Cost of living in Boston: How to manage your living expenses

What’s the cost of living in Boston? Dive into your monthly rent, groceries, entertainment, and transport expenses, and learn some money-saving tips.


4 minute read
19 Jun 2024

With a monthly cost of living of $3,997, Boston is the most expensive city in Massachusetts. Yet, the high quality of life, excellent education and work opportunities, and plenty of entertainment make the price of living in Boston worthwhile.

So, before you start exploring homes for rent in Boston, let us guide you through the average living expenses. We will cover everything from rent and groceries to the cost of going out and owning a car.

How expensive is living in Boston?

Living in Boston can be expensive compared to other cities in Massachusetts. The average monthly cost of living in Boston is between $3,867 and $4,127 for a single person. Yet, with Boston’s average salary of $8,090 monthly, you’ll be able to cover your living expenses and save money. The table below shows a breakdown of the essential living expenses in Boston.

TypeAverage cost of living in Boston
Phone & Internet$55
Health insurance$407
Transportation$90 — $350
Total$3,867 — $4,127

If you’re moving to Boston with your family, your monthly cost of living will be higher. The living expenses in Boston for a family of 4 can go up to $6,392 (renting a 2-bedroom apartment). Meanwhile, the living costs in Boston for students will be much lower at around $2,535 monthly (renting a private room).

Cost of renting in Boston

With an average cost of $2,515, renting in Boston will be your highest monthly expense. Prices vary from the cheapest, a private room in shared housing for $1,425, to 2-bedroom apartments for $ 3,942 on average, the most expensive. The table below outlines what you can expect to pay for average rent in Boston depending on the property you’re renting:

TypeAverage rent in Boston
Private room$1,425
Apartment (1 bedroom)$3,246
Apartment (2 bedroom)$3,942

Location is the other factor influencing your average rent cost in Boston. As a rule of thumb, the more central you are, the higher your rent will be. Neighborhoods like Downtown, North End, and Fenway-Kenmore are some of the most expensive areas to live in Boston. If you’re looking for something more affordable, look into Jamaica Plain or Hyde Park, some of the best neighborhoods in Boston for people in their 20s.

Depending on their household size, families can expect to pay between $3,246 for 1-bedroom and $3,942 for 2-bedroom apartments in Boston. Boston's family-friendly neighborhoods vary, from expensive ones like Charlestown and Brookline, with average rents between $3,871 and $3,553, to more affordable ones like Roslindale and West Roxbury, ranging between $2,465 and $3,125 monthly.

Cost of bills in Boston

You can expect to pay around $200 monthly for utilities only. This includes the cost of electricity, water, and heating/cooling. Your internet will be around $65, and your phone bill will be $55 monthly. But if you get a mobile and home internet bundle from your provider, you’ll pay only around $55 – $60 altogether.

Cost of groceries in Boston

A person living in Boston should budget around $400 monthly for groceries. This amount will vary depending on your diet and preferences. Additionally, the size of your household also influences the grocery budget. Couples will need to double this amount, whereas families can multiply it by the number of household members. Below is a list of essential food items and their cost in Boston.

You can save on groceries in Boston by shopping at farmer’s markets, following supermarket sales, buying in bulk, or planning your meals.

Cost of transportation in Boston

The cost of transportation in Boston depends on what means you’re relying on. Public transport is much more affordable, and Boston’s public transport network is reliable. A one-way ticket costs $2.40 for the subway and $1.70 for the buses. If you plan to use public transport regularly, you should purchase a monthly public transport subscription for $90.

Yet, owning a car in Boston is more popular and convenient, especially for people commuting from the suburbs. If you own a car, you can expect to pay between $300 and $1,000 monthly. This includes the costs of:

  • Parking: $175
  • Car insurance: $50 – $195
  • Gas: $3.57 per gallon

Cost of healthcare in Boston

Health insurance isn’t mandatory in the US, so you can save from this category by not opting for healthcare coverage. Keep in mind that if you don't have health insurance, you’ll need to cover any related costs yourself. These include around $160 per GP visit and $150 for the dentist.

If you choose to get health insurance in Boston, you can expect to pay between $400 and $800 monthly. The amount varies depending on the coverage, excess, and whether you add other people to your health insurance.

Generally, there are 4 levels of insurance in Massachusetts: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Starting from bronze, you pay 40% of any medical service you receive. With silver, you cover 30%, whereas gold holders pay for 20%. Platinum insurance covers 90% of all your medical services, and the 10% left you pay out of pocket.

Cost of entertainment in Boston

Boston has so much to offer when it comes to nightlife and entertainment that you’ll find it difficult to choose what to do. From catching a Red Sox game at Sullivan’s Tap to the beautiful performances of the Boston Ballet, the city has plenty to offer. This is why we suggest you budget at least $200 to $250 monthly for leisure in Boston.

Dining out:

TypeAverage cost
Dinner for 2 (mid-range range restaurant)$100
McMeal at McDonalds$12
Domestic beer (0.5 l)$8
Clam chowder

Leisure time & personal care

TypeAverage cost
Cinema ticket$16
Baseball tickets (Red Sox vs Yankees)$81
Theatre tickets (Boston Ballet)$125
Gym membership (month)$90
Yoga/pilates (lesson)$30

The right budget is essential when looking for homes for rent in Boston. That way, you can ensure that your living expenses in Boston don’t break the bank, and you can experience the city to the fullest!

This article is for informational purposes only.

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