Median home price: Single-family, $772,500; condominiums, $408,750
Residential tax rate: $7.36 (fiscal 2008)
Average tax bill: Single-family, $3,405; condo $1,206 (fiscal 2008)
Choice location: Danehy Park, a 50-acre recreational space built on a former city landfill
Cocktail party nugget: The neighborhood has its own seasonal publication, "Growing Up in North Cambridge: A Journal of Stories from the 1920s to the 1970s."
SOURCE: Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, City of Cambridge
THE GOODS: Historically a working-class enclave, North Cambridge has slowly evolved to look more like the rest of Cambridge. What was once a seedy liquor store is now a luxury condo complex; a gritty MBTA bus lot has been partially converted into colorful townhouses; and the neighborhood boasts cute cafes, ethnic restaurants, and specialty food stores. Some local hipsters have even given the area a nickname, NoCa, meant to stake its place in the pantheon of urban cool.
PROS: The housing stock is varied. Two- and three-family houses are the norm, with single-family homes interspersed. Many multifamily homes have been recently converted into condos, offering more buying opportunities, as well as a source of modernized living. Prices are reasonable by Cambridge standards; the average listing price in North Cambridge is $421,000, compared with $571,000 in Cambridgeport, $606,000 in East Cambridge, and $742,000 near Harvard Square, according to the most recent figures on the real estate website Trulia. And despite the trendy additions, this remains at heart a modest neighborhood with a more down-home feel than in the city's more rarefied precincts. You can still find the old-fashioned small businesses, including insurance agencies, convenience stores, hair salons, and a longtime (albeit recently renovated) steakhouse.
CONS: Don't expect a lot of room. This is a crowded neighborhood, and the housing stock includes tiny cottages that were occupied a century ago by brickyard and clay pit workers. The old and new mix of the commercial base means the business district isn't as flashy as those in Harvard and Porter squares. Upper Mass. Ave. is still pockmarked with a few idle lots.