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Living in Boston

A comprehensive guide about living well in Boston

American pop culture enthusiasts might think they know all about life in Boston — the city makes many an appearance in TV programs. But living in Boston is not all about St. Patrick’s Day, the Stanley Cup, or the distinctive New England accent. Our article on this bustling city has all the key information for expats.

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Life in Boston

  • There are countless leisure activities in Boston and especially sports buff won’t get bored since Boston has teams in four of the country’s major sports leagues.
  • Boston has one of the most extensive public transportations systems in the country. No matter if you live in the center or in the metropolitan region, you will be well connected to the city center.
  • Boston is one of the larger medical research centers in the country. With over thirty medical institutions and specialized facilities, your health will be in good hands.
  • Education for your children will be no problem in Boston. The city is home to an excellent public school system as well as some prestigious universities like Harvard and MIT.

If you were to believe the image portrayed by countless TV shows, living in Boston is an experience entirely influenced by the “Old Country”, Ireland. While there may be a kernel of truth to this — the number of people with Irish heritage is quite high in Boston and many other parts of Massachusetts and New England — the city’s many facets can hardly fit into one single category. Just like most other big cities in the United States, the influences of a multitude of ethnicities and cultures coming together will make your stay in Boston a fascinating one.

Sports and Historic Walks: Activities in Boston

If you are a sports buff with particular interest in North American team sports, life in Boston will have your eyes gleaming with childlike joy. The city is home to highly successful teams in all four of the country’s major sports leagues. You needn’t worry, though, if you root for teams other than the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, or Red Sox; your favorite team will come to town and play the locals sooner or later. Furthermore, Boston has earned an excellent reputation among music lovers of almost any genre.

If you have a soft spot for history, you’ll be able to fill many afternoons and weekends exploring what living in Boston used to be like and which historical events took place in and around the city. Anyone up for a nice walk through the city should follow the Freedom Trail, a walking tour along a red brick path taking you to 16 important historical sites from the time of the American Revolution, including many in the city’s National Historical Park.

Academic Strength: Education in Boston

As we allude to throughout our various articles on the city, education is one of the biggest assets for expats interested in living in Boston. Boston and neighboring Cambridge are home to more than 250,000 students attending the area’s many universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education.

Boston’s academic strength does not only rely on higher education, though. Children living in Boston, expat kids included, have the luxury of attending the oldest and one of the most successful public school systems in the entire country. The standards of education are on par with other developed nations. If your children get high grades in school and pass their SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) with an above-average score, they should have a chance to be admitted to colleges or universities almost anywhere in the world.

If, however, you decide against enrolling your child in a public school, there are other options available. The city is home to various international schools of different backgrounds, including French and German, offering bilingual classes. Some also offer the more or less globally accepted International Baccalaureate diploma, which would specifically prepare your child for studying outside the USA.

Staying Safe in Boston

Boston is generally quite safe for a city of its size. Being confronted with crime in some way or fashion is naturally hard to avoid in big metropolitan areas, even if simply in the local news. But if you adhere to the usual safety measures for large cities, expat life in Boston should be pleasantly uneventful in this respect.

You might have heard stereotypes about Boston being a violent city, but as with most others, those are quite exaggerated, and if you stay clear of certain neighborhoods, or don’t wander around alone by night, you needn’t worry while living in Boston.

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Health Care and Transportation in Boston

Boston: Good Healthcare Is Not Far Away

Unfortunately for many citizens and expat residents in Boston, the USA has the distinction of being the only country of the so-called “first world” without a comprehensive national healthcare plan. There are only a few public healthcare options such as Medicare for pensioners and Medicaid for minimum wage earners. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 aims to make healthcare more affordable for the less fortunate.

The US is among the leading players in medical research, offering specialized staff and every imaginable modern treatment method. However, it all comes at a price, and hospital bills are known to virtually ruin some people if they have to pay everything out of their own pockets.

Boston is one of the larger centers of medical research, in large part thanks to the excellent universities in the city and its metropolitan area. There are over thirty medical institutions, hospitals, and specialized clinics located in Boston, many of which are affiliated with a university or college. There is virtually no ailment that could not be taken care of in one of the fine institutions in the city, most of which are among the best in all of New England. In Boston, 911 emergency calls are overseen by the Boston Emergency Medical Services.

The website of the Boston online directory shows a list of many of the city’s medical institutions.

Don’t Forget to Get a Health Insurance Plan

When negotiating your employment contract with the company you are going to sign with, make sure to inquire about company group insurance plans. Keep in mind, though, that practically no health insurance plans offer 100% coverage of expenses. Oftentimes, however, your family and dependents will be covered by your insurance as well.

There is, of course, also the possibility of investing in health insurance directly without the financial aid of your employer. Needless to say, this method is more expensive, and it’s unlikely you will find a plan offering a wider range of services or products.

The “T” and More: Public Transportation in Boston

For a city of its population and repute, you will find that Boston is quite compact. In fact, only six cities in the US have higher population densities. The benefit of such an urban geography is that Boston is great both for walking and cycling. In Boston, you’re unlikely to be absolutely reliant on your car for transportation.

Even if you are not much of a fan of walking or cycling, you can still avoid extensive use of automobiles. A network of more than 180 bus routes services every part of the city. The Boston subway, commonly known as the “T”, is the oldest subway in the entire country, operating on five lines.

On the website of the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority, the service provider for the Boston area, you can find information on all options and modes of public transportation in your new home. Everything from fares and routes to nearby services and terms of use is covered there. You can also find useful tools such as a trip planner.

Besides inner city transportation, Boston is also very well connected to its metropolitan region, with various suburban and intercity train lines servicing the rest of Massachusetts, New England, and the East Coast. If you prefer to escape the high rental prices of the city proper and move to the outskirts, it still won’t take you too long to go downtown or to your workplace.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: December 06, 2018
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