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COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT

Brookline

A 1965 Peel P50 microcar, the smallest street-legal car, is inspected by a young visitor at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. A 1965 Peel P50 microcar, the smallest street-legal car, is inspected by a young visitor at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
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May 25, 2008

THE GOODS A sprawling urbane suburb mostly organized around walk-to commercial districts, Brookline has long been a bastion of good homes, good schools, good eats, and lively politics. Its retail heart is Coolidge Corner, where the sidewalks are crowded with shoppers and browsers, and the auto traffic is intimidated into submission by fearless pedestrians. Small restaurants offer a variety of international cuisines, and the Coolidge Corner Theatre and Paperback Booksmith across Harvard Street from each other are anchors of the town's spirited cultural and intellectual life. Other districts, including Washington Square and Brookline Village, offer similar versions of eating options and unique retail operations. The schools are Brookline's pride and joy, closely followed by its sprinkling of parks, including a municipally owned golf course.

PROS The housing stock is varied, and much of it of the bragging kind. Long stretches of Beacon Street and secondary roads are lined with elegant prewar low-rise apartment buildings with spacious units, many of which now form the basis of a vast condominium market. Neighborhoods such as Cottage Farm, Fisher Hill, and the old estate area south of Route 9 offer the kind of showstopper manses that only the captains of modern industry can afford. Even the more densely packed blocks in North Brookline and Brookline Village sport one pretty Victorian after another. South Brookline near the West Roxbury line has younger, simpler housing stock that offers entry-point homes. The town's close proximity to Boston and its reputation for very good schools helps support high property values.

CONS Buying here is neither for the faint of heart or wallet. Prices can be extremely high, and Brookline's proud support of municipal services translates into some pretty stiff tax bills, too. Much of the community is built out, and a general civic caution about new development means there isn't a lot of supply flooding the market.

JOHN ELLEMENT

Brookline

Median prices Single-family homes, $1,142,500; condominiums, $450,000

Residential tax rate $10.18

Average tax bill Single-family homes, $11,001

Choice location Larz Anderson Auto Museum. After going to a few car rallies here, the old sedan just won't feel the same.

Cocktail party nugget Founded in 1882, The Country Club was the first privately organized club of its kind in the United States.

SOURCES: Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Town of Brookline, The Country Club

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