Moving Your Life

7 Ways to Look Like a Native Bostonian

group of girls walking in Boston, Massachusetts

First of all, nobody who lives here calls it Beantown. If you're new to the Boston area, you should know that this is a city with serious civic pride, and while you don’t have to call it The Hub as the locals do, you will probably want to do your best to fit in. Use these 7 tips to help you with living in Boston and get a hang of this city.

1. Don’t rely on the grid

Boston is a highly walkable city, but it's not always simple to navigate if you're used to the simple, planned layouts of other Northeast cities. When moving to Boston, it's important to know that there are many dead end, winding, narrow and one-way thoroughfares, not to mention same-named streets and rotaries. Bring GPS and patience to help guide you.

2. Do know your regions

Southie and South End are two different places. Eastie is basically east but the West End isn't remotely West. It's advised that you wait for a local person to teach you how to pronounce all the neighborhood names – Worcester, Quincy, Faneuil, Dorchester – before you attempt yourself and out yourself as an out-of-towner. (Same goes for trying to spell them if you've only heard them spoken.) Brookline is not Boston. Cambridge is not Boston. Chelsea is not Boston.

3. Do consider local transportation

If you need tips for living in Boston, remember this one. It can be tricky to drive around this city, and finding parking is challenging. With an excellent subway system, you can get anywhere with free transfers and you'll never have to deal with a rotary or have to bang a U-ey, in local parlance.

4. Don’t bring up the Big Dig

Just don’t, okay?

5. Do explore local food and drink

Boston neighborhoods like Chinatown, the North End, Back Bay, South End and Jamaica Plain. Chowdah (clam soup in a creamy broth) is ubiquitous and delicious. "Scrod" can be anything, but it's usually fish. Packie is the corner liquor store. A frappe is not a milkshake… it's its own thing. There's a local law that decrees that "happy hour" cannot refer to any other time of day here—perhaps it's no coincidence that this is the setting for the original Cheers restaurant. The Fig Newton was named after the Boston suburb Newton. Oh, and Boston cream pie is a cake.

6. Do know your slang

Boston slang isn't so bad once you get the hang of it. The T is the subway system. The Pike is Massachusetts Avenue. Comm Avenue is Commonwealth Avenue. Triple Decker refers to three-story, three-apartment wooden houses. Dot Ave is Dorchester Avenue. The Pru is Prudential Center. Rotaries are Boston's term for traffic circle—did we mention there are a lot of them? Dunkie's is Dunkin' Donuts.

7. Do cheer for the Red Sox

No matter what. And while you're at it, learn the lyrics to "Sweet Caroline" because you're likely to hear that at a Boston Red Sox game.

The locals love their city and you’ll love it too. Once you’re done with the big move and find you need just a little more space, head over to your local Boston self-storage facility. You’ll feel at home in no time.

About the author

Elisa Ludwig

Leave a Comment