Moving to any new city is a challenge, and Boston is no exception. Boston is a bustling college town with a rich history and culture. It’s also one of the world’s most economically powerful cities. Its $363 billion local economy is the sixth largest in the US and the 12th largest in the world. So whether you’re moving for studies or business, you’ll quickly find that Bostonians take great pride in their city.
From finding the right place to live to securing a job to making friends and "fitting in," you'll have your hands full for a while. Learning a little about Boston, however, can help you feel more at home once you move in. In this piece, we will help you familiarize yourself with some of the city’s local quirks. So read on and discover the 15 things you must know about Boston before you move!
Beware of “Authentic” Irish Pubs
Every Irish pub you encounter (and there are about 100 of them here) will claim to be authentic. Spoiler alert: not all of them are.
The louder a pub broadcasts how authentic they are, the more suspicious you should be. Instead, you should look for a bunch of people eating shepherd's pie in a quiet corner bar. Case in point: Doyle's Café. First opened in 1882, this authentic pub still serves some of the best pints of Guinness around. Moreover, patrons can take a free trolley ride to the nearby Sam Adams brewery.
Boston's a Beer Lover’s Dream
While we’re talking about beer, you don’t need to find an Irish pub to get a good pint. Check out Boston Beer Company, Mercury Brewing Company, the Harpoon, Buzzards Bay, Wachusett Brewing Company, the Beer Works, and countless others. Bostonians love their beer and so will you.
Just remember that bars close at 1 or 2 am on weekends. If you’re accustomed to NYC hours, it’s going to seem early. At least the T (the train) runs until 3 am, so you’ll have plenty of time to return home.
Locals Go Candlepin Bowling
If you like going out bowling with friends, you’re gonna love candlepin bowling. True, you wear the same questionable shoes, and it's the same basic configuration. However, the pins are skinny and strangely shaped. You’ll also get three chances to knock them down with a skee ball. If you fail to knock them all down, you get to use the “deadwood” to finish off any pins left standing. Bowling has never been so fun (or unique).
Locals Show Their Support
Even if you aren't a sports fan, you’ll quickly find out that Bostonians are enthusiastic about their teams. Whether it’s the Red Sox in the summer, the Patriots in the fall, or the Bruins and the Celtics in the winter, most Bostonians’ social lives revolve around sports. Take some time to learn about each team and stay up on the standings. If you find that you like watching (and going to) games for any of Boston’s successful teams, you'll be welcomed by many Bostonians.
Locals Get from A to B on Foot
Driving in Boston can be a nightmare, and that's okay. Most of the city's major attractions and core downtown neighborhoods are within walking distance of each other. In other words, you can get wherever you need to go by putting on your shoes and using Google Maps on your phone.
Just as a heads-up, the Freedom Trail is 2.5 miles long. If you're going on the trail, wear comfortable shoes and prepare yourself for a long walk.
The Boston Marathon = A Day Off
Everyone loves an excuse to have the day off. Bostonians have one on Patriots’ Day, a day to celebrate defeating the British during the Revolutionary War. However, this is also the day of the Boston Marathon. Not only is the marathon one of the most internationally prestigious races in the world, it also its fair share of unique quirks! Whether you’re running through the Wellesley College scream tunnel or drinking in bars nearby, you’ll find it to be one of America’s coolest marathons.
Locals Don’t Talk about ‘Pahking the Cah’ in ‘Hahvahd Yahd’
First of all, there’s no parking in Harvard Yard. More importantly, locals won't expect newcomers to get the accent quite right. Just be yourself and you’ll fit right in.
Boston's a College Town
Boston is a college town at heart. Between the city itself and the surrounding communities (including Newton and Cambridge), you’ll find Harvard University, Boston College, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Emerson College, Tufts University, Northeastern University, and more. They’re all connected by public transit, so you can connect between campuses without breaking the bank.
Look Out for Walk-Up Apartment Buildings
If you can find a furnished apartment, grab it. Just be sure to pack light: most apartment buildings in Boston are walk-ups. If you must bring heavy stuff with you, make sure you have plenty of help. Carrying a heavy bag up three flights of stairs is as bad as it sounds, and some apartments don’t have elevators.
Boston's Got Great Music and Nightlife
The Hatch Shell, an outdoor music venue, hosts several free concerts throughout the summer, including The Boston Pops. This incredibly talented symphony orchestra was founded in 1885 and specializes in classical and pop music. If you prefer something a little edgier, there are plenty of other music venues, dance clubs, comedy clubs, and much more in the area. Come Memorial Day weekend, check out Boston Calling, Boston’s annual music festival.
Boston is Known for its History
The name “New England” is somewhat of a misnomer, seeing as how it isn’t new at all. Boston was established as a town in 1630 and has been incorporated as a city since 1822. Historic landmarks remain in the city, including Paul Revere’s house, the Old State House, and Faneuil Hall (a meeting hall and marketplace since 1742). Go on a walking tour and glance at these colonial landmarks to embrace the city’s rich history.
Boston's Food Scene is Historic As Well
Nobody really calls Boston “Beantown” anymore. Instead of baked beans, the city is best-known for its abundance of seafood dishes such as clam chowder and lobster. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy some excellent seafood, why not go to the Union Oyster House? Opened in 1826, the Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in the country to remain in continuous service. Have a cup of clam chowder, and share freshly shucked oysters with a friend in the National Historic Landmark.
Boston is also known for its Italian food. The city has a rich European immigration history, meaning there are lots of places to enjoy delicious Italian specialties. One place is Jeveli’s, a restaurant that has served excellent Chicken Parmagiana since 1924.
Boston's Filled with Roundabouts
Boston’s road system has its fair share of quirks. In addition to the abundance of one-way streets, you’ll find that the city is filled with “rotaries”, or roundabouts. There are a lot of them in Boston, and knowing their locations will come in handy if you need to drive. The rule of thumb is that the vehicles already in the rotary have the right of way.
Boston Recognizes Equal Rights for All
Massachusetts has been issuing gay couples marriage licenses and providing them with associated legal protections for nearly a decade now. As the first city in the US to legalize same-sex marriage, Boston is home to a thriving LGBT community. So take advantage of Boston’s nightlife by going on a date, no matter what your orientation is.
Locals and Tourists Alike Run on Dunkin’
Bostonians love Dunkin' Donuts, and you can find one practically anywhere in the city. Despite the chain’s name, however, its most popular product is its coffee. Locals and tourists alike line up for its coffee products from lattes to “Coolattas”, an iced drink not unlike a Frappucino. Even in the coldest part of winter, don't be surprised if you see someone skipping the donuts in favor of a large iced caramel latte!
We hope that our list of these Bostonian quirks will help you find things to love about living in this historic city. Boston is not the only vibrant city full of all sorts of things to see, do, eat, and otherwise enjoy, though. If you want to learn about our favorite activities in Washington, D.C., click here. Moving to the Big Apple? Check out our favorite fall activities here. You can also check out our San Francisco moving guide by clicking here.
Anything we missed? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.
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