General Question

mirifique's avatar

What is a "good salary" for a single person in Boston, MA?

Asked by mirifique (1511 points ) January 31st, 2012

Any Bostonites or former Bostonites have an idea?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

22 Answers

Charles's avatar

What’s the rent for a “good place” to live?

Multiply that rent by about three for monthly salary.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

55 for a single person. Boston is expensive.

jerv's avatar

@Charles Given the median rents in Boston (>$1,650/month), that would put you around $60k/yr. You could get by on a bit less in some of the surrounding areas (Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington…) but it is one of the most expensive places in the US to live in; the cost of living is around 150% of the national average.

So, for a good salary, think about what would be considered a good salary in most other areas of the country and then double it.

Jeruba's avatar

“Bostonians,” not “Bostonites.”

elbanditoroso's avatar

Living in Boston is expensive.

If you are out in the burbs, even the nearby ones (Framingham, for example), rents are 30–35% less.

And are you talking luxury condo or basic apartment? Do you drink a lot of wine? Do you eat out a lot? Do you need a car or do you use public transportation?

All of these factors – and many others – play into the answer. Give more detail.

BosM's avatar

Having worked in Boston for 20 years I can tell you that it’s an expensive city. Kiplinger’s shows the median (family) income is almost $70K and the Cost of Living Index is 138 which is considered very high as the U.S. average is 100. Of course that is all relative, if you come from NYC you’ll find Boston more reasonable than you will if you come from Nashville.

http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/cities-with-most-expensive-cost-of-living-2011/9.html

My daughter lived in Brookline and found it very expensive. She moved a little further out and the rents get reasonable. She says the cost of food is very high. Then you have to consider the cost of parking, car/insurance, and/or public transportation.

There are salary calculators and COL calculators you can use to give you a sense of the difference in salaries between cities. Good luck, Boston is a great city.

ETpro's avatar

I live in the North End in Boston. It’s one of the pricier neighborhoods, and rents run between $1,500 for a small place with some problems (run down building, etc.) to $2,500 or $3,000 a month for a nice but relatively small place. Say a 1 or 2 bedroom. You can get perhaps $259 to $500 a month below that by going for a less trendy location, or you can go to Beacon Hill and pay way more. To get significantly below it, you have to go out into the tangle of towns outside the city, but inside the beltway around it, or you can go into one of the high crime neighborhoods such as Dorchester or Roxbury. So pick your pain tolerance, and use the 3 X Rent calculation @Charles provided to come up with a monthly salary requirement.

mirifique's avatar

@elbanditoroso I do have a car, so will need off-street parking. I like cooking, and like high quality, organic ingredients. I go out a reasonable amount, mostly take-out 2–3 times/week and dinner out 1–2/week. I don’t require a huge place, but would like a 1 bedroom. I’m just trying to determine what salary will be comfortable, not luxurious or high-end. I also have… gasp… student loans. So I’ll need some left over to make a $500/month payment.

jca's avatar

When you ask what’s a “good” salary, “good” is relative. Some people’s idea of “good” is less or more than other people’s idea of “good.” Lifestyle factors in. How fussy you are about where you live factors in. How much discretionary spending you want left over after paying bills factors in. Do you want Coach or are you happy with Kohl’s? That’s just one example.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

“need off street parking” ... You might want to change that to “wish I could afford off-street parking”

jerv's avatar

Off-street parking? In Boston? That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in weeks! XD

Seriously, I have almost been killed for parking spaces in Boston before. As for “off-street”, the only practical way to do that is to buy a house with a garage.

You might be able to make it on only $40k/yr, but you’d have to cut back on some things. For instance, expect your food costs to double. Your electric bill will be at least double as well. Rent and your student loan already push the total to $24k/yr without utilities, food, taxes, or anything else. Add in another $6k for food (and I am low-balling that one), $2–3k for utilities, and then consider that you may have other expenses like clothes, gas, medical bills, going out for a night on the town… we will low-ball those and call that another $2–3k. That is $34k net, so add another $6k for income tax, Social Security tax, etcetera, and we are talking a gross of around $40k… if you are frugal.

ETpro's avatar

@mirifique If you like to cook and use fresh ingredients, do your best to land in or around the North End, or if not that, in a neighborhood with a T Stop for either the Green Line or the Orange Line. Both those lines stop at the Haymarket Station, and that’s where The Haymarket, America’s oldest continuously running open-air market.

Fortunately, that’s one area where you can actually save some money. You can buy just about any sort of fresh produce and fruit at a tiny fraction of supermarket prices. It is only open Friday and Saturday, and if you are willing to hang around till near closing time on Saturday (sunset) you can often pick up amazing bargains. A couple of weeks ago, we snared a whole 25 pound box of delicious ruby red grapefruit for $3. It was cold, the vendor knew my wife, and he wanted to close up and go home. So he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Jeruba's avatar

@ETpro, North End pricier? $1500?? I’ve been gone too long.

I lived in one of those older buildings, just off Hanover Street, and I paid $70 per month (that’s with one zero). Yes, it’s been a long time, but how could fourth- and fifth-floor apartments in run-down buildings possibly go for that much? How could the North End ever have become a pricey area? When I lived there it was one of the cheapest neighborhoods around (and oh, so safe). I am stunned.

And where have the families gone that used to occupy the old brick buildings along those narrow little streets? Can they afford to stay there?

jerv's avatar

@Jeruba The figure you paid for rent implies that you have not lived in Boston since WWII; I didn’t think you were that old!

jca's avatar

@Jeruba: That sounds like a mid-1970’s rent, I’m guessing.

Jeruba's avatar

It was 1969, actually. (Thanks, @jerv—I was in fact born after WWII.) I lived on Clark Street. I moved from there to Beacon Hill (also cheap, at twice the price) before settling into Cambridge for a long stay.

So what about the families? Is it still a family neighborhood? If I were ever thinking of moving back, I’d want to know that.

ETpro's avatar

@Jeruba I kid you not. We love the North End, so I keep a finger to its pulse. That indeed is what places go for now. It’s darned difficult to find anything for less that $1,500.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

I just corroborated that on Craig’s List. Wow, a 700 square foot 1-bedroom furnished apartment on the South end, which isn’t the best place to live, $2800/month! We moved out of Boston 11 years ago mainly because we couldn’t have a very good life back then on about $100k/year (family of 3), and it seems rents have perhaps doubled since then. My estimation is that if you’re serious about paying your loan and having a nice apartment with off street parking, about $130,000 is the minimum you need to be making.

Jeruba's avatar

@ETpro, do you suppose there’s a different scale for the outsiders?

ETpro's avatar

@Jeruba I wish, but no. It is what it is.

jerv's avatar

Note that the off-street parking is the big killer here. You could save a lot of money without that requirement. Sure, it will still be expensive, but the savings alone could be a few hundred dollars a month.

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