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Working in Boston

Compared to other major US cities such as Los Angeles and New York, many people do not have as clear an impression of what Boston’s business atmosphere is like. You might be surprised! Working in Boston is your key to one of the biggest urban economies in the US. Our guide to Boston has all the vital facts.
Welcome to New England's economic driving force.
  • Boston’s economy has been growing steadily since the economic crisis and the unemployment rate is below the national average.
  • There are many different working opportunities for expats in Boston; the high-tech sector or healthcare services belong to the larger sectors of the city.
  • Finding a job in Boston is not going to be easy since there is highly skilled competition in the area. Unsolicited applications might be a good idea, especially because there is a large hidden job market in the US.
  • To find out whether you are going to be taxed like a US citizen or not, you need to take the IRS’ Substantial Presence Test.


Boston’s Economy in a Nutshell

The combined manpower of some 2.5 million people working in Boston and its metro area makes the region the ninth-largest economy in the United States. Unemployment in the area, around 3.9% in June 2016, is significantly below the national average. Following a sharp decline in the wake of the economic crisis at the end of the last decade, people working in Boston quickly turned the ship around, as the economy returned to a generally positive performance, and has been growing steadily ever since.

For a more detailed look at the nation's economy, turn to our in-depth guide on the economy of the US.

There’s Something for Everyone: Boston’s Working Sectors

If you have already read our other articles on the city, the fact that Boston is home to schools of international renown will come as no surprise. Education is also a key factor in the city’s economy, attracting companies and specialized industries to the region, which provide plentiful career opportunities in Boston. Furthermore, the schools themselves are major employers.

Boston is a coastal town of high significance, and its seaport and related operations have traditionally been dependable sources of employment opportunities. Unsurprisingly, the city’s port is the oldest in the country — New England’s metropolis was the first in many things — and secured the livelihoods of countless people employed in Boston’s trade and maritime sectors.

Today, most people working in Boston have found employment in one of the major industries of the city’s economy: the high-tech sector (the fastest growing in Boston, with companies such as the multinational microchip producers Intel or AMD located around 30 miles outside the city), education and health, and the business services sector. Obviously, some sectors suffered crippling consequences in the 2008 crisis, but even today, working in Boston is a wise move for many people looking to further their careers.

One factor that should not be overlooked, even if its significance for expats is minor, is the number of people employed in Boston’s administrative and governmental sector. As a state capital and regional political center, the government has a steady demand for new employees in Boston’s administrative services.

If you are interested in sneakers, or if shaving is part of your daily bathroom ritual, there’s a decent chance you own products courtesy of the people working in Boston’s spearheading companies in those respective areas, New Balance and Gillette.

Expats in Boston: How to Find a Job

Expats interested in working in Boston face a notable obstacle in the job market, as the competition is stiff and highly qualified. Of course, not all graduates of the many educational institutions in the area are looking to start working in Boston, but the potential number of direct competitors is very high. Furthermore, many of the nonimmigrant visas offered by the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) require your future employer to prove that there were no suitable American applicants for the job. Thus, your dream of working in Boston will have to come true by virtue of your credentials. You will simply have to outpace the rest!

Of course, applying for jobs is not the only way to start working in Boston. As mentioned, many multinationals have offices or headquarters there. If you are employed with one of them in your home country, it could prove worthwhile to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities for working in Boston subsidiaries.

As with most aspects of expatriation, thorough preparation will make finding employment and enjoying your daily work routine a lot easier. Read up on job applications and interviews and working conditions in the US in our Expat Guides.

Be Prepared: The Cost of Living in Boston

As an expat working in Boston, chances are that your compensation will be fairly high. At the same time, Boston is among the most expensive cities in the entire US. For an outline of the housing market situation and the oftentimes outrageous rents for quality apartments, see our article on moving to Boston. 

While you will probably be able to make a nice living working in Boston, the figures on your paycheck shouldn’t fool you. The cost of living in Boston is 39.6% higher than the national average. Groceries and healthcare in particular are expensive in the City on a Hill.

The cost of living in the US can catch expats by surprise. Go prepared! Our detailed guide helps you set up a budget.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Guillaume De Faloix

"Everyone told me I had to attend an InterNations event here in Boston. I finally did, and from then, I didn't miss a single one."

Raquel Santos

"Friendly Ambassadors, various local scouts, great events - InterNations is one big happy family of expats here in Boston."

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