Parties, bars, and rats abound in Allston

by Agatha Kereere / Beacon Staff • March 25, 2015

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As students begin the annual housing search, the Beacon will feature a different Boston-area neighborhood each week—complete with pros and cons, nightlife prospects, and advice from current residents.

In Allston, evidence of the legendary, ubiquitous festivities is never hard to find—particularly on Mondays—said senior Kathryn Bennett, who lives near Washington Street.

“There’s a lot of trash left [the next day] in the streets after parties from over the weekend,” said Bennett, a journalism major.

Allston is one neighborhood that Emerson students gravitate toward. It’s in western Boston and is bordered by Fenway-Kenmore to the east, Brookline to the south, and the Charles River to the north.

Although Emerson students who live in the neighborhood had some complaints, they said the area is still a good choice—and has the right price.

Allston’s apartment structures can be one source of concern, said Tania Rios, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major.

“The buildings are very old and not taken care of by some housing management companies, so they’re pretty much crumbling and poorly insulated,” said Rios. “Heat is usually the biggest expense I have to pay as a result.”

Transportation was another problem residents cited. Junior Stephanie Breen said options for public transportation weren’t ideal.

“The B Line is garbage,” said Breen, a visual and media arts major who lives near Harvard Avenue.

But students said the neighborhood’s cost, nightlife options, and sense of community make living in the neighborhood worth the troubles.

“Allston is known for having cheap housing, that’s why it draws so many college students,” said Bennett.

Breen said apartments farther away from Commonwealth Avenue—the area’s major artery—are more likely to be divided by units, resembling a split-family home, while apartments closer to MBTA stops look more like your standard apartments.

“They [all] generally have lots of space,” said Breen. “The niceness of an apartment will vary depending on the price.”

A two-bedroom apartment comes down to roughly $1,900 per month, according to a local realtor who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to share exact prices. He said a three-bedroom may cost around $2,700, and the price range for a four-bedroom is about $3,300. A five and a six-bedroom apartment may cost between $4,000 and $4,500, respectively.

“It’s much more affordable than Fenway and Brookline,” the realtor said. “You can also take the 57 bus down to Commonwealth Avenue and Kenmore Square, or use the Green Line and go to other places.”

Steven Martin, Emerson’s director of off-campus student services, said cheaper living expenses is a major reason students want to live off-campus. Other reasons that students cite include feeling independent and wanting to live with friends. His office sets up workshops throughout the spring semester to help students with the process of moving off-campus.

“It’s all about taking students step-by-step, so that they know what to expect and that there are resources available to help them,” said Martin.

For students looking to move away from campus, nightlife is another reason they might choose Allston, said Jillian Rywalt, a senior visual and media arts major who lives off of Harvard Avenue.

“There’s so much to do and go to near where I am on Harvard Avenue: restaurants, bars, and house parties, if you’re into them,” said Rywalt.

She said Packards Corner was a particularly vibrant spot.

“Nightlife usually came alive from Thursdays to Sunday,” Rywalt said.

Kathryn Bennett, a senior journalism major, said some of the popular places for students in Allston are Common Ground, a restaurant and bar; Tavern in the Square; and Sunset Grill and Tap.

Sunset Grill and Tap, a pub and restaurant on Brighton Avenue in Allston, gets a lot of foot traffic on the weekends, owner Marc Berkowitz said.

“We have a lot of young adults coming in here looking to have a good night lounging with friends and a good meal, especially on Thursday nights,” said Berkowitz.

Friends are easy to find, make, and maintain, since most of them live close by, said Breen.

“There are lots of other students living nearby, so it’s easy to get to my friends’ places to hang out,” she said.

The overall Allston experience, said some students, proves to be a pleasant one.

“I really love living [here],” said Rios. “I think it’s a great neighborhood and, in my opinion, it has a lot of character, and I feel very comfortable living here.”