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Living in Arlington, MA
If you are browsing homes for sale in Arlington, MA, then you want to get the facts. Part of your research should be real estate market trends in Arlington, but you also want to know what it’s like to live in this bustling town six miles outside of Boston. What is the local food scene? What is there to do for fun? What kinds of community resources are available to residents?
Here you will find the answers to all these questions and more. Read on to find out everything you need to know about what it’s like to live in Arlington, MA. Then, browse Boston Pads for homes for sale in Arlington, MA to start your home-buying journey.
Arlington, MA Geography
The town of Arlington is 5.5 square miles, with water covering 0.4 of them (Spy Pond, the Arlington Reservoir, Mill Brook and Hills Pond). If you are looking to find a lovely waterfront near the many homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you can also easily get to the scenic Mystic Lakes, Mystic River, and Alewife Brook, all of which border Arlington.
Its neighborhoods include Arlington Center, Arlington Heights (located west of Arlington Center), East Arlington (which begins east of Franklin Street), Brattle Square, Jason Heights, Arlmont Village, and Morningside.
Arlington is just six miles northwest of the city of Boston – about a 30-minute drive or bus and train ride. Its neighboring cities and towns include Medford on the northeast border, Somerville to the east, Cambridge on the southeast border, and Winchester, Lexington, and Belmont.
The History of Arlington, MA
Settlers arrived in Arlington in 1635 and called it Menotomy. It was a village of Cambridge at the time. Residents incorporated the area as a town in 1807, and in 1867 renamed it Arlington in honor of Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery. This name change indicates the fact that Menotomy served as the setting for several significant events during the American Revolution, including Paul Revere’s midnight ride.
Arlington has the unhappy distinction of being the site of one of the most violent battles on the first day of the revolution. More minutemen (American revolutionary soldiers) fell in battle in what was then Menotomy than in nearby Lexington and Concord combined.
Thanks to Mill Brook, which flows through the town, Arlington’s early economy was driven by seven mills that drew energy from the beautiful stream. Old Schwamb Mill, built in 1650, is still functional today – the oldest working mill in the United States.
Arlington was also home to a large farming community, and its most profitable crop was lettuce. In the 1900s, Arlington residents harvested ice from Spy Pond to import to the Caribbean and India.
Arlington’s history is very much alive today, with gorgeous historical houses and architecture, parks, and museums like the Old Schwamb Mill and the Henry Swan House. These historical sites host a greater number of curious visitors with every passing year. If you’re checking out homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you’re likely to wind up in a pre-war building or near some fascinating historical sites. You can find more details about historical attractions below under Things to Do in Arlington.
Arlington, MA Today: Demographics and Transportation
Arlington has a population of 45,510, making it the 30th largest community in Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population density of Arlington, MA was 8,239.2 people per square mile. The town’s residents, as of 2010, resided in 18,969 households. The population is also steadily rising as the Greater Boston Area undergoes a real estate boom. The current population of 45,510 is up from 42,844 in 2010.
Most Arlington, MA residents use a car to get around, although the town is fairly pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly. The most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are East Arlington, Arlington Center, and Brattle. The Minuteman Bikeway is a convenient and scenic route from East Arlington to Alewife Station in Cambridge.
As for public transit from Arlington, MA to Cambridge and Boston, there are plenty of options. Most residents opt to connect to nearby Alewife Station in Cambridge, which has parking for cars and bikes. If you don’t want to drive, bike, or walk to Alewife, the MBTA’s #62 bus route will take you from Arlington Heights to Alewife Station and back. Once you get to Alewife, you can hop on the Red Line train or any of seven bus lines that stop at Alewife: the 62, 67, 76, 79, 84, 350, and 351.
There is also the #77 bus, which goes from Arlington Heights to Harvard Square via Massachusetts Avenue, with connections to the Red Line MBTA train at Porter Square and Harvard.
Real Estate Market and Homes for Sale in Arlington, MA
There are 18,632 housing units, including houses, condos, and apartments, in Arlington, MA. The median home value is $709,786, but if you’re looking for homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you might budget a little less or a little more than that depending on size and location. Homes in this town are some of the most expensive in the country. About half the homes here date back to before 1939. With thirty-three percent built between 1940 and 1969, just 18 percent are recent construction, built after 1970. For homeowners, this preponderance of older buildings can mean charming, historical features as well as potentially expensive upkeep.
Home value appreciation rates indicate that buying homes for sale in Arlington, MA is an extremely sound investment. It may be one of the smartest real estate investments you can make in the country. Over the past decade, the average home appreciated, on average, 4.73 percent each year. That puts Arlington in the top 10 percent nationally and the top 20 percent in Massachusetts in terms of appreciation rates.
About 40 percent of the housing units in Arlington, MA are single-family, detached homes. Small apartment buildings including double-deckers or duplexes and large houses converted into apartments comprise another 33 percent.
Things to Do Outdoors in Arlington, MA
Whether it’s a crisp autumn day or a sunny summer afternoon, there are plenty of local spots to enjoy the weather in Arlington. Check out these attractions. One of them is sure to be near the homes for sale in Arlington, MA that catch your eye.
Spy Pond Park
This gorgeous waterfront is conveniently located right near Arlington’s town center. There is a play area, bike trail, and dog park. However, the main attraction, of course, is the pond itself, which hosts boats and kayaks whenever the season allows for it. Don’t forget to pack a picnic for after you work up an appetite on the water!
Robbins Farm Park
On snowy winter days, you will find plenty of locals sledding at Robbins Farm Park. The tall hill ends in a gentle slope, which makes for a thrilling ride and safe landing. There is a gorgeous view of Boston across the water, especially around sunset. Play a pickup game at the basketball court, eat lunch at the picnic tables, or let your dog run free in the early mornings. There is also a big playground for the younger visitors.
Menotomy Rocks Park
If you are looking for a more rustic day outside, Monotomy Rocks Park is your best bet. Trails wind through the forest and past a lovely pond. There is a picnic area where locals can host parties and functions, a playground, and volleyball and badminton courts. Check the Arlington Parks website for information about activities like Tai Chi and archery.
Care for a bike ride? This 10-mile rail trail runs between Arlington and Alewife Station in Cambridge, where you can catch an MBTA train or bus into Boston. It’s also just a great way to enjoy the weather and take in some local sights! Travel peacefully past Spy Pond, Arlington’s Great Meadows (which are technically located in Lexington, MA), and the Battle Green in Lexington.
Things to Do Indoors in Arlington, MA
There is also plenty to do in Arlington on cold and rainy days! Whether you are a history buff, arts enthusiast, or architecture nerd, there is sure to be something fun to check out near homes for sale in Arlington, MA.
Cyrus Dallin Art Museum
This charming little house displays the work of famed sculptor Cyrus Dallin. The artist was born in 1861 and passed away in 1944, during which time he created iconic pieces like The Appeal to the Great Spirit and Paul Revere. In learning about different interpretations of Dallin’s work and about the artist’s life, visitors experience a slice of American History.
Catch a Movie at the Capitol Theatre
This charming, independent movie theatre features homemade ice cream and popcorn, nice beer and wine selection, and lower prices than the larger national chains. Built in 1925 for silent films and vaudeville acts, the Capitol Theatre still boasts its gorgeous original architecture, restored with fresh paint and comfortable seating. It screens independent films alongside classics.
Jason Russell House
Known by locals simply as the Russell House, this historic farmhouse was the site of a bloody battle between American minutemen and British soldiers on the first day of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. The Arlington Historical Society restored the house and turned it into a museum displaying exhibitions about Arlington’s history.
Old Schwamb Mill
The oldest functional mill in the United States is also a free museum open for tours twice a week. Drop in to learn about local architecture, politics, and commerce in Arlington since the Civil War era.
Built in 1684, the Old Schwamb Mill now manufactures wooden picture frames. Along with its museum tours, the building hosts special events including art exhibitions and parties.
Arlington Friends of the Drama
Arlington residents lovingly produce community theater shows in this lovely facility just a stone’s throw away from many homes for sale in Arlington, MA. Take in a high-quality production of a well-known show and enjoy delicious concessions. The ticket prices are affordable, and the theatre is right near some great bars and restaurants. What could be better than a fun evening out while supporting local artists?
Puzzles, team building, and storytelling come together to make a very fun day trip at Amaze Escape, a local attraction right near many homes for sale in Arlington, MA. Bring a group to try out one of many escape room attractions where participants must find clues and solve the puzzle to unlock the door. The scenarios are themed, the props are vivid, and the stories are creative.
The Capitol Theatre is not the only vaudeville-era theatre in Arlington. Regent Theatre, built in 1916, stays true to its roots with live acts including concerts, comedy, theater, and dance shows. It is also equipped for film screenings, so it regularly hosts film festivals. With reliable sight lines to the stage, comfortable seating, and an intimate vibe, people come from all over the Greater Boston Area to see shows at the Regent. Of course, if you are checking out homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you will not have to travel far to get in on the action.
Like many buildings in Arlington, Robbins Library has a historical distinction. It contains the longest running children’s library in the United States. Within the gorgeous pre-war building, you will find a treasure trove of local history and resources. Once you finish your search for homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you can head to the library and get free museum passes exclusively for Arlington residents. While you are there, check out the local history room for fascinating literature and artifacts. Do you need a gadget or tool for your new Arlington, MA home? Check it out of the Library of Things. And, of course, the library houses more books than you can read in a lifetime. Hours, events, and other information are available on the Robbins Library website.
Restaurants near Homes for Sale in Arlington, MA
While you are researching homes for sale in Arlington, MA, you may be interested in researching the local cuisine. After all, everyone gets tired of cooking every now and then. When you live in Arlington and want to eat out, there is no reason to trek all the way to Boston. Check out these great local eateries. There are sure to be plenty to your liking.
Twyrl Pasta Bistro
Are you in the mood for a handmade Italian meal? Make your way to 315 Broadway and grab a table at Twyrl for lunch or dinner. They make the pasta from scratch, they bake the bread fresh daily, and there is a carefully curated list of wines and beers to wash it all down. Are you in the mood for lighter fare? Try one of the creatively crafted salads. Whether you want an intimate dinner for two or a larger party, Twyrl should be to your liking.
Chef-owned, fine-dining restaurants featuring modern takes on European-inspired fare are becoming a staple in the Boston area these days. Now, there is one right near tons of homes for sale in Arlington, MA. On Summer Street in Arlington, try a meal at Scutra, where attentive staff serve up a seasonal and locally sourced menu replete with seafood, game, and produce. With an outdoor patio and creative cocktails, this is an especially enticing dinner spot on warmer days.
Sometimes you just want a pint of beer and a juicy burger in a local pub. Town Tavern on Massachusetts Ave. is a favorite watering hole for Arlington residents. Try a regional craft beer or opt for a glass of house wine or a cocktail. The burgers and fries, wings, pastrami sandwiches, and other bar food staples are difficult to resist. Stop by for dinner and to catch the latest game, or put your hand-eye coordination to the test on the dartboard.
Acitron Cocina Mexicana
Would Arlington Center be complete without an awesome margarita spot? Acitron Cocina Mexicana is that and so much more, blending classic family recipes with locally sourced ingredients. This Mexican eatery aims to offer the community authentic and healthy meals alongside classic desserts like warm chocolate tamales and flan. They infuse the margaritas, mojitos, and other cocktails with fresh fruit. It is a fresh, lively menu in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Do you love a fresh grilled kabob? Arlington locals do, which is why you will find their favorite spot, Sabzi, right near plenty of homes for sale in Arlington, MA. Cool down your spicy Persian dinner with a diced cucumber salad. Pair it with a beer, wine, Persian herbal tea, or doogh, a mint-flavored yogurt drink you can try carbonated or non-carbonated. It’s a tempting, affordable menu in comfortable digs conveniently located right on Massachusetts Ave. There is no need to make a reservation because walk-ins are always welcome.
La Victoria Taqueria
Sometimes you just need a really good taco pronto, and you don’t want to pay more than a few bucks for it. This local taco stand, La Victoria Taqueria, is perfect for exactly that. Head to Medford Street and order at the counter to try what the restaurant owners bill as “Mexican street food.” You will not be disappointed. In addition, with veggie options, this is a great place to meet your vegetarian friend for lunch.
It can be hard to find good Korean food – that is, unless you live in Arlington, MA. Woori on 9 Medford St. has authentic and richly seasoned meats, veggies, and kimchi. Whether you want a plate of bibimbap, a bowl of stew, or will wolf down anything with kimchi, Woori will sate your craving.
Punjab Indian Restaurant
This lavishly decorated dinner spot serves up your favorite Northern Indian dishes, from tandoori meats and curries to vegan entrees. Vibrant spices and fresh ingredients combine into a hearty meal you can chase down with a Taj Mahal beer or mango lassi. You can make a reservation and check out the menu on their website.
Blue Ribbon BBQ
Craving a rack of ribs with tangy sauce and classic sides like corn bread, mac ‘n cheese, and collard greens? Blue Ribbon BBQ is as good as any roadside stand in the south, but it’s right on Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington. The staff, who slow-cook every morsel for hours, say they are trying to emulate that “grandma’s kitchen” taste. Be as impressed as hundreds of locals before you, who have been chowing down on Blue Ribbon BBQ for a quarter of a century. If you don’t want to take our word for it, trust the Phantom Gourmet, Best of Boston, and Best of Citysearch reviewers.
Menotomy Grill and Tavern
As you may remember from The History of Arlington, MA, this town was known as Menotomy during its early colonial history. Deeply connected to its pre-American Revolution roots, Menotomy Grill and Tavern gets its name from Cooper’s Tavern, an Arlington eatery where two patrons sought shelter from the bloody first battle of the Revolution just outside the tavern doors.
Of course, today instead of sounds of muskets outside, you will probably hear the chattering of other patrons, live music, or the Patriots Game coming from the television over the bar. While you take in the history and modern local culture, order dinner – there is a gluten-free menu alongside the tavern staples – and a pint of beer.
Can you think of a more perfect spot to grab dinner after visiting one of the local museums? You can make a reservation and read more about the history on the restaurant’s website.