Forget oversaturated South Boston, or the exorbitantly expensive South End. When it comes to which Boston neighborhood is booming with new residents, Dorchester takes the cake.
"It scares me a little bit to think about how many people are coming here," says Leslie Mackinnon, a longtime Dorchester resident and realtor with Gibson Sotheby's. "You really can get a lot more for your money in Dorchester than other parts other city."
Even though real estate is so popular in Dorchester, many residents still recognize a distorted view of the neighborhood from outsiders.
"Any time someone comes to visit me here they're like 'where am I?' It's a little idyllic place, kind of undiscovered," says Mackinnon, who says that she sees families choosing Dorchester over South Boston or Jamaica Plain. "A lot of my buyers have been choosing this side because it's such good proximity to the Cape, the South Shore. The sweet spot."
Cody and Jessica Klein are just two of Leslie's buyers who unexpectedly found themselves in Dorchester. Originally from San Diego, the couple stuck it out renting in the transient West End for a couple years before decided it was time to buy. After looking in the typical urban professional favorites like Southie and Jamaica Plain, the expectant couple came across the Savin Hill area of Dorchester, and immediately fell in love.
"We didn't have any plans to move to Dorchester," says Cody, a landscape architect. "We were just sort of looking for a certain amount of house. Southie is at that point where it's getting or reached its peak. That's where everyone wants to be. Savin Hill is almost there. I think it's kind of a hidden gem."
Shocked that they could find a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in their price range, the couple put in a $400,000 bid on a Savin Hill home that was listed at $389,000. They just moved in in July, and haven't looked back once.
"We didn't even dreamed we would buy a three-bedroom. We were blown away that we could get this much house for the money," says Cody.
With the constant influx of new residents, area businesses are recognizing Dorchester as a reasonably-priced spot to open up shop. Alan Issokson and his wife Wendy opened Chill on Park ice cream and coffee shop in Dorchester's Fields Corner neighborhood when a space became available in a building they already owned.
"You realize, Wow, there are some real jewels here – and Dorchester, especially Fields Corner, is one of those jewels," says Issokson. "You can get a really nice affordable product to buy or to rent, for much less here than in downtown Boston. There’s an increase in property value, more people looking to buy condos or rent apartments, and now that demand is being filled by new construction. What happens next is the businesses start to say 'Wow, I don’t have to bring my business downtown – there are residents and businesses to support me in this neighborhood.' It is residential feeding the business development and vice versa."
Since its May opening, Chill has found its niche serving delicious treats to the neighborhood, thanks to the new buyers who just discovered the area, and longtime residents who proudly represent it.
"There’s retail, residential, schools, libraries, Little League fields, the Fields Corner Subway station, commuters," says Issokson. "All outside our front door."