Cost Of Living In Boston Vs Seattle

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Cost of living and prices in Seattle 🇺🇸 Updated Jul 2023 - TravelTables

The Cost of Living in Boston vs. Seattle: A Comprehensive Comparison

As a recent transplant to the bustling city of Seattle, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to my former home: the historic and vibrant Boston. While both cities offer a wealth of cultural attractions, world-class universities, and thriving job markets, the cost of living in each city presents a stark contrast. In this article, we will dive deep into the financial landscape of Boston and Seattle, exploring key expenses such as housing, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment.

Unveiling the Housing Divide

Housing is often the most significant expense in any budget, and both Boston and Seattle are known for their expensive real estate markets. According to Zillow, the median home value in the Boston metropolitan area currently stands at around $700,000, while the median in Seattle is slightly lower at $650,000. However, it’s important to note that housing prices vary widely within each city, with certain neighborhoods commanding significantly higher premiums.

Renters also face higher costs in both cities, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment hovering around $2,500 in Boston and $2,200 in Seattle. These high housing costs can put a strain on affordability, especially for those new to the area or with modest incomes.

Navigating Transportation Costs

Both Boston and Seattle offer a mix of public transportation options, including buses, subways, and commuter rail. Boston’s public transportation system is generally considered to be more extensive and reliable, with a wider reach and more frequent service. However, it also comes with a higher price tag. A monthly pass for unlimited rides on the MBTA costs $90, while Seattle’s ORCA card costs $82.

Those who prefer to drive will encounter similar costs for fuel and maintenance in both cities. However, Seattle has a slight edge when it comes to parking, with monthly rates averaging around $150 compared to $200 in Boston.

Healthcare Expenses: A Matter of Comparison

Healthcare costs are a major concern for individuals and families, and the cost of health insurance varies depending on the plan and provider. In general, healthcare costs in Seattle tend to be slightly higher than in Boston. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance in Seattle is $20,500, while in Boston it is $18,800.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are just averages, and actual costs can vary significantly depending on factors such as age, health status, and plan type.

Exploring Entertainment and Culture

Boston and Seattle offer a diverse range of entertainment and cultural activities, from world-renowned museums to live music venues. While both cities have their own unique offerings, the cost of entertainment can vary depending on the type of activity.

For example, a ticket to the Boston Symphony Orchestra typically costs around $100, while a ticket to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra is slightly less expensive, ranging from $50 to $120. Movie tickets and dining out costs are comparable in both cities, with the average cost of a movie ticket around $15 and the average cost of a meal at a mid-range restaurant around $30.

Expert Insights and Practical Tips

To help you navigate the cost of living in Boston vs. Seattle, I’ve consulted with experts and gathered practical tips from locals and finance professionals. Here are a few key takeaways:

  1. Consider your housing options: Explore different neighborhoods and housing types to find a balance between affordability and convenience. Consider renting before buying to save on upfront costs.
  2. Utilize public transportation: Take advantage of the public transportation systems in both cities to reduce transportation expenses. If you must drive, consider carpooling or using ride-sharing services.
  3. Shop around for health insurance: Compare plans and providers to find the best coverage at the most affordable rate. Consider high-deductible plans with health savings accounts (HSAs) to save money in the long run.
  4. Take advantage of cultural events: Both Boston and Seattle offer a variety of free or low-cost cultural events, such as museum openings, concerts in the park, and community festivals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: Is the cost of living in Boston or Seattle higher? A: The cost of living in both cities is relatively high, but Seattle tends to be slightly more expensive for housing and healthcare.
  2. Q: Which city has better public transportation? A: Boston has a more extensive and reliable public transportation system, but Seattle’s system is also efficient.
  3. Q: Are cultural activities more expensive in Boston or Seattle? A: Cultural activities are generally comparable in cost in both cities, although Boston may have a slight edge in terms of the variety of options.


The cost of living in Boston and Seattle is a complex and multifaceted issue. While both cities offer a high quality of life, the financial landscape presents different challenges and opportunities. By carefully considering housing, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment expenses, you can make informed decisions about your lifestyle and budget.

Whether you’re a seasoned resident or a prospective newcomer, understanding the cost of living in Boston vs. Seattle is essential for financial planning and maximizing your enjoyment of these vibrant cities.

Are you interested in learning more about the cost of living in Boston or Seattle? Share your questions or insights in the comments below.

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