We also have another large group of newcomers. They are the newly minted and less-newly minted college graduates on their first or second job. They want to live within walking distance of their work in the downtown, Back Bay, Kendall Square, the hospital areas or the Seaport District. From Charlestown to the South End and in between, these neighborhoods offer that easy commute as well as bars, restaurants, museums and sports. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
These young people are more permanent than students. They live here year-round, and they are more likely to stay for several years until they get a new job, marry, have kids or move to another city. They used to be called “yuppies.”
Sometimes these young people, though, remain outsiders in the neighborhood. Long-time residents can look upon them with suspicion.
It’s not because of their color or their styles of life. A wonderful aspect about the new Boston is that all the downtown neighborhoods welcome diversity. What the long-time residents care about is neighborliness.
So young people, I have suggestions for you that will make you love and be beloved in your neighborhood.
- Learn the rules about trash and recycle storage and pickup and follow them. The rules are different in every neighborhood, but they are all online on the city’s web site.
We have these rules partly because of rats, which are plentiful in downtown Boston. To keep the rats away, put out your trash and recycle containers just after 7 a.m. instead of the night before, as city regs allow. Rats can get into buildings if they are enticed by what is lying outside. Surely you don’t want them in your living room.
- Throw good, safe parties. Now that you are old enough to legally consume alcohol, you can have a grown-up soirée. But stay off your roof. Every once in awhile a young person falls off, and the survival rate is poor.
While you are at it, notice the time. Most neighbors, even the old, crotchety ones, are familiar enough with city life to tolerate music, chatter and the clinking of glasses into the evening. But if the party is too loud and late at night, those old, crotchety neighbors will sic the police on you.
- Dogs. You may decide that now that you are an adult, you should have one. When visitors come to Boston, the comments I hear most are not about the history, architecture or walking convenience. Instead they say, “I’ve never seen so many dogs!”
With so many dogs, if owners are not responsible, we’ll have a big, smelly mess. So pick up after your dog. Your IQ is probably high enough to remember to buy one of those little plastic bag dispensers for your dog’s leash so you’ll always be prepared. After you pick up, take the bag home with you and drop it into your trash. Do not put it in your neighbor’s tree pit. It’s not just for the cleanliness of your block. Dog poop is a taste treat for our rats.
- Get to know your neighbors. If you go to work, hang out with friends, and go back to your small, pricey, downtown abode, you’ll never meet anyone new. Join the neighborhood association — they all have special events or activities for people in their 20s and 30s. Participate in neighborhood cleanups or holiday decorating. A few people have met their mates while hanging laurel ropes. Local newspapers have extensive neighborhood calendars.
- So read your neighborhood newspaper, which also might be online. You’ll learn about neighborhood matters and concerns as well as activities.
- Ditch your car. You will spend time and gasoline driving around trying to find a place to park unless you can afford a monthly parking space. Walking, T-riding, Zipcar-reserving, Uber-calling and taxi-hailing should get you around just fine. Rent a car for the weekend if you want to get out of town.
After you’ve become a good neighbor and love your neighborhood, you might have a revelation. City living isn’t just good for people your age. You’ll notice all ages—kids, old people and everyone in between—live downtown. Instead of that boring style of life that previous suburban generations practiced, there’s a better way. Stay.
Stay while you change jobs. Stay after you get married. Stay when you have kids. It is possible. Many of us did it.
Then you won’t have to move back into town when you have that empty nest and long for the city life you left while raising kids. You’ll already be here.
Downtown View is a column by newspaperwoman Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Karen now works from her home in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com. Please feel free to leave responses in the comments section below.