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15 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Massachusetts 2024

Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Massachusetts - city living

Thinking about relocating to Massachusetts? Here are 10 essential insights about life in MA you shouldn’t miss!

Nestled against the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts stands as a top travel hotspot in the northeastern U.S.

Strategically positioned between New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Massachusetts boasts a prime spot on the U.S. map. With a bustling population of over 6.8 million residents, it’s the heartbeat of the New England region.

Boston, the vibrant capital, isn’t just the largest city in New England but also the epicenter of commerce, academia, industry, and rich American heritage. Renowned for its stellar education framework, cutting-edge tech production, and a mosaic of cultures and enterprises, Massachusetts shines as a beacon of economic vigor and pioneering spirit.

Pondering a move to Massachusetts? You’re in the right space. While the allure of Massachusetts is undeniable, it’s crucial to dive deep into its essence before making it your sanctuary. This relocation guide, crafted by our experts, unveils the nuances of the Bay State. With a balanced view of its advantages and challenges, this handbook ensures you step into Massachusetts with clarity and confidence.

My Winter Tale

During my first winter in Massachusetts, I was both enchanted and challenged by the state’s snowy embrace. Having moved from a warmer climate, I was ill-prepared for the frosty onslaught of a Nor’easter. The beauty of the snow-covered landscapes was undeniable, and the historic streets of Boston took on a magical quality.

However, the practicalities of daily life in such conditions quickly became apparent. One morning, I found my car buried under a foot of snow, and my lack of a proper snow shovel became a glaring oversight. As I struggled to clear the snow with a makeshift tool, a kind neighbor lent me their shovel and shared some winter survival tips.

That day, I not only learned the importance of being prepared for Massachusetts winters but also experienced the warmth and camaraderie of its residents. While the high cost of living and the cold winters can be daunting, the state’s rich history, diverse culture, and the kindness of its people make it a place I’m proud to call home.

Things To Know

Things To Know about Massachusetts

1. The Echoes of History 

Massachusetts, one of the original 13 colonies, is fondly referred to as The Old Colony. With its roots tracing back to the 17th century, it’s renowned as the historic landing site of the Mayflower, carrying the Pilgrims from England in 1620.

Before colonization, the region was home to the Algonquin Native American tribes, notably the Wampanoag and the Massachusett. The state’s name was inspired by the Massachusett tribe, thanks to the explorer John Smith. As North America’s second successful English colony, Massachusetts’s Jamestown Colony is celebrated as the venue of the inaugural Thanksgiving, a three-day festivity.

The state’s history is also marked by the Salem Witch Trials from February 1692 to May 1693. Fast forward to the late 1700s, Boston, the capital, became the epicenter of significant events like the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, pivotal moments in the American Revolution.

These incidents heightened conflicts, culminating in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on Massachusetts soil. Furthermore, the state played a significant role during the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, witnessing numerous transformative events over the centuries.

For those keen on delving deeper into Massachusetts’s rich history, here are some top historical attractions:

  • Salem Witch Museum: Dive into the mysteries of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials in one of Salem’s most frequented museums.
  • Concord Museum: Situated in Concord, this museum showcases the Indigenous history and tales from the American Revolution era.
  • Boston Tea Party Ships: Step back in time by boarding an authentic replica of an 18th-century vessel, reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party.
  • Pilgrim Hall Museum: Established in 1824, this Plymouth museum stands as the nation’s longest-running museum, offering insights into the Pilgrims’ journey through various displays and relics.
  • Plimoth Patuxet Museum: Founded in 1947, this immersive museum recreates the Plymouth Colony, originally set up by the Pilgrims in the 17th century. Note: Admission fees may apply.

2. The Price of Living in Massachusetts

Price of Living in Massachusetts

Ranked as the sixth priciest state in the U.S., Massachusetts boasts a cost of living that surpasses the national average by 45%. Boston, the state’s capital, stands out as its most expensive city, with living costs that are 11% above the state’s average.

When compared to states like Florida and North Carolina, Massachusetts undoubtedly demands a heftier budget. However, a silver lining is that residing in Massachusetts is still 18% more affordable than the bustling state of New York.

A significant factor contributing to the high living costs is the housing market. Homes in Massachusetts are priced nearly three times the national average.

Consequently, it’s advised for households to have a monthly income of at least $5,861 or an annual median salary of $70,333 to comfortably navigate the state’s expenses. The steep housing prices can be traced back to the balance of housing supply and demand, coupled with the lucrative job opportunities available in the state.

3. Educational Excellence

Massachusetts stands as a paragon of educational brilliance, housing some of the nation’s premier public schools and tertiary institutions. For families relocating to Massachusetts with school-going children, the state offers the assurance of top-tier education.

Notably, Massachusetts consistently outshines its counterparts, clinching the top spot in reading and math test scores among all 50 states. The state’s public schools are not only academically stellar but also rank among the safest nationwide. The recent introduction of the Student Opportunity Act further amplifies the state’s commitment to fostering a high-caliber educational environment and enriching learning experiences for its students.

Higher education in Massachusetts is equally commendable. With a staggering 50 institutions catering to a student body exceeding 150,000, the state offers a plethora of choices for those aspiring for advanced studies. Among these, several institutions have garnered global acclaim. Harvard University, an Ivy League gem, is a name synonymous with academic excellence.

The University of Massachusetts, with its campuses in Boston and Amherst, offers diverse programs and research opportunities. Other noteworthy institutions include Amherst College, known for its liberal arts programs; Boston College, blending tradition with modernity; and Salem State University, which has carved a niche in various disciplines. In Massachusetts, the pursuit of knowledge knows no bounds.

4. A Technological Powerhouse

Technological Powerhouse Massachusetts

Massachusetts stands at the forefront of technological advancement in the U.S., boasting one of the nation’s most robust economies. Its top-tier ranking in economic health is a testament to its dynamic industries, which are propelled by cutting-edge technology and innovation.

Given the state’s reputation for academic excellence, with its population being among the most educated in the country, it’s no wonder that tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have chosen to establish their headquarters here. The state’s educational institutions, renowned globally, act as a magnet for these corporations, ensuring a steady influx of skilled professionals.

5. Healthcare Excellence

When it comes to healthcare, Massachusetts is second to none. Holding the title as the country’s top-ranked state in healthcare, it boasts an impressive density of mental health providers, primary care physicians, and dentists, ensuring that residents have ample access to quality care.

The state’s prominence in the medical field is further accentuated by the presence of world-class medical schools, including Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine. These institutions not only produce top-tier medical professionals but also attract them, making the state a hub for medical expertise.

The state’s commitment to healthcare is further reflected in its insurance coverage, with a staggering 97% of its residents insured, ensuring they’re well-protected in emergencies.

Massachusetts isn’t just a leader in healthcare provision; it’s also home to hospitals that are nationally and globally recognized for their excellence. Out of the thousands of hospitals in the U.S., Massachusetts General Hospital proudly holds the fourth spot. This distinction, among others, makes the state a global destination for those seeking the pinnacle of medical care.

6. A Sporting Legacy

For sports enthusiasts, Massachusetts is nothing short of a paradise. With a rich sporting history, it’s the birthplace of basketball, which was conceived in Springfield in 1891. The state’s passion for sports is evident in its fervent support for its five major professional teams.

Whether you’re a fan of basketball, baseball, football, hockey, or soccer, Massachusetts has a team for you to rally behind. The state proudly hosts the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, and the New England Revolution. So, gather your friends, don your team colors, and immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of a live game.

7. Embrace the Seasons

Massachusetts offers a diverse climate, characterized by its humid continental conditions. Residents experience the full spectrum of seasons, from balmy summers to frosty winters.

Summers in the state are typically warm, with daytime temperatures hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while evenings are cooler, averaging between 60 and 65 degrees. On the other hand, winters can be quite chilly, often plunging below the freezing mark.

While summers are marked by their humidity and occasional rainfall, winters in Massachusetts are particularly noteworthy for their snowfall. The state is no stranger to Nor’easters, powerful storms that can blanket the region with over a foot of snow in a single event.

On average, Massachusetts receives an impressive 51 inches of snow annually, nearly double the national average of 28 inches. If you’re considering making Massachusetts your home, it’s essential to gear up for its winter wonderland. Stock up on warm clothing, sturdy snow boots, and perhaps even a snow shovel. Embrace the beauty of the snowy landscapes, but always stay prepared!

8. Culinary and Cultural Delight

Culinary and Cultural Delight

A Feast for the Palate

Massachusetts is a gastronomic treasure trove, offering a delightful array of culinary experiences that cater to both gourmands and casual diners alike. The state’s coastal location ensures a bounty of fresh seafood, making it a haven for dishes like the iconic lobster rolls, succulent oysters, and the hearty New England clam chowder. But the culinary journey doesn’t stop at the shoreline.

Dive into the state’s rich history with traditional dishes like baked beans, indulge in the sweet allure of Boston creme pie, or savor the simplicity of a freshly baked corn muffin. Every meal in Massachusetts promises a blend of tradition, innovation, and sheer deliciousness. So, as you settle into your new home, let your taste buds embark on an adventure, exploring the diverse flavors the state has to offer.

A Vibrant Tapestry of Entertainment

Beyond its culinary delights, Massachusetts pulsates with energy when the sun goes down. The state boasts a dynamic nightlife, ensuring that there’s always something to captivate residents and visitors. Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening at a jazz lounge, eager to dance the night away at a bustling nightclub, or looking to catch a live band in action, Massachusetts has got you covered.

Sports enthusiasts can revel in the camaraderie at local sports pubs, cheering for their favorite teams, while those seeking a more relaxed vibe can explore the myriad of bars that dot the state, each with its unique ambiance and offerings. And with venues that keep the party going until the wee hours, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make memories, meet new people, and immerse oneself in the state’s vibrant culture.

9. A Coastal Paradise

Coastal Paradise - sport Massachusetts

A Shore Thing

Massachusetts, with its sprawling coastline, offers a beach experience like no other. Whether you’re drawn to the tranquil freshwater lakes or the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, the state promises a beach for every mood and occasion.

Over 200 miles of coastline, encompassing 15 saltwater ocean beaches and 50 serene inland freshwater beaches, ensure that beachgoers are spoilt for choice. Whether you’re planning a family day out, a solo retreat, or a romantic escapade, Massachusetts has the perfect sandy stretch waiting for you.

The added assurance of lifeguard services at many of these beaches and their proximity to major cities make them even more appealing.

Local Beach Gems

Here’s a curated list of some of the most beloved beaches in Massachusetts:

  • Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod: A visual treat, this beach is often hailed as one of Cape Cod’s most picturesque spots. Its pristine sands and panoramic views make it a favorite among both locals and tourists.
  • Crane Beach, Ipswich: Nestled on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, this beach is framed by rolling dunes and tufts of beach grass. It’s an idyllic spot to catch a mesmerizing sunset.
  • Race Point Beach, Provincetown: Accessible via a ferry ride from Boston, this Cape Cod gem offers a serene beach experience, making it worth the journey.
  • Singing Beach, Manchester by the Sea: A stone’s throw from Boston, this unique beach is famed for its “singing sand.” As you walk, the friction between the sand grains produces a distinctive sound, adding a touch of magic to the experience.
  • Coast Guard Beach, Eastham: A haven for nature enthusiasts, this beach is perfect for a range of activities, from swimming and beach volleyball to simply soaking in the views during sunset.

10. Moderate crime rate

Moderate crime rate

Considered to have an average crime rate compared to other states in the country, Massachusetts is a relatively safe place to live. With a lower violent crime rate than the national average, residents tend to report that they feel safe and most have not had experiences with violent crime. However like in every city, there are neighborhoods that you should stay away from. 

With a property crime rate of only 11.8 per 1,000 residents, there has been a 50% decrease in property crimes in Massachusetts since 2010. While certain cities are certainly safer than others, most residents will be able to find a safe area to call home when moving to Massachusetts

11. Day Trip Destinations

A Day’s Escape

Massachusetts, with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and proximity to other notable destinations in the Northeast, is a treasure trove for day-trippers. These short excursions, akin to mini-vacations, provide a refreshing break from routine, allowing you to explore new locales without the commitment of an extended stay. From the bustling streets of Boston, a myriad of destinations await, each offering its unique charm and experiences.

Top Picks for Day Trips:

  1. Cape Cod (including Provincetown): A quintessential New England destination, Cape Cod boasts pristine beaches, quaint towns, and a laid-back vibe. Provincetown, located at the tip of the Cape, is known for its vibrant arts scene, eclectic shops, and stunning dunes.
  2. The Berkshires (Western Massachusetts): A haven for nature and arts enthusiasts, the Berkshires offer scenic beauty, hiking trails, and a rich cultural scene with theaters, museums, and festivals.
  3. Rockport, MA (North Shore): A picturesque coastal town, Rockport is famous for its art galleries, seafood, and the iconic Motif Number 1 fishing shack.
  4. Kennebunkport, ME: A charming coastal town in Maine, Kennebunkport is renowned for its historic homes, boutique shops, and delicious lobster rolls.
  5. Portsmouth, NH: A historic seaport, Portsmouth offers a blend of history with its preserved colonial buildings, vibrant arts scene, and waterfront dining.
  6. Providence, RI: The capital city of Rhode Island, Providence boasts a rich history, diverse culinary scene, and the renowned WaterFire art installation.
  7. Stowe, VT: Best known for its ski slopes, Stowe is a year-round destination offering outdoor activities, scenic beauty, and a cozy village atmosphere.

12. Economic Stability

Economic Stability

A state’s unemployment rate is a crucial indicator of its economic health, and Massachusetts stands out positively in this regard. With a commendable unemployment rate of 3.7 percent as of December 2022, the state showcases a robust labor market where a significant portion of its population is actively engaged in the workforce.

Such a high level of labor participation is not just a mere statistic; it has profound implications for the state’s socio-economic fabric:

  1. Social Stability: A low unemployment rate often translates to fewer social challenges. When a majority of the population is gainfully employed, issues like crime, poverty, and social unrest tend to be lower.
  2. Economic Prosperity: A thriving workforce means more people are earning, spending, and contributing to the state’s economy. This creates a virtuous cycle of growth, attracting businesses and investments.
  3. Government Expenditure: With fewer people relying on unemployment benefits and social welfare programs, the state can redirect its resources towards enhancing infrastructure, education, healthcare, and other public goods.
  4. Broad Tax Base: A large working population ensures a broad tax base. With more people earning and paying taxes, the state has a steady stream of revenue to fund its various initiatives and projects.

13. Diversity in Culture and Cost

Boston, with its rich history and dynamic present, is a city of neighborhoods, each with its unique character and charm. The city’s diversity is not just cultural but also economic, with neighborhoods like Dorchester standing out as among the most diverse in the nation. This diversity is a testament to Boston’s welcoming spirit and its ability to evolve and adapt over the centuries.

Real Estate: A Spectrum of Prices

The real estate landscape in Boston and its surrounding areas is as varied as its neighborhoods. Proximity to the city’s heart, historical significance, amenities, and the character of the neighborhood play significant roles in determining property prices.

  • Boston’s Heartbeat: Homes closer to downtown Boston naturally command higher prices due to the convenience of urban living, with a modest-sized home within a 20-minute radius averaging around $700,000.
  • Suburban Appeal: Moving further out, about 45 minutes from the city, the prices become more moderate, with homes ranging between $400,000 and $500,000.
  • Trend Analysis: The upward trajectory of home prices over the years is evident. The median price for single-family homes in Massachusetts has seen a consistent rise, from $413,000 in 2019 to $575,000 in 2022. Condos, too, have followed a similar trend.

A Glimpse into the Suburbs:

  • Danvers, North Shore: Located in Essex County, this suburb, about 30 minutes from Boston, had a median home price of $635,000 in 2022.
  • Natick, Metro West: Situated about 25 miles west of Boston, Natick’s median home price stood at a notable $900,000 in 2022.
  • Marshfield, South Shore: A coastal town roughly 30 miles south of Boston, Marshfield’s median home price was $662,500 in 2022.
  • Brookline: Bordering Boston, Brookline is a blend of urban convenience and suburban charm. Its prime location and amenities have led to a median single-family home price exceeding $2 million in 2022.

14. Boston Marathon: A Legacy of Endurance and Giving

The Boston Marathon is not just a race; it’s an institution. Revered by runners and spectators alike, it stands as a testament to human endurance, determination, and the spirit of competition. With its rich history dating back to 1897, the Boston Marathon holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest annual marathon, making it a bucket-list event for many runners.

What sets the Boston Marathon apart from many other marathons is its stringent qualification process. It’s not merely about signing up; it’s about proving one’s mettle. Depending on age and gender, runners must achieve a specific time in another standard marathon to even be considered for Boston. This qualification process ensures that the event remains competitive and retains its elite status in the marathon community. For instance, a 45-year-old male runner must clock a marathon in 3 hours and 20 minutes or less to be eligible.

Beyond the competition and personal achievement, the Boston Marathon has a heart. The event intertwines athleticism with philanthropy, offering a unique opportunity for runners to participate on behalf of charitable organizations. Through the Boston Athletic Association’s official charity program, select non-profits receive invitational entries.

These organizations, in turn, offer these spots to runners who commit to fundraising for their respective causes. This charitable facet of the marathon amplifies its impact, making it not just a race for personal glory but also a race for the greater good. With around 6,000 runners each year championing various causes, the marathon becomes a platform for positive change.

15. Taxation: A Comprehensive Overview

Massachusetts adopts a predominantly flat approach to its taxation system, making it relatively straightforward for residents to understand and comply with.

Income Tax:

  • The state levies a 5 percent tax on both earned (like salaries and wages) and unearned (such as interest and dividends) income.
  • In a move to ensure a progressive tax system, Massachusetts voters, in November 2022, approved an additional 4 percent tax on annual incomes exceeding $1 million. This surcharge is over and above the standard 5 percent, effectively making the tax rate 9 percent for high earners.
  • Certain capital gains, which represent profits from the sale of certain assets, are taxed at a higher rate of 12 percent.
  • It’s essential for anyone with a Massachusetts gross income of $8,000 or more to file a state personal income tax return.

Income Tax

Sales and Specific Goods Tax:

  • The general state sales tax stands at 6.25 percent.
  • Specific goods like cigarettes are subject to additional taxes, with the cigarette tax being $3.51 per pack.
  • Gasoline purchases are taxed at $0.24 per gallon.

Local Taxes:

  • Municipalities in Massachusetts have the authority to impose taxes on specific services and goods, albeit within the constraints set by state law. This includes taxes on meals, hotel accommodations, and retail marijuana sales.
  • The legalization of recreational marijuana sales in November 2018 opened a new avenue for tax revenue. The first legal sale marked a significant milestone in the state’s taxation landscape.

Comparative Perspective: While some states in the U.S. do not impose any income tax, Massachusetts’ flat tax rate is comparatively lower than many others. For instance, California’s top tax rate is a whopping 13.3 percent, significantly higher than Massachusetts’ standard rate.

Pros:

  • Rich history
  • Top health care and nationally ranked hospitals
  • High-tech industries
  • Exceptional education system
  • Amazing food
  • Various entertainment options
  • Easy access to beaches
  • Great sports teams

Cons:

  • High cost of living
  • High housing prices
  • Cold winters
  • Moderate crime rate

FAQ

Is it worth moving to Massachusetts?

Massachusetts offers a blend of rich history, cultural diversity, top-tier educational institutions, and a strong economy. Its appeal lies in its mix of urban and rural settings, renowned healthcare facilities, and a plethora of recreational activities. However, the worth of moving here depends on individual preferences, career opportunities, and lifestyle choices.

What I wish I knew before moving to Boston?

Many newcomers express that they wish they had a better understanding of the city’s high cost of living, the complexities of its public transportation system, the significance of its sports culture, and the unpredictable weather patterns.

Why do people move away from Massachusetts?

Reasons vary, but common ones include seeking a lower cost of living, retiring to warmer climates, job opportunities in other states, or personal preferences and life changes.

Are millionaires leaving MA?

While some millionaires might leave due to tax changes or personal reasons, Massachusetts continues to have a significant population of high-net-worth individuals, thanks to its strong economy and educational institutions.

Why is MA so expensive to live in?

Several factors contribute to the high cost of living, including its thriving job market, quality educational institutions, historical significance, and geographical constraints that limit expansion and housing development.

What salary do you need to live in Massachusetts?

The required salary varies based on location within the state and individual lifestyle choices. On average, to live comfortably in Massachusetts, a salary between $60,000 to $80,000 might suffice for a single person. However, in more expensive areas like Boston, a higher income might be necessary.

Is it cheaper to live in NY or MA?

While both states can be expensive, the cost of living in New York, especially in New York City, is generally higher than in Massachusetts. However, specific costs can vary depending on the exact locations being compared within each state.

Final Words

In conclusion, Massachusetts is more than just a state; it’s a mosaic of experiences, opportunities, and stories waiting to be explored.

If you’re considering making it your home, you’re not just relocating; you’re becoming a part of a legacy that spans centuries. Embrace the journey, and let the Bay State welcome you with open arms.

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