What to Expect When Moving to Boston

Relocating to Boston? Great! New England’s capital is a wonderful city to live in, but it will take you some time to learn how to get around. Check out this article for some useful tips to get you started.

Boston is a vibrant city, with a booming economy and a rich culture. There are lots of things to do and places to see, so you’ll definitely be able to have an exciting social life. Unfortunately, however, the cost of living here is pretty high, so you have to get your finances in order before making the move. To get you started, we’ve gathered some useful information about Boston so you’ll know what to expect.

Cost of Living

Boston is quite expensive. If you’re relocating here from Los Angeles or New York, the prices might seem affordable. However, if you’re moving to Boston from anywhere else, you need to be prepared. You can use Bankrate’s cost of living comparison calculator to analyze the difference between the prices in your current locations and those in Boston. The short version? The cost of living in Boston is 20% above the national average. You’ll pay around $15 for a haircut, $2.70 for a gallon of milk, and $11.00 for a T-bone steak, based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. Before you relocate, make sure you’re getting a big enough raise to make up the difference.

Conversely, there are a few things you can enjoy in Boston for free. You can visit museums and galleries, enjoy numerous festivals, watch street performers, or take a walking tour of the city to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. This might not completely make up for the difference in living costs, but it will surely give you something to look forward to.

Finding a Home

If you’re looking to buy a home in Massachusetts’s capital city, you need to prepare yourself for the worst. The prices of both homes and apartments can be quite a shock. An experienced real estate agent might have access to listings that aren’t public, so your chances of finding a home at a decent price will be higher this way. You should save enough cash for a sizeable down payment and shop around different lenders until you find the best mortgage available to you. Generally speaking, Massachusetts banks offer pretty good interest rates for home loans – depending on your credit history, of course. For an overview, you can take a look here.

Renting is also pretty expensive. If you plan to live alone, be ready to pay at least $1,200 plus utilities for a studio or one-bedroom in even the most affordable neighborhoods (like Allston, Brighton, Roxbury). If you’re looking to live in a more high-end area of the city (like Fenway/Kenmore, the Financial District, Chinatown), you’re going to have to spend much more to cover your rent. You can find a useful heat map of Boston rental prices here.  As an additional tip, most Boston apartments are on a September 1st lease cycle – if you’re looking to move here before this date, you might want to consider subletting a place.

Getting Around

Luckily, Boston is a pretty walkable city, and the public transportation system (MBTA) is quite efficient. The most popular MBTA services are trains and buses. The MBTA also features a commuter rail that runs on a schedule, which comes in handy when you need to know exactly when you’ll be arriving at your stop. If you plan to commute, download the OpenMBTA app. Available for all devices, the app shows you scheduled and real-time arrival times for MBTA buses, subway trains, commuter rail lines, and ferries. Additionally, it keeps you posted with the latest service delay announcements for the MBTA.

Driving in Boston isn’t exactly advisable. In fact, Boston has one of the highest shares of non-car commuters in the United States. Parking spaces are scarce and driving downtown can be especially frustrating. If you must drive around, get yourself a resident parking permit which will improve your parking options around your residence. Also, we strongly recommend you invest in a GPS and use it religiously until you learn how to get around. You never know when a road might be closed and you’ll need to take a detour to get to your destination.  

Culture and Nightlife

Except for the summer, Boston is crowded with students, so there are plenty of places to choose from when it comes to having a good time after dark. Bars and pubs generally stay open until 2 AM, while the Boston public transit system shuts down at around 12:30 AM. Additionally, Boston has a strong sense of cultural identity. From the Museum of Fine Arts, to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to the Huntington Theatre Company, to the Boston Ballet, you‘re guaranteed to find something that fits your taste.

Live music is also something you’ll be able to enjoy once you relocate, since there are hundreds of venues that regularly house concerts and live performances. Even the subway stations have a lot of musical offerings, so keep your ears open and you might be able to spot the next Joan Baez or Steven Tyler.

We hope these tips will make your transition to Boston much smoother. Don’t worry, you’ll love it here! And you’ll get used to the accent in no time.


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