employment, and a lively college-town atmosphere are key decision factors for choosing Cambridge.

Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain, known for its abundant green spaces, including the Arnold Arboretum and Jamaica Pond, is a diverse and family-friendly neighborhood with a strong arts scene.  Learn more about the Jamaica Plain neighborhood with this article from Boston Magazine.

Jamaica Plain offers a relaxed, community-oriented lifestyle with abundant greenery, a thriving arts scene, and a strong focus on local businesses. Jamaica Plain's residents are a diverse mix of families, young professionals, and artists who appreciate the neighborhood's green spaces and easy natural access.  The housing stock includes historic Victorian homes, triple-deckers, and newer apartment buildings.  Jamaica Plain's rental market is dynamic, offering a range of rental prices and property types to suit various budgets and preferences. With its variety of housing options and thriving local business scene, Jamaica Plain is an excellent choice for those who value a close-knit community and access to nature.
The neighborhood's abundance of green spaces, diverse community, and arts scene are major factors to consider when choosing Jamaica Plain.

South Boston

South Boston, or "Southie," is a tight-knit neighborhood with waterfront access, stunning views of the Boston skyline, and a lively local pub scene. Popular attractions include Castle Island, home to Fort Independence, and the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. South Boston is a great option for those looking for a strong sense of community and easy access to the waterfront.

South Boston offers lively nightlife, waterfront activities, and community events like the St. Patrick's Day Parade. South Boston's residents are a mix of young professionals, families, and long-time locals who value the neighborhood's strong sense of community and waterfront access. The diverse housing stock features traditional triple-deckers, modern condos, and apartment complexes.  South Boston's rental market is strong, with properties appealing to young professionals, families, and long-time residents.

The strong sense of community, waterfront access, and lively local scene are key decision factors for South Boston.

Brookline

Brookline, located just outside Boston, perfectly balances suburban charm and urban convenience. Known for its excellent public schools, Brookline also boasts a variety of historic sites, such as the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, the birthplace of the 35th U.S. President.

Brookline is an affluent, family-friendly suburb bordering Boston, known for its excellent schools, green spaces, and charming commercial districts. Brookline offers a quiet, family-friendly atmosphere with tree-lined streets and parks. The neighborhood also features a variety of local shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Brookline's residents include families, professionals, and academics who appreciate the neighborhood's suburban charm and excellent schools.

Housing options in Brookline range from stately single-family homes to modern condos and apartments. Brookline's rental market is competitive, with a mix of long-term and short-term rental options for tenants.

The major factors when choosing Brookline are the suburban charm, excellent schools, and historic sites. With its mix of stately single-family homes and modern condos, Brookline is an ideal choice for families and professionals seeking a quieter neighborhood with easy access to the city.


These eight neighborhoods – Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, North End, Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, South Boston, and Brookline – stand out to us as some of the best places to live and rent in Boston in 2023. Each neighborhood offers a unique blend of history, culture, and amenities, catering to diverse lifestyles and preferences.

By examining the residents, housing options, local lifestyle, and swaying factors for each neighborhood, you can better understand which area might best suit your needs and preferences. When choosing the right neighborhood, consider proximity to work, schools, public transportation, and local amenities. Spending time in each neighborhood and talking to residents will help you get a feel for the local vibe and character, ultimately helping you make an informed decision about where to live in Boston. We’ve also listed our top picks for the best areas to buy investment rental property in Massachusetts for those considering investing in a home.

Doorstead is also here to help you navigate the rental market in these exceptional Boston neighborhoods. As a trusted property management solution, Doorstead offers a seamless rental experience for property owners and renters. With our innovative technology and data-driven approach, we can efficiently manage your Boston rental property, ensuring it reaches its full potential. For renters, our platform simplifies finding and securing your dream home in one of these fantastic neighborhoods.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, please share it with your friends or family! Have ideas for collaborating on an article? Please email [email protected], and we'd love to discuss your ideas.

And if you're looking for more helpful tips on property management in Boston or general property management tips, be sure to visit our blog.

Ally Gong
Ally Gong
Content Specialist

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