Cost of Living in Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is a city in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, with a population of 679,413. The total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities for a single adult in Boston is $44,858 a year — greater than the annual cost of living for Massachusetts of $42,532 and greater than the national figure of $38,433.
Using cost of living data from the nonprofift think tank Economic Policy Institute, 24/7 Wall St. estimated the cost of living in Boston and over 29,000 other cities and towns in the US.
Housing Costs in Boston, Massachusetts
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Boston, the median home value is $487,300, greater than the national median home value of $204,900. The median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $508,800, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $724,900.
Renting is a sometimes lower cost alternative to homeownership. In Boston, some 64.80% of occupied homes are rented, greater than the 36.2% national renter rate. The typical renter in Boston spends $1,539 a month on housing, greater than the $1,023 national median monthly rent.
In addition to home value, one of the largest determinants of housing affordability is area income. While nationwide the price of a typical U.S. home is 3.4 times the $60,293 U.S. median household income, housing affordability ratios range from approximately 1.0 in the least expensive cities to more than 10.0 in the country's most expensive markets. In Boston, the median household income is $65,883, 7.4 times the median home value.
Transportation Costs in Boston, Massachusetts
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Boston, 44.70% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. An estimated 31.00% of workers commute to jobs outside of Boston, a smaller share than the 43.7% share of commuters nationwide who live and work in different cities. The average commute in Boston is 30.8 minutes long, compared to the 26.6-minute average commute nationwide. Taking into account the cost of gas, as well as public transit and car maintenance, the EPI estimates that a single person in Boston spends $6,540 a year on transportation, less than the national average of $9,760.
Health Care Costs in Boston, Massachusetts
Out-of-pocket health care costs and insurance premiums — assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage — are far lower than they are on average nationwide in Boston but in line with what they are across Massachusetts as a whole.
For a single adult living in the area, average health care costs come out to $3,152 per year, compared to an average of $3,339 across Massachusetts and $4,266 nationwide.
Child care Costs in Boston, Massachusetts
For families with children, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. In Boston, the average annual cost of child care for two children — one 4 year old and one 8 year old — is $27,565, about $3,200 more than the comparable average of $24,384 across all of Massachusetts. Meanwhile, across the U.S. as a whole, childcare expenses for two children averages $15,853 per year.
Food Costs in Boston, Massachusetts
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on overall cost of living. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from city to city and town to town.
In Boston, a single adult spends an average of $3,742 on food annually, and a family of four spends $10,807 on average. For context, average annual food expenditure across Massachusetts and the U.S., respectively, are $3,544 and $3,240 for a single adult, and $10,235 and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at-home preparation.
Taxes in Boston, Massachusetts
Few expenses vary as much from city to city and town to town as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll taxes, the average adult working in Boston, Massachusetts pays $8,191 annually — closely in line with the statewide average of $7,709.
It is important to note that these calculations do not include other common taxes such as property, sales, and excise taxes. Accounting for these taxes, while excluding taxes levied at the federal level, Boston residents live in a state with a high average tax burden. Per capita state tax collections in Massachusetts total $4,296 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
To estimate the cost of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, taxes, and other necessities, 24/7 Wall St. assigned county-level Economic Policy Institute data to cities, towns, villages and Census-designated places based on boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. For places that span multiple counties, data was aggregated based on the percentage of boundary overlap.
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