An entire generation of kids, who in the 1990s were playing in grassy backyards in the suburbs, are starting to leave the city in search of greener, cheaper options. But this time, things in the ‘burbs look different.
Millennials, now in their 20s and 30s, aren’t interested in the suburban lifestyle they grew up with. What many millennials now look for in a place to call home is a town that offers all the benefits of suburban living with the conveniences of city living. These buyers, many of which are looking to start families, want more space, at a lower cost than they can get in the city, but aren’t willing to compromise on a vibrant cultural and social scene.
Many towns surrounding large cities are responding to this need through the development of lively downtown areas and adopting “live/work/play” mentalities that have become the norm in city planning.
This phenomenon, identified by the 2020 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report by PwC, is called “Hipsturbia.”
Using Brooklyn as a model, suburbs outside of cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Chicago are taking a closer look at how they can improve public transit, walkability, and encourage vibrant small businesses, from cafes to yoga studios, to take root in their downtowns. Cities that have succeeded at this endeavor are enticing “hip” millennials to make the move to the suburbs.
Greater Boston is no exception. With the city’s rising housing costs, many young renters are looking to settle down not too far from the city, but in a more affordable town with easy commutes to the city.
In this series, I’m taking a deep dive into the unique flair of each of Boston’s numerous Hipsturbias and learning why young people are uprooting their city lives for this new kind of suburb.
Welcome to Hipsturbia: Medford
Medford offers its residents the best of both worlds: quiet streets and pristine conservation land located just 10 minutes from the city. Bordering Somerville, Medford has many of the same amenities of the hipster enclave, but with more space at a lower cost.
Medford is a historic town, one of the four oldest English settlements in the US. Town leaders often celebrate that history. In fact, people even claim it to be the location where “Jingle Bells” was written. That Christmas tune likely conjures up images of a quaint and picturesque little town—an image that certainly holds up when you take a stroll through the historic downtown tree-lined streets.
Medford Center is full of both long-time and brand new small businesses. You can also find big box stores at a couple of plazas throughout the city, including one of the region’s few Wegmans grocery stores. While its charming downtown is certainly a perk, Medford is also home to 24 public parks, including part of the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
Medford’s proximity to the city cannot be understated. In just 10 minutes, on either the commuter rail leaving from West Medford or on the MBTA’s Orange Line at Wellington, you can be in downtown Boston. If you’re going to drive into the city, it can take just under 15 minutes to make the five-mile journey. With the upcoming Green Line extension in motion, Medford will soon be further connected to Boston. If you’re looking to get around the town, there are also various bus routes that can take you to some of its neighborhoods.
The Medford Neighborhood For You
Each Medford neighborhood has its own distinct flair. West Medford, for example, has some of the oldest, most historic homes in the city. It’s also a great neighborhood if you’re looking to be by the river and near some great parks. If you’re looking for a more recently built apartment complex, the area around Wellington has various options, that range in price. These offer easy MBTA accessibility and are close to the Station Landing shopping area. Across the river in South Medford, things start looking more like Somerville. The borders between the two towns blend and residents here get easy access to the business districts in both towns. It is also home to Tufts University, which means the area is populated primarily by college students.
Kids in Medford can get a great education at any of the town’s schools. The school district is above average for the state, according to Niche.
While the average home price in Medford may be $620,000, what buyers are getting for that value is a 1,500 square foot 3 bedroom single-family home with plenty of outdoor space. Smaller homes and condos can be found for under $500,000. In Boston or Cambridge, that same value will land you an 800 square foot apartment. The average rent for a two-bedroom in Medford is $2,321. In Boston or Cambridge, renters would be paying around $700 more.
An Average Saturday in Medford
Start your day off right with a quick jog along any of Medford’s various ponds or Smelt Brook. Once you got your workout in, head to West Medford for breakfast at the Paul Revere Restaurant, a favorite local diner serving up big stacks of pancakes and famous cinnamon rolls. It’s easy to take a quick train ride into the city for your day out, but Medford is increasingly playing host to world-class talent. The Chevalier Theater frequently hosts some of the best comedians of our time. Grab tickets for a show and go to dinner at one of the many restaurants in Medford Square. A local favorite is Nappis—they may not have a menu but they do serve up a range of daily specials of delicious Italian dishes each night that never disappoint. After your show, head down the street for some cocktails at Carroll’s.
Millennials living in Medford enjoy the perks of suburban and city living, and it’s not an outlier in Greater Boston. Stay tuned for more Hipsturbia profiles, on towns like Revere and Watertown, and until then, read our article on Arlington.
Published: May 19, 2020
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