Moving to Boston, MA? 14 Things to Know

Boston is the largest city in New England. It’s also one of the oldest and most historic cities in the country. Boston is known for its snow-covered streets in the winter and its bright green Common and Garden in the summer, along with some interesting stereotypes.

If you’re thinking of moving here for school, work, or a change of scenery, the city and its surrounding suburbs have a lot to offer. Here’s what you need to know about moving to Boston, MA in 2022!

Boston Common with skyline in background
Cost of Living3
Job Opportunities9
Schools (Public & Post-secondary)9
Public Transportation5
Access to Other Cities6
Natural Conservation8
Average Score 6.63

1. “Everywhere Is Boston”

If you move to Boston, you’ll learn quickly that most people come from the suburbs around the city. When we say “around”, we mean from up to two hours away. No matter how well you learn these suburbs, they will always be known as “Boston” to the rest of the world. There’s an old joke from locals that goes “Oh, you’re from Boston? Now tell me which suburb you’re actually from.”

This joke earns serious merit when you understand the demographics of New England. The population of New England is heavily centered around Boston, with its large metro area accounting for a full third of the residents of all six states combined.

Boston itself has a population of a mere 654,000, according to the latest Census statistics. However, the metro population is nearly 5 million people.

2. Public Transportation Is, Well…

Unreliable and long, and most in the MA Department of Transportation may consider that a compliment. If you think we’re kidding, ask a local about the fire on the Orange Line (or commuter rail, or Green Line, you choose). Chances are, they’ll either say “Again?” or “Which one?”

Boston does have some of the best public transportation options in the country, but that really isn’t saying much. It’s an older city, so they had some remaining infrastructure from before cars took over, unlike comparable or larger cities on the West Coast.

However, it is an option if you need it. For those coming on the Worcester Commuter Rail, you should expect a long commute. There are many stops on this route, and coming from Worcester could easily mean a 2-hour commute. Conversely, the Providence-Stoughton line only has a few stops within the same distance, which can spell a 50-minute commute even from Providence.

3. Most People Drive in Boston

Like most US cities, most people in Boston drive. However, the roads weren’t exactly designed for drivers. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, roads had to be redesigned for cars, creating a confusing mess of one-way streets filled with the most aggressive drivers you’ve ever met.

Take it from a former Uber driver in the city, the drivers here are very technically skilled but they have no patience for beginners. It can be a major learning curve for new Bostonians, but if you’re patient and diligent, you’ll pick it up. 

Just keep telling yourself that you won’t let the poor driving culture corrupt you!

4. Moving to Boston Isn’t Cheap

Boston downtown with Caffe Nero

Time and time again, Massachusetts ranks in the top 5 most expensive states to live in the US, and that’s all due to the Boston metro area. Extending all the way to Worcester Country, southern New Hampshire, and Providence County, prices have only gone up in the last few decades with no sign of stopping.

For a personal anecdote, my brother lived in the furthest western neighborhood of Boston (Brighton). It’s one of the more affordable areas there. At that same time, I lived in Providence in the same type of apartment as my brother. Two bedrooms, hardwood floors, similar square footage, and on the second floor.

For the same type of apartment, I spent $1,200 a month with utilities included. At the same time, he spend $2,300 and had to pay utilities separately.

Unfortunately, this plague is affecting a lot of New England, and it’s only getting worse in and around Boston. That was in 2020 and $2,300 for a two-bedroom apartment in the city is unlikely today.

Also, if you’re planning on buying a home here, we hope you’re well-off. Economic studies show that you need a minimum salary of $181,000 a year to afford a home in the city.

5. The Nightlife Isn’t Crazy

Many people coming from New York, Chicago, and other major cities often complain about having “nothing to do” while living in Boston. Of course, nobody would expect the city to have the same level of amenities as a metropolitan powerhouse like New York. However, some young adults find themselves underwhelmed by the nightlife here.

If you enjoy going out to bars, clubs, or catching a live show, you will find what you’re looking for. There certainly is nightlife here, but it isn’t exactly a “party town”.

6. Colleges Are Everywhere

One time, I picked up a passenger who said “I’m heading right next to Boston University” and I replied, “You may as well have said next to the Dunkin’.”

There are dozens of schools in Boston, and when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, students left and the city began feeling like a ghost town for a short period. For a city of 654,000 people, it’s almost hard to believe there are 250,000 college students, 152,000 of which live in the city.

7. Learn the Neighborhoods

Boston Wharf Co sign in the North End of Boston

It can get confusing to hear all of the towns, boroughs, and cities around Boston. If you remember anything from this, remember that Cambridge is its own city across the river and is not a part of Boston. However, these are:

  • Roxbury
  • Dorchester
  • Southie (South Boston)
  • Eastie (East Boston)
  • Charlestown
  • Allston/Brighton
  • Mattapan
  • Roslindale
  • Jamaica Plain

On top of that, there are also neighborhoods like Back Bay, Seaport, the North End, South End, and West End. However, the North End is south of Eastie and the South End and Southie are further north than 5 of the boroughs mentioned above.

It also wouldn’t hurt to learn some of the pronunciations. For example, Quincy is a city just south of Boston and it’s pronounced “Quinzy”.

Bow Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts near Harvard University

8. History-Lovers Rejoice

If you love history, there’s no shortage of it in Boston. From famous old schools, brilliant European architecture, and the oldest public park in the country, you can learn a lot about the origins of the US and the modern world by walking around the city. There are public plaques, reading materials, libraries, and tours to educate you on the fascinating history of this unique city!

9. People Are Kind

There are some unfair stereotypes about Bostonians. If your only experience with them is on the road, then you’re going to have an incomplete view of them as a group.

However, most Bostonians are quite neighborly and friendly. They’ll happily say hello as they walk past you, buy Dunkin’ for the person behind them at the drive-thru, and they’d be the first to shovel out their neighbor’s car during a storm. Meet your neighbors with an open mind!

10. Boston Is Liberal

Person holding a Gay Pride flag in a parking lot

Boston is arguably the most progressive city in the country, and its new Mayor, Michelle Wu, was elected on her platform of revolutionary change. On top of that, you will see flags, bumper stickers, and signs everywhere for gay pride, Black Lives Matter, and so much more.

The city regularly hosts major events for popular movements, which has a long history. Boston was the only stronghold for the anti-war movement during the early days of the Vietnam war, and still hosts large events for climate and social justice advocacy groups, including Extinction Rebellion.

11. Winters Are Cold

Anywhere in New England is bound to be cold in the winter, but Boston has the added effect of the ocean breeze, which can cause bone-numbing wind chills. If you’re coming from elsewhere in the Northeast, this shouldn’t be too overwhelming for you, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re not a fan of the cold.

However, the cold isn’t the only thing to worry about. Boston is on the far eastern side of Massachusetts, which means it’s in the far east of the time zone. If you’re moving here from somewhere like Michigan, the cold likely won’t bother you, but you should expect it to be pitch black by the time you get out of work from November through February. In December, the sun can set as early as 4:11 pm.

12. Don’t Expect Sunshine Every Day

If you move here from a desert climate, or even somewhere like Colorado, it may be different to see such a cloudy or rainy city. While Seattle is known for its rain, many people who move to Boston say that it’s cloudier and rainier here than it is there. The bouts of rain and storm clouds tend to last much longer.

Also, people here understand that the rain is what makes the area so vibrant and full of life, so they choose to embrace it. When you complain about the rain to a Bostonian, you can expect them to say “Yeah, but we needed it!”

13. The Neighborhood Makes a Difference

It’s difficult to talk about living Boston as a whole. A lot of the statements we could make depend on where you live in the city. However, some places are simply not affordable for working-class people, so you may be limited in your options. We recommend you look into your neighborhood specifically to learn more about the area and what it has to offer!

14. There’s Plenty of Nature

If you love green spaces, then Boston is a great city for you to visit or live in. Yes, they’re only green for half of the year, but they really are beautiful both in and around the city. There are plenty of parks all around filled with trees, walkways, and ponds. Head over to either side of the Charles River for great views of Boston or Cambridge and a long walking path along Storrow or Memorial Drive.

Enjoy Your Move!

Hopefully, we were able to help you make a decision on moving to Boston. Like every city, it has its problems, but if you can handle the cost of living and the challenging roads, then you can certainly find a home here. The city has a lot to offer.

Stay up to date with our latest reviews of your favorite New England destinations and feel free to share your experiences and learn from others in the comments down below!

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