There are few things that stress me out more than moving. Coordinating movers, lifting boxes, and sorting through all of my belongings - it’s never an easy feat.
And to add fuel to the fire, it’s even more stressful if you’re relocating to a new city, especially one as massive and busy as Boston!
That’s why we want to provide you with a practical guide and how-to when it comes to relocating to Boston.
From the first steps of narrowing down your desired area all the way to the finer points of local tips and tricks, we’ve put together a guide of what you need to know if you are relocating to Boston.
The very first thing you need to do is figure out where you want to live. While Boston is technically a single city, it is comprised a variety of very different neighborhoods that have its own personality and amenities. It’s essential to find the right neighborhood for you, even before you meet with a real estate agent. No matter how much you love a house or apartment, you won’t be happy there if you dislike your neighborhood.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you are supposed to know which neighborhood is for you when you are relocating from a completely different place. Don’t fall into the trap of immediately dismissing so-called “bad neighborhoods.” Some of the “bad neighborhoods” are hot real estate markets at the moment because they offer incredible renovation and building opportunities! Additionally, many of Boston’s neighborhoods are pretty big and encompass smaller areas with their own individual communities.
Ignore the tendency to rely on hearsay. Instead, go spend time in your potential neighborhoods before you move there, if you can. Drive through the streets just getting to know the feel of the area. Go out for dinner at a local restaurant. Find and attend an event that is in line with your interests. You want to live in a neighborhood that makes it easy for you to do the things you enjoy. If you’re not ready to buy, renting in a neighborhood is a good way to take a test drive.
The City of Boston has put together some fantastic resources for people who are relocating. You can get a basic overview of the Boston neighborhood boundaries with this map that we’ve provided.
You may also want to take a look at the Neighborhood Guides put together by the city. These guides provide an overview of each neighborhood as well as links to community resources and information from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Once you have an idea of where you want to live, it is time to find a real estate agent.
Find Your Agent
Finding a real estate agent who specializes in your preferred neighborhood gives you access to their invaluable local knowledge. They can tailor your house search to areas where you are most likely to find the things you want, and a local agent can let you know right away where you’re likely to find the best views or most square footage for your money.
They are that neighborhood’s experts.
Speaking of square footage, when you relocate to Boston, you will probably end up with less of it than at your previous home if you’re moving from a less compact or expensive place. But the many amenities of the city will keep the city and its activities at your fingertips - a welcome trade-off.
Prepare to Downsize
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Boston is expensive. Here is a heat map to give you a quick overview of how much people are spending on one bedroom apartments in Boston. But this map doesn’t provide the full picture since it gives only median rent prices. In Boston, we have neighborhoods where the price per square foot ranges from $400 to $2000+. As a result, a 1500-square-foot condo could sell for anywhere from $600k to $3+ million. That’s quite a wide range, but a real estate agent with local expertise will know which streets and areas will be in the high-end of the range and which will be at the lower end of the scale.
Basic Need-to-Know Information
A lot of people relocate to Boston. People move here for college, for work, or simply because it is a great place to call home. Regardless of your reason for relocating, we have a few local tips and tricks to help you navigate your first few days and months in Boston.
Do not take your moving truck on Storrow Drive. Seriously. It will not fit under the overpasses. Yes, this includes the smallest moving truck you can rent. When students move to Boston every fall, locals simply avoid Storrow Drive because, inevitably, people ignore this advice and get stuck, causing a huge traffic jam. Check your GPS in advance, and just avoid the street altogether.
95 South can be difficult to navigate for a few reasons. One of the most common difficulties people have has to do with Route 128. Route 128 starts in Gloucester, north of Boston, but runs concurrently with I-95 South beginning in Peabody, until it ends at the I-95 and I-93 interchange. This interchange is also a source of confusion because I-95 South takes an abrupt turn southwest where it was previously heading southeast. If you miss that exit, you will find yourself on I-93 North heading back up to Boston.
If that was enough to discourage your from driving in Boston after your initial move-in, don’t worry. Boston is an ideal place to walk or use public transportation. Invest in comfortable shoes and be aware that the T service ends at 12:30 am on weekends
A couple final notes to help you blend in: Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Jamaica Plain are all singular. And finally, South End is not part of South Boston (Southie). They are separate neighborhoods.
The Bottom Line
Boston is a fantastic place to live. With several distinct neighborhoods to choose from, there is some place for everyone here. College students, families, professionals, and retirees all call Boston home. If you are relocating to Boston, our Buyer's Guide can help you find your neighborhood, your agent, and your new home.