Worcester is full of surprises! US News and World Report ranked Worcester as one of the top 100 best places to live in the United States in 2022, praising the city for its high quality of life and great things to do. Yet some people are uncertain about moving to Worcester. They’ve heard about the cost of living Worcester MA, and they wonder if it’s affordable to live in the city.
What is the cost of living in Worcester Massachusetts? Here is your comprehensive guide on the Worcester Massachusetts cost of living.
Worcester Cost of Living Index
The Cost of Living Index (COLI) estimates how much items in a city or metro area cost in relation to the national average. 100 is the national average, so a city with a COLI of 110 is 10% more expensive than America’s average.
Worcester does not have its own COLI, so you can use estimates for Boston as a guideline. The overall COLI for Boston is 153.2, which makes Boston one of the most expensive cities in the country. Every type of expense is higher than the national average, but housing is extremely high. The index for housing is 224.5.
The COLI is just one figure you can look at. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change over time in the prices that people pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI for the Boston metropolitan area increased by 1.1% between November 2022 and January 2023. Over the last year, the index has increased by 6.3%.
Between November 2022 and January 2023, prices for rent increased by 1.9%, while food prices increased by 1.3%. On the other hand, energy prices dropped by 2.3%, and the cost of education dropped by 1.3%.
The Consumer Expenditures Survey is one source of data for the CPI. It also provides information on how much each person spends on food, energy, clothes, and other things. The Northeast region of the survey includes Worcester. The average consumer in the Northeast in 2021 spent $72,678 that year. The biggest expense was housing at $25,557, nearly 40% of all money spent in 2021. Food cost $9,918. Northeast residents spent nearly $3,000 more on housing than the national average, but they saved more than $1,000 on food.
According to the EPI Family Budget Calculator, it costs $8,583 a month and $102,992 a year for a family of four to live in Worcester. Child care is the biggest expense at $1,912 a month ($22,941 a year), but housing is $1,450 a month ($17,400 a year).
A single person moving to Worcester would need $3,685 a month or $44,215 a year to live. Housing is the biggest expense at $1,063 a month, or $12,756 a year.
Cost of Household Items, Utilities, Gas, and Groceries in Worcester
Worcester is an expensive place to live, though prices of items can vary. Here are some examples of consumer prices, including average Worcester utilities.
- 1 gallon of regular milk: $4.00
- 1 pound of white rice: $1.63
- 1 pound of chicken fillets: $6.43
- 1 pound of apples: $1.97
- 1 head of lettuce: $1.50
- 1 month of Worcester utilities: $184.57
- 1 pair of jeans: $37.00
- Average annual car insurance premium: $1,133
- 1 gallon of gasoline (March 2023): $3.42
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority provides bus service to Worcester and surrounding communities. No fares will be collected on any fixed route services until June 30, 2023. This policy may be continued, or the authority may return to their previous fare structure. Follow their social media pages to find out the latest news on the fare prices.
Worcester Real Estate Market
Worcester has a booming real estate market. Realtor.com listed Worcester as the fourth-best housing market in the country in 2022, praising it for its affordability and rapid growth. The city of Worcester has 82,375 housing units, 92% of which are occupied. Worcester is renter-friendly, with 57% of occupied units being renter-occupied.
According to Redfin, 102 homes sold in Worcester in January 2023. Houses for sale Worcester MA spend 26 days on the market on average. 49% of homes sold above the list price, with an average sale-to-list price of 100.5%.
The median home price is $375,000 with a cost per square foot of $227. Home prices spiked briefly at the end of 2022 before falling at the start of the year. But prices have trended upward steadily over the last three years.
Single family homes sell for $365,000, townhouses sell for $299,900, and condos sell for $267,500. Single family homes for sale in Worcester MA are by far the most popular type of home on the Worcester real estate market, accounting for 65 sales in January 2023 alone.
The housing market is very competitive. The average home receives six offers on average, and hot houses for sale in Worcester MA can sell in 16 days. Competition in the housing market can increase the cost of Worcester MA homes for sale, so you should move quickly and buy a home while it’s still relatively cheap.
The cheapest Worcester homes for sale are in West Tatnuck, with a median sales price of $372,500. The most expensive houses for sale in Worcester MA are in North Worcester at $459,990.
Worcester Rental Market – Average Rent in Worcester
According to RentCafe, the average rent in Worcester is $1,709 a month, or $20,508 a year. The price to rent ratio is 18.3, meaning it is usually better to rent your property in Worcester than buy one. Worcester rent is less than half the price in Boston, which is at $3,894. Worcester is also cheaper than most other Massachusetts cities, including Lowell MA and Salem MA.
The cheapest apartments for rent Worcester are in the area around University Park, which has an average rent of $1,309 a month. The most expensive neighborhoods in Worcester for renters are Burncoat, Greendale, and Indian Hill at $2,081 a month.
The Rental Affordability Report by ATTOM assesses whether it is more profitable to rent or buy a home. The report did not analyze Worcester in 2022, but it found that it was cheaper to rent than buy in Boston and Springfield.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition releases annual reports on the cost of rental homes in America. In 2022, Massachusetts had the third-highest housing wages of any state in the country. You would need to make $37.97 an hour to rent a two-bedroom home, or you would need to work 107 hours a week at minimum wage to rent one.
Keep in mind that the extremely high price of housing in Boston skews these figures. You need far less money for houses for rent in Worcester.
Average Salary and Household Income in Worcester
The per capita income in Worcester is $32,772 while the median household income is $63,194. Both of these income levels are two-thirds of the state averages. According to Payscale, the average base hourly rate is $21.49 with an average salary in Worcester MA of $73,000. Wages increased by 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The average weekly wage for a worker in Worcester in the second quarter of 2022 was $1,269. General and operations managers made the most money, with an average hourly wage of $61.11. Workers in Worcester generally make higher hourly wages than the national average; the average hourly wage for managers nationwide in Q2 2022 was $55.41.
Income, Sales, and Property Taxes in Worcester
Massachusetts imposes a 5.0% personal income tax on earned and unearned income. If you earn salaries, wages, interest, or dividends, you pay at 5%. Some capital gains are taxed at 12%; talk to an accountant to see if you need to pay this much. Some Massachusetts residents qualify for personal income tax credits, which can significantly reduce their payments.
The Massachusetts sales tax rate is 6.25% of the sales price or rental charge. Food and clothing costing less than $175, utilities for residential consumers, and personal services are exempt from the sales tax. Worcester does not levy any local income or sales taxes.
Worcester imposes a residential property tax rate of $14.34 per $1,000 of assessed value. The commercial Worcester property tax rate is $31.26 per $1,000 of value. The assessed value is 100% of the current market value of your property. A few categories of people like veterans with service disabilities and seniors over 70 can qualify for exemptions. You can also appeal your assessed value to have your property taxes reduced, though you need to have proof that your assessed value is too high.
Worcester vs. Boston Cost of Living
Is Worcester more affordable than Boston? Worcester is a far cheaper city than Boston to live in. According to Numbeo, you would need $7,431.90 to maintain the same qualify of life you can have with $5,000 in Worcester. Here is a table comparing the cost of various goods and services between the two cities.
|Item||Cost of Item in Worcester||Cost of Item in Boston|
|1 loaf of white bread||$3.00||$3.61|
|1 pound of local cheese||$5.35||$7.63|
|12 regular eggs||$3.59||$4.30|
|Average month of rent||$1,709||$3,894|
|Average price per square foot for buying a home||$227||$631|
|Median sales price for a home||$375,000||$747,208|
|Monthly fee for a fitness club||$24.99||$79.45|
|1 pair of running shoes||$76.00||$84.68|
How affordable is it to live in Worcester MA? A family of four would need more than $100,000 a year to cover all of their Worcester MA living expenses, but a single person or a couple can get by with less. Workers in Worcester are paid well, and you have options for affordable apartments for rent in Worcester MA. Worcester is far more affordable than Boston, which makes it a good place to live if you are moving to Massachusetts.
One easy way to cut the Worcester MA cost of living down is to find affordable yet reliable Worcester movers. Mass Bay Movers is ready to take care of your move to Worcester. Get your free quote at 978-587-3775.