I moved to Salem somewhat reluctantly last summer.
This is not a jab at the city of Salem. I knew of it, I had visited it often, and I recognized its charms. However, I am a out-of-towner originally - I grew up in western New York, went to college on the New York/Pennsylvania border and moved to Boston city proper for graduate school and subsequent career. I had settled in the confused area that is Allston/Brighton (whose unofficial motto is "I swear we're not just college students.")
And then I married a born-and-raised North Shore resident, and I learned that number one commandment of marriage: compromise.
My husband had moved in with me around the wedding, and was doing a backwards commute from Allston to Salem for work. We lived below a group of fraternity brothers (who were mostly respectful) and a self-described "artist" who would throw large "art shows" that involved a lot of empty cheap beer cans carpeting all the lobby and his guests playing slide with the front entrance stair railings at 2:30 a.m. (I put artist in quotes because I never saw a single piece of art in the year that I lived below him.)
I described it as "eclectic." My husband described it as "disgusting."
So I told my landlord I wouldn't be renewing my lease. His response was telling: "Honey, you're almost thirty and you just got married - as much as you were my best tenant, I didn't really expect you to renew."
I told my husband that he got to make the choice of where we lived, then slyly only sent him apartment listings in Brookline. He ignored them. We ended up in Salem. We reversed commutes - he now has the five minute commute down the street, as I had in Allston, and I am a commuter rail devotee, making train friends on the ride into North Station everyday.
Out of all the places I could have moved, Salem was a great middle ground for me. It has the small shops and a city downtown, like the communities I lived in in both Boston and my hometown of Rochester, NY. It also has quieter family neighborhoods that have big box stores, SUVs and the suburban feel I so wanted to avoid (but that I am learning isn't so horrible.) A few months back, I started a blog, Life on the North Shore to chronicle this Salem newbie's explorations of the overall North Shore area. This blog will be the Salem specific version of that.
So join me as I attempt to make Salem my home, drool over the goodness of Rita's Ice in the Museum Place Mall, and learn how to drive a crowded 114.