Sports, clam chowder, great education, beautiful scenery and beaches. It seems like there is hardly anything to dislike about Massachusetts. Therefore, if you are considering moving to Massachusetts, congrats! But before packing your suitcases and loading a moving truck you should probably get to know, this amazing state, a bit closer.
- Since over 250,000 college students live in Massachusetts, it’s wise to pre-plan your moving date. August and September has an impact on the rental and housing markets. The best apartments in Eastern Massachusetts come up for rent in July or August, often becoming available on September 1.
- Massachusetts gets hit with the frigid Arctic air of Nor’easter storms. Be sure to ask if heat and hot water are included and what average costs have been for the past few years.
- Parking can be pricey and finding spots on the street can be labor intensive, so it is best to consider parking before signing a lease or making a down payment.
- For renters, first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit (often the same amount as rent) will need to be paid up front.
Change your address online. To make your move from California to Massachusetts easier, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and will ensure that your mail arrives to your new home with you.
Cities and Metro Areas
There are a variety of types of places to live if you are moving to Massachusetts. People think of Boston but forget the Appalachian Mountains, the Berkshire Hills, and cozy spots like Northampton.
Waltham has an active nightlife and also features an eclectic dining scene, with over 260 bars and restaurants to choose from. Lexington is filled with history as it is here that the first shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired. If peace and serenity are important factors in your location evaluation criteria, you cannot do better than Leverett.
Other notable towns/cities include Cambridge, Winchester, Newton and Provincetown.
Cost of Living
All things considered, the cost of living in Massachusetts covers a wide range but is significantly higher than the national average. Property taxes in Western Massachusetts are slightly higher than the US average and the Eastern Massachusetts taxes are slightly below average. You will see slightly better prices, even for larger homes, the farther you get away from Boston, but your property taxes will be higher. Much like the rest of the country, the Massachusetts real estate market has been doing quite well for years and is now showing signs of cooling off.
Massachusetts’s median sales price as of Sept 2022 was $568,800. If we look back at Sept 2019’s median price of $421,000, we can see the increase in median price has gone up 35.1% in three years, which is an 11.7% annual growth rate. The rate of price increases for the last three years is a little over twice the normal historical price growth rate nationally.
Looking back at the median home price over the last three years, prices peaked in June 2022 at $612,400. It is clear that the recent steep rise in mortgage rates has curved sales activity and shrunk affordability resulting in a drop in home prices and sales.
Highways and Public Transport
There are some unique transportation options in Massachusetts. Rotaries are more common in Massachusetts than in other parts of the country. Essentially, a rotary is a counterclockwise traffic circle where several different roads intersect. Cars wait their turn by yielding to cars already in the rotary.
Planes, trains, buses and taxis are readily available in Boston and throughout most of Massachusetts:
- Logan Airport is used by all major airlines.
- Amtrak serves Massachusetts, including trips to New York City every few hours.
- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s “T” train and bus system has four main lines covering Boston. Travelling from one outer suburb of Boston to a different outer suburb can run into the “you can’t get there from here” problem—taking the T from one suburb to another often requires going all the way into Boston and then back out.
In Western Massachusetts, there are fewer opportunities to use public transportation, and having your own vehicle is often necessary.
When you’re first moving to Massachusetts, watch out for the drivers. The average travel time to work is 27.3 minutes and lots of commuters try to shave off a minute or two. In Western Massachusetts, once you leave the beaten path, you’ll find twists, turns, rolling hills and locals who know the roads by heart. They expect you to drive like a local, so be prepared for some impatient car horns if you need to slow down.
The Eastern Massachusetts climate is tempered by the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, but the weather can vary greatly. July is usually the warmest month, with temperatures into the 90s. January is the most frigid, with average temperatures below freezing. The summers are rainy and humid. Winters require warm coats, hats and gloves. Massachusetts has the traditional four seasons, though spring can feel shorter and muddier than the others. The fall foliage is a spectacular.
Snowstorms last longer in New England and the wind chill factor is no joke either. Thunderstorms are common in the summer as well. It’s best to be prepared for whatever might come down the pike. The April Fool’s Day Blizzard of 1997 created a state of emergency throughout Massachusetts and was Boston’s third-largest snowfall of all time at 25.4 inches.
Homeschooling is less common in Massachusetts than in most of the country because it is regulated more heavily. Many would say that a Massachusetts education is one of the primary reasons they are moving to Massachusetts.
Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to Massachusetts.
Before moving to Massachusetts, go to the Official Massachusetts State Government website to find reliable information about everything to do with working and living in the state.
- The Registry of Motor Vehicles provides online services. If you have a valid license from Canada or the US, converting your license merely requires paying a fee. Otherwise, getting a driver’s license requires the traditional written test and driving test.
- Massachusetts residents must insure and register cars and motorcycles. You need to prove you own the car by showing the title or an equivalent.
- You can register to vote at the City Clerk’s office or by requesting a Massachusetts voter registration form.
- The state is very eco-conscious and progressive. Communities have various plans to reduce, recycle and reuse. It is important to check with your specific community, but the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is a great starting place.
- Massachusetts has some of the strictest firearms laws in the country. All firearms require a license and there are multiple types of licenses. You must obtain the appropriate license within 60 days if you are bringing firearms to the state.