Worcester or Boston: Space vs. Appeal

It seems that for every major city, people struggle with a major decision. Should I live in an expensive tiny apartment so that I can experience all of the great things about the city, or should I move to a cheaper area that has less to offer? Rather than discuss this problem in a broad sense, I prefer to focus on the Massachusetts version: Worcester vs. Boston.

I started thinking about this idea yesterday as I was climbing Mount Wachusett. It was a clear day and at the top of the mountain I looked and in the foreground I could see Worcester but in the same view further towards the horizon I could see the skyscrapers of Boston. These two cities are less than an hour apart, but they feel like two different worlds.



Both are nice pictures, but even from these shots, it is easy to see that Boston is much larger. Worcester has about 175,000 people and Boston swells above 1,000,000 during the workday. Boston is a city with a strong history, great opportunities and a European flair not found in most American cities. Worcester also has a great history, but it is a city that is an emblem of the industrial working class.

For decades Worcester was a city in decay. Businesses and restaurants would routinely close and grand old houses would fall into disrepair. Recently the city has begun to make a comeback, but it is still a long way from a world class city. Boston on the other hand is a city known for being a pioneer of innovation and modern living, offering organic markets, upscale boutiques and modern high-rise apartments.

For these reasons, many people, particularly those in their 20's, choose Boston. This may seem a simple decision, but consider cost-of-living.

As a college student living in a nice three bedroom apartment in Worcester, my roommates and I paid a total of $1,160 per month. In many parts of Boston, it is difficult to find a tiny studio apartment for the same price. It may cost upwards of a million dollars for a two bedroom condo in a nice building in downtown Boston, but many large four bedroom homes in nicer neighborhoods of Worcester sell for $200,000. Unless you have enough money that money is not a discussion point, this earns Worcester a lot of value. In Worcester you may not have immediate access to the finer things in Boston, but if you live in Boston you probably cannot afford those luxuries. People living in Worcester can enjoy a higher standard of living for a lower price.

Personally I cannot decide what is more important. Affordability or Amenities?