Moving to Boston on a Budget: Debunked

photo of text saying boston on a budget debunked with cityscape silhouette of boston zakim bridge in background

While Boston may be one of the most expensive cities to reside in the United States (third highest city to rent in, to be specific) it isn't all penthouses and rooftop lounges. Boston real estate is like no other, and every apartment you find will be unique, priced differently, and have its own character. If you are planning to move to the city of Boston, here's all of our tips and tricks for making the process easy, inexpensive and enjoyable.

What To Look For

We've already shared our tools for moving out for the first time, and working with an agent, but what if it's not your first rodeo? Rather than starting from scratch, there's a good chance you know what you like, and you know what you don't like. If you are still fuzzy on your requirements, that's okay, flexibility can be helpful! My first task for you will be to browse Pinterest, and create some boards. Make sure to browse different types of styles of apartments, renter friendly ideas for decoration, and get out of your comfort zone! While that million dollar condo in Back Bay might be out of your budget, the blue couch in the photo might not be! 

While you continue to dream-up your next apartment, now you may begin browsing Spot Easy. As for logistics, such as budget, location, number of rooms, and move-in date, these can be logged into our site as you begin your search [photo below]

spot easy boston header Photo Source: Spot Easy

spot easy boston moving requirements and needsPhoto Source: Spot Easy

While some areas of Boston are more expensive than others, we've rated Boston neighborhoods from least to most expensive here. Once your location has been chosen, and your budget is set, you can set-up your logistics. Let's say you've successfully signed a lease for a Boston apartment, with or without roommates, you can now decide many more things about your city life, which we'll break down for you below.

Budgeting Tips

The number one tip we will give you for living in Boston is to ditch the car, and join the public transportation wave! Boston has one of the best subway systems (the T), along with inner-city busses, blue bicycles for rent, Ubers, taxis, and the outer-city commuter rail train. Without a car, you will miss out on parking tickets, parking garage payments, and the most priceless, painful part of the city: the traffic. 

When choosing your next apartment, be sure to look at the map surrounding your area, and check the Greater Boston bus schedule and route. While you may not be walking distance to a T-stop, you may be inches away from a bus stop. Using public transportation is not only good for the environment, but good for your wallet. A link-pass offers unlimited bus and subway transportation for $90 per month, which equates to less than three parking tickets in the city. Commuting without the stress of traffic can help decrease stress, and ensure your morning starts right. The best app for keeping up with transportation schedules and traffic updates is the ProximiT app.

Photo of the Kenmore bus and subway T station in FenwayPhoto Source: MBTA Twitter

Our second tip might make you upset, especially with at least eight coffee shops in walking distance to your new apartment. However, our second tip is to cut back on eating out. While this may be harder than it sounds, it doesn't mean you can never go out to eat again! However, Boston is known for the food, meaning it is everywhere. When going out for coffee, snacks, lunch and dinner feels like the Bostonian thing to do, it will unfortunately drain your wallet after about two weeks of this. Make a date with yourself to grab a coffee and pastry once a week, not four times. Plan a dinner with your peers or partner for a monthly, or bi-weekly occasion, not every Thursday-Sunday. While Boston food is some of the best in the States, it's also some of the most expensive. While going out to eat is a fun thing to do here in the city of Boston, it is not the only thing. There's over a dozen free things to do in Boston, as well as inexpensive ways to get out and explore that don't require an expensive meal. By saving, let's say $50 per week on take-away food, this could be $200 saved by the end of the month, meaning you can spend that $200 elsewhere!  

Leading us right into tip number three: utilize everything 'free' in Boston. The city of Boston offers plenty of things to do on a budget, while still offering upscale events and venues. Whether it be free concerts, an overstock of fruit a farmer may be giving away in the park, utilizing the Boston Public Library, or opting to walk rather than drive, the city can be budget friendly, and don't let anyone discourage you of this!

While playing games with friends is free, such as boardgames or cards, our fourth tip is to download Geocaching or Pokemon Go. Play these games on the go for nearly free! This is a great way to get outside with a purpose, and could even introduce you to some new friends. While Geocaching offers users to participate in a scavenger hunt with clues sent to your phone, Pokemon Go allows for users to hunt Pokemon in your area and catch the best one's. Both of these apps offer a unique way to experience the great outdoors, but being in Boston makes it extra-special. Hop on and off the T for a day while chasing around clues and Pokemon!

women gathered in boston public park and garden having a picnicPhoto Source: Dear Friend, Boston Blog

Today's fifth tip is to host events at home for friends, rather than going out. Who cares if you live in a studio? Tell the girls to each bring over a snack, borrow someone's Netflix password and have a movie night! It's evening like this that can help recharge our bodies after a long week, keep our spending low, and keeping close with the people you love! Time at home doesn't have to be boring, and the more friends over, the cheaper a pizza would be to split! See? It isn't all bad, I promise.

In Boston, there is always somewhere to be, something to do, and someone to meet. Being open to new experiences, but strict on your budget 90% of the time will be the best way to fully enjoy the city, without going entirely broke. There's handfuls of Facebook groups for the city, making it easier to make friends and find free events as well. Thankfully, these are just resources, and living in Boston can be any kind of experience you make it out to be. Don't worry if this process doesn't go perfectly, because rocky beginnings are usually the beginning to a great story.

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