I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, where each town had the bay as the southern border, and there was one town each to the east, west, and north. Then I moved up here, where the borders are ragged and you can travel along a single street unaware that you have crossed from town to city and back again. With all these interconnections, housing-hunting incoming students needn’t feel bound to Medford and Somerville.
In particular, parts of both Arlington and Cambridge are within a mile of Fletcher, and five miles would get you to Winchester, Belmont, Watertown, Malden, as well as parts of Boston. Depending on your housing needs and whether you decide to bring a car, any of these towns could be the right place for you to spend a couple of years.
As for that tricky question of whether to bring a car, here’s what I’d say. If you don’t own one, don’t buy one! You’ll find other students who can run you over to the supermarket now and then. And, there are Zipcars on campus, including in the Fletcher parking lot. If you already own a car, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful, but you’ll want to plan carefully to prevent unintended expenses. We locals get used to a crazy array of parking (more accurately: NO PARKING) regulations on our narrow streets. Meanwhile, public transportation is good, so owning a car isn’t a necessity.