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Location Guide: Boston aka “Beantown”

Living in Boston appeals to nurses wanting to work in a vibrant, diverse, and historically significant coastal city steeped in culture and filled with plenty of things to do and see. Beantown, as it’s affectionately known, offers an eclectic culinary scene, world-class shopping, professional sporting events, artistic endeavors, and a tenacious spirit. It’s the capital of Massachusetts and one of the oldest cities in America with one of the richest histories, from the Old North Church of Paul Revere fame to Griffin’s Wharf, site of the infamous Boston Tea Party. Boston ranked #18 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-2021 list of the 150 best places to live, largely due to a healthy job market, desirability, and quality of life. It also ranked #9 on the top 25 safest places to live in America based on murder and property crime rates. If you’re moving to Boston, check out some of these interesting details.

Top Locations to Live in Boston

Boston proper has nearly 700,000 residents, but Greater Boston is home to more than 4.8 million people. Buying a home in the Boston metro area isn’t cheap with some of the highest median single-family home prices on the East Coast. Rents are also high, but housing costs aren’t quite as pricey as San Francisco or New York. According to February 2021 data from Zumper, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $2,050 and studio apartments were $1,700. Of course, these costs will vary based on your nursing housing stipend and the neighborhood you choose. South Boston tends to have the highest average rent. There are 24 distinct neighborhoods showcasing its history and contemporary landscape, including:

Bay Village: Considered the smallest official Boston neighborhood, Bay Village has an inviting, friendly atmosphere with appealing tree-lined streets, brick sidewalks, historic facades, pocket parks, and gas streetlamps. This centrally located, primarily residential neighborhood, boasts tons of nearby shops, restaurants, Chinatown, parks, the Theater District, and lots of places to just hang out. Bay Village homes tend to resemble smaller versions of Beacon Hill’s townhouses, so plenty of Greek Revival and Federal rowhouses. The quaint neighborhood’s small size and huge demand typically result in low housing inventory and high price tags, but the tranquil atmosphere that insulates you from Boston’s hustle and bustle could be well worth the cost.

Brighton: Nurses looking for a dynamic, yet peaceful neighborhood are lured by the welcoming vibe of Brighton. Praised for its lively bar scene and city-life amenities without the headaches of busier Boston communities. Brighton offers a diverse range of shopping, ethnic grocery stores, lots of restaurants, Boston College, fun outdoor activities, and cozy neighborhood pubs. Although it’s considered a college neighborhood, it also appeals to young professionals and families with a residential area boasting varied options, including single-family homes, condos, stately brick apartment buildings, and ubiquitous wooden triple-deckers along the shores of the Charles River.

Downtown: Nurses looking to live in the heart of Boston where there’s always something going on will love the Downtown neighborhood. Home to some of Boston’s most popular tourist attractions, including Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail, it’s also the hub of the City with City Hall in the mix. Downtown Crossing is a major retail area and host to a wide range of stores, bakeries, and restaurants to suit every taste. Outdoor lovers relish the easy walk to Boston Common, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the waterfront, while culture connoisseurs delight in nights spent at historic theaters like the Boston Opera House and Paramount. Housing options are primarily multi-family dwellings, including historic apartment buildings, condos, and modern glass towers overlooking a thriving neighborhood.

North End: As one of Boston’s most coveted residential areas, the North End is also one of the most visited by tourists and the hub of the City’s Italian-American community. This neighborhood boasts some of the best restaurants and cafes in Boston, especially those serving traditional Italian fare. Partially surrounded by Boston Harbor, the North End has stunning outdoor recreation spaces, including a skating rink and an outdoor swimming facility, and features several prominent Revolutionary War-era historical sites, including the Old North Church and the Paul Revere House. Its narrow cobblestone streets are well-lined with bakeries, apparel boutiques, and other shops, but the mostly residential neighborhood features historic brick apartment buildings. 

South End: A truly cosmopolitan, historically vibrant community, the South End is one of the City’s most popular neighborhoods. It’s a favored retreat for art and culture hounds with its numerous art galleries, SoWa Arts+Design District, and jazz music mecca. The South End is home to some of the best restaurants in Boston, independent boutiques, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, and numerous public parks. This elegant neighborhood is the largest Victorian residential district in the nation and renowned for its historic Victorian brownstones. However, beautiful brick bowfront townhouses, many with hidden gardens, share space with totally modern apartment communities like Ink Block, for a thoroughly eclectic array of housing options.

Cost of Living in Boston

Boston is often noted as a notoriously expensive metro area, but the total cost of living with housing, is nearly 20% lower than in New York City. The cost of living in Massachusetts is still 30% higher than the national average, which includes higher costs in every category. However, Massachusetts charges a flat 5% personal income tax rate and has a flat statewide sales tax rate of 6.25%. The state exempts lots of items and services from being taxed, including groceries, clothing under $175, utilities and telephone services to residential users, transportation services, health care items prescribed by doctors, reading materials, and personal or professional services like car repairs, haircuts, insurance, and medical services. Tax breaks help, but Boston rents and housing costs far surpass the national median and other factors keep living costs high. Luckily, nursing jobs in Boston posted on NurseFly pay exceptionally well.

Top Hospitals in Boston

The largest industry in Boston is health care and social assistance, accounting for over 148,000 jobs or 18.3% of total employment in 2017. Four of the 10 largest employers in Boston are hospitals, and some of the City’s largest hospitals are nationally ranked.

Massachusetts General Hospital: As the largest and original teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital is the third oldest general hospital in the country, founded in 1811, with a capacity of nearly 1,000 beds. Mass General was ranked #6 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and was nationally ranked in 16 adult and five pediatric specialties. Pediatric care is offered at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. It also ranked #1 in Massachusetts and #1 in Boston. Mass General is a certified Magnet Hospital for its excellence in nursing care.

Boston Medical Center: This 514-bed academic medical center is the largest safety-net hospital and busiest Level 1 trauma center in New England and employs more than 1,800 nurses. It’s the primary teaching affiliate for Boston University School of Medicine and a non-profit with more than half its patients from underserved populations. U.S. News & World Reports rated Boston Medical high performing in geriatrics and in heart failure and COPD procedures in 2020-2021. Becker’s Hospital Review listed Boston Medical Center on its 100 great hospitals, greenest hospitals for the hospital’s unique 7,000-square-foot rooftop farm, and top places to work in healthcare.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital: As the second-largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital ranked #12 nationwide on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. It was also nationally ranked in 13 adult specialties, rated high performing in nine adult procedures and conditions, and ranked #2 in Massachusetts and #2 in Boston. BWH is a certified Magnet Hospital for its excellence in nursing care and ranked #3 on Newsweek’s World’s Best Specialized Hospitals 2021 list for its heart and vascular center.

Average Nurse Pay Rates in Boston

There were more than 200 jobs in Boston for nurses and allied health professionals posted on NurseFly in February 2021 and more than 1,000 jobs throughout Massachusetts. Top recruited travel RN positions included ICU, med surg, telemetry, oncology, OR, PACU, case management, clinical, and SICU. Permanent positions for float, behavioral health, labor and delivery, mental health, psychiatric, ICU, med surg, telemetry, and OR nurses were also plentiful.

Travel nursing jobs were paying a weekly salary between $1,164 and $4,221 with an average rate of $2,693 and permanent positions ranged $32 to $70 per hour. Allied health positions were paying between $1,280 and $2,835 per week for travel positions and $32 to $65 per hour for permanent ones. CT techs, radiology technologists, Cath lab techs, mammography techs, medical techs, surgical techs, and vascular interventional techs were in high demand.

Popular Boston Attractions

Boston offers much in the way of cultural entertainment, outdoor activities, and culinary exploration. Finding exciting stuff to do can be pricey or not cost you a cent, depending on your interests and entertainment budget. Feed the ducks in Boston Public Garden, spend the day shopping along Newbury Street, browse the Museum of Fine Arts, go boating on the Charles River, or take a walking tour of the city dubbed the Cradle of Liberty. These are just a few of the amazing attractions that await. Save money on attractions that aren’t free with a Go Boston Pass.

The Freedom Trail: Ranked as one the best things to do in Boston, the Freedom Trail is an iconic 2.5-mile path through Downtown that connects 16 significantly historic sites. The Trail is easy to follow, as it’s largely marked with brick and you can get a free map from the visitor’s center in Faneuil Hall and/or a self-guided tour app on your smartphone for $4.99. Walking the trail is free as are most of the sites, but three sites charge admission. Join a walking tour led by an 18th-century garbed Freedom Trail Player tour guide for $12 to $20 or free with the Go Boston Card. Tours are available daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don’t forget a comfortable pair of walking shoes, which savvy nurses are never without.

Fenway Park: Sports fans won’t want to miss a visit to Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. Whether you catch a game of America’s favorite pastime or just admire the ballpark’s original architecture, it’s a memorable destination. Take an informative one-hour guided tour of the facility for $20 or free with a Go Boston Card. Tours are offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter. If you want to watch a game, book tickets a few weeks in advance. Ticket prices vary based on seating selection and the opponent. 

Not a baseball fan? Boston hosts plenty of other pro teams, including the Boston Celtics basketball team and Boston Bruins hockey team. The New England Patriots football team and New England Revolution soccer team play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough just 22 miles southwest of downtown Boston.

Boston Public Garden: Located in downtown Boston and situated right next to Boston Common, the Boston Public Garden is a fun, free place to visit with the distinction of being America’s first public botanical garden. It also sits next to the original Cheers restaurant, which inspired the TV show. Admire the colorful and exotic plants and trees, beautiful fountains, stately monuments, and a four-acre pond, 24 hours a day. Traverse the Lagoon in a Swan Boat for $4 a ride, where you’re likely to spot some ducks and geese in lieu of swans. Go Boston Card holders get to ride the paddleboats for free, which are available between mid-April and mid-September.

Old North Church: While visiting historical attractions, don’t skip the Old North Church. It’s the location where Paul Revere went on his famous midnight ride to leave instructions with the church’s vestrymen to light two lanterns in the steeple to signal the British were coming by sea. The Church, which is a national historic landmark and an active Episcopal Church, is the oldest surviving church building in the City and filled with beautiful relics of the past. Visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to mid-November and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-November through March. Admission is $8 unless you’re coming for church services on Sundays at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m., then there’s no charge.

Boston Duck Tours: New nurses to the Boston area looking for a super-fun way to learn more about the City can hop on a Duck for a guided tour. Boston Duck Tours are one of the most popular tours because you get to travel on land and water. The “Ducks” are replica World War II amphibious landing vehicles and tours are led by a colorful cast of ConDUCKtors who provide some local history and tips while quacking you up with hilarious stories throughout the memorable adventure. Tours cruise by notable landmarks like Boston Common, Old State House, Trinity Church, Faneuil Hall, and Old North Church, to name a few, then make a splash into the Charles River to continue the journey. Tours are round-trip and last about 80 minutes with adult tickets costing $45.99 … and worth every penny.

Boston Foodie Life

A rundown of local attractions wouldn’t be complete without some details on the foodie scene and Boston doesn’t disappoint in this area. From world-renowned seafood to classic New England fare, food lovers love Boston eateries. Enjoy iconic fare like clam chowder, lobster rolls (“lobstah” and “chowdah” if you want to fit in with the locals!), Fenway franks, Boston cream pie, and those famous Boston baked beans. Boston also has a growing international culinary scene and inventive bistro cuisine for your dining pleasure. Polish off your eating escapades with a tasty cold brew at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery, where Boston Lager remains its most popular beer ever made, or try one of the many other notable breweries in the Boston area.

Boston Public Transportation

Boston’s public transit system is a popular alternative to driving potentially due to illogical street patterns, aggressive drivers, and expensive parking that’s scarce. Fun fact: the first subway system in the U.S. was established in Boston in 1897. The subway, called the T, is still part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority public transit system, along with bus, railway, and ferry services. Standard one-way fares are $2.40 for the subway, $1.70 for the bus, $2.40 to $13.25 for the commuter rail, and $3.70 to $9.75 for the ferry. The MBTA public transit system is among the best in the nation for accessibility and convenience and its all-inclusive pass, the CharlieCard, is more affordable compared to other large cities. CharlieCards are best for frequent subway and bus riders and cost $90 a month for unlimited travel.

Best Time of Year to be a Nurse in Boston

Boston has four seasons with the weather generally considered to be temperate, but like other New England areas, its weather can be extreme during the winter with ice and snow. July is the hottest month, but still only has an average high of 81 degrees. January is the coldest month with a high of 36 and low of 22, but the average wintertime low is just shy of freezing at 31.8 degrees. The most ideal months to live and work in Boston are May through October with the fall month particularly beautiful as leaves create a vibrant red, yellow, and orange swath.

Nurses and allied health professionals looking for permanent or travel positions in Boston can depend on NurseFly to help them find the ideal job. Experienced recruiters are ready to assist applicants in comparing 100s of jobs and matching them up with potential employers immediately.

moira
Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Content Writer & Editor. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other medical professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, per diem and local contract positions.

Comments (2)

Hi
Rachel I really love your post, even tough I’m not yet a travel nurse (CNA). You’re really put the heat on to travel to Boston.
Thanks for your post, keep on the great work!!!

Reply

Thanks Marie!! ALWAYS nice to get good feedback!

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