Learning common phrases associated with the Boston accent will make you feel more at home when you move to the city. There may be some expressions that you’ve never heard before, which only make sense in the context of being in Boston. They aren’t crucial for living here, but knowing them can make you feel more like a local rather than lost in translation.

 

Living in Boston

As well as the local turn of phrase, there are other unique things about living in Boston. For a start, there’s the weather. It’s a four seasons kinda city. Experience spring, summer, fall and winter in their quintessential glory. You won’t run out of things to do in Boston. Whether you’re an active type who would be game for the Boston Marathon. Or more of a culture vulture, keen to explore the city’s historic neighborhoods and diverse culinary scene. Bostonians are also big on sports. Local hero teams, such as the Red Sox and the Celtics, are at the top of their game.

 

Bostonian vocab

Bostonians have a unique way of pronouncing words. Listen out for two basic sounds characterized by the pronunciation of the letter “o”. The “ah” sound, sometimes pronounced more like “aw” can be heard, for example, in the difference between “tonic” and “tawnic”. In other cases, the “short orounds the vowel out, as in “Boston Common”.

Male and female sitting in conversation over a coffee

Commonly, the final “r “ in a word is dropped, so “car” sounds more like “cah” and so on. Sometimes, words are joined together into one. So “how are you” becomes “howahyah”.

 

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As well as the sound of speech, there are some words and one-liners used in everyday life in Boston. Have some fun learning the local lingo and sprinkling some of them into your sentences.

“The T”

The Boston subway is locally referred to as “the T”, run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

“Three-decker”

It’s not a three-tiered bus or a type of chocolate bar. It is, in fact, a type of three-story apartment building found in Boston, built between 1880 and 1930.

“Southie”

The area of South Boston and residents that live there are referred to as “Southie” (the place) or “Southies” (the locals).

“Grinder”

Not to be confused with the dating app, it’s actually a food-related term to describe a sandwich in a long roll, such as a sub.

“Dunks”

This term is a play on Bostonian’s affection for the good ole’ Dunkin Donuts coffee shop chain.

“Wicked”

To add emphasis to an adjective in Boston you would use “wicked” in the same manner as “really”.

“Supper

Pronounced “suppah”, this is an alternate way to say “dinner”. As in, you’re meeting some friends for “suppah” in “Southie”.

“Packie”

If you visit the liquor store, you can instead say you are going to the ‘packies” which is short for “package store.”

“Bubbler”

When in Boston, a “bubbler” translates as a water fountain that you take a drink out of.

“Nor-easter”

Easter celebrations and chocolate eggs have nothing in common with this weather-related expression. It’s a one-liner used to describe a heavy storm from northeast winds

“Bang a u-ey”

To “bang a U-ey” is to make a U-Turn when driving.

“The Cape”

Don’t mix this with a clothing term or superhero accessory.“The Cape” is actually the casual way to refer to Cape Cod, the beautiful beach destination on the Massachusetts peninsula.  

“Barrel”

Instead of saying “bin” for where you put the garbage, you can instead say “barrel”.

“Parlor”

This quite formal sounding word refers to the humble living room within a home where you relax.  

 

How to get settled in Boston

As well as getting to grips with what the locals are saying, here are three important things to nail to get settled in the city.

Accommodation

It’s easier to start on the right foot if you search and secure a place to live before you arrive. Apartment portals sites like Zumper and HotPads filter searches by rental requirements so you can look for a place remotely. Another consideration is unfurnished or furnished rentals.

Blueground apartment living room interior

For a mid- to long-term stay, save time and money required to kit out an empty apartment by opting for a fully furnished unit. Completely equipped rentals with connected utilities, as offered in Blueground properties in Boston, are ready to start living in.  

Transit

Mastering the local dialect is one thing, but how you get around the is the essential other.

In Boston, there are various ways to get around town using public transit. The “T” (subway, remember) runs five different lines across the city between 5 a.m to 6 a.m until midnight or 1 a.m.

Those that live in the suburbs will be best serviced by the commuter rail trains or public bus routes. There’s also the public bike sharing system, BLUEbikes, for peddling around on two feet.

Get to know people

Whether arriving in the city alone, with a partner or family in tow, getting to meet people is good for wellbeing. There are many ways to casually meet people in Boston, from joining a local gym to signing up to a volunteer that means something to you. There are fun activities and culture the whole family to engage with at Boston’s world-class museums and art galleries. As well as a cool live music scene and free street festivals for singles to mingle in throughout the year.

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