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Chicago vs. Boston

Boston vs Chicago 🆚 | Is Living in Chicago or Boston Right for You? [Pros + Cons]

Last Updated on: 26th October 2023, 06:12 pm

Boston and Chicago are two of the most culturally significant cities in the US and have a lot in common in terms of lifestyle and atmosphere. However, they are both different in many ways and offer unique advantages and disadvantages.

Chicago is a much larger city and a bustling metropolis with a diverse economy and a wider range of world-class attractions. However, Boston also has much to offer with its many universities and historic attractions. To help you decide which city is for you, here is a complete breakdown of the pros and cons of living in Chicago vs. Boston.

Living in Boston Pros

Living in Boston offers countless positives and negatives, from its great public transportation to its traffic jams. Here are the top living in Boston pros and cons.

  • Great location: One of Boston’s biggest strengths is its central location. It’s situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, making beaches easily accessible, as well as quaint New England towns. It’s also just a train ride away from other East Coast cities like New York and Philadelphia, offering everything you need close by.
  • Extensive public transportation system: Another highlight of living in Boston is the public transportation known as the T (or MBTA). All of Boston’s many neighborhoods and downtown areas are easily accessible by train, bus, trolly, or water transportation, which makes exploring the city easy and efficient.
  • Cultural/educational opportunities: One of Boston’s major strengths is its many educational and cultural institutions. Boston is home to some of the top universities in the country, including Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Boston University. These prestigious schools not only offer opportunities for lifelong learning but also feature museums, libraries, and public events as well.


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Living in Boston Cons

  • Traffic and parking: The intense traffic is a major drawback of living in Boston. INRIX, a transportation data company, ranks Boston second worst in the country and fourth worst in the world in terms of traffic. Parking can also be tough to find unless you’re prepared to pay.
  • High cost of living: Living in Boston is also expensive compared to the rest of the United States. The cost of living in Boston is 53% higher than the rest of the US, and the average home price is about 65% higher than the national average.

Living in Chicago Pros

So, now that you understand the Boston pros and cons, let’s look at what it’s like living in Chicago. Chicago also has its own unique positives and negatives. Here is a look at the Chicago pros and cons.

  • Amazing food: Chicago is well known for its amazing food, and its diverse culinary scene is one of the city’s major strengths. From deep-dish pizza and Italian food to soul food and Asian cuisine, Chicago offers some of the best eating you’ll find anywhere in the US.
  • Culture and diversity: Chicago is a very diverse city that offers a unique identity you won’t find anywhere else. Chicago is known for its fantastic architecture, amazing music, world-class museums, and many distinct neighborhoods.
  • Job opportunities: Chicago also has a robust economy supported by industries like financial services, technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and construction. There are close to 100,000 businesses based in Chicago, offering plenty of job opportunities across a wide variety of industries and sectors.


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Living in Chicago Cons

  • Taxes: Although the cost of living in Chicago is reasonable for a large metropolis, its high taxes are one of its drawbacks. Chicago ranks number two in the country for highest combined sales tax, and Cook County property taxes are also among the highest in the nation.
  • High crime rate: Crime can also be a major liability of living in Chicago. The crime rate in Chicago is 67% higher than the national average, and the violent crime rate is 143% higher than in the rest of the US. While there are plenty of safe areas of Chicago, it’s notorious for high-crime areas like the Southside.

Boston vs. Chicago Comparisons

Now that you know the pros and cons of each city, here is a look at how to compare Chicago vs. Boston on a few key issues that will impact your experience.

Chicago vs. Boston Population

Chicago is a much larger city with a population of 2.6 million, making it about 4x the size of Boston, which has a population of 650,706.

Chicago vs. Boston Cost of Living

The cost of living in Chicago vs. Boston is much lower. The cost of living index for Chicago is 123, indicating it is 23% more expensive than the US, whereas the COLI for Boston is 153 or 53% more expensive than the rest of the United States. That indicates the cost of living in Chicago vs. Boston is 30% less expensive. 

The median home price in Boston is $830,000, while in Chicago, it’s $350,000 or 81% lower. The average family of four with two adults and two kids would need to earn $92,894 per year to afford to live in the Chicago metro area, whereas in the Boston area, the same family would need to earn $131,028.


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Boston vs. Chicago Crime Rate

Boston has a higher crime rate overall, although Chicago experiences more violent crime. The total crime rate in Chicago is 1,705 incidents per 100,000 residents, which means it’s actually 14% safer than the rest of Illinois and 27% safer than the rest of the US. However, the violent crime rate is 987 crimes per 100,000 residents, making it 131.7% more dangerous than the rest of Illinois and 154% more violent than the rest of the US.

The total crime rate in Boston is 2591 incidents per 100,000 residents, which is 6% more dangerous than the rest of the country and 40% higher than Chicago. But the violent crime rate is 624 per 100,000 residents, which is 61% higher than the rest of the US, yet 45% lower than Chicago. But Boston also has a higher property crime rate at 1,866 compared to 718 in Chicago (crimes per 100,000 residents).

Things to Do in Chicago vs. Boston

Both cities offer unique attractions and fun things to do, but as a larger city, Chicago offers more diversity and culture. Chicago is famous for its architecture, cuisine, theater, and theater scene, beaches, and shopping. Boston is better known for its history and academic institutions, not as much for its rich and diverse culture. So both offer unique activities and big city amenities; Chicago offers a wider variety of options when it comes to food and nightlife, whereas Boston is more laidback with a peaceful New England ambiance.

Boston vs. Chicago Weather

The Boston vs. Chicago weather debate is very common as both offer a fairly similar climate with hot summers and cold winters. The average temperatures are very close, with summers getting up to the low 80s and winters getting down to just below 20°F. Boston gets more sunshine with 200 sunny days vs. 189 in Chicago. But it averages nine more inches of rain and 13 more inches of snow per year. So, Chicago vs. Boston weather is very similar and offers unique opportunities and obstacles.


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Traffic in Boston vs. Chicago

Both cities top the list in terms of the worst traffic in the country, although Chicago is slightly worse. According to a report by INRIX, Chicago, and Boston are the number one and two worst cities in the US for traffic congestion, and reported that Chicago residents lost 155 hours to traffic in 2022, compared to 134 hours for Bostonians. That makes Chicago the second worst city for traffic in the world after London, followed by Paris and then Boston at number 4.

Jobs in Chicago vs. Boston

As the larger city, Chicago offers more diversity of opportunity, although they both have robust economies. Chicago is home to a well-diversified service economy and a major powerhouse in finance, manufacturing, and tech. However, Boston also has a strong job market supported by industries like finance, healthcare, and education.

Chicago has a higher GDP at around $630 million compared to $444 million in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area. However, Boston also has a stronger future job growth rate at 42% versus 25% in Chicago. Plus, the unemployment rate in Chicago is higher at 9%, compared to 6.2% in Boston.

Chicago vs. Boston Sports Teams

Many fans love to debate the Chicago vs. Boston sports teams, as they both have notable franchises in several popular leagues. In the MLB, you have the Boston Red Sox vs. the Chicago Cubs, which is one of the most intriguing rivalries in professional baseball. Then, in the NBA, you have the Boston Celtics vs. the Chicago Bulls, who have had a long history of intense showdowns.

Other major sports teams based in Chicago include the White Sox (MLB), Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago FC (MLS) and the Chicago Black Hawks (NHL). Boston is also home to the Bruins (NHL), plus the Patriots (NFL), who represent all of New England. So, while Chicago has more professional sports teams, it’s up for debate which has the superior franchises.

Chicago vs. Boston Distance

You may be wondering how far is Boston from Chicago. Boston is about 1,000 miles away from Chicago. You can get from Boston to Chicago by car, which would take about 15 hours. You can also travel by plane from the Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD), which is about 3 hours. Or you can take Amtrak, which takes about 22 hours.

Boston vs. Chicago: Where Are You Moving?

So now that you’ve gotten the full run-down on Boston vs. Chicago, you can make an educated decision about where you want to move. Chicago offers more big city amenities and excitement, whereas Boston offers more history and a quaint New England charm.

But if you plan on moving to Chicago or Boston, you’ll need a reliable team of experts to help you get there. Federal Companies is a trusted Chicago moving company with a reliable team that can help you start the next chapter of your life the right way. Call 800-747-4100 today for a free, customized moving quote.


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