Luxury in the City: What about $3 million gets you

Buying Luxury Back Bay Beacon Hill Boston Cambridge
The view from the private deck off Unit 8F at 50 Liberty Drive in the Seaport District. Armhed Louis-Jean Media

Three million dollars will buy you an enviable property in any of Boston’s high-end neighborhoods, but be prepared to settle; it probably won’t have everything you’re after.

“Even in the $3 to $4 million range, it’s tough to find perfect,’’ said Craig Lake, a real estate agent with Compass. “It’s like finding a partner; there are always compromises.’’

The features that top every urban dweller’s wish list — parking, outdoor space, sunlight, an open kitchen — could all be had within that budget a few years ago. Today it costs a lot more, despite talk of a market slowdown.

The same is true across the river.

“A 5,000-square-foot gut job in Harvard Square or West Cambridge is now $5 million,’’ said Maggie Seelig, who heads MGS Group Real Estate.

The spate of fancy new high-rises has created a whole new host of perks to covet. Private lounges! Heated garages! Twenty-four-hour concierge service! Lake reports that empty-nesters particularly appreciate such amenities. “It makes for an easier transition from the suburbs,’’ she said.

Pamela Cushing and Haley Cutter, cofounders of the Live in Luxury Real Estate Team at Douglas Elliman, note that empty-nesters and families alike enjoy these buildings’ built-in social events, such as Derby parties, wine tastings, and kid-friendly movie nights. “The building is its own community,’’ Cushing said. “That’s appealing for those who might not have a social circle in the city yet.’’

As much as the city’s glass towers are a success, there will always be a market for historic properties. It’s Boston, after all. Seelig finds that people see themselves as the stewards of Boston’s old buildings, which local historical commissions also protect.

“People think: I get to live somewhere that’s so much bigger than myself,’’ she said.


6 Riedesel Ave., West Cambridge

Year built 1887

Square footage 3,418

Bedrooms 4

Baths 3 full, 1 half

Taxes $18,744 (2020)

Last sold for Records unavailable

This Queen Anne Victorian on a tree-lined road off Brattle Street is just a 10-minute walk to the Charles River. The interior feels light and airy, thanks to graciously sized windows. The eat-in-kitchen has an attached solarium that leads to a deck and gardens. Two bedrooms with en-suite baths and fireplaces, along with a study, bath, and laundry grace the second floor, while an expansive great room with treetop views out a turret-like dormer is perched at the top.

  • Gail Roberts, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 1730 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-4430,



50 Liberty Drive, Unit 8F, Seaport District

Year built 2018

Square footage 1,546

Bedrooms 2

Baths 2 full, 1 half

Taxes $19,970 (2020)

Fee $1,930 a month

Last sold for $2,447,620 in 2018

Make a new life in a new building perched on the water, with unobstructed views of Boston Harbor and Logan Airport on a private balcony and through walls of glass. This sleek, eighth-floor unit is a study in high contrast, with crisp white walls, glossy white cabinetry, and rich oak floors. In addition to a deeded parking spot in the heated garage — a Seaport must — residents enjoy high-end amenities, including 24-hour concierge service, a doorman, private clubroom, and fitness center.



101 Revere St., Beacon Hill

Year built 1890

Square footage 2,488

Bedrooms 4

Baths 3 full, 1 half

Taxes $22,400 (2019)

Last sold for $812,500 in 1997

Four bedrooms and three private outdoor spaces make this single-family brick town house ensconced in the heart of Boston’s most charming historic neighborhood a dream for families looking to stay in the city. A defined entry opens alongside a sitting room that flows into a dining room with an adjacent serving kitchen. One floor up is hangout central — a family room and eat-in-kitchen with a deck leading down to a brick patio. The master suite occupies the third floor, while two more bedrooms, a bath, and staircase to the roof deck make up the top story. The fourth bedroom is on the garden level.



169 Commonwealth Ave., Unit 1, Back Bay

Year built 1890

Square footage 2,933

Bedrooms 3

Baths 3 full, 1 half

Taxes $35,569 (2019)

Fee $1,829 a month

Last sold for $550,000 in 1994

A grand marble foyer with a scenic mural greets visitors to this classic Back Bay duplex on the sunny side of the street. An arched opening flanked by glass doors leads into an airy living room with a period stone fireplace and a bay window that looks onto the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The master suite is equally elegant, boasting dentil molding, wainscot, a marble fireplace, high ceilings, interior French doors, herringbone floors, and a trio of tall windows. The lower level has two bedrooms with en-suite baths. One bedroom comes with a full kitchen and a private entrance.

  • Chris Anderson, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, 277 Dartmouth St., 617-877-9640,

 Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to [email protected]