Boston is home of the Red Socks and Harvard University and is the fastest growing metro in the northeast. It has a young population, with over 250,000 students studying at the various colleges and universities in the city.
If you are considering moving to Boston, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the Beantown.
Quick Boston Facts:
- Population: 667,137 (2016 estimate) in the city and 4.7 million in the Greater Boston area
- Official Language: English (de facto) with over 140 languages being spoken in Boston including Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mandarin and Cantonese, Portuguese/Cape Verdean Creole, Vietnamese and French
- GDP Per Capita: $76,436 USD (2017 estimate)
- Happy Hour: Happy Hour was banned in Boston in 1984
- Currency:US Dollar (US$). As of early 2017, £1 = $1.25, €1 = $1.08, $1 CAD = $0.75, $1 AUD = $0.77
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Boston
- New York City – $108+
- Los Angeles – $801+
- Canada (Vancouver) – $1,674+
- UK (London) – $1,165+
- Australia (Sydney) – $2,745+
- Ireland (Dublin) – 1,303+
- New Zealand (Auckland) – $3,217+
- Hong Kong – $1,608+
- Dubai – $2,503+
- Singapore – $2,573+
2. Boston Housing Costs
Housing in Boston is expensive so many people are forced to rent. In a report by Forbes in 2015, Boston was named as the third most overpriced city in the United States.
Monthly Rental Prices in Boston
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $1,850+
- 1 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $1,200+
- 3 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $3,200+
- 3 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $2,200+
Boston Home Purchase Prices
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $9.174.21
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $4,150.83
Boston Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in Boston compare with other cities around the globe.
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share an apartment or house: Have a look at the following sites to find your perfect roommate: Easyroommate, Craigslist and Kangaroom.
- Different areas – different prices. Boston is in the middle of a housing boom, making prices high. Properties are selling within an average of 8 days of going on the market. Allston is a great place for young people to rent relatively affordable apartments. Roxbury is for those people who enjoy parks and greenery. North End is on the waterfront and has an abundance of quaint streets with shops, restaurants and bars. Jamaica Plain is for the arty set and The Waterfront is for those will very healthy bank balances.
3. Boston Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Boston is very proud of its seafood. There are many seafood restaurants which offer anything from fish and chips to fine dining on oysters. There are also fish markets where you can buy fish from the day’s catch. However, it’s not all about fish, there are excellent restaurants which will satisfy most nationalities around the globe.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $12 – $20
- Takeout Coffee: $3.00 – $5.00
- Bottle of Coke: $1.25 – $2.50
- 1L of milk: $0.66 – $1.13
- Loaf of Bread: $2.20 – $3.63
- 12 Eggs: $2.29 – $3.50
- 1kg Chicken: $4.41 – $15.43
- 1kg Beef: $7.72 – $19.84
- 1kg Apples: $2.87 – $6.61
- 1kg White Rice: $2.20 – $6.61
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 3.37% more expensive and groceries are 30.80% cheaper than Boston.
- New York restaurants are 13.85% more expensive and groceries are 13.89% more expensive than Boston.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 6.81% cheaper and groceries are 13.02% cheaper than Boston.
- Toronto restaurants are 24.61% cheaper and groceries are 27.66% cheaper than Boston.
- Sydney restaurants are 15.76% cheaper and groceries are 8.41% cheaper than Boston.
- Paris restaurants are 7.15% cheaper and groceries are 12.58% cheaper than Boston.
- Dubai restaurants are 26.83% cheaper and groceries are 33.32% cheaper than Boston.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: Boston has many independently owned grocery stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. It also has some good farmer’s markets and fish markets for great fresh produce. Popular supermarkets are Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Roche Bros, Foodie’s Market, Baccos Fine Foods (gourmet grocer) and Tutto Italiano (Italian gourmet grocer).
- Find Cheap Eats:There are plenty of places to find cheap eats in Boston. Looking for queues outside restaurants or at street vendors is often a good sign. Or find them at Buzz Feed, TripAdvisor, Boston Eater, Boston Globe and the Boston Discovery Guide.
4. Boston Alcohol Costs
Boston has a vast array of bars and nightclubs, ranging from basic Irish hostelries to sophisticated cocktail lounges. There is certainly somewhere to suit every mood and pocket.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: $4.00 – $7.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: $6.00 – $8.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $1.00 – $3.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $1.50 – $3.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $11.00 – $19.00
How to drink for less in Boston
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- As Happy Hours are banned in Boston, you need to search for those bars and clubs that have cheaper drinks on offer. The Tam, Great Scott, The Avenue and Biddy Early’s have good affordable food and alcohol. For further tips go to Four Square, Time Out and Boston Eater.
5. Boston Transportation Fares
MBTA run the bus, rail, subway and boat service in Boston. It is a well-run transportation system which serves all of Boston and the surrounding areas.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult Single – $2.60
- One day ticket – $12
- Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $84
How to save money on public transport
- Buy a Charliecard to get the best transport deals
- Buy a Week LinkPass – $21.25 for 7 days travel
- Buy a bike. Depending on where you live and work, cycling around the city may be an option. It is a bike friendly city.
- Much of Boston is conducive to walking with areas which are pedestrian ways only.
6. Cost of Internet in Boston
The city of Boston have their own broadband and cable guide, which advocates for residents.
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
July is Boston’s hottest month, with average highs of 75°F (24°C) and 10 hours of sunshine a day. January brings average highs of 28°F (-2°C) and Boston’s wettest month is April with an average of 100mm of rain falling during the month.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: $39 – $75
- Summer Dress: $25 – $50
- Running Shoes (Trainers): $60 – $100
- Business Shoes: $75 – $150
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $133
- Deodorant: $3.42
- Shampoo: $4.00
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $4.30
- Gym membership: $20-$89 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: $11-$15
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Boston
Like all big cities, driving in Boston in the rush hour is not fun. So many people prefer to use public transport.
If you’re moving to Boston from within the US, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new one.
You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Boston:
- Volkswagen Golf:$21,500
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol):$0.59
- Other fees (if any): The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per annum
Ways to save money driving in Boston
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpool World, Zipcar, eRideshare and Enterprise Carshare.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber or Lyft.
Need your car/vehicle moved to Boston? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping
9. Taxes in Boston
Sales Tax in Boston is 6.25% and is added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.
If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about property tax in Boston at Boston.gov.
Finally, if you decide to buy an apartment or house in Boston you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.
10. Flight Costs from Boston
If you do make the move to Boston, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:
- London: $117
- Los Angeles: $129
- Toronto: $82
- Vancouver: $125
- Dubai: $424
- Sydney: $636
- Melbourne: $667
- Cape Town: $674
- Hong Kong: $430
Other Tips on Moving to Boston
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Boston but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
First of all, it is ranked as one of the best places in the United States for students.
11. Moving to Boston Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be especially daunting. Here are a few tips for relocating and settling in Boston.
- Meetups: Boston has many Meetup groups covering a wide range of activities from biking and hiking to data development.
- Attend local events: There’s always something going on in Bost and many of these activities are free. Have a look at these sites to get inspiration on what to do during your free time – TripAdvisor, Travel US and Boston USA.
12. Moving to Boston with a Family
Boston is an interesting city and has lots to attract families. It is steeped in history and has museums, art galleries, shows, the sea, countryside and much, much more.
- New parents (or parents to be): Check out Baby Beginnings and Children’s Trust for advice, courses and ways to meet other parents or parents to be.
- Live in a family friendly area: West Roxbury is a lovely place to live for a family. It has suitable houses and lots of green spaces. Millennium Park is in West Roxbury and that gives families access to 100 acres of trails, walks and sporting venues.
- Find things to do with the kids: Boston has lots on offer to occupy and inspire kids. Have a look at 10 Best, Alpha Mom, Mommy Poppins and My Little Nomads.
13. Moving to Boston for Work
Moving to Boston for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Boston has a very low unemployment rate and most of its jobs are in the technical, scientific, tourism and professional sector. With over 250,000 students in higher education in the city, there are lots of opportunities in the education field.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary:Salaries in Boston are relatively high. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Boston, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start:Monster, Indeed, SnagaJob, Craigslist and Career Builder. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Boston from Australia
There are many Australians living and working in Boston, mainly in education, finance and IT. If you are thinking of moving from Australia to Boston, here are a few things to consider.
- Size comparison: If you compare the size of the population of the city of Boston with a city in Australia, the nearest in size would be the Gold Coast. If you compare the whole metro area with a city in Australia, then you would be looking at Melbourne.
- Join expat groups:Meetup and Internations offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Boston.
15. Moving to Boston from Canada
There are many Canadians living and working in Boston. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you compare the population size of Boston with a city on Canada, the nearest would be Hamilton. If you compare the size of the whole metro area with a Canadian city, then you would be looking at Montreal which has 900,000 less inhabitants than the Boston metro.
- Expat groups: Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as Internations, Meetup and Canadian Expat Network.
16. Moving to Boston from the United Kingdom
There’s a large contingent from the UK living and working in the city, so if you’re considering joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Boston with a city in the UK, the Leeds would be the closest. If you look at the size of the whole Boston metro, then it is just over half the size of London.
- Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are experiencing Boston, then go to Internations, Meetup and Facebook
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Boston you can start by comparing moving quotes here.
Guides to moving and living in other American cities