OT - Potential move to Boston-area

Submitted by Roughneck on May 27th, 2018 at 4:32 PM

I attended a work conference this week in Chicago.  While there, I spent time with a fellow safety representative from Boston.  This is the second time that I have met him face-to-face (great guy, get along very well) in addition to collaborating on a national children's hospital employee safety initiative.  Since my return home, he has unexpectedly reached out to me about a job offer at Boston Children's.

While certainly a great opportunity to work at the top ranked Children's Hospital, this is a BIG move for the family and I'm concerned about the shear unknown of moving to New England.  Cost of living is a big factor as I make a good living now in Little Rock, AR.  

Questions include:  where to move/live?  Best area for a young family?  Schools for the kids?  Will I even like it there?  Anyways, I'm starting to ramble as my thoughts are swirling.  Could some MGoBloggers please weigh in with insights?  Thanks!



May 27th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

Hi there. As you may be able to tell, I live in Boston. I actually moved back here from Chicago about 6 months ago. It's home for me, and I'm happy to discuss anything you'd like. 

Cost of living is...high. Especially coming from Little Rock. But you can do a lot with negotiation power. The schools in Brookline are top-notch. Cambridge is great. There are other locations that are awesome as well. 

I have a lot of thoughts on this, and can definitely help more. Let me know what you need.


May 27th, 2018 at 5:34 PM ^

Definitely consider trying to add some cash onto his offer. Also, feel free to come back to this post and let me know what questions you have. 

The post below mine contrasts Chicago with Boston - and I have actually found the opposite to be true. I lived in Chicago, spent a year and a half there, and got almost no traction. In Boston, I have some great friends I've made pretty organically. 

I'm originally from Cincinnati, so it's not like my ties here are really deep. 



May 27th, 2018 at 4:51 PM ^

This is just one guy’s opinion, but I’d be sure the non-job aspects of the move make sense.

I lived in Boston for one year in my 20’s and found it challenging to make friends there. Unlike many other big cities around the country, it felt as though a very large percentage of people in Boston had strong ties to the area (grew up or went to college). As a result, they had well developed groups of friends with long histories together.

I compare that to Chicago where I moved a little later in life. It felt much more like a Midwest melting pot with people coming from 6-7 different states and therefore more open to newer friendships.

Cost of living is definitely going to be higher than Little Rock. I’d check a number of different COL calculators to see what they say. If you’re making this big of a move, you don’t just want to be “even” in your living standard. I’d think you’d want to be able to make some upgrades.

All that being said, Boston is definitely a cool city. Lots of history, great day trips in many directions, rabid sports town. Assuming you’re a college football fan, the northeast is not all that concerned about the sport.

M Go Cue

May 27th, 2018 at 4:54 PM ^

Boston, and New England in general, has great schools but is definitely not cheap. I moved to NE from Atlanta and it is a lot different culturally as well. Not better or worse, just different. Congrats on the opportunity.


May 27th, 2018 at 5:07 PM ^

If you have kids and you want to send them to one of the top school districts in Metropolitan Boston then expect houses to start around $1M. This excludes Brookline, which will cost more, but includes Belmont, Lexington, Wellesley, Concord, Newton etc. Homes are expensive and it is a competitive market. Moreover, some of these homes are not move-in-ready and haven't been updated for decades. Also, don't forget that MA has an annual excise tax on cars. That was a surprise to me. PM me for more info. 

PS. Day care is not cheap in Boston so if you have young kids then that might be an issue. 


May 27th, 2018 at 8:15 PM ^

I lived there in the 70's and loved it. From Concord to Cambridge was great and very historical. Great transit system from Cambridge to anywhere ( driving was bad then, probably so much worse). Roads are not meant for 20th century so driving sucks, look for alternative transportation.

Cape Cod, Nantucket, Boston Harbor are so much worth it. Then you have All of New England to explore which is amazing. I've lived in some pricey places Chicago, Boston, LA... You adjust after a year and it's always worth it. Good luck.

PS meant for the OP


May 28th, 2018 at 11:07 AM ^

I wouldn't say metro Boston houses start at $1M.  If you want new construction in a great school district, near a train line, and all that, sure.  But you can get a house for under a million a lot of places, and depending on how handy/willing you are to do some legwork, you can get a nice place for well under that.

As someone who lives in Brookline, yes it's expensive.  But the houses are also pretty big considering their location and amenities.  And perhaps anecdotally, but I think the housing market is softening a tiny bit in the area; we moved last year to Boston and things were selling incredibly quickly and well above ask, but looking at Redfin and real estate postings around us this year, it seems like things are staying on the market a bit longer and you aren't seeing people go massively over ask like they did in years past.  Maybe they're all moving to Arlington/Lexingon, but we might be getting to the saturation point for people willing to spend a huge amount of money on fixer-uppers.

Eastside Maize

May 27th, 2018 at 5:12 PM ^

but, as stated earlier, Beantown has a high cost of living. I go there once a year to visit my cousin in Dorchester and a friend in Roxbury. It’s a great town and very diverse, I go in August for its Caribbean festival.


May 27th, 2018 at 9:11 PM ^

I'm assuming they are going to price him up to live in Boston. In such a case, living in a top 10 American city and enjoying the cultural benefits associated with such a move is a huge benefit. I know the city isn't for everyone, but I don't think it's a fair assumption to make that, because you don't see the value in living in the city, he wouldn't want to also. This doesn't even take into account what seems to be a major professional step up for him.


May 27th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

I've been in Boston for almost 30 years, moving here after graduation.  Quality of life is tremendous, beaches in the summer, mountains in winter and vibrant city.  Celts, B's, Sox and Pats.  One thing it lacks is a major college sports focus, other than hockey.

The cost of living on the housing front is going to be a major sticker shock.  I live in the 495 area, highway that wraps the Boston metro area and prices are high and moving quick.  Just saw a small ranch go for $435 in my town, would be lucky to fetch $100 where I grew up in Tri City area.  Schools are very good in the burbs, don't have to be in Concord, Brookline, Newton etc... to get a quality education. Excise tax on cars isn't that bad after year 3.   

If working in Boston, commuter trains offer a pretty high quality (for the most part) way to get into the city v driving.  Traffic is a friggen nightmare and cost of parking in the city is outrageous.  

Boston is tremendous.  Back Bay, Fenway area, Charlestown, South Boston waterfront and Fanueil Hall / North End are great places to visit.  

UM Griff

May 27th, 2018 at 5:33 PM ^

Good sports town, loads of culture, lots to do. Out of the seven major metropolitan areas where I have lived, the drivers around Boston are the craziest.


May 27th, 2018 at 5:39 PM ^

Like most major metropolatin areas, the cost of living is high. Boston usually ranks in the top 5. so I hope you will get a reasonable raise to make that adjustment. There are numerous suburbs with public school systems in that place in the top 50 nationally. Generally, very liberal politically. New Englanders are more self absorbed and likely less friendly than other parts of the country (generalization on my part). Boston children's is an excellent institution. They have a wonderful culture. Good luck if you make the move.


May 27th, 2018 at 6:07 PM ^

first, congrats on the great opurtunity.

I also work in the Longwood medical area where Boston children's is located. 

I think where you want to move will be based on;

1) do you want to commute or walk/drive etc.

2) Children's school.

3) Importance of City life.

4) Housing expenses.

Brookline, a great but expensive neighborhood, is right next to the medical area. Schools are top notch but like anywhere in the US, great schools usually means expensive housing. If you don't mind taking the commuter train (Yawkey station right next to Fenway park and Ruggles station, both served by Children's shuttle service) areas such as Newton, Needham, Natick and Wellesley along route 9 are great places with great schools. Commuting takes about 15-40 minutes one way depending which neighborhood you want to live in.

Similar to Brookline, the ranking of the schools determine housing costs. Also Westwood (where I live now, 50 minutes from my apt to office door), Dover, Milton, Braintree and Canton are neighborhoods on the periphery of Boston hugging I-95 which are great places with more yard space for your money than the neighboorhoods mentioned previously. These places are also served by commuter rails.

If you have very young children and want to live in the city before moving out to the suburbs I would recommend Fenway, Jamaica Plains, Mission Hill, Southend (East of Mass Ave and North of Harrison Ave).

If you have tons of money, Weston, Cambridge, Back Bay, Northend, South Boston and Beacon Hill is nice I hear.

Unless you work in Cambridge I wouldn't live north of the river since commuting will be difficult. But if you must send your children to the best public schools in MA, Lexington would be the place. But I hear that teachers there just check homework and not teach much since all of the kids there get private tutoring. 

Most of the city area are diverse in terms of the population but as you move towards I-95 it gets a less diverse.

Allston and Brighton tends to cater towards college kids and I may just be misinformed but was told south of jamaica plains and south end is not preferable.

I think if you check out redfin.com and niche.com you will have a good idea.


May 27th, 2018 at 7:31 PM ^

I would agree with other commenters that people here are cold/indifferent. Friends and family from other parts of the country (especially the South/Midwest) find people here very unfriendly/cold. People here don't act friendly to strangers by default which can be a huge shock.  

The place is also quite liberal and churches are not nearly as influential culturally as other parts of the country if that matters to you. 


the bee train

May 29th, 2018 at 9:23 AM ^

Milton offers the best bang for your buck and is also closer to work. The same home in Milton will easily be 100K+ more in Westwood. Westwood's schools are the gold standard, however Milton is still #19 in the #1 state in the country, nothing to sneeze at! the only real downside to Milton is that public transportation is sketchy at best so you'd be driving, however it's a straight shot and depending on which part of town you're in you could avoid 93 altogether. 


May 27th, 2018 at 6:21 PM ^

and seriously considered making it permanent. The best thing is how walkable it is. I was a student at the time and lived without a car-- with a family that's obviously different but it gives you some idea of how easy it is to get around on the "T".  Great sports town, great cultural town, unrivalled world center of the academic universe with only Oxbridge in the same discussion (and probably not even),  and I used to volunteer at Boston Children's and can tell you the staff are amazing people.

But that is a big, big cultural change from Little Rock. I moved there from Texas, and while I think you'll find it incredibly exciting, be prepared to feel like a fish out of water for a bit.

Go to Fenway Park even if you don't like baseball. 

The worst thing about living there is that seemingly none of the roads are parallel, rather they're laid out like spaghetti and the drivers are straight out of Mad Max.

EDIT: and be prepared to deal with guys exactly like this. Every day.


Go Ugly Early

May 27th, 2018 at 6:31 PM ^

Have lived in Boston many years for work. Salaries are very high here, but for my family our quality of life has certainly gone way down vs greater Chicago and Ann Arbor.

The good: good public schools, lots to do in general area (if traffic allows you to get there... mountains, ocean, lakes, museums and historical sites in the city), great job prospects and salaries

The bad: the people/culture (will explain below), high cost of living, pathetic housing stock (your $1M home would be a tear-down in somewhere like Birmingham, MI), high population density, awful traffic and general transit infrastructure even with subways (my 5.5 mile commute takes an average of 1 hour each way and train would be the same), the weather is bad (similar to Michigan, but a bad storm has a 20x worse impact due to population density and poor infrastructure), everything closes early (be prepared to take time off work if you ever have dry cleaning that needs to be picked up)

While people in Boston aren’t “fake”, it might be the least friendly city in the country. Much worse than NY in my opinion (and I don’t even like NYC). So many examples of outright rude behavior that was shocking for me coming from the midwest. The rude behavior includes customer service. I’ve been in counter service restaurants on multiple occasions where I was never greeted or spoken to by staff between ordering and paying. Probably normal for some fast paced east coasters but shocked me coming from the midwest.

In general, you can have a good life here if you spend enough and prefer high-density/city lifestyle. However, I will say that the city is bursting at the seams due a good economy and needs to make some serious infrastructure improvements to maintain a thriving city. Corrupt city officials and not in my backyard types fight against sorely needed high rise developments tooth and nail. Already a huge amount of income inequality, and I can’t imagine what will happen when lower income workers have to choose between relocation and a 2 hour commute.


May 27th, 2018 at 8:22 PM ^

This is like using a turn signal in Boston traffic, the people can be brutal both male and female. Having lived in Birmingham and moved out there I wanted to chase anyone flipping me off while driving in Boston until I realized everyone flipped you off. That would be a full time endevour. Still enjoyed my time there immensely.

North Campus

May 27th, 2018 at 6:33 PM ^

The good, the bad, and the ugly...

The good things are the rich history, the proximity to the ocean, mountains, and a bunch of amazing places in New England. It is fun to see different perspectives. New England is great if you have money.

The bad things are the cost of living, you will be traveling in stop and go traffic looking into the sun every morning and evening because an affordable/safe family housing will be outside 128/I-95 to the city. Your choices are windy roads or toll roads.

The ugly items are the behavior. Where people in Little Rock, AR may say "Hi" to strangers, Massholes are different. If you did not go to Elementry school with them, then application for friendship is rejected. Your children will grow old, and there will be a plenty of $50K per year tuition colleges to choose from. The instate tuition of University of Arkansas will be missed.

I lived three years in Waltham as my street cred.


May 27th, 2018 at 7:14 PM ^

agreement you sign.   i don't have any insight into boston, but i seem to remember hearing that the childrens' hospital might be one that makes employees sign a 'non compete' contract.  find that out beforehand as they can be financially devastating and/or hold you hostage in a bad job.   not commenting on massachusetts law, but in michigan they are allowed.  they can prevent someone from working in any related employement or geographic area for years.  

so here's why they are bad:  your buddy gets promoted/moves on, and the next boss isnt so nice.  you end up getting in the dog house and either get fired or hate your gig.  you're out on the street, wanting a new job, but prevented from utilizing all that knowledge of contacts and your industry.  your choice is to sit out for X months/years unpaid or move away.  with family that gets way more complicted.  either that or you get some new job that isn't in your industry and there goes your great salary. 

my advice to my michigan clients is that you tell them you are happy to sign that non-compete clause, just as long as they are obligated to pay you your full salary for the concurrent time period.

good luck and hopefully you make a very wise and fruitful decision for you and your family.