Hi Om Gal! My fiancee and I are (potentially) relocating from Washington DC up to Boston, and are in the process of looking at neighborhoods. I'm from MA and went to college in Worcester but never lived in Boston, so my knowledge is a little limited. Anyway, while reading the Globe the other day, I was shocked to see a quote by...Rebecca Pacheco! It was very surreal to have my online-yoga world and my Boston-relocation worlds collide in that way. But it gave me the idea of seeking your advice on a good spot in the city to move to....
DC's a great town in the sense that it's very walkable, but the area in which we live is not exactly welcoming; actually, it's downright unfriendly. Chalk it up to all the Hill staffers, lobbyists, and consultants who live there, but who knows. All of Boston is walkable, but we're looking for a neighborhood with a great community feeling, good local restaurants, a great coffee shop (or a few), and a good local yoga studio. Minimal threat of robbery or violent crime would be good too! So far, we've come down to three places- the North End (good reviews for North End yoga, but I'd be curious of your opinion), South End (fantastic but super-pricey), and JP (which everyone loves for the community feeling, but I'm a bit concerned about how walkable it is compared to the rest of the city). Also Coolidge Corner (dig the movie theater), but I worry about how college-y/ chain-store-y it is.
I'd REALLY appreciate it if you could send some advice our way.
We would be thrilled to welcome you to the tribe! Boston is a great, accessible city with neighborhoods that vary a lot in terms of their overall vibe, convenience on foot, amenities, etc. The areas you have identified are all wonderful. Here's my quick lowdown on all three:
North End: The North End is a delicious neighborhood, known for its abundant and authentic Italian cuisine (and one of the city's only raw restaurants, Grezzo). Indeed an area that's best navigated on foot, driving and parking can actually be very challenging. Space is limited (the apartments are traditionally older and often smaller), but with that, comes a quaint vibe wherein you won't find a sterile high-rise apartment complex or chain store if you try. North End Yoga is relatively new to the scene and doing a nice job. The studio itself is really lovely, with a bit of a New York feel (the windows within the classroom overlook the skyline). The yoga is mostly of the Vinyasa variety, with a little Mysore and Pilates Fusion sprinkled in.
South End: Equally if not more delectable in terms of eateries and cafes, the South End is certainly an increasingly posh place to live. There's a bit more yoga from which to choose, with the following studios and health clubs nearby:
True, it's more pricey, though, so I can understand the need for deliberation.
Jamaica Plain: J.P. seems to be the "next" big area to blossom. One might argue that it's the South End before the South End got a bit too refined for its True Religion britches. It's artsy, independent, and diverse, with a price tag that's easier to bear. Yoga studios with good raps include Blissful Monkey and Roslindale Yoga. It's also not far from Brookline, where you'll find Baptiste Power Yoga, where I taught for many years, and local yoga pioneer Barbara Benagh's studio.
Given the criteria that you mentioned I might also suggest scoping out Cambridge and Somerville. The former is more expensive than the later but offers a plethora of charm, including plenty of cafes from which to choose and yoga studios to explore. Somerville, particularly in the Davis Square vicinity, will give you more bang for your buck, with a decent selection of fun, neighborhood bars and shops (including local java darling Diesel), some stand out restaurants, and access to a couple established, quality yoga studios. It's a bit farther away from Boston proper than the other spots we mentioned, but the T goes there via the Red line. Plus, you may discover you like your new digs so much that you'd rather stay close to home.
Rebecca Pacheco photographed in Boston by Jonathan Pozniak for Lululemon
Welcome, Om Guys & Gals!
Rebecca Pacheco is a writer and yogi who began practicing yoga at the age of 16 and teaching at the age of 20. For the past decade, she has worked with students of all levels, including beginners and experienced yogis. She has appeared in national ad campaigns for Reebok, Ryka, and New Balance and taught at an internationally-renowned yoga studio. The World According to Om Gal is her creation and your new favorite hOMepage.