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“The spirited, slightly-mischievous side of Boston, located just a bridge away on the other side of the Charles River” – is home to two internationally prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – hence its reputation for being an intellectual center of the United States. However, if you have younger, school-age children, they will be enrolled in the Cambridge public schools!
The first houses were built in the spring of 1631. The settlement was initially referred to as “the newe towne”, in the heart of today’s Harvard Square. The marketplace where farmers brought in crops from surrounding towns to sell survives today at the small park at the corner of JFK and Winthrop Streets.
Home to the famous Fireside Poets, Cambridge grew quickly with the construction of bridges (now 11 in number) crossing the Charles River and connecting it directly to Boston. Its commercial center also began to shift from Harvard Square to Central Square. The 1980s brought a wave of high-technology startups; but now, the city houses a thriving biotech industry. By the end of the 20th century, Cambridge had one of the more expensive housing markets in the Northeastern United States. On the plus side, however, Cambridge has the lowest property tax rate in the Boston metropolitan area!
As a resident of Cambridge, you will be known as a Cantabrigian. The diverse mixture of Cantabrigians creates an atmosphere where any family will feel comfortable and at home. The city is beautifully laid out in a series of squares, including Kendall Square, Central Square, Harvard Square, Inman Square, Porter Square, and Lechmere Square. These and the residential areas give you the feeling of being a part of a close-knit, small-town atmosphere.
The 13 major residential neighborhoods making up Cambridge are:
1) East Cambridge is bordered on the north by the Somerville border, on the east by the Charles River, on the south by Broadway and Main Street, and on the west by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. It includes the NorthPoint development.
2) MIT Campus is bordered on the north by Broadway, on the south and east by the Charles River, and on the west by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
3) Wellington-Harrington is bordered on the north by the Somerville border, on the south and west by Hampshire Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
4) The Port is bordered on the north by Hampshire Street, on the south by Massachusetts Avenue, on the west by Prospect Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. Residents refer to the area of Cambridgeport and Riverside as “The Coast”.
5) Cambridgeport is bordered on the north by Massachusetts Avenue, on the south by the Charles River, on the west by River Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
6) Mid-Cambridge is bordered on the north by Kirkland and Hampshire Streets and the Somerville border, on the south by Massachusetts Avenue, on the west by Peabody Street, and on the east by Prospect Street.
7) Riverside or The Coast is bordered on the north by Massachusetts Avenue, on the south by the Charles River, on the west by JFK Street, and on the east by River Street.
8) Agassiz or Harvard North is bordered on the north by the Somerville border, on the south and east by Kirkland Street, and on the west by Massachusetts Avenue.
9) Peabody is bordered on the north by railroad tracks, on the south by Concord Avenue, on the west by railroad tracks, and on the east by Massachusetts Avenue. The Avon Hill sub-neighborhood consists of the higher elevations bounded by Upland Road, Raymond Street, Linnaean Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
10) Brattle area/West Cambridge is bordered on the north by Concord Avenue and Garden Street, on the south by the Charles River and the Watertown border, on the west by Fresh Pond and the Collins Branch Library, and on the east by JFK Street. It includes the sub-neighborhoods of Brattle Street (formerly known as Tory Row) and Huron Village.
11) North Cambridge is bordered on the north by the Arlington and Somerville borders, on the south by railroad tracks, on the west by the Belmont border, and on the east by the Somerville border.
12) Cambridge Highlands is bordered on the north and east by railroad tracks, on the south by Fresh Pond, and on the west by the Belmont border.
13) Strawberry Hill is bordered on the north by Fresh Pond, on the south by the Watertown border, on the west by the Belmont border, and on the east by railroad tracks.
Harvard Square, is located in the center of Cambridge at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave, JFK Street, and Brattle Street, and is home to Harvard Yard and Harvard University, the oldest university in the country. It is a popular shopping and social destination, with a blend of unique local shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as some large chain establishments. Harvard Square condos are highly sought-after because of the vibrancy of the neighborhood. Harvard Square is known for the Garage Mall, a former parking garage that was redeveloped into a mall, as well as the historic Out of Town News Stand, still in business today.
Harvard Square is a popular gathering place for young people associated with counter-culture movements, as well as street performers, tourists, and the students and faculty of Harvard University; creating an extremely active and diverse community. Finding parking in the area can be challenging, but the access to public transportation provides excellent access to the rest of the city.
If rapid transit is important to you, Cambridge is well served by the MBTA, including the Porter Square stop on the regional Commuter Rail, the Lechmere stop on the Green Line, and five stops on the Red Line (Alewife, Porter Square, Harvard Square, Central Square, and Kendall Square/MIT). Alewife Station, the current terminus of the Red Line, has a large multi-story parking garage. The Harvard Bus Tunnel, under Harvard Square, reduces traffic congestion on the surface, and connects to the Red Line underground. Some of the main squares: Inman, Porter, and to a lesser extent, Harvard, are very close to the city line, as are Somerville’s Union and Davis Squares. With a “Walk Score” of 100 out of 100 possible points, you might even be able to walk to work.
You can obtain information about the city and its services from its official web site; and, if you have a particular property in mind to buy, access its database to find out how much it is assessed for. You will be happy to know that Cambridge offers a reduction in taxes to owner-occupants. You can obtain the form and current tax rates online.
Great Schools provides ratings for most schools in the United States. Below, you can see what schools are near the address you are thinking of buying and then compare it to other neighboring schools.
Single family homes in Cambridge have been running from $759,000 to $6,250,000 while condominiums have been running from $344,000 to $6,995,000. Pricing varies depending upon size, location, and amenities. Real estate sales and pricing are very fluid and can fluctuate in a matter of hours because homes come on and off the market daily… even hourly. What is currently offered for sale is listed below. The following chart is a visual representation of the cyclical nature of real estate and compares the ups and downs of Cambridge to those of Boston proper. The taller the column the better it is for buyers. The shorter the column the better it is for sellers. Hence 2006 was the best time for a buyer to buy in Cambridge, while 2013-2019 were great years for sellers. However, buyers had a bit of a reprieve in 2020-2021.
This next chart shows the number of sales occurring in Cambridge month-to-month, year-to-year since 2018 and provides you a historical overview of the best times to sell – months with the greatest number of sales (spring and fall) – and the best times to buy – months with the fewest number of sales (summer and winter). CAVEAT: there are usually more houses to choose from in the first half of the year.
Search Cambridge Real Estate
Bookmark this page and check back anytime to see what is currently available. Unlike other search sites which include properties already under contract, this site only shows properties that are truly available. Additionally, you can pick which type of housing – single-family, condo, or multi-family – you are interested in seeing at a glance.