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Moving to Boston

Situated in northeast of the United States, Boston is the capital and largest city of Massachusetts. It's rather compact for a major city but, small as it may be, 'Beantown' packs oodles of character and charm. The city straddles the Charles River, which spills into the famous Boston Harbour, and it boasts plenty of greenery. Newcomers to Boston will discover a city with an American appeal and distinctly European undertones. 

Living in Boston as an expat

Boston is one of America's oldest cities and has retained the colonial roots of its British founders. Cafes, museums, bookstores and pubs line the walkable and quaint city neighbourhoods, and there's a lot to see and do in Boston

While Los Angeles has the glitz, New York City the money and Washington DC the power, Boston has the brains. This academically driven city is home to some of the country's best universities, hospitals and research centres, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As Boston's population is highly educated, technology and research industries seek to take advantage of its workforce.

While accommodation in Boston is difficult to find and on the expensive side, there is a range of different options to choose from. It is recommended that new arrivals find a place to live with good access to public transport as most Bostonians opt to utilise public transport rather than brave the congested roads each day. 

The lifestyle in Boston is relaxed but vibey, and newcomers have plenty to keep them busy in their free time. In Boston, one can sample food from across the world or indulge in traditional Bostonian cuisine which centres on seafood. Those looking for a night out on the town will find that nightlife in Boston is made up of cosy bars and exciting live music venues.

Cost of living in Boston

The city’s myriad charms come with one of the highest costs of living in the US, chiefly driven up by the exorbitant prices of accommodation. That said, with one of the most highly educated and competitive workforces in the country, salaries tend to be high enough to cover living costs and ensure a comfortable life.

Expat families and children

Great education and public schools, attractive districts and plenty of green spaces make Boston popular with families. Active families appreciate the many running, hiking or biking trails around the city, while sports enthusiasts can join in and support local teams such as the Celtics, Patriots and the famous Boston Red Sox. 

Climate in Boston

Boston's weather can be extreme. In general, summers are humid and sunny with average daytime highs in July reaching 82°F (28°C). Winter months are freezing, wet and windy, with snowfall being common. 

Ultimately, moving to Boston is ideal for those looking to live in America's centre of science, technology and industry. Yet, for all of its innovation, Boston is rooted in well-established institutions coupled with an old-world ambience; the perfect city in which to raise a family.

Weather in Boston

Boston has a continental climate and expats relocating here can expect extremes on both ends of the scale, with hot summers and freezing winters. Temperature variations can occur and even unseasonal snowfalls have been known to happen.

Boston is known for its distinctive seasons, with spring ranging from late March to May; summer from June to August; fall/autumn from September to November; and winter from December to early March.

In general, summers are humid and sunny with average daytime highs in July reaching 82°F (28°C). Winter months are very cold, wet and windy, with snowfall being common. The level of snowfall in Boston varies yearly and it can snow at any time during the winter.


Working in Boston

Boston has a diverse economy, accompanied by a highly-educated population, which has attracted many top companies to the city. Despite the increasingly competitive job market in US cities, the demand for highly educated workers in Boston has seen a resurgence. 

Job market in Boston

Boston is a centre of education in the US and its universities and colleges are large contributors to Boston's economy. For expats qualified in education, Boston offers an attractive job market. These educational facilities have also put the city at the forefront of technology development, attracting major players in the technology industry to the city. 

Top employers in Boston include the biotechnology industry, higher education, healthcare (including research), and the finance and technology industries. Tourism and hospitality are significant sectors, while law enforcement and federal agencies are also large employers in the city. 

Expats with relevant experience and qualifications in these fields will likely find opportunities, although they should expect competition to be fierce.

Finding a job in Boston

For expats looking to work in Boston, there are numerous online job portal sites, and recruitment agencies to help with the process. The city's job market is, as mentioned, highly educated and very competitive, and many of the top employers look for candidates who stand out from their peers. To be successful in the workplace here, it is important that expats continuously upskill to stay ahead of the competition. 

Expats wanting to work in Boston should ensure that they have a relevant work permit for the USA.

Work culture in Boston

Boston is focused on highly-skilled knowledge-based jobs. Salaries are generally higher than the national average, although Boston also has a high cost of living

Boston very much falls in the work-hard-play-hard category and most employers reward their staff with substantial benefits and leave days. Boston employers also invest heavily in the continued education and training of their employees, which tends to limit staff turnover and promotes a healthy corporate culture.

Highly talented newcomers who work hard will stand out and be able to progress through the ranks.

Cost of Living in Boston

The cost of living in Boston is high, and new arrivals should prepare their budgets carefully to avoid any nasty surprises. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2022, Boston was listed as the 30th most expensive out of 227 cities, up from 50th in 2021. 

Employment packages may include some contribution toward accommodation and health insurance. Nonetheless, new arrivals should be aware of their possible monthly expenses before negotiating their salary.

Cost of accommodation in Boston

Accommodation is likely to be the largest expense for those moving to Boston. As there is a high demand for accommodation in Boston, rental costs are expensive. Tenants often need to pay their first month's rent as well as a security deposit to secure their lease. This, combined with rental agency fees, means that new arrivals need to budget for hefty initial housing costs.

Cost of eating out and entertainment in Boston

There is much to see and do in Boston, but recreational pursuits aren't cheap. Since Boston is considerably smaller than many other cities in the US, there is less competition between businesses, so eating out and entertainment costs remain high. That said, expats on a budget who spend smartly can live comfortably while still enjoying the city.

Cost of transport in Boston

Thankfully, there isn't a need to invest in some wheels when moving to Boston, as the city boasts a comprehensive and reliable public transport network that is accessible at reasonable prices. Boston is also fairly bicycle-friendly for those wanting to commute by bike to save and improve their physical health.

Cost of education in Boston

Education in Boston is of a high calibre. The city is home to some of the country's top public schools, which are free to attend for US citizens and legal residents. On the other hand, fees for private and international schools can be steep, so newly arrived parents planning on taking this route should try to negotiate the inclusion of fees into their relocation contracts.

Cost of living in Boston chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Boston in February 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,750

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,975

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 5,100

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 3,420


Eggs (dozen)

USD 4.26

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.11

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.33

Loaf of bread

USD 3.98

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 14.18

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 13

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 10.60

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.30



Local beer (500ml)


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 95


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.21

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 62

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 185


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.86

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 2.40

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.98

Accommodation in Boston

Finding accommodation in Boston can be a difficult task. The compact city centre receives an annual influx of university students who increase housing competition, while the high property prices continue to make Boston one of the most expensive places to buy or rent a home in the country. Nevertheless, with a bit of patience and determination, expats are likely to find their ideal accommodation in Boston.

When searching for a property in Boston, expats should consider the proximity of their home to their place of work and their children’s school. Access to public transport is also important for those who don't own their own vehicles. 

Types of accommodation in Boston

There is a diversity of housing options in Boston and expats can typically choose between large family homes, apartments and brownstone rowhouses.


Brownstones are mostly historical homes built in the late 1800s. They are usually three or four storeys high and are typically built in a row with street-facing fronts.

These are found in more affluent areas such as Back Bay, North End and Beacon Hill, and are some of the most highly sought-after types of properties in the city. This means they tend to be on the more expensive side. Although spacious and well-built, car owners should note that these homes usually don't have off-street parking.


There are a variety of apartment types in Boston, from high-rise residential blocks to more exclusive condo or loft options. These buildings usually include amenities such as air conditioning, central heating and laundry facilities. Apartments are a popular form of accommodation in Boston and are highly sought after. It's worth noting that while apartments near downtown are often snatched up by university students, the turnover rate is high. 

Detached houses

Detached or stand-alone houses in Boston are mostly found in residential areas in the outer suburbs of the city. There are many options, from large family homes to smaller units. Houses can be expensive in Boston, but they are popular with groups of students who are looking for a house-share to bring down rent costs. Demand is therefore high for houses, so it can take some time to find the right home, particularly before the start of the academic year.

Finding accommodation in Boston

Expats will have a number of resources at their disposal. Online property portals are a valuable source of information when it comes to getting an idea of typical prices. Another option is to utilise the services of a reputable estate agent. House hunters should note that agencies typically charge upwards of a month's rent as their commission. 

Renting accommodation in Boston

Once newcomers have found their ideal home, they will need to make an application to rent. If approved, they must then sign the lease and pay the deposit.

Making an application

With the high demand for accommodation in Boston, landlords can afford to be picky about who they rent to. When making an application, aspirant renters should be prepared to provide proof of their financial capacity to pay the rent. They may also have to undergo a credit check.


In Boston, the standard rental contract is 12 months. At the end of the rental term, leases can either be renewed or ended by either party.


When signing a lease in Boston, it’s important to read the contract carefully and to establish exactly what is included in the rental agreement. Tenants will typically be responsible for paying their own utility bills. 


A month’s rent is usually required as a deposit. In addition, the first and the last month’s rent is often required to be paid upfront to secure the property.

Areas and suburbs in Boston

The best places to live in Boston

Boston is a small and compact city, and most suburbs are well served by the city’s comprehensive public transport system.

There are several attractive neighbourhoods where newcomers can choose to settle, both within the city itself and in the surrounding towns of Boston. 

The majority of new arrivals choose to rent rather than buy property in Boston. Unfortunately, the city is one of the most expensive cities in the US and rental costs are high.

Family-friendly suburbs in Boston


For expats moving with children, it will be a priority to find a home close to a good school. Many of Boston’s family-friendly neighbourhoods – and some of the city's best schools – are located outside the city limits.


Westborough is a family-friendly town located west of Boston. There is a strong community spirit in this area with lots of local events taking place on weekends that the whole family can enjoy. Westborough is home to some good schools, which is why a lot of local and expat families choose to live here. The town is about 45 minutes by car from Boston’s city centre and well served by MBTA commuter rail services. It is also well located in relation to major highways such as the Interstate 90, Route 30 and Route 9.


Newton is a safe and vibrant town located just outside Boston that is popular with families thanks to its excellent public schools. Newton is convenient for those working in the city but who want to live in a quieter area. It's one of the wealthiest urban areas in Boston so property prices are inescapably steep, but for those with the right budget, it’s a wonderful place to raise a family.


Brookline is a town located close to Boston and bordered by suburbs such as Jamaica Plain, Allston and West Roxbury. The area has historically been home to some of the best schools in Massachusetts and there are also excellent medical facilities, parks, shops and entertainment, making it a popular residential neighbourhood for families. Brookline is also well serviced by the MBTA train and bus routes.

Young and trendy areas in Boston


As Boston is home to several universities, many of the city's suburbs are filled with students. Rental costs in these areas tend to be a little lower and they have a lively feel to them.


Wellesley is a town outside of Boston that is popular with young professionals and students because of its proximity to a number of colleges and universities, including Wellesley College, Babson College and Olin College of Engineering. Wellesley also attracts many families thanks to its excellent public schooling system.

The area is well covered by Boston’s public transport network and is linked to Boston city centre by the commuter rail and some commuter express bus services.


Allston-Brighton is popular with students and young professionals as it's close to both Harvard and Boston universities. 

The area is home to some of Boston’s best nightlife and the area is full of upscale eateries, bars and pool halls. In addition, Allston-Brighton is well placed on public transport routes allowing easy access to buses and trains.

City living in Boston


For those who want to live in the city centre, there are plenty of options in Boston, but these tend to be quite expensive.


Charlestown is centrally located on the banks of Boston Harbour in the downtown area of Boston and is popular among young professionals who choose to live within walking distance of their offices. The area is well served by public transport links and expats living in Charlestown will be able to get around easily on foot, by subway or bus. There is a lively atmosphere in Charlestown and the area’s streets are lined with bars, cafes and bakeries. Charlestown is the oldest suburb of Boston and, due to its central location, rents are high.

Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain

The suburbs of Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain (or JP as it's often referred to by residents) are located to the south of Boston and are known for their open green spaces. These neighbourhoods are home to ethnically diverse populations and are known for their community spirit. Both areas are served well by commuter rail, the subway and local bus services.

South End and Back Bay

South End and Back Bay are cosmopolitan areas of Boston popular with young professionals and families. Lined with brownstones, they have some of the most desirable real estate in the city, so rental prices tend to be high. The area has a lively atmosphere, especially in the evening when residents congregate around Tremont Street, which is also known as ‘Restaurant Row’, as it is lined with a diversity of eateries.

Healthcare in Boston

Thanks to Boston’s many prestigious universities, the city is a centre of medical research and is home to some of the best hospitals in the country. These mostly huddle together in the Longwood Medical Area, adjacent to the Fenway district. Some hospitals in Boston are excellent teaching hospitals affiliated directly with specific academic institutions.

Healthcare in Boston is overseen by the Boston Public Health Commission, the oldest health department in the US. The organisation is an independent public agency that provides a wide range of healthcare programmes and services.

Pharmacies are widely available in Boston, from large chain stores to smaller local outlets; some of which are open 24/7. 

Expats moving to Boston should ensure that they have a comprehensive health insurance plan to have access to the top medical facilities in the city.

Below is a list of some of Boston's most respected hospitals.

Hospitals in Boston

Boston Children's Hospital

Address: 300 Longwood Ave, Boston

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Address: 75 Francis Street, Boston

Massachusetts General Hospital
Address: 55 Fruit Street, Boston

New England Boston Hospital
Address: 125 Parker Hill Avenue, Boston

Tufts Medical Center

Address: 800 Washington Street, Boston

Education and Schools in Boston

Boston is arguably the heart of America’s education system. Home to many prestigious academic institutions, including Harvard and MIT, as well as the oldest public education system in the US. It goes without saying that education and schools in Boston are of the highest quality, and parents won't struggle to find a suitable school for their child.

There are a variety of schools in Boston to choose from, including public, charter, pilot, private and international schools.

Public schools in Boston

Boston takes pride in its public education and the local school system is well regarded and well funded. Boston is home to the first American public school and regularly places in the top five city school systems in the US.

Children in Kindergarten to Grade 8 are subject to a home-based school assignment plan, whereby parents identify a list of their chosen schools within their geographic area and register accordingly. Placement at a school is then determined according to an algorithm, similar to a lottery, so parents are not guaranteed their child will be placed in their first choice of school. It’s best to apply as early as possible to ensure the widest choice of schools. Children with siblings in a particular school are given priority at that school.

The home-based school assignment plan doesn’t apply to high schools and children in high school in Boston can attend any school.

There are also publicly funded charter and pilot schools in Boston that have greater control of their curriculum and teaching methods. That said, space in these schools is limited and competition over placements is fierce. 

Private and international schools in Boston 

There are many private schools in Boston. These range from the most prestigious prep and religious schools to schools offering more flexible teaching styles.

International schools offer foreign curricula, including French, German and British. Tuition fees are high at private and international schools and vary considerably between schools.

Special-needs education in Boston

The city's education system is well equipped to provide for students with learning and developmental disabilities. There are multiple federal laws in place in the US to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost, regardless of state.

Both public and private schools usually have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. In cases where a person’s disability is too severe for them to benefit from mainstream education, there are special education facilities that are able to offer students a special-needs programme tailored to meet their specific requirements.

Tutors in Boston

Because Boston is such an educational powerhouse in the US, tutoring is highly popular among parents eager to get their children into the state's best universities. Whether a child has fallen behind in maths class or is in need of additional support to excel in their college entrance exams, there are plenty of private tutors available in Boston.

It’s wise to start by asking the child’s school or other parents in the area for a recommendation. Alternatively, one could utilise the services of established tutoring companies. These companies offer an array of packages from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-on-one home tuition and small group sessions. 

Enlisting the services of a private tutor is an excellent opportunity for students to address any gaps in their knowledge, excel at a certain subject, or simply build confidence in their new environment.

International Schools in Boston

International schools in Boston are ideal for expat families as they offer curricula of foreign countries such as France, Germany and the UK. The language of instruction at these schools typically corresponds with its curriculum. In some cases, teaching is bilingual.

Expat children generally feel more at home in international schools among peers who can identify with relocating to a new country. Attending a school with the same curriculum as the family's country of origin can ease the transition and also make for a smooth transition back should the family return.

While Boston has just a few international schools, expat parents will find that the high quality makes up for the relatively small selection.

International schools in Boston

British International School of Boston

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, International Primary Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 1.5 to 18

Ecole Française Greater Boston

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 21 months to 18 years

German International School of Boston

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Ages: 3 to 18

International Schoool of Boston

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Lifestyle in Boston

Boston’s warm and friendly atmosphere will make new arrivals feel right at home. People of all persuasions find that Boston houses attractions to suit their tastes. From shopping, exciting nightlife and world-class sporting facilities to a fabulous variety of restaurants, expats in Boston won't be at a loss for things to do.

Shopping in Boston

Newcomers in need of some retail therapy will enjoy perusing Boston’s shopping districts and many boutiques, department stores, malls and outlets. While many local goods can be found at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, other well-known shopping areas include the affluent Newbury Street and Beacon Hill, which is known for its antiques. 

Eating out in Boston

Boston residents are spoilt for choice. They can pick and choose between diversity of flavours from a range of restaurants. With a large Irish community, it’s not difficult to find good Irish fare in the city’s many Irish pubs. There are also many Italian restaurants to explore, along with countless Asian and other ethnic restaurants. Local cuisine consists of seafood from the New England coast such as clam chowder and lobster. Burger and take-out joints are common and the city has a thriving food-truck scene.

Entertainment and nightlife in Boston

While most Bostonians prefer more relaxed evenings, the city's large population of students enjoy nights out on the town and bar hopping is popular. Lansdowne Street has traditionally been a well-loved nightlife spot, with many bars and clubs to enjoy. 

Boston’s arts scene is well worth exploring. The Theatre District is home to an array of theatres with regular performances to rival New York’s Broadway. As there are many restaurants in the area, expats can enjoy a full night out of theatre and dining. Cambridge and Watertown, just outside of Boston, also boast many theatrical productions, while the Boston Common hosts open-air productions in the summer months.

Outdoor and sporting activities in Boston

Home to several major league sporting teams including the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the New England Patriots football team, Boston is a sports-mad city. Bostonians are passionate about supporting their teams and during major games. 

Expats can also enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle in the summer months thanks to Boston’s many public parks. Boston Common is the oldest city park in the US and is adjacent to the equally famous Public Garden. Other green spaces ideal for exploration with the whole family include the Charles River Esplanade, Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum.

Kids and Family in Boston

Newcomers to Boston will be pleased to know that there are a plethora of attractions and activities geared toward kids. The choice of attractions, good hospitals and excellent schools make Boston an excellent city to raise a family.

Parents should consider living in one of Boston's family-friendly suburbs. Students up to high school are placed by the Boston public school system in schools near their homes, so parents thinking of enrolling their children in Boston public schools may want to consider moving to areas that allow access to specific schools. 

Educational activities in Boston

Boston features several educational and child-friendly activities that are perfect for any weather. The Children's Museum provides an interactive indoor playground in which children learn through play. The Franklin Park Zoo allows children to connect with wildlife, while the New England Aquarium lets children meet the marine life that lives off of Boston's shores.

Outdoor activities in Boston

Watching baseball at Fenway Park is a quintessential Boston activity. The Observatory presents breathtaking top-down views of Boston, while the Boston high-speed harbour cruises are a fun summer activity. Expats can also take their family to one of the many connecting parks that make up Boston's Emerald Necklace.

Indoor activities in Boston

Boston has all of the amenities of a modern city, including malls with cinemas. Otherwise, there is an active children's theatre scene in Boston, which can be enjoyed at venues such as the Puppet Showplace Theater.

See and Do in Boston

With one of the country's highest concentrations of national historic landmarks, Boston has plenty of attractions to visit. It's a city of many American 'firsts', with the city having established the first American subway system and public health department, first public school, first public park and first free municipal library. But apart from its many historical attractions the city is also blessed with lush parks, hiking trails and interesting museums.

Recommended attractions in Boston

Black Heritage Trail

As Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery in 1783, Boston developed a strong abolitionist Black community largely made up of freed and escaped slaves. The Black Heritage Trail meanders past more than 15 sites illustrating local Black history, including museums, meeting places and the homes of important figures in the emancipation struggle. 

Boston Public Garden

The Boston Public Garden is a tranquil park famed as the country's first public botanical garden. Situated in the heart of Boston, it forms part of the city's famed 'Emerald Necklace' of parks. The garden offers scenic walking routes and boat rides on the lagoon. 

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

This interactive family-friendly attraction allows visitors to learn about and re-enact the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 demonstration by a group of American revolutionaries. These revolutionaries stormed British ships carrying tea and threw their cargo overboard as a protest against unfair taxation. This event was key to the start of the War of Independence.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace has been in operation since the 18th century and features designer stores, restaurants, cafes, stalls and even performing entertainers such as jugglers, mimes and musicians. 

Museum of Fine Arts

A beautiful building in its own right, the Museum of Fine Arts houses nearly 450,000 artworks by some of the world’s most renowned artists in history, including Manet, Degas and Van Gogh.

What's On in Boston

Boston has a lively calendar that celebrates its many cultures and keeps both locals and expats entertained. With such a wide and diverse range of events, there really is something for everyone.

Here's a selection of popular yearly festivals and celebrations taking place in Boston.

Annual events in Boston

St Patrick's Day (March)

Ostensibly to commemorate the arrival of both Christianity and St Patrick in Ireland, 'St Paddy's Day' is also a means for Boston to celebrate its Irish heritage. This celebration is characterised by the jovial spirit of its annual parade in South Boston, and local restaurants also join in on the festivities by offering traditional Irish dishes. And, needless to say, the beer well and truly flows on St Paddy's.

Dragon Boat Festival (June)

The annual Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place each year along the banks of the Charles River. It sees thousands of visitors flocking to sample Asian fare, watch martial arts demonstrations, buy traditional Chinese arts and crafts and, of course, watch the dragon boat races.

Boston Pride Week (June)

Boston Pride Week is a period to raise awareness of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community and hold events in its honour, culminating in the Pride Parade. Diversity is embraced, and people from all walks of life are welcome to attend the parade.

Boston Harborfest (July)

With dozens of events such as concerts, re-enactments, walking tours and parties, the Boston Harborfest is a week-long event celebrating the United States’ independence and heritage. The festival concludes on the 4th of July with a breathtaking fireworks display. 

Arlington International Film Festival (October)

The Arlington International Film Festival attracts movie buffs from all over and showcases both local and international independent films. Attendees are spoilt for choice, with around 50 films being screened at the event each year.

Frequently Asked Questions about Boston

Moving to a new city can be daunting and prospective Bostonians are sure to have many questions about what to expect when they arrive. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about life in Boston.

What is public transportation like in Boston?

Boston likes to call itself 'the walking city' as it's well situated for walking. A large portion of the residents use public transport for their commutes to work. One of the most famous aspects of the city is the subway, commonly referred to as 'the T'. It has four easily navigable lines that provide access to most sections of the city. A bus service and commuter train are also widely used, and a ferry connects city districts across the bay.

What is the weather like in Boston?

The weather in Boston varies dramatically from season to season. Winters are bitterly cold with frequent snowfall. About 42 inches (107cm) of snow falls annually. Summers are hot, reaching 82°F (28°C) in July. Many homes have both air conditioning and heaters.

What's the cost of living in Boston like?

The cost of living in Boston is one of the highest in the US. Although Boston's public transport is affordable, accommodation is a huge expense. Thankfully, salaries in Boston are generally high, but newcomers to the city should ensure that their employers offer packages that meet the cost of living in Boston.

Is Boston safe?

Overall Boston is safe but, like any large city, there are places to avoid. Public transportation is well policed, as is the city centre. A few upper-end neighbourhoods hire their own security companies, but in general, this is not necessary.

Will I need a car when I move to Boston?

This depends where one lives. Many expats choose to live in a suburb, where a car is a necessity – particularly for those with children. Downtown Boston is compact, bike-friendly (flat), easily walkable and residents can manage without a car, particularly since Uber and Lyft are so prevalent. Parking in the city centre is difficult, and many residents choose to get around Boston by foot or public transport. It's also nice to have a car when it's cold and snowing hard, but you'll need a snow shovel in the winter if you park on the street. 

Getting Around in Boston

As a relatively compact city, getting around Boston is fairly easy by foot or using public transport. Although driving is often the most convenient option for travel outside of Boston proper, most residents choose not to drive around the downtown area due to the traffic congestion, high parking fees and the city's confusing street design. 

Expats will find that there is a wealth of public transport options available in Boston, which will make getting to grips with the city much easier.

Public transport in Boston

Boston has an integrated public transport system run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). It's convenient and relatively inexpensive. The MBTA is made up of the subway, buses, water shuttles and commuter rail.

The CharlieCard is a contactless smartcard that forms the basis of the MBTA payment system. There is a variety of options that allow commuters to choose the package that best suits their needs.


Boston’s subway, or ‘the T’, is composed of four colour-coded rail lines. This comprehensive network covers all the main areas of the city. If using a CharlieCard for one-way rides, commuters get free transfers on most subway and local bus routes. 


Expats will find that while bus travel in Boston may be slower than using the subway, a bus ride will often be cheaper and take them closer to their final destination. There are also express buses in Boston that travel over longer distances. These are more expensive than regular buses.

Water shuttles

The MBTA runs a number of water shuttles. There are also non-MBTA ferries and water taxis available at several ports.

Commuter rail

The commuter rail system in Boston is primarily used for travelling to towns outside the city. Since these trains are infrequent, it's much faster to use the subway when travelling in Boston. 

Taxis in Boston

Boston taxi fares are some of the most expensive in the US. Unless planning on sharing a taxi with a group of friends, it makes more sense to use the city's extensive public transport system.

Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft operate in Boston and, like regular taxis, they allow for more specific routes, but at a generally cheaper price. As Uber and Lyft services are charged directly to a user's bank account, they allow for travel without needing to carry cash. 

Walking in Boston

Boston is a relatively small and safe city and many locals walk around the city centre. Walking will allow visitors to see more of Boston than they would on the subway, although walking is not always easy in the winter months when the snow and wind can pose a major obstacle to pedestrians.

Cycling in Boston

Bostonians love to cycle and, thanks to the city's small size and flat terrain, cycling is relatively easy (except in winter). Boston is a relatively cyclist-friendly city, though existing cycling infrastructure could use some expanding.

Driving in Boston

Navigating the streets of Boston is difficult for newcomers. Unlike other US cities, Boston’s streets do not follow a grid system or centre on a geographical feature like a river or lake. Many locals choose to use public transport or taxis rather than driving, due to the traffic congestion in the city centre and the parking, which is both limited and expensive.