Cost of living in Boston

We’ve broken down the cost of living in Boston, comparing it to other states and the US national average.

The Boston skyline at golden hour.

The overall cost of living in Boston is higher than the national average.

Photo via @oschapov

Table of Contents

With Boston constantly growing and undertaking multiple high-profile developments this year (think: Allston + South Station), we figured it was time to talk about the cost of planting some roots in Beantown.

The median household income in Suffolk County is $76,298 according to the US Census Bureau. State-wise, the Bay State is No. 4 in the country for median income at ~$84,385 per household.

A chart from bestplaces.net

The overall cost of living in Boston is higher than the national average.

Screenshot via bestplaces.net

The overall cost of living in Boston is 53.4% higher than the national average, and higher than the rest of the state.

In Boston, the cost of healthcare is 89.7% higher compared to other parts of the state + the US. And the cost of housing, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses in the city have higher average costs than other cities in Massachusetts and the country overall.

Breaking down the numbers

Hypothetically speaking, if you live in a household that brings in $100,000 annuallyaccording to experts — you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly gross income on rent and utilities. Don’t worry, we did the math for you — your max monthly budget would be $2,500. The average monthly rent for an apartment in Boston is $3,772 — putting you over budget.

According to the annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card, purchasing a home is more difficult than before the pandemic and the analysis shows that rental units are becoming even more expensive and scarce.

Interested in seeing Boston’s cost of living compared to cities in other states? We played around on nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator, where you can put in any city along with your current pre-tax household income to find out what other cities you could actually afford to live in.

We took a look at the cost of living in Boston compared to NYC. Here’s what we found:

  • The cost of living is 70% higher in New York City.
  • To maintain our standard of living, we would need to bring in $169,687 to our Manhattan household.
  • The median cost for a two-bedroom apartment is $5,102, which is $1,330 more than Boston.

Boston also has income-restricted and subsidized housing options + other government-funded programs to help find more affordable units.

There are also a number of local development firms working on apartments — from Fenway Community Development Corp.’s 27-unit apartment building on Burbank Street to the New Atlantic Development and DREAM Collaborative’s mixed-income development at 2147 Washington St. in Nubian Square.

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