Somerville Has Low Number of Households With Children

Kids make or break a neighborhood, depending on whom you ask. Here's a look at the number of households with school-aged children in Somerville and the region.

Somerville is known to be a young city. The Young Somerville Advisory Group, for instance, .

When it comes to kids, however, most homes in Somerville don't have them. In fact, Somerville is on the low end, regionally, when it comes to the percentage of households with school-aged children.

Almost everybody says they love children, but in many communities that tunes changes when topics like development and schools come into play. Some towns and cities in the Boston region scrutinize real estate developments closely out of concern they could expand their school populations, straining budgets. Neighbors sometimes worry about noise.

In Somerville, the situation is a little different. There's some concern that families move out of the city when their children begin schooling in earnest, which some think isn't healthy for the community and school system.

At a ResiStat community meeting on Monday, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone addressed that issue, saying school enrollment is rising and pointing to birth rates in the city. City anaylists, according to a handout from Monday's meeting, say births are at their highest level in Somerville since 1977 and that while births have fallen across Massachusetts since 1995, they've risen in Somerville by 21 percent.

Still, when it comes to the percentage of households with school-aged kids, Somerville ranks among places like Cambridge and the South End, which are on the low end of the spectrum. In Somerville, 15.8 percent of households have children under 18. That number is also 15.8 percent in Cambridge and 14.6 percent in the South End.

Of the communities we looked at in the Somerville area, only the Back Bay and Beacon Hill have fewer percentages of children: In both those Boston neighborhoods, only 6.9 percent of households have children 18 and under.

Below is a chart comparing the percentage of households with kids under 18 in communities in Boston and across the region. The statewide average is 28.3 percent, and Boston comes in at 20.4 percent. Some communities have much higher percentages of kids at home. Winchester is 40.5 percent, and Chealse is 35.2 percent, for instance.

The numbers were provided by the 2010 U.S. Census, except for the Boston neighborhood breakdowns, which were determined using the City of Boston's myNeighborhood Viewer tool, and represent approximations for each community.

Community Percentages of households with kids under 18 Arlington 26.9% Boston 20.4% *Charlestown 19.7% *Back Bay 6.6% *Beacon Hill 6.9% *South End 14.6% Cambridge 15.8% Chelsea 35.2% Everett 31.4% Lynnfield 35.2% Malden 26.7% Medford 22.3% Melrose 28.4% Reading 34.4% Revere 26.5% Saugus 25.4% Somerville 15.8% Stoneham 24.7% Wakefield 28.3% Winchester 40.5% Winthrop No data available Woburn 25.8%
Paula Woolley May 18, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Although we have a small percentage of kids here, Somerville has been a fantastic place to raise children. If your kids go to school or play sports or do other afterschool activities in Somerville, you soon get to know the other families with children, so that the city feels like a small, warm, very diverse community. My kids have benefited from easy access to great museums, like the Museum of Science, the Harvard museums, MFA, and earlier, the Children's Museum. Older kids can easily get around the city without needing to be driven, since it's so walkable and there are buses and the T. (Most teens put off getting their driver's license here for this reason.) I'd advise families with young children to really consider staying here! Somerville sure beats the experience I had growing up in a small suburb... (And the lack of Chucky Cheeses is a real plus, in my opinion!)
kevin thomas crowley May 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
when all development is building condos, you get few children. our city leaders have chosen a path encouraging a transient population.the days of being a city of familys is long gone and children have disappeared from our town.
Matt C May 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM
@KTC - There is, unfortunately not much room left in the city for the building of new houses. The bigger change in the last few years was not the development of condos over houses, rather it was the conversion of apartments to condos - which I would expect to decrease transiency rather than encourage it. This study from the city shows an uptick in owner occupied housing in the last 10 years (http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/images/DanaLeWinterCityOfSomervilleSomervilleHousing%20Symposium9-27-2011.pdf) . I would like to see more familys in the city because I think that they add to the area and I believe that the city does a lot to attract them by services, events and investment in parks and schools. What would you suggest they do to attract them? Matt
kevin thomas crowley May 25, 2012 at 02:12 PM
well, if i had an answer to that i'd make millions as a consultant to cities all over the country. i have seen waves of people move into and out somerville over the years. when they left after about 5 years here, most said they were leaving to live in a community with what they thought had a better school system. the good news is that our new wave of residents seems to be staying here and many are raising families here.
Some Day December 07, 2012 at 08:25 PM
How about measuring the number of children per square mile? I'll bet Somerville is near the top of that list. While the percentage of children may be lower, because we are so densely populated, the number of kids on a typical Somerville block is very likely much higher than in the suburbs. We live on a smaller than average block and we have at least 16 kids on our little block.
Some Day December 07, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Here are some stats for you: City Children under 14 per sq mile Lexington 405 Newton 816 Arlington 1220 Cambridge 1780 Boston 2031 Somerville 2359
AHM December 08, 2012 at 02:20 AM
The small condos will no be family size for sure. Some of my customers who have children have either left the city just for the purpose of the school system. Like we raise stupid kids here. I also have customers sending their kids outside of Somerville to school. These are just people I know for sure. Customers of mine also rent out their apartments to people who do not have kids. Expecially older homes where they are afraid lead could be a problem. Not sure how much they impact the city as a whole but those are some I know of.


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