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The Cost of Living Diaries: Worcester, MA

A local shares “insider info” on what it’s like to live in Worcester.

By Lindsey Hyde on March 16, 2022

Worcester, MA downtown
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Worcester, MA? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked a Worcester local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!

Home to the Worcester Red Sox, a selection of must-try breweries and restaurants, and a thriving arts scene, it’s easy to see why people love living in this central Massachusetts city. But a large selection of activities is just one benefit of living in Worcester. This highly innovative area also boasts successful education, technology, health care and manufacturing sectors, along with a few quality higher education institutions and a great cost of living. To get “insider details” on what it’s like to live and work in the area, we sat down with Kim Mowers, a resident who moved from Medford (a city about 15 minutes from Boston) to Worcester with her husband in 2019. She is the co-owner of The Burncoat Center for Arts and Wellness, which is made up of an artisan market, a refillery and zero waster store, and arts and wellness classes.

Name: Kim Mowers
Occupation: Co-Owner of The Burncoat Center for Arts and Wellness
City: Worcester, MA

Q: What brought you to the area?

A: It was cost of living, and my husband’s best friend lives in the neighboring town, so we would come here a lot for the weekends and stay with him.

“Mooncake” Mural in Worcester MAIan Lundie
MAIan Lundie

Q: What are the housing costs like in Worcester compared to Medford?

A: So, for example, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment (in Medford), which we were renting, and it was really disgusting — I called it bachelor pad. It was a third-floor, two-bedroom in really bad shape, and I believe that rent was $1,300 a month, which was ridiculous. And then this house we bought is a three-bedroom — has a front porch, has a back deck, we have a backyard, we have a really big driveway. It’s gorgeous, and our mortgage is $1,400. So it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Q: What is the community environment like in Worcester?

A: It’s been amazing. I haven’t met anyone who’s not very sweet, very welcoming, very happy, laid-back, giving — it’s just a really welcoming and open community.

Q: What do you like about living and working in Worcester?

A: I love that you can really get to any part of Worcester within 20 minutes. It’s easy. (Parking) is definitely easier than Boston. And it’s cheaper. And then you can pretty much find everything you need without having to go to like a huge mall or anything. There are a lot of really small businesses that it feels good to support. You can almost always find everything you need from supporting a small mom-and-pop shop, and I really love that.

Q: What are your favorite things to do in the area?

A: I like all the yoga classes — sometimes there are free yoga classes. And I like the walking trails and going to the breweries (especially before COVID-19). And the thing I really love about it is we also got a dog when we moved here, and I would say 90% of the breweries here are kid-friendly and dog-friendly.

Q: Tell us about some restaurants you like in the area, and how much would dinner and drinks for two-run?

A: Lock 50 is a really nice place — delicious food and nice cocktails, nice atmosphere. And there’s a place called the Beer Garden (reopening in 2022) that’s right next to the Common Oval (a large ice-skating rink downtown). Dinner and drinks (at the Beer Garden) for two would probably be between $50 and $70. Lock 50 would be on the higher end.

Q: What is a good coffee shop in the area, and about how much is your favorite drink?

A: My most favorite place is Root & Press, and that’s a really cool place, actually, because they do coffee — that’s their main thing – but they also do sandwiches and stuff, and they have a bookstore in there. They make really good coffee. I’m just a straight-up black coffee, no milk, no sugar, so it has to be good. For just a coffee the way I like, it would probably be about $2.

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