Boston: One of the best cities in the country or wicked overhyped? Here’s what readers said.

News Boston
04/12/2016 -Boston, MA- Boston skyline viewed from the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina in East Boston, MA on April 12, 2016. The Tuesday forecast calls for rain with highs in the 50s.  (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff) section: Metro reporter:
U.S. News & World Report ranked Boston 18th on its list of the "Best Places to Live." Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Last week, U.S. News & World Report released its annual “Best Places to Live” report, placing Boston at No. 18. The city secured its top 20 ranking thanks to its small-town feel, rich history, and first-rate medical and educational institutions.  

The ranking may not have come as a surprise to those living in or near “Title Town,” a city used to coming out on top – though maybe not always for the best reasons (see: rats, rents). But what do readers really think? We asked, and roughly 58% of the 124 people who responded agreed: Boston is one of the best places to live. 

“Best city in the world!” said E. Adams. “Beaches, museums, hospitals and a short drive to northern NE for mountains and skiing. What more could you ask for? Should be #1.”

“Boston is like New York but a smaller, shinier version. It has water, mountains and beautiful parks,” echoed Maria Hart. “It is the greatest place to live, but please don’t tell anyone else. The traffic sucks enough already. We don’t need anyone else moving here.” 

Not everyone is as hyped about the Hub, however. Housing costs were an issue for several readers. 

“[I]t is too expensive to live there. Fo[r] affordability Worcester is better and close enough to enjoy Boston,” said Raul, who is from Worcester, of course. 

“​​Boston should be in the top 10. I would rank it even higher if it weren’t for housing prices,” said Aaron of South Boston. 

In the city with the third-highest median rent in the country, it’s not surprising that the high cost of living was one of the most common factors the 23.4% of those who voted “No, that ranking is off” cited. 

“It’s way too expensive to rent apartments and salaries are not adjusting to accommodate that,” S.D. of  Allston resident said. 

“There is not fair and affordable housing for all people,” added Ronald W. of Dorchester. 

Others pointed out that the high ranking likely did not take into account the experience of people of color in a city that continually struggles with racism.  

“I do not believe the ranking reflects a diverse perspective as that city has had and continues to have a racially divisive environment,” one of the ‘No’ voters said. 

“Like every other city or town on the list, it depends whether you’re a person of color or not. I suspect you’ll get different opinions,” said one of the 18.5% of respondents who voted for the ‘It depends’ option. “Rankings like this could actually step up and help ignite a much needed dialogue. New England, and Boston, in particular, has a rich history of segregation and racial tension that hasn’t at all gone away.”

Here’s a sampling of what other readers said about Boston’s ranking:

Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.

Do you think Boston is one of the best places to live?

Yes, absolutely! 

“Food, sports, people.” — DEREK, Waltham

“Culture, history, diversity, great museums, and medical facilities. Only drawback is lack of affordable housing.” — GEORGE, Dartmouth

“It is indeed a small big city near the ocean and mountains that offers everything in beautiful surroundings with gorgeous buildings steeped in history.” — GISELA, Beacon Hill 

No, that ranking is off. 

“Boston is a great city in many ways, but won’t be a truly world class city until it eliminates its ‘tribal’ culture (e.g. hostility toward outsiders, overly aggressive sports culture, thinking that you own the parking spot in front of your house instead of looking out for the common good).” — SUZANNE S., South End 

“This is nuts, Boston is only for the rich!” — MAURA K., Belmont 

“The weather is vile, the politics are worse, taxes are confiscatory, parking is exorbitant and housing costs a fortune. Other than that, it’s a great place for someone (else) to live.” — PETER, Green Valley, Ariz.

“Wayyy too expensive and uninhabitable for 25% of the year. Public transportation is nothing to write home about. Not a real international city. Nice if you’re ri$$$ch and sheltered, I guess.” — MICHAEL, Concord

“Clearly, the ranking didn’t take cost of living into consideration. Small town with NYC prices…” – G. DELIGONUL, New York City

It depends. 

“Affordability and the cold weather are challenging for many people” – ANONYMOUS 

“Living in Boston is really unaffordable although the perks are real if you have an opportunity for affordable housing. I don’t know many people who can afford 4000 a month rent or if they would pay that amount or more even if they could. It’s outrageous. Still, Boston is a beautiful and vibrant city and deserves a high ranking as a great destination to spend some time.” – ANONYMOUS

“The weather is generally awful, it’s much too cold all year long, but besides that it is a good place to live overall.” – KENNETH O., Savin Hill

“It is if you can afford it. Mostly all the places on the list are costly places to live.” – ANONYMOUS 

“Rents in the cool spots are obscene and only available to higher income folks. Working class and middle class people cannot afford to live in town. I love Boston and lived in the city for a few years in the 1980s. Could not afford it now.” – DONNA R., Lawrence

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