A Comprehensive Chicago Vs Boston Cost Of Living Comparison

Chicago Vs Boston Cost Of Living Comparison..2

Are you planning to relocate to either Chicago or Boston? If yes, this Chicago Vs Boston cost of living comparison is for you. 

Before relocating, consider the cost of living in the new location you’re moving to. In other words, assess the housing affordability, food prices, and transportation. 

The salary you’ll likely receive when you land your dream job is another crucial factor to consider. Will you be able to live the lifestyle you crave with the salary from your new job? Again, will your lifestyle in the new city be an upgrade to what it was?    

The cost of living is the amount required to live the lifestyle you crave. So, here, we will discuss the cost of living in Boston and Chicago. Ensure you read this post before relocating! 

Chicago Vs Boston Cost of Living Comparison 

Boston’s cost of living is higher than Chicago’s. It’s approximately 30% higher. 

If you’re earning $30,000 in Chicago, you have to earn over $38,892 to maintain the same lifestyle in Boston. 

How Much It Will Cost You To Live In Chicago Vs Boston

Here is a breakdown of how much it will cost you to live in Boston or Chicago. Check it out below:

Cost of Living In Boston And Chicago
Monthly Salary (after tax)

$ 5,285
Rent ( 1 person)$ 2257$ 1594
Food Expenses

Rent (For Family)

Cost of Living (1 person)


Cost of Living (Family)


Quality of Life


The table above shows Chicago’s cost of living is lower than Boston’s. Its quality of life is also better than Boston’s. 

A Handy Tip: The median prices of homes sold in Boston are higher than Chicago’s. While the median price of homes in Boston in 2022 was $780,000 (with a 3.6% increase year-over-year), Chicago homes’ sales price for the same year was $352,000 (with a 0.7% increase year-over-year). 

Chicago Vs. Boston Cost of Living Ranking 

Let’s start with Chicago. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States of America, with a population size of 8,937,000 people. It is ranked 37th regarding the cost of living. 

This ranking does show that while Chicago may offer residents an urban lifestyle similar to cities like Los Angeles and New York, it does so at a surprisingly lower cost. 

In contrast, Boston is the 26th most expensive city in the world, out of 9,294. It is also ranked 3rd in terms of cost of living in the United States of America (behind San Francisco and San Diego). 

Boston’s metro area population is 4,344,000 in 2023, a 0.39% increase from 2022. 

Chicago And Boston Cost of Living Comparison Against The National Average

Before we look into the individual prices in both cities, let’s compare their cost of living against the national average. 

Chicago’s cost of living is 24% higher than the state average and 14% higher than the national average. Regarding housing, Chicago, IL, is 38% higher than the national average. 

The prices of utilities in Chicago will leave a smile on anyone’s face, as things are much cheaper in Chicago than in Boston. For instance, Chicago utilities are 11% less pricey than the national average. 

So, how does Boston’s cost of living compare to the national average?

Boston’s housing, utility, and bus fares, including gas prices, are higher than the national average. Its housing cost is 125% higher than the national average.

Boston’s utilities are 25% higher than the national average.

How Much Do You Need To Live Comfortably in Chicago Compared to Boston?

Everybody wants to live a comfortable life, and we all deserve it. It’s also the essence of relocating to a new place. 

People relocate in search of better opportunities, fun, and live the lifestyle they crave. But this can only be possible when you secure your dream job and earn a good salary. 

You’ll live comfortably in Chicago with an annual salary of $41,980 (after tax). However, this amount is reasonable for an adult without kids. You will require a higher salary when kids are in the picture. 

In Boston, you’ll need to earn higher. A salary of $78,752 is enough to live a comfortable life. It will be enough to take care of necessities, which should take 50% of your salary, and save or clear your debts.

Will The Cost of Food Impact Your Overall Cost of Living In Chicago And Boston?

Food is essential and will take up a large chunk of your earnings. Unfortunately, it isn’t something you can neglect. 

You need food to stay healthy and have enough energy for daily activities. So, whether you plan to relocate alone or move your entire family, food prices will be one of the main factors to consider. 

Here is a table showing food prices in Boston and Chicago. You can see what it would cost to eat out or prepare your meals at home. 

  The Cost of Eating Out
Launch per person$17.5$22.1
Dinner for two persons

Cappuccino $5.12$5.4
Fast Food Meal

Pepsi/ Coke $2.87$2.65
Beer in a Pub$6.98$7.95

You can see the price comparison of meals in Boston and Chicago. The table shows that Boston is more expensive. 

The only thing that is lower in the items listed is cappuccino. Boston’s is lower by a couple of cents.

Quick Tips to lower food prices in Boston and Chicago: 

Whether moving to Boston or Chicago, food expenses will take a significant part of your income. But we have tips that can help to lower your food expenses significantly. 

Prepare your meals at home:

The first advice or tip is to prepare your meals. We understand you’ll be busy most of the time because of work, but you’ll still have some free time.  

Use your free time to cook various meals and store them in the refrigerator. With this move, you’ll stop eating out and reduce your food expenses. Besides, fast foods aren’t the best option for any health-conscious individual. 

So, you’ll save money by ditching fast foods and cooking your meals at home; your health will improve equally. And this invariably means you won’t be visiting your doctor soon. Thus, you won’t be spending money on medical bills, either.  

Your productivity will improve when you eat good meals prepared at home. 

Buy food items from roadside stands or farmer’s markets:

Most people enjoy going to the supermarket to purchase food items. But you may sometimes have to ditch the big supermarket to reduce your food expenses and save money. 

Some items sold in the supermarket are available at roadside stands or farmer’s markets at lower prices. Just look around for options. 

Purchase foods in bulk:

There are grocery stores that offer discounts for bulk purchases. Conduct your research, and you’ll find them. 

Besides the discount, buying food in bulk will save you time and energy. You will be going to the grocery store infrequently. 

Let’s look at the price comparison of groceries in Boston and Chicago

Price of Groceries
Chicken Breast 1 kg or 2.2 lb

$ 13.4
Cheese$ 14.8$ 19. 4
Eggs$ 3.8$ 5.29
Rice$ 4.47$ 5.26
Bread$ 3.79$ 4.14
Milk$ 1.04$ 1.24
Round Steak 1 kg or 2.2 lbs
$ 19.9

$ 20.6
Apples 1 kg or 2.2 lbs
$ 5.27

$ 5.47
Banana 1 kg or 2.2 lbs
$ 1.94

$ 2.08
Oranges 1 kg or 2.2 lbs
$ 5.02

$ 6.3
Water 1 liter or 1 qt
$ 1.53

$ 1.67

So, these are the tentative prices of groceries in both cities. When you compare the prices, you’ll discover that groceries in Boston are a bit more expensive.  

Transportation in Chicago Vs Boston

There are diverse questions about the public transportation system in Boston and Chicago. For instance, do they have good public transport? Is Chicago’s public transport more expensive than Boston’s?

These are just some of the questions to ask. Now, here’s what you need to know. 

Let’s start with Boston. The public transportation system in Boston is exceptional. Boston is ranked 3rd in the United States of America for public transport availability.

The public transport system in this city is so good that you may want to abandon your cars at home and use public transport. But if you plan to drive your private car, be ready to shoulder the high cost. 

It is on record that Boston is one of the worst cities in the United States of America for driving. You’ll waste a lot of time and gas if you drive your vehicle in Boston. 

So, if you want to reduce your living costs while living in Boston, use public transport. Only use your private vehicle if you have no other option. 

So, how does Chicago’s public transportation system rank in the United States of America? Is driving in one’s private car or using the L public transit cheaper?

Chicago has a decent public transportation system. In a survey conducted by Time Out Magazine featuring 19 cities with the world’s best public transit, Chicago ranked 17th on the list.  

In the United States, it was evident that Chicago is behind Boston in terms of the quality of public transit. While Boston ranks 3rd with a score of 74.4, Chicago public transit ranks 6th among big U.S. cities with a score of 64.7.

Moving around Chicago in your private car, like Boston, would be much more expensive. It will increase your cost of living in the city, as your gas expenses would increase. 

In addition, you’ll incur additional expenses when you use your car daily. These include expenditures on repair and changing engine oil, etc. 

A Handy Tip: New York City’s public transit is the best in the United States of America at present. It ranks 1st with a total score of 84.1.

Here is a table showing the cost of transportation in Boston and Chicago

Cost of Transportation
Gas/Petrol (I liter or 0.26 gal) 

Local Transport Ticket

Monthly Ticket (Local Transport)


Taxi Ride (8 km or 5 miles)



The table shows public transit is the best option in Boston and Chicago. You’ll save money and know how much you’ll be spending on transportation per month. 

Calculating or keeping track of how much you’re spending on gas, repairs, or spare parts for a vehicle per month can be tricky. In some months, you may spend above your budget, while in others, you may spend less.    

Job Market in Chicago Vs Boston

Another way to compare the cost of living in Boston Vs Chicago is to consider the job opportunities in both cities. 

First and foremost, bear in mind that Boston has 2.8% more unemployment than Chicago. The city’s job growth has increased by almost 11.4% in the last 10 years. 

Here is a quick look at the job market in Chicago and Boston.

BostonChicagoUnited States
Current Unemployment6.2%9.0%
Future Job Growth42.5%

Recent Job Growth-9.1%

3 Yr. Job Growth-4.6%

5 Yr. Job Growth0.7%


10 Yr. Job Growths


Job growth in both cities has been positive. They also boast an impressive job market. 

You’ll find a variety of industries to choose from in Chicago and Boston. However, Chicago tends to have more job opportunities.

One thing about big cities is that they attract companies and businesses because of their market. It is easier for companies to find the right workforce and market for their products in such cities. 

A Handy Tip: Between Boston and Chicago, who pays a higher salary? Salary.com says employers in Boston pay 6.8% more than employers in Chicago. 


We have come to the end of this Chicago Vs Boston cost of living comparison. From the record, it’s evident that living in Chicago is cheaper than living in Boston.

Rent, transportation, groceries, and utilities are cheaper in Chicago than in Boston. But note that Boston’s public transportation system is the third best in the country, while Chicago’s is ranked 6th.

The job market growth in both cities has been quite positive and impressive. So, you can land your dream job in both cities. However, employers in Boston pay 6.8% more than in Chicago, though we can understand why.

The cost of living in Boston is higher than in Chicago. So, employees deserve good salaries to enable them to pay their bills. 


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