Living in Boston vs. New York: Why One Might Be More Fitting for You

Are you looking to move to a new city for work? If so, you might be trying to decide between two major cities in the northeastern U.S.: Boston and New York City.

To make the right decision, it’s important to have some more insights into how they’re different when it comes to certain key factors. Here are a few of the main differences between living in Boston vs New York City that might come to mind (and some that might not!):

Cost of living

According to NerdWallet, the cost of living in Manhattan is 55 percent higher than in Boston:

  • Housing costs are 130 percent higher
  • transportation costs are 19 percent higher, and
  • food costs are 28 percent higherIf you move to Brooklyn instead, it gets slightly more reasonable: the cost of living is 18 percent higher overall, with housing costing 51 percent more, transportation costing 14 percent more, and food costs being around 25 percent higher.

Clearly, if you’re looking for a city that will leave you with more expendable cash and living costs that don’t consistently make your jaw drop, Boston is the better choice. But if you want to experience life in a major global hub like NYC, some would say the higher cost of living is a small price to pay.

Career opportunities reports that Boston is the sixth best city for launching a career in the U.S.

However, if you’re no longer entry-level, you might prefer New York City, which ranks No. 1 due to its pay potential and opportunities for career advancementamongst other things.

It’s also important to take into account that New York City is an established global business and commerce hub, with opportunities in sectors such as finance, world trade, fashion, media and high technology. Boston, on the other hand, has many opportunities in the life sciences and financial services sectors, as well as in academics.

But keep in mind that recently, with the rapid growth of the Seaport District and the explosion of new startups and tech companies migrating to Greater Boston (including Amazon), Boston is becoming the next Silicon Valley which makes career prospects here better than it ever has been.

Population density

Home to more than 8.6 million people living on 302.6 square miles, New York City is both large and densely populated. Boston is both smaller and less densely populated, with around 685,000 people living on 48 square miles.


Even though both cities have a rich history and enjoy many international influences, their cultures are quite different. Despite its size and its business hub, Boston still feels like a small student town — yet one that also values creativity and innovation. While on the other hand, as a global hub that attracts more than 62.8 million tourists and countless business travelers each year, New York City does its nickname of “The City That Never Sleeps” proud. Between business, commerce, art, festivals, events and just plain daily life, NYC is a bustling hub of activity, 24/7, while Boston’s nightlight starts to wind down by 2a.m. (unless you’re at a house party!).


Boston is home to several museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, famous for the theft of 13 works of art by masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. Today, the paintings’ frames remain in their original places, awaiting the return of the stolen artwork. In addition, Boston has a small but thriving theater district where you can attend plays, concerts and opera year-round. The city also hosts several outdoor events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Boston Pops’ performances on the Esplanade on the Fourth of July.

New York also has world-renowned museums, such as MoMA, the Met and the Guggenheim; plus, it’s home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, The Juilliard School and of course Broadway, with its many plays and musicals. In addition, the city hosts a wide range of festivals and events, including the Saratoga Jazz Festival, Harlem Week and Tribeca Film Festival.

You get plenty of culture in both cities, but just as in other areas, New York simply has more options due to its size and also its stance as an iconic destination for fashion, beauty, broadway and entertainment.

Social life

In Boston, you’ll find many opportunities to go out and be social, from cafés and restaurants to Irish bars and cocktail lounges. And don’t forget about sports — Bostonians are passionate about the Celtics, the Red Sox and the New England Patriots.

The Big Apple also boasts tons of social opportunities and caters to every taste, with everything from ethnic eateries, Michelin-starred restaurants, sports — think of the Yankees, the Mets, the Knicks and the Jets — and of course hundreds of bars and nightclubs. Due to its sheer size and denser population, NYC offers a much wider variety of “things to do” and also more options for each of those things – from karaoke bars, nightclubs, beer gardens, themed-restaurants and shopping.


With these pointers in mind, you can make a more balanced and informed decision about which city is best for you. The bottom line is that both have a ton to offer working professionals; Boston is a bit smaller, but full of charm, more affordable, and in the middle of massive economic growth that would benefit you as a young professional. Meanwhile New York City is a giant mecca of everything you could imagine, a place to enjoy iconic culture and sights to see, but definitely more expensive and possibly overwhelming to those who are used to a calmer pace.

To learn more about working in Boston, browse this site for more information about working, living, eating, and socializing in Boston.

And if you’re actively job searching, definitely make sure to check out – we have the inside scoop on what it’s really like to work at thousands of companies.