You’re considering a move, and you’re already worrying about the costs. Everybody does. Moving is expensive, and you’ve been thinking about Massachusetts. You’re sure it’s out of your price range, but you can’t entirely give up the idea and have already started to think that you should sell your house and move out of state.
If you live in another part of the country, the very name summons an image of the magic realm called “New England.” Do ordinary people really live in Massachusetts? It hardly seems possible. And yet, people own apartments in Boston and Springfield (there are also companies that buy houses in Springfield). They buy houses in Salem and Worcester.
You aren’t optimistic. Even if you find a house, the day-to-day cost of living seems almost certain to defeat you.
Massachusetts is an expensive place to buy a home, and it’s a costly place to live. While you’re dreaming about a move to Massachusetts, you should also be sure to find the right home buying company. As reality starts to set in, you might well find that your primary concern is money. The key to solving the problem, however, is not money. At least it isn’t what you’ll need first. What you need is information. Enough information will tell you how much money will be necessary to live without worrying that you’ll come up short if the furnace goes out.
Keep reading. You’ll find out what houses are selling for; how much you’ll be paying for utilities and property taxes; what you should expect to pay for food; and comparable figures for cities and small towns across the state and nationwide.
Real Estate Market in Massachusetts
The cost of real estate in Massachusetts is several times higher than the national average and is climbing every year. Partly, it’s a simple function of supply and demand. As increasing numbers of people flock to the Bay State, lured by whatever fairy dust hangs over New England, the demand for houses outpaces their availability. If you are one of the lucky property owners in Massachusetts and you’re looking to sell – we buy houses in Massachusetts.
Like almost anywhere, prices in Massachusetts can differ from place to place and season to season. The rule of thumb is that if you’re after a bargain, small towns are less costly than urban centers. In Massachusetts, you shouldn’t count on that. There are too many exciting exceptions.
Massachusetts is a state full of history and education. Prices are high in relatively small Cambridge because it is home to two of the nation’s most respected universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nearby, in 1620, the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. If you’re wondering which company can sell my house fast in Somerville, look no further than Ocean City Development.
All these attractions drive prices up and, in the spring of 2021, the average cost of a home in Massachusetts passed $500,000. One source puts it at closer to $600,000. In Cambridge, a two-bedroom, one-bath house with under 800 sq. feet of space is listed at just shy of $700,000.
You can find a one-bedroom condo in Brockton, the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts (pop. 95,678), for under $200,000. If you need two bedrooms but can settle for 900 square feet in a small bungalow, the price tag is likely to be close to $400,000. Down the road in Braintree (pop.37,120), the median price for a home is over $500,000.
While you’re pondering the details of the available real estate in towns like Springfield and Chicopee, take a few minutes to consider the best time to get on the road and start looking. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, timing is a factor you can’t overlook.
Winters aren’t brutally cold, but they are cold, and the spring warming is slow. Predictably, the real estate market wakes up in April, when the temperatures rise into the 50’s F and booms by the time they reach the 70’s in Boston in late May.
During this peak period, the listings are plentiful, and the prices are high. There are some gorgeous houses out there. As a seller or a buyer, or both, you’ll want to take it into account.
If your top priority is getting a good deal on a house in Massachusetts, be sure you have a sturdy pair of snow boots. You’ll be looking at real estate in the Massachusetts winter. This is good news for the buyer and a disappointment for the homeowner whose house didn’t sell in the spring and who is looking at what is sure to be a significant drop in price.
Costs of Living in Massachusetts
By this time, you will have realized that the costs of doing business in the real estate market are neither consistent nor predictable. This is also true of the costs of daily living, and the same general guidelines apply. It is more expensive to live in a big city than in a small town. Points of historical interest or prestigious universities and hospitals increase the cost of the necessities.
There are, of course, many small expenses you will encounter every month. Still, any serious estimate of what it will cost you to live in a particular location requires an understanding of a few large categories. You won’t survive long if you haven’t arrived at a close estimate of the monthly expenses attached to keeping a roof over your head, getting from one place to another, eating, and maintaining your health.
The place to start is with the most significant item on that monthly budget.
Housing Prices in Massachusetts
Monthly mortgage payments are often a complex figure to calculate and to do it accurately, you need to factor in several different pieces of information. The total payment normally includes the amount of the original loan, the interest rate, the length of the loan, private homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes.
Calculating only the loan, with no insurance or taxes, for a home that sells in Massachusetts for $500,000, with a down payment of $50,000, the monthly payment is well over $2000. You should anticipate a total monthly payment close to or above $3000.
Bills and Utility Costs
Once you’ve decided to buy that house, you’ll want to keep it comfortably cool in the summer and, more urgently, warm on those cold winter nights. However, the amount it will cost you to live in that moderate environment cannot be described as “moderate.” The average homeowner in Massachusetts is looking at a figure close to $500 per month for gas and electricity.
The numbers on the cost of transportation in the state fluctuate, depending on the basis for the calculation. Although the percentage of commuters who drive is below the national average, each driver’s average cost of gas is around $800. Most of the estimates include car insurance premiums as part of the total, bringing the average annual price of transportation up to $9500.
Health and Medical Costs
Another area in which Massachusetts falls below the national average is in healthcare. One estimate of the annual cost to a single adult covered by a minimum amount of health insurance is $3339. The national average is $4266. For a family of four in the state, the estimate is just over $10,000, while the national average is almost $13,000.
Food and Shopping
Closely aligned with good health is diet. What do the citizens of Massachusetts eat, and how much does it cost them? The figures are based on an acceptably healthy diet, ingredients purchased at a grocer’s to be cooked at home.
They do not include any estimates for meals eaten out in restaurants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a single citizen of Massachusetts spends $3544 a year on food and a family of four, $10,435, again below the national average.
If you’re planning to cook a special meal at home, the monthly minimum average spent on groceries in Boston is about $410.
Average Cost of Living in Massachusetts
Fortunately, the expenses of living in Massachusetts are almost balanced by its higher incomes. In 2019, the median income for a household was $85,843, and the average property value was $418,600. If you were to look at a very rough estimate of the average cost of living in Massachusetts, you should budget according to these estimates:
- Mortgage (including private insurance and property taxes): $36,000/$3000
- Groceries: $10,000 per year
- Healthcare: $10,000 per year
- Transportation: $10,000 per year
The final thing to remember is that this estimate does not include clothing, personal items, household items like paper and cleaning products, interest on credit card accounts, entertainment, maintenance and repair on appliances, and those essential little luxuries you occasionally give yourself.
Massachusetts is one of the most beautiful, enjoyable, and most expensive places in the country to live, attend university, work, raise a family and retire.
So, Can You Afford To Move To Massachusetts?
A house in Massachusetts is likely to cost you $500,000. On the other hand, even in the middle of the income scale, you have a good chance of earning more than $80,000.
Looking at only a few of the daily living expenses in that house, you should be prepared to pay your lending institution around $3000 a month. A family of four will spend $10,000 a year on healthcare, about the same on food, and close to that figure on transportation. Keep in mind that these averages do not factor in utilities, general shopping, or credit card payments and interest.
It leaves out those unpredicted costs when the furnace blows out in the middle of winter or the refrigerator stops keeping the lettuce crisp. Any reader with a calculator can do the math, and you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you’ll be willing and able to pay a bit more for living in Massachusetts.