You will find that prices are higher closer to the Red Line and closer to restaurant areas that you are attracted to. You will be shopping in an expensive location. So, you will have to balance that will either a smallish place or a place that needs work to stay in your budget. Itâ€™s a balancing act. Since I donâ€™t know you, I canâ€™t get specific.
Start watching the sales now. You will see places you might have been interested in here at Trulia. Follow them and see what they sold for. You will find areas where places the size you want show up and where they donâ€™t in your price range. Guess at the condition by noting what the sheets donâ€™t say. (For example, if no improvements are noted, chances are there are few recent renovations.)
There is research you can do now, so that you are ready when you get here: Safety is in the eye of the beholder. Cambridge (and Somerville and Arlington) have on-line resources about local crime. Other media has information about local events and night life (and where these things take place.) I suggest that you check that out prior to house hunting.
That will prepare you to come here and put it all together. It takes about two months from the time you find a place to buy until you are fully moved in. So, if you are buying, start early. Because as you well know, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Welcome and good luck!