A Guide to Moving to: Massachusetts

(aka the the Pilgrim State, aka the Bay State, aka the Old Colony State)

The Pilgrim State is known for many things, one being a famous rock, apparently. While the story of Plymouth Rock may not matter to you in the long run (who knows, you may be a history buff), there are aspects that should be considered before you make a move to this interesting state. 

The cost of living, the job and housing markets and who residents root for in baseball are just a few things to know. No matter where you choose to move in Massachusetts, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network. If you aren’t willing to become a Red Sox fan (or at least a pretend one), you might as well drop your hopes of being a Bay Stater (another state nickname) now. We’ve heard they’re pretty strict about who they let in, based on baseball team preferences. 

If you are looking forward to a move to Red Sox nation (and have already surrendered to the prospect of fan conversion), here is a handy list of things to consider before diving all the way in. 

Job Market

For being the 7th smallest state in terms of land area, its population sure packs a punch. Almost 7,000,000 people call this northeastern state home, and it’s the 15th-most populous state. The good news is, the state is ranked 7th overall in best states for job opportunities. So it has that going for it. 

Massachusetts also has the largest percentage of the New England region’s labor force, almost twice as much as its closest competitor, Connecticut. So where do all of these Bay Staters work? Well, education and health services employ most of them, which makes sense, considering the dozens of higher education institutions and hospitals throughout the state. Two of their hospitals are world-renowned: Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital. 

Besides health and education, the technology industry has been on the rise in recent years, with Boston alone employing almost 300,000 in tech jobs. A close-runner up is tourism. Massachusetts boasts a flourishing coastal area that brings in millions of visitors every year. Popular destinations include Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, to name a few. In 2016 alone, the state saw $20.7 billion in direct tourism spending.

While the state seems to be doing well economically with an unemployment rate below the national average at 3.5%, the job perks have created an expensive cost of living for the state’s residents. 

U.S. News ranked it 47th for affordability overall, and 46th for affordable cost of living. With minimum wage at $11 an hour, you better make sure you have a solid paycheck coming in before venturing into Red Sox territory. Living here will cost you a pretty penny. 

Housing

While the Pilgrim State maintains a flourishing economy and healthy job market, it’s still managing to lose more people to net migration out of the state every year. Many younger Bay Staters are choosing to leave this New England state for other states in the area. From July 2014 to July 2015, the state experienced a net loss in domestic migration of 21,805. It’s a trend that has continued over the years.

This outward migration makes a bit more sense once you take a look at the cost of housing. The state is ranked 44th in the nation for housing affordability by U.S. News, and the median home value is $391,700, which is well above the national average of $215,600. The median rent price is $2,700. A tiny home is probably looking a bit appealing right now. 

As for new construction, it’s definitely there, despite the lack of space. As we mentioned earlier, this New England state is tiny in size but large in population. The majority of that population is concentrated in the eastern half of the state, along the coast and in the Boston metropolitan area. While the majority of homes in the state were built between 1980 and 1989 - there is still new construction to be found in the suburbs around those heavier populated areas (i.e., Boston). 

People and Culture

Besides being known for its die-hard baseball fans, the Bay State also packs quite the progressive punch. It’s known for being the first in many arenas, from the arrival of the area’s first Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620, to the Boston Tea Party that sparked the American Revolution, and even later still, being the first state to legalize gay marriage. Massachusetts is a state where American citizens aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in (particularly when it comes to baseball).

This revolutionary state is also credited with the progress of the Industrial Revolution. It was home to the inventor of the sewing machine, and was the birthplace of one of the first railroads in the country, the Boston & Lowell Railroad. The first subway and the first cotton mill were also birthed here. 

Additionally, Quincy, Ma. was the home of the first Dunkin Donuts - Bay Staters today joke about there being a Dunkin Donuts shop on every street corner. A new nickname should be the First State. It makes sense, even if it’s not true. 

Furthermore, the state’s largest and oldest city of Boston is ranked among the top historical places in the country, in addition to being the state’s sports mecca. It’s not just the Red Sox that Bay Staters are rooting for, but also the Patriots and the Celtics. We think it's safe to say that Massachusetts is a state known for its love of the game - any game. 

Clearly, the Pilgrim State is home to a fiery population of strong-willed and proud New Englanders. The state is steeped, not only in rich American colonial history, but also progressive highlights throughout our whole nation’s history. 

Must-Sees in Massachusetts

With such a rich history and fervent pride in their state, there are going to be plenty of must-sees for this New England state. 

Here are a few top spots not to miss: 

  • Martha’s Vineyard: This island off the coast sits in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Cape Cod. It has been a long-time summer colony, with city transplants heading out to the island for rejuvenation and family fun. Only accessible by boat or air, it offers quaint towns, lighthouses and pristine beaches for the everyday tourist. Just don’t forget your credit card. Prices are known to be a tad higher out on this little slice of paradise. 
  • Fenway Park: The oldest baseball park in the nation is located in Boston. It has been home to the Red Sox since 1912. We would venture to guess that any Bostonian would agree, that a visit to Boston is not complete without seeing the enchanting Fenway Park. 
  • Freedom Trail: This three-mile trail winds through Boston’s old city streets and connects 16 of colonial America’s most esteemed landmarks. They include the burial sites of Paul Revere and John Hancock, the Old State House (scene of the Boston Massacre), the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin, and Faneuil Hall (a renowned meeting place for revolutionaries and abolitionists). Trail walkers can also see the Old North Church, where the lanterns where hung to signal Mr. Revere’s famous ride. 
  • Cape Cod: It’s 560 miles of white sand beaches and waving sea grass. It’s also home to the Cape Cod National Seashore, which protects a 40-mile stretch of beaches and wildlife. This is a popular summer getaway spot, so beaches can get crowded, but there is plenty of shoreline to go around. 
  • Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation: The first separatists from the Church of England landed on Plymouth Rock in December 1620, making it the first permanent European settlement in New England. At the plantation, you can look into the past in the living history museum. Costumed actors recreate what it was like to live in early colonial America. Visitors can walk among their houses, see how they cooked and made their tools, and explore their everyday existence. Take a gander at the lives of the Native Americans who also called that area home in the 17th century. Be sure not to miss the full-scale replica of the Mayflower, called the Mayflower II, to learn about the historic voyage taken so many years ago (costumed actors included).
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary: This marine sanctuary, located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, is among the top ten whale-watching sites in the world, and boasts one of the most biologically fertile ocean environments. More than 50 humpback whales have been identified and named by researchers, and visitors can also catch glimpses of white-sided dolphins, harbour porpoises, seals and other marine wildlife. 
  • Old Sturbridge Village: One of the state’s top tourist sites, this traditional New England village recreates life in the 1800s. Situated on a 200-acre site, it has more than 40 historic homes, stores, mills, farm buildings and craft shops. Costumed citizens recreate everyday life as it was in the 1800s (the state clearly loves its reenactments). Among them are housewives, blacksmiths, farmers and craftspeople. There are hands-on activities for children and plenty of fun to be had for adults, too.

Pros and Cons of Living in Massachusetts

There are pros and cons of living in the Bay State, and none of them include baseball (although we’re sure Bay Staters would argue differently). Here are some things to consider before buying that Red Sox hat. 

Pros of living in Massachusetts:

  • Health services: Health care overall in the state is ranked 5th in the nation, while healthcare access is ranked 1st, by US News and World Report. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering the number of hospitals that call the city of Boston home. If you’re accident-prone, maybe this colonial city will suit you just fine. 
  • Overall education: Boston alone is home to 35 institutions of higher education, which helps explain why the state is ranked number one for education. The number of people with bachelor’s degrees or higher in the state is 50.2% - well above the national average of 33.4%. The Boston Globe even reported that Massachusetts is the most educated state in the country.
  • Scenery: The natural beauty of the coastal areas and the inland farmlands dotted with quaint historic villages are highly picturesque. 

Cons of living in Massachusetts:

  • Expensive everything: Literally. Education costs in this state are among the top 10 most expensive in the country (even though the quality is very high). Health care is also expensive. While the state boasts great amenities for its citizens, it comes at a price. 
  • Space (or lack of): Massachusetts is small, but it has a large population. It’s the 3rdmost densely populated state in the nation. If you’re not about the packed-in-like-sardine life, check out the western part of the state. It’s less populated, but that also equates to fewer amenities. 
  • Weather: We hear it’s cold up there. If you’re not about the snow bunny life, this frigid winter wonderland might not be for you. 

Weird Laws

Every state has them. That doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong. It just means that someone made up an absurd law one day and most likely forgot about it. 

Here are some weird laws to remember next time you’re in Massachusetts, just in case:

  • Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder. They take their clam chowder very seriously. 
  • Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked. And if the police arrest you, it’s off with your head (or at least your nose)!
  • Massachusetts’s liquor stores can only open on Sundays if they are in Berkshire, Essex, Franklin, Middlesex or Worcester counties and are within 10 miles of the Vermont or New Hampshire borders. Important for all of you Sunday drinkers out there, stick to the borderlands. They’re looser with their liquor. 
  • No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car. This doesn’t include people in gorilla costumes, so unless you’re planning a quick zoo heist, we’re thinking you don’t have to worry about this one. 
  • Children may smoke, but they may not purchase cigarettes. Well, the second half of this law seems OK... The first half, however? Get your act together.

Welcome to Massachusetts

Besides being one of the tougher states to spell (thanks a million, Google), M-a-s-s-a-c-h-u-s-e-t-t-s offers tons of amenities for its citizens (albeit with a higher price of admission). And while being a Red Sox fan may not be a prerequisite for being an official Bay Stater, it’s highly advisable, unless you want your car keyed. 

So whether you’re packing your bags yet or not, just remember, this history-rich state has a lot to offer in terms of spunk and revelry. Which hopefully makes up for the fact that you're paying an arm and a leg to get it. Charm comes with a price, we suppose. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

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