Thinking about living in Massachusetts? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in the The Bay State for the past 10 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Massachusetts.
Home to a population of nearly 7 million residents, Massachusetts is known for top notch education, healthcare, pristine natural beauty and some of the richest history in the country. There’s so much to love (and not love) about calling this pretty place home.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, let’s cover everything you need to know about moving to Massachusetts based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Largest Cities in Massachusetts
- Population: 654,776
- Average salary: $76,500
- Median home price: $800,000
- Population: 205,918
- Average salary: $60,500
- Median home price: $375,500
- Population: 154,789
- Average salary: $62,500
- Median home price: $256,216
Pros & Cons of Living in Massachusetts
Pros of Moving to Massachusetts
#1. Top notch public education
It’s no secret that Massachusetts has some of the best schools in the country. But we’re not just talking about Harvard (founded in 1636, it’s oldest university in the country) and MIT. No, we’re talking about top-tier public education that holds its own on an international level.
With a high school drop-out rate sitting at a mere 3.8%, is it any wonder that Massachusetts has the highest number of degree holders in the country? Phrased another way — prepare to be surrounded by impressive thinkers while living in Massachusetts.
Local’s Tip: One thing that folks don’t talk abut enough (in my opinion) is the downside of moving to Boston for the prestigious schools. Something folks may not realize is how far advanced the public schools are, so much so that kids often get held back a grade and/or need tutors hired or else they may fail to catch up.
I had a friend that moved to Boston with her third grader only to realize the material being covered in class was 2-3 grades above their comprehension. Her kid struggled terribly for a while even with the assistance of a tutor and she said their self-esteem took a hit. All told, she says she would have hired a tutor well before moving to Boston to make sure her kids were ready for the schools.
Did you know? Massachusetts is the most college educated state in the country.
#2. Rich history
While the west coast of America can lay claim to striking natural beauty (the Pacific Northwest!), the east coast takes the cake in terms of history, and almost no state shines brighter than our very own.
The Boston Tea Party, Plymouth Rock (less impressive in person, if I’m being honest), the infamous Salem Witch Trail and the Freedom Trail. All of these monumental historic events took place in our backyard.
Indeed, one of the biggest perks of living in Massachusetts is having the ability to discover national monuments and historic sites on a weekly basis. But don’t just take my word for it, with an impressive 191 landmarks, Massachusetts has the second-most national landmarks in the country (second only to New York City).
So what does this mean for the average person living in Massachusetts? Brush up on your history! I had a pretty decent understanding of American history prior to moving to Massachusetts, but in the 10 years I’ve lived here I have learned a mind-boggling amount.
At this point I enjoy spending weekends discovering historic gems with friends before parking down at a local brewery to discuss politics and history (which is something I never did before moving to Massachusetts).
#3. Quality healthcare
I have a handful of coworkers that ended up moving to Massachusetts specifically for the top-notch healthcare after receiving a serious medical diagnosis.
But it’s not hard to see why, Massachusetts often ranks as having the best healthcare in the country. The expertise spans the gamut — from the renowned cardiologists and brain surgeons to everyday wellness checks. What’s more, more than 96% of the population is insured, which is the highest rate in the nation.
#4. Great job market
I ended up moving to Massachusetts for a job opportunity that was too good to pass up. Little did I know that most of my coworkers did the same, turns out Massachusetts has the 3rd best job market in the US. Year after year, our state makes headlines for great job opportunities and a strong economy.
If you’re moving to Massachusetts with the hopes of starting a fresh lease on life, you’ll find jobs are plentiful but the competition is steep for jobs. You’ll be applying for gigs alongside Ivy League grads (recall that we have the most college-educated population in the US), so you’ll really need to be on top of your game.
#5. Overall high quality of life
According to a recent study, Massachusetts is one of the least stressed states in the nation. Is it any surprise that a state that values education, healthcare and boasts an impressive job market would have a high quality of life? I don’t think so.
#6. Massachusetts is a green state
One of my favorite things about living in Massachusetts is how seriously locals adhere to environmental policies that strive to reduce carbon emissions. And much like everything else mentioned on this list, Massachusetts doesn’t do anything halfway — according to a recent study we’re considered the 3rd greenest state in the country.
The study considered overall air quality, green initiatives and policies, recycling habits and alternative energy sources. Turns out our effort to curb the devastating impact of climate change are reaping massive rewards for locals.
Statistics aside, it’s easy to take pride in living in a state where locals value (and enjoy) the environment. I love that recycling is second nature and that a healthy outdoor lifestyle is easy to develop while living in Massachusetts.
Speaking of outdoor recreation…
#7. Outdoor recreation
If you consider yourself a nature nut then you will be spoiled for choice while living in Massachusetts. You’ll have access to both the mountains and the sea and will be able to enjoy both during all four seasons to boot.
One of the most breathtaking (and most visited) parts of our state in Cape Cod. The dusty blue and green hues of this coastal town are downright irresistible, but the charming town doesn’t hurt either.
For the natural lovers amongst us, you’ll get your fill of hiking, boating, fishing, skiing and wildlife. The snow sports are especially interesting and it’s not uncommon for the mountains to swell during the winter (we have the steep price hikes to prove it).
Regardless, having access to the great outdoors year round is one of the biggest perks of living in Massachusetts.
#8. Clean air quality
An often disclosed advantage to living in Massachusetts is the clean air quality. My allergies have greatly subsided since moving to Massachusetts and I couldn’t understand why until striking up a random conversation with a coworker.
He clued me in on an interesting article he read that ranked US states by air quality and found that Massachusetts has some of the cleanest air quality in the country (second only to Hawaii). The study took into account urban air quality indexes and drinking water quality.
It feels good to know that I live in a state that values my health enough to stay on top of limiting pollution and ensuring clean drinking water to residents. It may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a handful of US states that rank very low in terms of both air quality and drinking water (which is inexcusable for the wealthiest country in the world in my book).
#9. Long life expectancy
Daily life in Massachusetts keeps getting better and better it seems. Turns out our state ranks 5th in terms of states with the longest life expectancy. We rival the likes of dreamy Hawaii, innovative California and New York, Minnesota and Connecticut — all great neighbors to have.
I’m guessing the epic outdoor recreation and great air quality are largely to thank for this perk of living in Massachusetts.
Cons of Living in Massachusetts
#1. The housing market is off the charts
Here’s something that won’t shock anyone currently living in Massachusetts — we have some of the highest home prices in the country. The average price of a home statewide clocks in at a hefty $612,000, which is the 5th highest price tag in the nation. Not cool.
So if you’re moving to Massachusetts with the hopes of owning a home, do the math twice. Housing won’t come cheap (especially if you’re interested in Boston, Harvard or Cambridge).
#2. The cost of living in Massachusetts is high
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a glaring con to living in Massachusetts and that’s the sky-high cost of living. As you know, rural Massachusetts is more affordable than the cities, but the average cost of living in Massachusetts is well above the national average.
In fact according a recent study, Massachusetts is has the 3rd highest cost of living in the nation (after Washington DC and Hawaii).
You can expect everything from everyday errands (groceries and gas) to haircuts and eating out to cost more while living in Massachusetts.
#3. Reserved locals
Massachusetts is neatly tucked into the fold of New England, a region known for breathtaking fall color, stunning mountains, calming sea shores and reserved locals.
I want to be clear — locals are friendly but reserved. Don’t expect folks to randomly strike up conversations are grocery stores because those living in Massachusetts aren’t keen on small talk. You won’t mistake us for the hospitality of the south or the cold shoulder Washington, but don’t expect to make friends easily.
It takes a while for locals to warm up to newcomers. Many families that live in Massachusetts have been doing so for generations and it takes time to build trust.
One of the biggest things folks should understand before moving to Massachusetts is that people like being with the thoughts, so oftentimes solitude is preferred to small talk. At least that’s been the case in my experience, but I understand that not everyone may feel the same way.
#4. Brutal winters
Continuing with the New England theme, let’s talk winter because it should be taken into consideration before moving to Massachusetts. We’re not just taking freezing temperatures, we’re talking snow — and lots of it.
On average, the state of Massachusetts gets 50 inches of snow per year. Not all parts of the state get hit the same. Fitchburg is the snowiest town, with average snowfall clocking in at 82 inches (imagine!). By contrast, Avalon only sees snowfall of 33.5 inches per year.
All this to say, do your research before moving to Massachusetts because snow will become a part of your daily life. But don’t just take my word for it, according to Thrillist, we have some of the most miserable winters in the US.
My advice? Learn to love snow sports while living in Massachusetts, it will make the time go by faster. If you don’t find a winter activity to love then you’ll be cooped up most of the season, which may drive you mad after a few weeks.
#5. Terrible road infrastructure
In addition to brutal winters (and perhaps because of them?) you can expect failing infrastructure to become a part of daily life after moving to Massachusetts. The intense snow conditions (and subsequent use of road salt) are part of the problem, as is overall poor maintenance.
And no, this isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. More than 15% of our roads are in poor condition, which is the 6th highest percentage in the country.
It’s estimated that nearly 1,200 miles of road are in need of repair by federal government standards. As such, drivers spend an average of $620 per year keeping cars in shape due to the poor road condition and infamous potholes.
#6. The traffic is a bear
A miserable consequence of poor road infrastructure is traffic, and Massachusetts has plenty of it. In fact, we’re the 6th worst state for traffic. Around 68% of our interstates are congested during peak rush hour, which is well above the national average of 47% and Massachusetts residents travel more interstate miles than the average American.
All this to say — but a quality fuel efficient car while living in Massachusetts because you’ll be spending a lot of time inside.
Interesting Fact: On average, drivers spend upwards of 60 hours a year sitting in traffic. That really sucks.
Retiring in Massachusetts FAQs
Is Massachusetts a good place to live?
Yes, Massachusetts a good place to live for those looking to improve their quality of life. Between the top-notch healthcare, quality public education, impressive job market and great outdoor recreation it’s no wonder why the quality of life in Massachusetts is so high.
But be forewarned, living in Massachusetts won’t come cheap. The cost of living in Massachusetts is well above the national average. However, if you can swing the expense, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable state to call home long-term.
Is Massachusetts a good place to retire?
Massachusetts is considered a tax-friendly state because Social Security income is tax exempt. However, all other forms of retirement income (401K, Roth, etc.) will be taxed at the 5% state income tax rate. Capital gains are taxed at 12%.
Apart from taxation, it’s important to consider the brutal winters and high cost of living before moving to Massachusetts for retirement. What’s more, it may be challenging to make friends while living in Massachusetts.
Is weed legal in Massachusetts?
Yes, weed is legal for those living in Massachusetts, but you must be 21+ to use it recreationally. Not only is weed legal, but it’s well used — Massachusetts has some of the highest recreational marijuana use in the country.
Pros & Cons of Living in Massachusetts (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in Massachusetts.
- Top notch public education
- Rich history
- Quality healthcare
- Great job market
- High quality of life
- Massachusetts is a green state
- Clean air quality
- Long life expectancy
- Retiring in Massachusetts? You’re in good hands
- The housing market is off the charts
- Very high cost of living
- Reserved locals
- Brutal winters
- Failing infrastructure
- The traffic is a bear
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