Boston cost of living index

In the event that the cost of living data was unavailable for this city, estimates based upon nearby cities were used. Each cost of living index is based on a national average of 100. If the amount is below 100, it is lower than the national average. If the amount is above 100, it is higher than the national average.
IndexBostonMassachusettsNational
Cost of living index144130100
IndexBostonMassachusettsNational
Goods & Services index127111100
Groceries index108113100
Health care index124111100
Housing index187165100
Transportation index116117100
Utilities index156126100
An overview of the general cost of living index for Boston, MA is displayed above for your reference. Residents in Boston, MA enjoy a cost of living index of 144. This index is 11% higher than the Massachusetts average, and 44% higher than the national average. The following categories are used when determining the cost of living index for any given city: health care (5%), transportation (9%), utilities (10%), groceries (13%), housing (30%), and goods/services (33%). Clearly, housing and goods/services make up the majority of the formula for calculating the cost of living index. Because of this, the general cost of living for any given area can be estimated by looking at the cost of everyday goods in that area. For those living in Boston, MA, the average cost of goods and services is 15% higher than it is in Massachusetts, and it is 27% higher than the national average.

Did you know?

  • The cost of living in Boston is 11% higher than the Massachusetts average.
  • The cost of living in Boston is 44% higher than the national average.
  • The cost of housing in Boston is 87% higher than the national average.
  • Massachusetts general sales tax is 23% higher than the national average.
  • Massachusetts state income tax is 132% higher than the national average.

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Salary Calculator

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Use the salary calculator to compare your current income in Boston, MA to any other city in the country. The calculator will tell you how much income you would need to make in a particular city to live at the same level based on the cost of living in each city. For example, if the cost of living in the city you are looking to move to is higher than that of Boston, MA, then you would need to earn a higher salary in order to enjoy the same standard of living. To use the Boston, MA salary calculator, enter the name of the new city, then move the slider to your current salary level. The salary calculator will do the rest and let you know if your salary would need to increase or decrease for the new city. You will also see a complete overview of the cost of living.

Median Income & Debt-To-Income Ratio

Median IncomePer YearPer MonthMax Budget (28% DTI)Max Budget (36% DTI)
Owners$96,125$8,010$2,243$2,884
Renters$36,667$3,056$856$1,100
The affordability of the housing market in Boston, MA as well as the overall cost of living can be indicated accurately by what percent of the monthly income is spent on housing related costs. This is konwn as the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The overall rule of thumb is that no more than 28% of your gross income should ever be used on the overall costs related to housing and no more than 36% of gross income on all expenses and debts. Among Boston, MA homeowners, the median income is $96,125. This indicates that a monthly maximum of $2,243 should be spent by homeowners on all housing related costs. Renters have a median income of $36,667. This indicates that renters should have a maximum of $856 used for their rent related monthly costs.

Massachusetts Sales Tax

StateGeneral Sales TaxWith Max Surtax
Massachusetts6.25%6.25%

Massachusetts Income Tax

StateIncome Tax (Low)Income Tax (High)
Massachusetts5.15%5.15%
One thing to keep in mind when considering the cost of living in Boston, MA is the Massachusetts sales tax and Massachusetts income tax rates. Sales taxes are taxes that are collected on most goods or services sold. Sales taxes can vary by state and can be as high as 7% and as low as 0% as not every state imposes a sales tax. The Massachusetts sales tax rate is 6.25% and the maximum surtax that can be charged is 6.25%. Income tax is the tax imposed on income by both the federal and state government. The income tax rates varies by individual state and will also be higher or lower depending on the applicable tax bracket. The rates of state income tax can vary from 0% to more than 9%. The Massachusetts income tax rates range from 5.15% to 5.15%.

Goods & Services

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
Haircut $19.67$14.5934.8%
Beauty Salon $54.00$34.6855.7%
Toothpaste $2.54$2.472.7%
Shampoo $1.00$1.022.2%
Movie $11.69$9.8718.5%
Bowling $5.75$4.3930.9%

Groceries

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
Ground Beef $4.49$4.480.3%
Fried Chicken $1.67$1.4614.1%
Milk $2.29$2.362.8%
Potatoes $3.29$3.067.5%
Pizza $10.00$9.248.2%
Beer $8.99$8.634.1%

Health Care

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
Optometrist $113.50$99.7813.8%
Doctor $151.00$105.0343.8%
Dentist $115.00$88.7029.6%
Ibuprofen $9.74$9.413.5%
Lipitor $310.83$298.504.1%

Housing

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
Home Price $374,700.00$181,400.00106.6%
Avg. Mortgage Payment $1,761.00$1,081.0362.9%
Apartment Rent $1,265.00$889.0042.3%

Transportation

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
Gasoline $2.35$2.0912.3%
Tire Balancing $57.29$45.2926.5%

Utilities

ItemBostonNational avg.Difference
All Electricity$292.18$170.8071.1%
Phone $38.25$28.2635.4%
Although the cost of living data is updated regularly, this cost of living information is to be used as estimates only as prices can change on an ongoing basis.

Nearby cities with low cost of living

City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
Lynn, MA90,39212828%
Chelsea, MA35,52713131%
Holbrook, MA10,78913232%
Randolph, MA32,38313333%
Salem, MA41,64113535%
Boston, MA619,66214444%

Cities with similar population

City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
Baltimore, MD620,64496-4%
Seattle, WA612,91614242%
Nashville, TN605,85997-3%
Washington, DC605,75913636%
Denver, CO604,3561077%
Boston, MA619,66214444%
Source: The Boston, MA cost of living data displayed above is derived from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) for the fourth quarter of 2015.