Moving to Boston, MA

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Last Updated on January 8, 2024 @ 4:19 pm

Thinking about moving to Boston?

Jump to any of the following sections to learn more about what to expect living in Boston.

Boston At-A-Glance

It’s one of America’s premier cities. And although new residents are attracted to Boston’s high-tech economy, rich culture, world-class education, and classic urbanism, Boston has lost 110,000 residents since the pandemic began. Some of the population loss has been made up by new people moving here, high housing costs are listed as a consistent hesitation for residents. 

Regardless, Apartment List says local Bostonians are proud. “Plan to go big or go home when it comes to Boston pride. Bostonians love their city, their heritage and are ready to stand up for their pride. Whether you’re running the Boston Marathon or cheering for the Red Sox, be prepared to show your pride.” 

Another source of pride? The nickname Beantown. It refers to Boston’s popular regional dish of baked beans. According to early accounts, settlers loved to slow-cook the beans in molasses which inspired the name. If you aren’t a fan of baked beans, use the nickname as proof of your pride living in Beantown. 

Boston is More Than Just a Year-Round Sports Town

When you think of Boston, does a harsh accent come to mind? Or perhaps Dunkin’ Donuts or Fenway Park? Good news! According to Zumper, “One of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston is also filled with gorgeous brownstones, can’t miss restaurants and bars, and more museums and history packed into its cobblestone streets than you can imagine.”

Boston residents DO love their sports and consider themselves some of the most loyal fans in the country, so you’ll at least need to familiarize yourself with the five professional sports teams, including the Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Braves, and the New England Patriots. Even if you don’t consider sports as a way of life, keeping track of the home teams is a way to indebt yourself to the community (and a great way to meet people!). 

Boston is home to 695,926 people who call the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts their home. With so many vibes to choose from and things to experience, it’s no wonder Boston is an attractive place for not only students, millennials, and families, but it’s a great option for retirees as well. 

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The Boston Economy: Thriving and Consistent

Boston is the economic epicenter of New England, which means residents have access to a thriving economy and consistent job growth. Thanks to the unmatched higher education institutions, top talent emerges from Boston making it an attractive place for corporations and startups to put down roots. 

Industries that dominate the Boston economy include technology, finance, life sciences, retail, and healthcare. While Boston is a great place to start a tech company, other big name corporations situated in Boston are General Electric, Fidelity Investments, Massachusetts General Hospital, etc. 

Unemployment rate: 3.4% (as of March 2023)

Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,258 (as of May 2023)

Living in Boston Sure Ain’t Cheap

Because Boston is such a desirable place to live, unfortunately, living here isn’t cheap. The cost of living in Boston is a whopping 50 percent higher than the national average. It’s ranked as the 26th most expensive cities in the United States, and top 1 percent worldwide. The only places more expensive? San Francisco and New York City. 

You’ll pay a pretty penny for real estate in Boston since the demand is so much greater than the housing supply. Median home prices in Boston currently hover around $771,000 which is 300 percent higher than the national average. Yes way. Expect to make at least $120,000 as an average salary high enough to afford housing in Boston. 

Renters don’t have it any better. As of May 2023, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,700, which is 8 percent higher than the previous year.

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Gorgeous Brownstones and Funky, Lively ‘Hoods in Boston

If you’re someone who wants to be in the center of it all, these top Boston neighborhoods are worth looking into. Zumper says, “Whether you’re looking for a Boston neighborhood that’s known for its historical landmarks or a funky, lively hood in Cambridge, we’ve got you covered.” 

Beacon Hill: Consistently considered an IG lover’s dream, Beacon Hill is a photogenic neighborhood that attracts young professionals and small families who want to be close to indoor and outdoor entertainment. 

North End: If you’re looking for more culture, North End is a charming neighborhood with great dining spots and neat historic buildings. Rent in this area varies which means the versatility makes it popular with young professionals and families alike.  

South End: Families love South End for the amazing food scene, and the city’s most beautiful outdoor spaces. You’ll love looking for an old brownstone building to live in which is quintessential Boston housing. 

Cambridge: Not only does Cambridge offer a ton of jobs thanks to its proximity to Harvard and M.I.T. but it also has a lively cultural scene with tons of art galleries, music venues and theaters. Take your pick between swanky apartment buildings and great duplexes for rent. 

Somerville: You’ll find a little bit of everything in Somerville, including great dining spots, funky hidden shopping gems, craft beer, and one of the best BBQ joints. Plus, you can get to more shops and restaurants in a short commute over to Assembly Square. 

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Getting Around Boston Can Be Stressful and Overwhelming

When it comes to traffic in Boston, there’s bad news – and more bad news. According to a survey conducted by INRIX, Boston is the 4th most congested city in the world. And number two in the U.S. Drivers will lose 134 hours on average every year to traffic woes at a cost of $2,270 per driver. With confusing city street names and tons of traffic, driving around Boston is not ideal. 

And although the public transportation system is frequently used and one of the most convenient ways to travel in Boston, it closes early. The “T” subway system has five lines of subway traffic but its lack of 24-hour operation is not ideal. 

You’re in Luck: Boston Takes Education Seriously

Unlike other cities, there truly are no disadvantages with Boston education. It’s known for having one of the best school systems in the country with over 125 public schools to choose from. Plus, only 2 percent of high school students drop out, which is one of the lowest percentages in the nation. 

And again, there’s more good news with higher education. If you’re looking for a true college town, you’ll find it in Boston. As an added bonus, some of the educational institutions consistently rank as some of the best in the country, including Boston College, Northeastern University, Emerson College, Suffolk University. Or choose nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

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Be Ready for Unforgiving Cold and Heaps of Snow

I hope you like snow and cold, unforgiving temperatures! You’ll see both in Boston’s continental climate that gets all four seasons. Invest in a shovel, winter boots and a warm coat, especially for January which is the coldest month in Boston. And familiarize yourself with what a “Nor’easter” is.

Otherwise, the climate is typical for areas that enjoy all four seasons. Summers are warm, there’s a significant amount of rain during March, October, and November, and winter temperatures can drop as low as 19 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Summer average (June – Aug): 79°F high, 64°F low

Winter average (Dec – Feb): 39°F high, 26°F low

10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Boston

You cannot go wrong with exploring famous historical sites and attractions in one of America’s oldest cities. Not a history buff? No problem, you’ll experience a little bit of everything with these 10 can’t miss things to do in Beantown:

  1. Wander around America’s first botanical garden (Public Garden, 1837) and oldest public park (Boston Common, 1634). 
  2. Try the ultimate seafood treat, a lobster roll, which are found on menus around town and available any time of year. For dinner, enjoy a dozen local oysters at one of the city’s top raw bars.
  3. Take a walk through the historic Freedom Trail, a self-guided 2.5-mile tour highlighting culture and history. 
  4. Hop aboard a boat excursion and get a different perspective of the city. Odyssey Cruises offers a variety of yachting experiences. 
  5. While there are many excellent art museums, you’ll see world class art at the Museum of Fine Arts. Founded in 1870, the collection has 500,000 objects–and growing. 
  6. For a splurge-worthy shopping experience, hit up Newbury Street, eight blocks of beautiful brick townhouses with ultra-luxe designers like Chanel and Burberry. Prefer unique, indie finds instead? Explore South End instead.  
  7. Root for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in the majors (it opened in 1912). You can also take a 60-minute guided tour of the Park. 
  8. If you’re an athletic type, plan for the Boston Marathon, which is one of the nation’s best and oldest marathons drawing more than 30,000 participants each year. 
  9. Drink a proper pint at an authentic Irish pub in a city chock full of cozy, welcoming hot spots.  
  10. See a show at the Boston Opera House, which is home to the Boston Ballet and top Broadway musicals and is a theater lover’s must-do.  

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Shawnna Stiver

Shawnna Stiver is a veteran content writer and copy strategist with over 22 years of experience. She has had the pleasure of writing traditional, digital and social content for the following industries: beauty, construction, consumer goods, entrepreneurship, financial services, health/wellness, home improvement/DIY, lifestyle, moving, non-profit, parenting, self improvement and travel. In addition, she’s led content strategy for the self-storage industry since 2022.
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