A Local Harvard Student’s Guide to Surviving in Boston

Mar 13, 2023 4:07:05 PM

This blog post was written by SAC student Jawahir Mohamed

According to many sources, Boston is one of the United States’ most expensive cities to live in. However, this comes as no surprise given the many opportunities that lie here, including some of the top schools. As great as these opportunities are, it unfortunately creates a bit of a struggle for students who may not be working or earning enough to cover the costs of food, clothing, transportation, and personal needs. As a Harvard student, and a long standing local from the area, I can spare a few tips and tricks to living cost effectively in Boston, without completely breaking the bank.  


Many of you may be well acquainted with the MBTA, often called just the “T”. If you want to get around Boston without spending much money, this is your golden ticket. The Semester Pass Program offers college students an 11% fare discount, sometimes greater. You have the choice to choose between the Semester LinkPass, which offers unlimited travel on subway and local bus; or the Semester Commuter Rail Pass—unlimited travel on the commuter rail in addition to unlimited subway and local bus trips. And the best part of this, Harvard participates, so that makes Harvard students eligible! 


One of my personal favorite stores to shop from is Primark, located in downtown crossing. This store offers trendy and fashionable clothing at a relatively low price. Getting there also shouldn’t impose strenuous costs: Harvard square to downtown crossing is one train ride away, amounting to only $2.40. Additionally, I came across an intriguing and unique store called the Garment District. They are located near Kendall/MIT Red Line T station, and they claim to have “more than 40,000 unique items at any given time, [and] you’ll always find a large assortment of options at affordable prices.” And check this out, you pay by the pound ($2.00/lb). If that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is.  


Growing up, I often enjoyed going to Haymarket every Saturday morning. The market is located outside—a 27-minute walk from MGH via the Red Line or right outside of Haymarket Station off the Green and Orange line—and is a great way to explore the city, while shopping at the same time. The fruits are fresh and sold for cheap. It is an amazing way to submerge yourself into the Boston feel and enjoy some nice weather, especially in the spring. 

If you are not a big fan of dining hall food, it may be helpful for you to try a Uber one pass for one month free of charge. See how much money you save and if you are benefiting more than what it is costing you (classic cost-benefit analysis), purchase the subscription and save! I personally use Uber Eats at least two times a week and this membership saves me an average of $30-$40 a month.  

Not far from Harvard itself is a place I am sure many of you have heard of but must make an appearance in this blog post: Broadway Marketplace. This grocery store, located on 468 Broadway Street in Cambridge, serves sushi every Wednesdays for around $6 a plate. They have all the basic groceries you can think of and at a much cheaper price than say, CVS or Whole Foods.   

I leave you with these little gems of mine and hope they save you a buck or two. And remember, if you ever need help managing your financing or budgeting your money, contact GreenPath Financial Wellness for free financial counseling! 

Tags: Community