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Getting around Boston

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by Espion, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. Espion

    Espion is a girl
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    I apologize if this isn't the proper forum...I wasn't sure where else to put this. Yes, this is an interview-ish problem.

    1. I am a Texan.
    therefore
    2. New England might as well be a foreign country.

    The real skinny is that I have a rental car that I'll be driving down from Lebanon, NH to Boston, MA. I'm not too excited about driving a car around Boston, especially when there's so much public transportation to be had.

    I already have a hotel reserved that is within walking distance of BUMC...so what I'm asking is...

    Are there places where I can stash my rental car for a night? (i.e. stash the car for a night, ride into Boston, interview the next day, and ride back out to rental car.) Would the parking fees make it totally not worth it?


    I will have to swallow my pride and admit that cities with an actual public transportation system are a little intimidating to a girl who grew up in a town with a population of 165. I looked at the MBTA website, and I have to admit that I'm still a little unsure. I need a voice of experience.
     
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  3. SergeGainsbourg

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  4. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    There is no good parking around BUMC. Your best bet and most convenient option is to pay the hotel for parking. That would be the least painful option. Other options include trying one of the commuter parking lots in Boston which include Alewife, Riverside and Amtrak. These are usually full by 8am with people that commute from the suburbs into the city and park there. Look at this link: http://www.noreascon.org/travel/parking/

    For Alewife it's red line to orange line to #1 bus.
    For Riverside it's green line to #1 bus.
    For Amtrak it's commuter rail to red line to orange line to #1 bus.
     
  5. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    You could just ditch the rental car completely and use public transit to get around in Boston. You won't need the car to get to the airport. If you are in a hotel very close to BUMC keep alert at night because it is not in the best neighborhood.
     
  6. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    Also if you park at Alewife it is Red line to downtown crossing and free transfer to the Silverline Express bus to BUMC.
     
  7. Espion

    Espion is a girl
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    Good to know...

    Its on Massachusetts Ave...I know that it is within an easy walking distance.

    I called the hotel back, and their parking is $17/day. Not terribly shabby, considering some of the rates on the web-page. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of ditching the rental car, because I have to drive back to Manchester to fly back to Baltimore.
    Then I considered lugging around my carry-on bag. Its not big by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not keen on dragging luggage around.

    So, drive through Boston, I shall (anyone need a ride? heh).

    I'm totally purchasing that insurance on the rental car. :p


    Thank you for the replies!!
     
  8. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    You won't find anything cheaper than $17 for parking anywhere near where you need to be. Just park at the hotel and if you want to look around town take the subway.
     
  9. Chowdah

    Chowdah Junior Member
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    Whenever I need to leave a car going in to boston, I park at the Oak Grove station on the orange line (right off 93). The parking garage is huge and it is $3.50 per day.
     
  10. saffron

    saffron Senior Member
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    hey i also have a question about boston and cars. i am applying to a few boston programs, which i really like. my parents just bought me a nice car this year, which i would like to take with me to residency wherever i go. would it be way too expensive to park/maintain a car in boston on a resident's salary?

    im not saying i want to drive it around every day- im cool with public transportation, and am not expecting to have to drive much at all- but it would be nice to have it with me instead of having to leave it at home. recommendations? do any residents have cars?

    also what are the insurance rates, etc like? thanks :)
     
  11. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    Don't bring a nice car to Boston. I took the bus for a year and then started driving. I've gotten hit while parked and of course the guy didn't leave a note. From the paint it's probably a cab. If you do drive quite a bit expect the usual nicks and dings.

    Parking is expensive. Most hospitals will give you a discounted rate but it can still be quite expensive. Expect to pay about $50+ per month. Insurance in Massachusetts is a pain. The rates are strictly regulated so few insurers want to join the market. The rates did just go down last week for 2006 (check the Boston Globe website for details). You may want to try Amica for car insurance. They're a pretty good company to deal with. You may also want to check if USAA covers Massachusetts (assuming you qualify for their insurance products).

    Also Massachusetts has an automotive excise tax based on the age of your car payable to the city you live in. Parking around town is a pain in Boston although the outlying cities aren't bad. I'd get an off-street space though so you don't have to worry about street cleaning or snow emergencies both of which will either get your car ticketed or towed.
     
  12. saffron

    saffron Senior Member
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    thanks for the info bobblehead. few more questions- if i rent an apt in longwood or nearby area, will i have to park on the street? how much will an off-street space cost? im not worried about hospital parking since i can just take public trans. to work every day. also, approx. how much is the automotive tax?
     
  13. AngryTesticle

    AngryTesticle Happy Gonad
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    Longwood is in Brookline and in Brookline you cannot park your car overnight on the street in many areas. Your apartment may have parking available. You will most likely need to rent a deeded parking space if your apartment does not provide parking. In any case, they will charge you quite a sum of money for that (I've heard anywhere around $150-200 per month). Parking at the hospital (Brigham and Women's at least) will cost you around $80/month (give or take) or $3.50/day. Parking costs may be comparable at the BI. A lot of my fellow residents live in Brookline and they usually walk to work or take the T. This is a really good option since the hospital offers discounted monthly T passes. I ride the 39 bus everyday (I don't live in Brookline) and I pay $33/month (instead of the full price of $44/month) to have access to riding the 39 as well as the trains. Sure beats paying $80/month!

    If you live in Brookline, it really is kinda inconvenient to have a car because of the added costs. But if you're absolutely in love with having a car, which is useful for when you have to shopping, then I guess you'll just have to fork over some additional money. This stinks because rent in Brookline isn't cheap either, unfortunately.

    Automotive tax? I'm not familiar with that. Maybe it's some Boston thing...my car is still registered in a different state.
     
  14. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    If you live in the city of Boston or Brighton (not Brookline) you can park on the street. But you will have to register your car in MA and get a parking permit from city hall. It is better to have a beater car that way you don't have to worry about the little dings it will get from sitting on the street all the time. And a with a compact car it is much easier to find a parking space
     
  15. saffron

    saffron Senior Member
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    hey guys- thanks so much for the responses, the info. is really helping. so i think if i come there, i might bring my car (i know im stubborn), find an apt with a parking spot provided (thus avoiding street parking fees) and take the T to work (thus avoiding hospital parking fees). if there are any other costs, i will fork it over i guess :rolleyes:

    on a different note, how do you guys like living in boston? more importantly, can you maintain a decent lifestyle on a resident's salary? is it possible to buy something, or is renting the best option? i looked up the projected pgy-1 income next year which is around 48 K (at least for the harvard hospitals). This seems like enough to me for one person, but i've heard that Mass. has state and local taxes, etc. that make your take home significantly lower. i like everything else about the program, etc. and think boston would be a fun place to live, but im worried that i'll have to take a financial hit to be there.

    could all the boston peeps talk about the pros/cons of living there and if you would do it again if you could choose? thanks :thumbup:
     
  16. 2ndyear

    2ndyear Senior Member
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    Boston is a ton of fun. I'm loving every minute of it. It IS doable on a residents salary, but seriously consider getting a roommate. You'll save a ton of money and get a better place. As for places with parking provided, they're fewer and generally farther out of town. Most places with off street parking available will charge you a hefty fee for the luxury. Street parking isn't bad so depending on the neighborhood and how much you drive, and therefore spend looking for a spot, as long as you register your car in Mass and go to the DMV, etc. No small feat, so get this done before residency. I still haven't done it. I actually park my car out of town for $50/month, and take the T out of town to get it on weekends to travel only. You really don't need a car if you live near the T. Better yet, live close enough to walk to the hospital. That way you're set no matter what and don't have to worry about the commute at all. The green line generally sucks, and that's what gets you to everything but MGH which is on the much more comfortable and reliable red line. I don't think taxes are any worse as far as takehome than anywhere else. There is no city tax.
     
  17. AngryTesticle

    AngryTesticle Happy Gonad
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    I like living in Boston. When I first got here, I was like "bleh" but Boston is slowly growing on me the more I get out and do stuff.

    As a PGY-1, I make $47,000 per year. I've been managing pretty well. Ended up buying a condo in Jamaica Plain, which is a little sketchier than Brookline but in JP, you get more space for less money. As an example, I have a 2-br 1000 sq ft condo which sold at $349,000. In contrast, another condo I was looking at in Brookline (1 br, 700 sq ft) was on the market for $399,000...but this included parking and was just next to the Green Line and in Coolidge Corner which is a great location. However, at signout this morning, my attending and I were talking about housing prices. Apparently, prices are falling steadily now especially in Brookline; however, the housing market there is not projected to crash. Jamaica Plain is a good investment since it is undergoing gentrification and a condo of similar size to mine on an adjacent street sold at over $400,000. But I hear that the the JP housing market might start downtrending soon. Other areas, I don't know much about.

    If you can buy, I highly recommend it. Rent is expensive and my monthly mortgage is comparable to what I would pay for rent. Except, when you rent, you're throwing lots of money away to a black hole. If you buy, you get tax breaks. It's a pretty significant difference.

    I would seriously look into buying something. The housing market is downtrending and I heard that you can get some nice condos for much cheaper, as compared to when I was looking at places.

    Overall, living in Boston is not a luxury life since you will incur lots of costs to live there...especially if you live in Brookline. But finding a roommate will be a huge help. If you find a cool one, you will have an extra several hundred dollars of spending money.

    Would I come to Boston again? Well, ask me in several years when I'm doing my postdoc...which is the real reason I came here.

    Oh BTW, in Jamaica Plain, there is free parking on streets. You don't have to register your car. The problem is that street parking can fill and you might have to search an extra few minutes to find a spot if you were to come back home after a late night at the hospital.
     
  18. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    Excise tax: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisexc/excidx.htm

    It's payable to your local town so check their website for the specific details. A parking spot will generally cost somewhere between $100-200 per month depending on where it is and how nice it is. Getting an off-street spot with your apartment is best as housestaff as you'll never have to worry about what days to move your car for street cleaning or getting towed for snow emergencies.
     
  19. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    You can buy something with standard 80/20 financing which doesn't require a downpayment. Keep in mind that most of these loans are ARM and interest rates will likely go up, not down in the next 5 years. If you're only planning on staying 5 years that's likely not as big a concern but if you're here long that can be an issue as you start having that hang over your head.

    Think carefully before you buy. Anyone that tells you rent is "throwing" money away and that a mortage will "save" on taxes better have some figures for their situation to back it up. For example I've looked at condos in my area and my rent (all utilities and parking included) is far less than I'd pay in mortgage for a comparable location with comparable amenities after you add in utilities, the association fee and the magnitude jump from renter's to condo insurance. It depends on how much of a lifestyle you're willing to sacrifice to become a homeowner with all the associated responsibilities. Consider doing home maintenance on your day off per week while you're in residency.

    You only save on taxes by spending money. You can write off mortgage interest but remember to write it off you first have to PAY it. On an 80/20 mortage with no down payment you'll be paying mostly interest for the first 5 years. That's money you're "throwing away" comparable to rent except you have an added white albatross. You hope housing prices will continue to go up in Boston to cover your buying and selling costs as you'll have next to no equity if you just make the routine payments for the first 5 years.

    If you rent for less you can live a little better, save more for retirement, save for a real down payment and most importantly figure out whether or not Boston is in a bubble. My personal belief is that there is simply too much financing available at this time and eventually things will "correct" as people get themselves into too much debt to dig out. I have no idea where housing prices are going but I see no need to currently overcommit myself to owning something.

    If you're thinking of Boston University instead of the Harvard hospitals consider also looking in Cambridge and South Boston, both of which are reasonably convenient to the South End and have parking associated. The South Boston parking can be kinda interesting, especially during the winter with lots of stuff saving spaces people have shoveled out that they "own" for the duration of the snow emergency.
     
  20. saffron

    saffron Senior Member
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    thanks guys. i still haven't made up my mind, but seems like boston is more doable than nyc or so cal. if i may ask, what is your take home pay? in other parts of the country its about 2500/mo. (post-tax, insurance, etc.) Considering a 1000/mo. apt., 1500 seems like plenty to live on. am i missing something?
     
  21. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    Good luck finding a place for only 1000/mo, unless you plan on having a roommate or renting a studio (which I wouldn't recommend). The cheapest 1-bedroom place I was able to find that was halfway decent was 1300, and that doesn't include parking, which happens to be 175/month. Then you have to factor in utilities, hospital parking, student loan payments, car insurance (which in MA is REALLY high), and other stuff. My PGY-3 take home pay last year was about 2900/mo. Don't know what the interns' take-home salary was. My salary, plus periodic moonlighting, allowed me to live quite comfortably and to take several very nice vacations, but I didn't get to add much to my savings....

    But overall, Boston is a really fun city. Lots to do, lots to see, much easier to get around than NYC or LA.
     
  22. Bobblehead

    Bobblehead Senior Member
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    You may be able to live on $1500 a month net take-home. "It depends." It really does depend on what compromises you're willing to make however it is doable if you don't have a car, are willing to split a 2 bedroom with a roommate and don't go out to eat all that often.

    Here are some salary numbers. Be sure to check the applicable academic year as a lot of the salaries will go up per year.

    NEMC:
    http://www.tufts-nemc.org/surgery/html/resident/benefits.htm
    PGY-1 $39,605.00
    PGY-2 $41,604.00
    PGY-3 $43,616.00
    PGY-4 $46,750.00
    PGY-5 $49,756.35

    BU:
    http://www.bumc.bu.edu/Dept/Content.aspx?DepartmentID=69&PageID=1738
    PGY1 $45,320
    PGY2 $47,376
    PGY3 $49,606
    PGY4 $52,969
    PGY5 $57,397
    PGY6 $59,529
    PGY7 $61,605
    PGY8 $63,822

    MGH:
    http://www.massgeneral.org/gensurg/page.asp?id=training#benefits
    2004/2005
    PGY 1 $45,000
    PGY 2 $47,152
    PGY 3 $49,560
    PGY 4 $51,900
    PGY 5 $54,885
    PGY 6 $58,250
    PGY 7 $61,375

    Brigham: does not appear to have the information listed but I think it goes by the same scale as MGH because they're both Partner's Hospitals and per the GME website they were the same the year before:
    http://www.partners.org/departments/teaching/A/homa29salary.htm

    BID:
    PGY 05-06 06-07
    1 $45,148.30 $48,082.94
    2 $47,271.28 $50,343.92
    3 $49,393.19 $52,603.74
    4 $51,975.81 $55,354.24
    5 $55,187.86 $58,775.07
    6 $58,630.28 $62,441.25
    7 $62,072.69 $66,107.42

    I think a more conservative estimate of average living costs is $2000 a month. That is a conservative estimate of how much it will cost you to maintain a 1 bedroom apartment in a decent part of town with off-street parking (plus utilities), maintain a car (insurance, excise taxes, maintenance), and eat (groceries only).

    Of course there are ways to cut and save everywhere but bear in mind this does not include any retirement savings to a 401k/403b which you really should factor in as well.

    Regarding take-home pay it will also depend on your insurance plans, any pre-tax transit passes, pre-tax parking, etc. but you should be able to cover $2000 of take-home per month excluding retirement savings.
     

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