If you were to land up in Boston or were headed towards Boston, it would be quite judicious to know beforehand that Boston is also fondly known as ‘Beantown’. References to this goes way back to the colonial era; a time when Boston was a major port and trade route with the West Indies. This stopover and a steady supply of molasses from the Caribbean led to the creation of the perennial Boston Baked Beans.
Boston sure is seeped into the American consciousness for how it has undergone upheavals of change through the post revolution era and the war of 1812. But Beantown has also witnessed significant change demographically, in its ethnicity and civic compositions, as it grew to be a crucial seat of intellectual, technological and political growth. Now that is what exhibits the deeply rooted American consciousness into the city!
Now is that something that gets you on the edge of your seat? If so, then here’s a 101 of everything you need to know before moving to Boston.
What Should I Know Before Moving to Boston?
Situated in north-eastern United States, Boston is the capital of the commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a seat of Suffolk county. The city lies on Massachusetts Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. A city which has one-fourth of the total area as water, Boston is largely a city with a long shoreline, providing ample spaces for wharfs and shipyards. So if your recreational loyalties lie with water, then Boston is the place to be.
Boston is the 21st most populous city in the United States. The city covers 48.4 square miles, with an estimated population of 692,600 in 2019. For history lovers, here’s a quick fact. Boston is one of the oldest municipalities in the United States, founded by the Puritan settlers in 1630, on the Shawmut Peninsula from the English town of the same name. Boston’s many firsts include the United States’ first public park, first public or State School and first subway system.
Boston is also famous for its thriving theatre scene, with the Boston Opera House which is the venue for both mainstream and off beat shows. The Citi Performing Arts Theatres, The Colonial Theatre, the Wilbur are all amazing venues for you to soak up the vibrance of Boston’s art, culture, music, plays and broadways.
Crime Rate In Boston
With a population of 694,583 and almost 19 million tourists annually, Boston sees approximately 655 violent crimes per 100,000. This makes the city less safe than 83 percent of other US cities. Crime in Boston is often dangerous and violent. Unfortunately, those who find themselves in the notorious neighborhoods of Boston always have the looming threat of murder, rape and assualt over their heads. Even in terms of property crimes, the city’s average of 6.55 per 1000 residents is more than 3.38, which is the average of Massachusetts as a whole.
You would probably have to stock up on those big Down jackets as well as your summer clothes, as the weather in Boston is fairly continental. Boston has either a humid subtropical climate or a humid continental climate. Ranging between a varied cold and snowy winters to hot and humid summers, Boston makes a great spectacle for the white Christmases and beautiful sunny spring times. You could very well say that Boston has unstable climatic conditions because the city is located on the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
The cold current flows at this latitude and it also happens to be in an area where the air masses that are coming from the Gulf of Mexico and Canada collide. It can be quite rainy, along with erratic thunderstorms during the summer months. And of course, it surely gets snowy during the winters. The hottest month is July, with a mean temperature of 73.4 °F (23.0 °C). The coldest month is January, with a mean of 29.0 °F (−1.7 °C).
Winters in Boston can be quite bitter, starting in December, right up to mid-March, when temperatures can be below freezing. Blizzards make it even more severe. Snowfalls are quite frequent and can be great fun for kids to play, if only to create snow angels on the ground and snowmen. Then again, who says it’s only kids who enjoy that?
Summers are erratic too, with unstable days of rains and thunderstorms. If anything, you can expect things to get really hot and humid. It can be quite bright and sunny on most days of summer, with highs ranging from 23 degrees to 28 degrees. Some years even witness heatwaves of up to 35 degrees celsius. Sometimes, the afternoon thunderstorms could be accompanied by showers and hail too.
Autumn is considered most unstable of all the climates, yet milder at the same time. But early September can still see some days of heat and humidity. It starts to get colder from November and you could also see the first snowfalls. Thunderstorms occur from May to September that are occasionally accompanied with hail as well, with damaging winds, heavy downpours and occasional tornado warnings.
Is It Expensive To Live In Boston?
While Boston boasts of a fledgling college community, it is not without its culture and affluence, and a majority population of white collared people. Boston’s cost of living is 48% higher than the national average. Your career, salary and real estate market are usually the key factors deciding the cost of living of any place.
The minimum combined 2020 sales tax rate for Boston, Massachusetts is 6.25%. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates. The Massachusetts sales tax rate is currently 6.25%. The County sales tax rate is 0%. The income tax rate in Massachusetts is 5.05%. That rate applies equally to all taxable income. Unlike with the federal income tax, there are no tax brackets in Massachusetts. State residents who would like to contribute more to the state’s coffers also have the option to pay a higher income tax rate.
Cost Of Living In Boston
Transportation expenses like bus fares and gas prices are 11% higher than the national average, states Payscale. Even your grocery bills will be 6% higher than the national average. If one were to give an example, then again, Payscale cites that a loaf of bread could cost you, say, $3.52, $2.05 on a gallon of milk and $1.91 on eggs. Add to that about $3.55 more and you get a bunch of bananas too.
The same trend unfortunately trickles down to the cost of Healthcare in Boston, with the average being 35% more than that of the US national average. A doctor’s visit can be really hefty, with a cost of $149.68 that comes with it. Similarly, even visiting a dentist can cost you as much as $128.59. Add to that $66.81 for a Veterinary visit and $140.26 for an optometrist and you can see how expensive healthcare here can be.
Buying A House
Boston’s housing expenses are 107% higher than the national average. Buying a house in Boston may not necessarily be an easy decision, as it hosts some of the most expensive residential projects in the US. 32.7% of people in Boston are homeowners. Median house price was $717,943 in January 2020. The cost goes up due to factors such as zoning regulations.
The Boston metro too has been slapping on new residents steadily for years, with a population now almost touching at 4.9 million. For the past few years, Boston prices for real estate have moved closer to that of New York city, with some areas costs at par with the most expensive areas in Manhattan. There is more suburban development outside the city limits as one would get more houses for the money.
Renting A House
The median house rent in Boston is about $2, 249 per month. A whopping 67.3% people are renters in Boston. If you are a student, then September is going to be the busiest time of the year, when all the students are moving into the city and is a peak student season. So it would be prudent to house hunt a few months before September.
Utilities usually get overlooked in budgeting, but look closely and you will realise that it’s a huge part of your monthly expenditure and not something that you can do without. In Boston, the utility prices are 41% higher than the national average. You could be easily coughing up energy bills of approximately 236.57$ a month, $252.17 on phone bills and up to $2.89 on a gallon of gas. According to Numbeo.com data from May 2019, a basic utilities package for a 915-square foot place in Boston will cost you $147.15 per month. That includes electricity, heating, water and garbage, at a price that’s around $5 cheaper than the national average.
Boston Economy And Employment Opportunities
Boston is a global city and ranks among the top 30 economically powerful cities in the world. After all, it is the hub of financial, technology and life sciences industries. The job market is competitive and you could very well be at an advantageous position to find some great career opportunities in Boston. Work, other than higher education, is one of the biggest reasons for people to move to Boston. Giants like Amazon, Google, Novartis, Pfizer, Merck, Microsoft, Fidelity Investments are few of the top employers in Boston.
As per NeighbourhoodScout, Boston is a decidedly white-collar city, with 89.16% of the workforce employed in white-collar jobs, well above the national average. Overall, Boston is a city of professionals, service providers, and managers. There are especially a lot of people living in Boston who work in management occupations, 10.96% to be precise. Office and administrative support stands at 10.93%, and business and financial occupations at 8.67%. Academics, access to venture capitals, high tech companies, printing and publishing, financial sector companies, sports and tourism. All of this adds up to make Boston a thriving economy in the world.
Boston is home to a large number of medical and research facilities and many of its healthcare facilities are associated with its universities. The per capita income in Boston in 2018 was $42,010, which is middle income relative to Massachusetts, and wealthy relative to the rest of the US. This equates to an annual income of $168,040 for a family of four. However, Boston contains both very wealthy and poor people as well.
Boston is known to be the seat of the unofficial ‘The Brainpower Triangle’ that is made up of Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tufts University. The city is also the home to the oldest and first public school, Boston Latin. So if you are headed towards this city with your kids and are pursuing higher calibre of education, then Boston is definitely the city to choose.
Boston is known for its libraries and you cannot quite doubt the relevance of libraries in this city, especially considering the presence of the towering Harvard and MIT among others. The Boston Public Library, The Boston Athenæum, The Massachusetts Historical Society, The New England Historic Genealogical Society, The State Library and libraries of all the colleges and universities that dot the city are great resource pools of the city. For the curious and meandering mind, Boston is a haven as far as knowledge, study material and research opportunities are concerned.
Boston also takes pride in its public education. Home based school assignments are not accepted here in Boston. Boston is home to over 100 colleges and universities, welcoming over 250,000 students from all over the globe. It ranks as one of the 15 best academic cities in the world which attracts professional opportunities. Boston is home to the oldest college in the country. Havard university was formed just a decade after the city’s beginnings. Boston leads the way in innovation. It is often called the hub of medicine. Institutes like Wentworth and MIT are continuously researching climate change, computer science and engineering.
Getting Around In Boston
Getting around in Boston is not so difficult. It is well connected by the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority also known as ‘T’) which is Boston’s public transportation. It is a great way to look around. The MBTA includes the subway, bus, commuter rail, water taxis, and ferries. Transportation charges like the bus fares are about 11% higher than the national average. If you are looking at exploring the nearby neighbourhoods and cities nearby, then the T is the best way to get around.
The routes are divided into zones, such as the Red Line and Green Line. The most economical way to go about it is to plan your schedules and buy long haul tickets. Then, you can walk the shorter distances to the destinations. Keep in mind that the ‘T’ has now been converted into the Charlie System. So you can either buy Charlie Paper tickets from the vending machines all over the place, or you can even buy the Charlie Cards that look like your Credit cards. These can be bought from local stores or the MBTA website or even some stations where you can buy them from.
The ‘T’ also caters to the subway along with buses. So do not think you are stuck with only one type of transportation system. If you were to buy a Charlie Card, then you can use it for a free transfer from the T to the local bus routes. You can also benefit a $0.45 discounted subway fare when you are going back from the bus to the subway.
Taxis are another way to get around the city. It is economical, not binding, no worries of parking and can be hauled to get around quite easily. Just like any other city, they are always near the city centre, hotels, and public places such as Fenway Park. Apart from local cabs, Uber and Lyft are also options here.
If you are in Boston for a short while and would like to get around the city and even have a look around, then Tour Bus is another way. The Tour Buses are a great way because you can board the bus anytime and anywhere. You can get continuous commentary on the bus and get enlightened about the city, its history and its specialities. Duck Tours is one of the biggest tour bus operators in Boston. They depart from Huntington Avenue by the Copley Place Mall and the Science Museum.
Best Neighborhoods To Live In Boston
Lot of people prefer to live outside the main city limits as it gives them more houses for the money. Neighbourhoods such as Somerville, Quincy, Chelsea etc. are quite viable options to stay. Beacon Hill, South Boston and Back Bay are notably the best places to live in Boston.
1. Back Bay
An affluent neighborhood for those who love shopping and treating themselves to dining out in fancy restaurants. Black Bay is home to many designer boutiques, fashion chains and art galleries, all of which sit along Newbury street. The expansive Copley Square and Commonwealth Avenue can take you back to Europe, what with its tree lined streets and Pars themed look and feel. Don’t be surprised if you would have to shell out as much as $2,408 in rent for a one bedroom apartment in this neighborhood. Even the median home price is jaw-droppingly high, which stands at $1.26 million.
2. Beacon Hill
Considered one of the most picturesque areas of Boston, Beacon Hill sure is a historic neighbourhood. It has steep streets lined with Federal style and Victorian brick houses lit by antique lanterns. Across Charles Street, is the formal Public Garden. Beacon Hill was named such because of the former beacon atop the highest point in central Boston. The beacon was used to warn the residents of possible invasions. Renting a one bedroom in Beacon Hill can be as high as $2400, while the median house price can be a staggering $1.63 Million.
3. South Boston
If you decide to live in “Southie,” you’ll be looking at an evolving residential neighborhood with a strong Irish-American heritage. Old-school diners and taverns mingle with pizzerias and gastropubs. Marking a Revolutionary War site, the Dorchester Heights monument offers sweeping Boston Harbor and downtown skyline views. Joggers and picnickers head to the waterfront trails and grassy lawn around the 1800s Fort Independence on Castle Island. Median house prices in South Boston are approximately $762,508 and renting a 2-bedroom flat in South Boston could cost you up to $3,369.
Is Boston A Good Place To Live?
Boston is undoubtedly a great place to live. It is a cultural hotspot and gives innumerable opportunities to live the good life. You have to credit Boston’s fame as a cultural hub to its prominent museums, namely The Museum of Fine Arts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Museum of Science and The Children’s Museum amongst others. They not only preserve and exhibit collections of prints and paintings, but also help in connecting the future with the glorious past that Boston has witnessed over the centuries.
All things said and done, Boston is for those that can embrace a city that’s vibrant, active, thriving, and on the verge of new trends, research, the latest technologies. The crime rate and cost of living might be the only things which act as a bone of contention. But with a booming employment and financial landscape, you have all the more incentive to consider moving to Boston.