Check out homes for sale in Somerville, MA from the Boston Pads real estate database! With more listings and knowledgeable real estate agents than any other agency in the Boston area, you are sure to find a property to your liking and a friendly agent to help you.
Houses for Sale in Somerville, MA
Greater Boston is a great place to live: from the historic culture, thriving economy, vibrant culture, and a great view of the ocean, there is a lot to recommend. While downtown Boston real estate is many great things, affordable is not usually among them. Luckily, the greater Boston metropolitan area is made up of some fantastic communities, offering all the perks of one of America’s great cities, while minimizing the drawbacks of big city living.
So if you are looking at moving to Greater Boston, or you have been renting for a while and are ready to move towards home ownership, worry not: there are plenty of great houses for sale in Somerville, MA. The city has plenty of fantastic choices in a wide range of housing options that fit nearly everyone’s budget.
An Overview of Somerville, MA
A quintessential east-coast American city, Somerville has received the prestigious All-America City Award three times; in 1972, 2009, and most recently in 2015. In 2006, the Boston Globe singled out Somerville as the best-run city in all of Massachusetts. And of course, it’s home to the world-renowned Tufts University – or rather half of it anyway, as the campus sits upon the border between Somerville and Medford.
Neighborhoods in Somerville, MA
Somerville grew up in the age of streetcars and rail systems. As a result, its commercial presence has an even distribution, as plenty of economic activities are centered around the various stops. In addition, Somerville’s hilly topography makes large-scale commercial development tricky. This is great for residents because it ensures that desired shops and services are never terribly far from home.
In alphabetical order, Somerville’s neighborhoods are:
On the west bank of the Mystic River, and sharing its southern border with Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, Assembly Square is also home to Assembly Row: 45 acres of smart growth, mixed use development land, combining R&D spaces, premium retail, restaurants, office space, and even a marina, waterfront park, and bike paths! Additionally, there is plenty of green space around, making this so much more than just another “outdoor mall.”
A neighborhood that also stretches into Medford, Ball Square is primarily residential, but don’t sleep on the dining and shopping options on Brodway. Of particular note are Kelly’s Diner, True Grounds, and Victor’s Deli, but there is plenty to explore here. That said, it’s still primarily residential, so if you’re looking for houses for sale in Somerville, MA, Ball Square almost always has something for you.
Brickbottom is an industrial district with plenty of industry to go around.
As of this writing, Clarendon Hill is in the middle of a significant redevelopment process. If you’re looking for more affordable houses for sale in Somerville, MA, this is definitely a neighborhood to keep your eye on. Either way, check out Teele Square for some great dining options, including the excellent breakfast-only Magnificent Muffin & Bagel.
More than just the square, this is basically West Somerville. Ever since the MBTA extended the Red Line out here in the mid-eighties, the district has been experiencing quite the renaissance, with dining, nightlife, and retail. Moreover, there is the Somerville Theatre that has films, live shows, and even a satellite of the Museum of Bad Art!
A friendly community, Duck Village is a small neighborhood that punctuates its residential emphasis with two parks and plenty of trees. It got its name during the Prohibition Era, when folks fleeing possible arrest would “duck” into the deeply residential area, giving their pursuers the slip! This district is a great place to find houses for sale in Somerville, MA if you want the convenience of nearby shops without living in the middle of the city.
What we call East Somerville today was originally a Charlestown farming community. The gradual appearance of roads, bridges, and rails transformed those cow pastures into a great residential district just outside of the Boston bustle.
That said, Somerville has always been a thoroughfare, as exemplified by Paul Revere’s famous “Midnight Ride,” which went down Washington Street, Crescent Street, and eventually took Broadway into Medford. If you’re looking for houses for sale in Somerville, MA, East Somerville homes give you a front-row seat to the annual celebration of the Midnight Ride on Patriots’ Day (if you’re from out of town, that’s the third Monday of April).
Probably best known for the world-famous Sarma and Highland Kitchen restaurants, the Gilman Square Green Line stop is also in the works. Therefore, if you are looking at houses for sale in Somerville, MA, it might be a good idea to strike now, before the neighborhood’s property values surge up.
Inner Belt District
Alongside Brickbottom, this is Somerville’s other industrial district, though there is some retail as well. While there’s been some talk of building a soccer stadium for the New England Revolution, as of this writing that’s very much still up in the air.
Based around the intersection of Medford Street and Broadway, Magoun Square is a mixed-use urban business district nestled between Winter Hill and Ball Square. It’s slated for a Green Line station, but the excellent Trum Field – a park with basketball courts and baseball diamonds – is a great place to work up a sweat right now.
Powder House Square
Colloquially known as Powder House Circle, the square is named for the 18th century building that overlooks the rotary from nearby Nathan Tufts Park. This is where one of Britain’s first hostile acts – the removal of gunpowder by British soldiers – took place, leading to the Powder Alarm and eventually the American Revolution.
A residential neighborhood that crests a ridge in central Somerville, Spring Hill has some amazing homes dating to the district’s development boom from the 1840’s to the dawn of the 20th century. If you’re interested in historic houses for sale in Somerville, MA, keep an eye on Spring Hill; its selection of gorgeous Victorians and Greek Revival houses don’t stay on the market for long.
This 50-acre neighborhood in northeastern Somerville is known for its one big hill (not ten, sorry). Nevertheless, if you can get over that disappointment – if we can call it that – then there is a lot to love here. Notably, the Blessings of the Bay Boathouse offers canoes and paddleboats for public rental every summer. If you have never rowed down the Mystic River, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot!
Tufts University is more or less a neighborhood unto itself, which we’ll dive into later on. Suffice it to say the neighborhood is awesome. If you are looking for houses for sale in Somerville, MA, the seasonal migration of college students every spring and fall is worth taking into account.
A southeastern Somerville neighborhood, Union Square sits on the intersection of Somerville Avenue, Washington Street, and Webster Avenue. Its name comes from its role as a mustering and recruiting site for the Union army during the American Civil War, though today it’s the commercial heart of a vibrant residential district.
What it lacks in total area, Wilson Square makes up for in charm and personality. Of note is the first Training Room: a private fitness studio that prizes flexibility, with their TRAC program combining the best of small group classes and personal training ‒ even if you don’t have a workout buddy!
Alphabetically last, but certainly not least, we have Winter Hill. Another stop on Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and site of the extensive Winter Hill Fort during the American Revolutionary War, the neighborhood has no shortage of history. However, today Winter Hill is better known for its excellent restaurants, new repertory live theater The Theater Coop, the Mudflat community pottery studio, and the Daniel Maher Stained Glass artist’s collective.
Neighborhoods with Houses for Sale In Somerville, MA
Of course, you are not here just to learn about the various squares and districts. You are probably looking for neighborhoods with houses for sale in Somerville, MA. Well, we’ve got good news: with the exception of the industrial districts – like Brickbottom and the Inner Belt – practically every Somerville neighborhood has homes for sale, which you can always check out on Boston Pads for up-to-date listings.
While some might think of Somerville as a sleepy, less-populated suburb of Boston, it’s actually bustling with activity. As of the 2010 census, Somerville’s population of 75,754 residents gave it a population density of 18,404.8 people per square mile. It is the most densely populated municipality in New England, and 16th nationwide. The population density isn’t an accident or an unfortunate situation. You will find an abundance of houses for sale in Somerville, MA, for this simple reason: it’s a great place to live.
Like most Massachusetts cities – especially those in Greater Boston – Somerville has plenty of history under its belt. However, for more than 200 years, it wasn’t known as Somerville. First scouted by Puritan colonists in 1629, Thomas graves and 100 Puritans from Salem settled the territory to make way for the upcoming Great Migration.
Of course, this was all part of Charlestown back then. Officially, Charlestown contained not just its current territory, but also all of modern-day Burlington, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Woburn, not to mention chunks of Arlington and Cambridge. Charlestown used to be very big. Somerville was part of Charlestown until 1842, when it finally became a town in its own right.
Somerville, MA’s Role in the American Revolution
As mentioned above, Powder House Square derives its name from the Old Powder House. Back in the 1700’s, it contained the biggest supply of gunpowder in Massachusetts. In 1774, as a response to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed The Intolerable Acts: punitive measures designed to chastise the uppity colonists, who certainly found the acts intolerable.
General Thomas Gage was a British officer tasked with enforcing the deeply unpopular Intolerable Acts in the midst of Boston’s revolutionary spirit. Trying to prevent a war, General Gage likely helped to start one. He sent about 260 British soldiers, rowing in secrecy under cover of dawn’s first light, to remove all the gunpowder as well as seize some mobile artillery.
American patriots were in no mood to take this lying down. This Powder Alarm turned into thousands of militia troops flooding the area, forcing British Loyalists (and no small number of government officials) to run to the British military for protection.
Americans started hiding their munitions. General Gage – furious at the response – was determined to take them by force. On April 18, 1775, the British planned to march to Concord for this purpose.
Therefore, it fell to a man named Paul Revere to warn the Americans that the British were coming. Two British officers stationed on Washington Street in Somerville spotted Revere and gave chase. Riding up Broadway toward Winter Hill, he gave the Redcoats the slip, and the rest is quite literally history.
Somerville, MA after the American Revolution
Once the war was over, and American independence was secure, Somerville dedicated itself to the pursuit of the newly minted American dream. From the end of the war right up until its 1842 separation from Charlestown, Somerville enjoyed slow, steady progress. Incorporated as a city in 1872, Somerville’s industry focused on meat processing and brick production, served by eight passenger rail stations at its height. Upon the arrival of the Late Industrial Period from 1870 to 1915, Somerville’s economy boomed. The city invested heavily in infrastructure, the population exploded from 15,000 to 90,000, and the city earned the moniker “The Chicago of New England.”
The “City of Homes:” A Postwar Boom of Houses For Sale In Somerville, MA
1925 saw the creation of McGrath Highway, and 1926 brought a Ford Motor Company plant in Assembly Square. Car manufacturing became Somerville’s top industry in the following years, leading to a housing boom that lasted through the end of World War II. With literally thousands of houses for sale in Somerville, MA, the city earned the nickname “city of homes” for its dense residential districts.
In a reversal of fortune, Post-War economics were far from kind to Somerville. The rise of personal automobiles – while initially great for the city – led to the dismantling of the streetcars and passenger railways that had characterized the city’s transportation, which stopped entirely by 1958. The construction of highways displaced long-standing neighborhoods and gave access to cheap, out-of-the-way land to businesses and employees alike.
Ironically, the advent of personal automobiles caused the Ford plant in Assembly Square to shut its doors in 1958, dealing a blow to the local economy from which it would take years to recover. By the mid-to-late 70’s, Assembly Square was a haggard shell of its former glory. Somerville was hemorrhaging jobs and money. With those on the way out, much of the population followed. An unprecedented number of houses for sale in Somerville, MA signaled the city’s gradual decline. It would “enjoy” a brief stay as the car theft capitol of the United States, and its downward spiral towards tragedy seemed inexorable.
This story, however, has a happy ending, and it comes in the form of an old friend.
Railways, And the Somerville Renaissance
The death of passenger rail was the beginning of the end for Somerville. It was fitting, then, that the Red Line Northwest Extension would bring it roaring back to life. Nearly 30 years after the old rails shut down, 1984 saw the passenger rail make its triumphant return.
The effects would not be immediate. However, as the sleeping giant that was Greater Boston’s economy began to stir from its long, slumbering recession, Somerville began to reach for the stars once more. New jobs in biotech and telecommunication lead to a new housing boom. For the first time in what felt like forever, there were new houses for sale in Somerville, MA and people rushed to buy them.
Now, Somerville is known for its combination of small town neighborhoods, a thriving arts community, excellent cuisine, and an efficient and popular local government, earning it the honors of best-run city in Massachusetts in 2006 for the first – but probably not last – time. Grassroots efforts to preserve Somerville’s unique charm have lead to a swell of support for local businesses as well as renewed enthusiasm for public transit, gardens, and an overall mindfulness of one’s neighbors, making it a fantastic place to live.
Real Estate Data on Houses for Sale in Somerville, MA
Somerville is a great market, and the data backs it up. Market trends show an increase of 8%, or $55,000 in median home sales over the last year. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that prices are going up. Over the same period of time, the average cost per square foot went down to $583 from $624. In other words, people were getting more house for their money, and taking advantage of that.
The median price of houses for sale in Somerville, MA ranged from $425,000 for a 1-bedroom home to $1,123,250 for a 4-bedroom home, with an average of $725,000 and hundreds of houses being sold each month.
Transportation near Houses for Sale in Somerville, MA
If the neighborhood and history sections didn’t make it clear, we’ll spell it out: public transportation is a big deal in Somerville, MA. Between Davis Station and the planned Red Line expansions, and the robust busing system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) connects Somerville and its neighbors. So whether you’re into reducing your carbon footprint, want to avoid the expense of car ownership, or just avoid the hassle of driving in the – let’s say enthusiastic – Greater Boston traffic, the MBTA has you covered.
Parking In Somerville, MA
While it’s significantly better than Boston proper, or even Cambridge, Somerville is packed with residents, and that can make parking challenging. On-street parking is frequently available, though hard to predict. As of this writing, a residential parking permit costs $40 for one year, and is only valid in one of the city’s eight zones. Residents can acquire up to two visitor parking passes, which cost $20 for the two-day version, and $40 for the three-day pass.
Visitors who are over age 65 or have handicap plates still need a permit, but it’s free. Additionally, if you’re hosting an event but there isn’t enough parking on the street, you can get a Consideration Permit for free.
So when you’re looking at houses for sale in Somerville, MA, it’s worth considering how you’d like to get around, and choosing your neighborhood accordingly.
Education near Houses for Sale in Somerville, MA
Somerville education is in large part defined by Tufts University: a private research university that also sprawls out into Medford.
University Education in Somerville, MA
Founded in 1852, Tufts was a smaller liberal arts college until the 1970s, when it completed its metamorphosis into a full-fledged research university. Renowned for its international focus – including highly regarded study abroad programs – Tufts emphasizes the idea of active citizenship among its undergraduate programs and eight graduate schools. This includes the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the oldest graduate program for international relations in the United States.
Tufts has produced billionaires, heads of state, multiple Nobel laureates, Academy Award and Emmy winners, several CEOs, founders of Fortune 500 companies, Pulitzer Prize winners, and of course, countless Fulbright, Goldwater, Marshall, Rhodes, and Truman scholars.
A member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in NCAA Division III, Tufts’ men’s lacrosse and soccer, as well as their women’s field hockey and softball teams are all NCAA national champions, with the women’s softball team winning the NCAA Division III national title three years in a row in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Public and Private Schools in Somerville, MA
Somerville is a “Choice School District.” That means that residents can choose which of the district’s eight K-8 public schools best fits their children, with most students getting into their first choice.
According to the US News rankings, Somerville High is the #83 (out of 246) ranked High School in the Boston metropolitan area. It nearly cracks the US News top 100 high schools in Massachusetts, coming in at 108th at the time of this writing. With a 10:1 student-teacher ratio, and an 85.24 overall rating from the US News scorecard (#2,545 out of 17,245 in the nation), Somerville High is distinctly above average in most regards.
Somerville also has six private Catholic schools, most notably the St. Theresa Catholic School, formerly known as St. Catherine of Genoa, a highly regarded K-8 institution on Summer St.
Landmarks & Historic Places
Like much of Greater Boston, Somerville contains a large number of historical landmarks. The city of Somerville’s web site has some excellent brochures, both for self-guided bike tours, or traveling at a more leisurely pace.
Local Attractions in Somerville, MA
As described in the neighborhoods section above, every corner of Somerville is packed with things to do. That said, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the following.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
Other than the pain of stepping on a stray piece, LEGO is pure joy, and you can’t convince us otherwise. While kids of all ages can enjoy it, Lego designed the LEGOLAND Discovery Center with children aged 3-10 years in mind, and sized accordingly. With the exception of their excellent Adult Night events, at least one child must accompany grown-ups. So if you want to see miniature LEGO Boston – which trust us, you totally do – this is a trip to take with the kids.
The Museum of Bad Art
This privately owned museum unabashedly celebrates pieces from “artists whose work would be displayed and appreciated in no other forum.” Located in the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, it’s definitely an experience that… well, it’s definitely an experience.
Don’t get the hype behind small plates? One trip to this excellent modern Mediterranean restaurant and you will be a believer too. Colorful, vibrant, and overflowing with flavorful choices, Sarma might be the best small plates restaurant in Boston. Maybe Massachusetts. Maybe the world.
What it’s like to Live in Somerville, MA
Picture the charm of small-town suburbia, the vibrant expression of an artists’ collective, the unhurried convenience of a college town, and the hip, urbane experience of major city life, all somehow coexisting together in perfect harmony. Have the picture in your mind? Think it can’t possibly exist?
That’s Somerville; an excellent blend of modern and classic, traditional and progressive, a metropolis and a green space, and everything in-between. It’s of little wonder that Somerville is considered one of the best places to live in the Greater Boston area. For those who have had a taste of its unique fusion of culture, there is simply no substitute.