What's it like to live in Boston, MA?


Lauren Liebhaber

Profile written by local expert:

Lauren Liebhaber

Boston often feels like a small town with all the perks of city life. The metro area features a diverse culinary scene, access to the cultural institutions, and proximity to world-class schools, employers and health care. It is historic but ever-evolving. It is on the cutting edge of medicine and technology, but traditional in its love of pastimes like cheering on hometown heroes at Fenway Park. It is a region of sports enthusiasts, artists and entrepreneurs.

Often referred to as the Cradle of Liberty, Boston is the site of some of the most significant social, cultural and political moments in U.S. history. Living in the region can feel like you're acting out the pages of a history book, while simultaneously experiencing the perks of a modern metro area. Boston's tenacious spirit was born out of an act of revolution, and its drive to pursue innovation and progress is in its DNA.

From the Old North Church to the Institute of Contemporary Art and everything in between, Boston is steeped in culture and rich in pride. For new families, recent college graduates, retirees or seasoned professionals, Boston is a place that can foster your next stage of life, whatever that may be. 

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Boston, Massachusetts is ranked:

#25 in Best Places to Live

#28 in Best Places to Retire

6.9

Overall

Scorecard

  • Desirability
    7.5
  • Value
    5.9
  • Job Market
    8.4
  • Quality of Life
    6.5
  • Net Migration
    6.4

Read how we rank places

Boston, MA Quick Stats

  • 4,728,844

    Metro Population

  • $64,080

    Average Annual Salary

  • 58.7° / 44.0°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 38.7

    Median Age

  • $399,458

    Median Home Price

  • 43.8 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.5%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,274

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 30.6 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Boston, MA?

Boston is a notoriously expensive metro area. If you are looking to purchase a home in Boston, prices can vary drastically based on the neighborhood, though they tend to be higher than the national median. 

Value Index

Index Score: 5.9 /10

How we calculate this.


Boston offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Boston
$399,458

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Boston, MA.

What's the weather like in Boston, MA?

As in most other areas of New England, Boston's weather can range from temperate in the spring and fall to extreme during the winter.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

31.8°F


Winter

48.1°F


Spring

71.1°F


Summer

54.5°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.8 in


Winter

4.3 in


Spring

3.7 in


Summer

4.0 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Boston, MA?

Boston's historical physical development can make navigating the metro area by car tricky. Unlike in New York City, where streets are aligned in a gridlike pattern, Boston's streets seem to have no logic at all. Generally speaking, Boston drivers live up to their reputation of being some of the most emotive and aggressive drivers on the road. 

This makes Boston's public transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, a popular alternative. MBTA provides railway, bus, subway (or T) and ferry services. Boston's Commuter Rail has lines connecting Boston to surrounding suburbs, such as Wakefield and Dedham. Meanwhile, Boston is one of the most walkable regions in the country, and many commuters choose to walk or bike to work.

Boston's size and location on the East Coast make it a highly accessible area for both residents and visitors. Logan International Airport supports a high volume of daily flights, while Amtrak, Greyhound and other ground transportation services stop at several points throughout the region.

Commuting in Boston, MA

Means of Transportation
Driving
75%
Below national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
5%
Above national average

Public Transit
13%
Above national average
Average Commute Time

30.6 minutes

4.5 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Boston, MA?

One of the most unique aspects of Boston is its appeal to people from different walks of life. The metro area's colleges and universities attract eager minds from around the world who come to be doctors at its world-class hospitals, robotic engineers building the next futuristic reality, and musicians and performing artists who bring vibrancy to Boston's streets. 

The area's rich culture and emphasis on academics are a draw for families. And it's common to see families enjoying an afternoon at the Boston Children's Museum, feeding the ducks in Boston Public Garden or spending a Saturday shopping along Newbury Street. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Boston as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Boston, MA?

Boston offers much in the way of culinary exploration and cultural entertainment, which can be expensive luxuries for city dwellers on a budget. However, there are plenty of affordable options.

The Freedom Trail offers a glimpse of the country's history, while the Museum of Fine Arts provides a taste of culture. Outdoor enthusiasts can spend a day boating on the Charles River or pass an afternoon in the Boston Public Garden.

Meanwhile, if there is one thing that can transcend race, religion, age or any other personal distinction in Boston, it's sports. Whether it's for the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox or Revolution, bonds are forged through the unconditional support of Boston's beloved professional sports teams.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Boston, MA