Boston, Massachusetts is simply one of those places that should be on your bucket list. Whether you retire here permanently or just stay for a couple of months, there is so much to explore in the city and surrounding area there would never be enough time to see it all. Fortunately, there are dozens of bedroom communities in the area with a well-used commuter train and you don’t have to drive in the big city at all. (On a recent visit, we stayed with Deb and Phil in Westwood, which is well south of the city, and the commuter train ride took about a half hour into Boston. The same train, in the other direction would take us to Providence, Rhode Island.)
The largest city in New England, Boston harbor has been a major seaport since the Pilgrims landed almost 400 years ago. A very walkable city, the “Freedom Trail” (follow the red line on the sidewalk) will lead you to famous sites – the Boston Tea Party, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, and on and on. In the center of it all is Boston Common, a lovely park where you can take a picnic and just sit awhile. The seed of independence was planted here by Samuel Adams (son of the beer maker) who was a prolific writer and the original patriot-rabble-rouser. His greatest accomplishment was in quietly leading others to make his ideas their own.
After raising a family in Boston, our retired friends are still in love with the place. Here are some things for you to consider about making this area your home.
Weather: After the winter of 2015, there should be no doubt that it can really snow. Blizzard after blizzard hit New England and the locals are still telling horror stories. It snows every year, but most of it is manageable. A stacked pantry and emergency plan is a must. The average temperature in January is 28.6 and in August it averages 71.9. It can also hit 100 with very high humidity. The annual rainfall is 41.5 inches spread pretty evenly throughout the year. Most of the time its partly sun/clouds.
Population: The city of Boston has 650,000 residents and the metro area brings it up to 4.4 million. 10.1% are over the age of 65.
Education: We found that 44% of adults over 25 have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This is the home to Harvard and MIT, after all. This is a big college town with senior audit programs.
Median Household Income: $53,601
Taxes: All income is taxed at 5.3% but pensions and social security are exempt. Property Tax is the 8th highest in the US, but there is a $1,000 tax credit for those over 65 who qualify.
Housing: Let’s pick the town of Salem as a possible place to live. About 15 miles from downtown Boston, Salem is on the commuter line and many working people travel into the city every day. A lovely harbor and shopping district are featured downtown as is the world class Peabody Essex Museum. It seems that most of the housing is pre-WWII era and there are some great tree-lined neighborhood streets with well cared for homes. The crime rate is below the national average and below the rest of Massachusetts. The median home price is in the $340,000 range. We found this 2 bedroom, 2 bath townhouse just a block from Salem Common for $245,000.
A word of caution about Salem. Although October has lovely weather, and would seem an ideal time to visit – Salem is filled to the brim with Halloween visitors who come for the month long witch festival and it gets a little crazy downtown.
Boston has wonderful shopping, history, restaurants,
museums, and events all year long. We think Boston would be an ideal New England place to retire, if only for a season! We spent quite a bit of time on Newbury Street seeing all the shops and having lunch. The Genealogy Center is full of information!
The charming streets of Beacon Hill are home to some very spendy homes and real estate but its fun to walk through that part of town and peek down the narrow cobble stoned streets with flower boxes in the doorway. Situated on the tallest of Boston’s three hills, it was named after the “beacon” placed in 1634. The beacon was a tall pole with an iron pot at the top filled with pitch. If the town was attacked, the watchman would shimmy up the pole and set the pitch on fire – a visible call for help from the countryside. Great idea, but it was never used! John Hancock called Beacon Hill home and other homes were part of the underground railroad many years later.
So put Boston Massachusetts on your bucket list and plan on staying awhile. What a fascinating place!
Zoom in and out on the map below to see neighborhoods and interesting places to visit!