Submitted by PassionPit101 t3_11ee4zb in boston

Hi all!

I'll be graduating from college this spring and relocating from central NY with my partner, and i'm hoping to find some advice on what salary I should aim for and whether I can negotiate that in this city. As of right now I hold three BA's (History, Classics, Media Production) and three years of relevant work experience from my four years in college and am hoping to eventually head into grad school once I have the financial means. But in the meantime Boston is the city that has the most work relevant to my discipline---I'm hoping to continue work in the museum or library space (museum educator? PR assistant? basically anything I could do in the industry with my degrees). I'm seeing some great positions but they're averaging about 50k before taxes, and I'm not sure that's totally livable based on the income tax of Boston (unless Forbes' income tax calculator is way off?). Seeing as rent can be up to 3k per month just for a one-bedroom I'm pretty nervous crunching these numbers--even if I get a cheaper place I know rent hikes are not at all unusual for Boston and even if it's cheap now, it might not be later. Is it unreasonable to try and negotiate a 70k-80k salary on the basis of my experience and cost of living/inflation, or would I be laughed out of the interview? Am I misunderstanding the living situation for Boston and 50k is actually livable on it's own? Is there a magic salary range where you can maximize your take-home income in comparison to taxes owed? It's my first postgrad job so it's difficult to have a frame of reference for what to expect. Would especially love insight from recent grads or other museum/library professionals in this regard!

EDIT: I mentioned Assistant Curator as an example job but I realize that's definitely a position with postgraduate credentials---most entry level positions I've found in museums are working in communications, access services or museum education)

EDIT 2: Some people are asking about cars and debt. My partner has a car right now but we both HATE driving, so we would be all too happy to ditch it. As for student debt, I'll have around $22k total, and all of it is federal. I would try for income-based repayment (assuming the forgiveness plan falls through in the Supreme Court---otherwise it'd be forgiven)



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Pinwurm t1_jadhqpc wrote

$70K+ in the museum/library/non-profit space is a pretty tall order unless you're going to be managerial/director level. Check glassdoor and negotiate as best as you can.

I moved here almost a decade ago from Upstate NY and the sticker shock is very real. You might pay twice as much for half the space.

As well, I didn't understand what a 'housing crisis' actually looked like. You won't have time to 'think' about an apartment you just saw. You either submit an application same day or someone else will take it the next. Plus there may be broker fees.

$50K is not enough to live on your own. Any job that offers you that is taking advantage of your naivity. But it might get you in the door... Anyways, you will certainly need a roommate.

Even if you're earning $70K-$80K, I would still recommend living with a roommate because you'll have more disposable income and you'll be able to afford a better location and probably get more overall space. The reason people like living here is because Boston will be your backyard. If spend all your money on rent, it's harder to enjoy living here.

It's very normal to live with a roommate through one's 30s. You basically do so until you shack up with a significant other.

Other thing that's hard to do is ditching the car. If you ever want to try to live on your own, it's the way to go. Insurance rates are higher. Yearly excise tax exists. Street parking is limited, private parking is hundreds of dollars a month. Your money is better spent on Ubers instead of parking garages.


jib-cut-of t1_jadlb30 wrote

Seconded. I live quite comfortably here on a salary similar to OP's, but I need to live with two roommates and ditch the car to make it happen. For me, that's no big deal (in fact, I prefer to live with others and had been wanting to ditch the car for a while before moving here). However, I certainly understand that those choices aren't for everyone, and someone who feels they need to live alone and with a car would have a really rough time getting by here on $50k.


jabbuhwocky t1_jadidsn wrote

paging /u/africanbiotech for the affordable housing hookup


RailRoad_Candy t1_jadiujw wrote

This guy reddits.


nattarbox t1_jado3or wrote

haters will tell you living with three degrees worth of debt in a nice one bedroom on a minimum wage salary isn't possible


PassionPit101 OP t1_jadyyjy wrote

As someone who can't live with roommates, this thread rocks. Thanks for plugging!


Rabl t1_jae7auy wrote

That thread is a train wreck. Will your partner be relocating with you, and if so, will your partner be working? Living is easier if you can rent a one bedroom apartment with two incomes.


PassionPit101 OP t1_jae7jjw wrote

Definitely. He'd be making a little less than me since he'd be going back to college---so either financial aid stipend or a part-time job---but we would be double-income.

The thread is a bit of a train-wreck but it confirmed some of my thoughts that I'll probably get by being satisfied with less---some people want a lot of extra disposable income but for me who doesn't drink or go out and prefers the free things the city has to offer (parks, museums, etc.) I think I'll be alright at least for a couple of years or until I go to grad school


QueenOfBrews t1_jadii85 wrote

You are moving with your partner - what is their contribution to the move?

Do you have any debt, are you trying to bring a car?

I personally don’t think it would be a good time, but there’s another recent thread where there’s a dude that will tell you you’ll live your best life on that salary.


UltravioletClearance t1_jadsk21 wrote

Average rent is more like $2K for a studio or 1br, not $3K. You're probably just looking at big apartment complexes. A majority of Boston's housing stock is made up of 3 unit buildings called triple deckers, which you'll find on Facebook, Craigslist etc. Anything new will ask for luxury prices.

That being said, passion exploitation and trust fund kids are a very real thing in the museum / nonprofit space. A lot of places pay poverty wages on the belief that you're doing what you love and should be "honored" to work for such a prestigious institution. And for every struggling college grad who asks for a survivable wage, there's three more trust fund kids who will gladly take that minimum wage entry level job and ask mommy and daddy for help with rent.


PassionPit101 OP t1_jae044p wrote

I had a feeling that the big apartment listing sites were steering me wrong. I'm guessing most people get their apartments off FB or Craigslist? I'll have to start looking there.

Big facts on the trust fund kids thing---I'm a first-get college student and was only able to afford 3 degrees because I had an academic scholarship! Right now I'm focusing on networking with my professors and honors program to try and help me get ahead.


alexblablabla1123 t1_jads527 wrote

$70-$80k is more like analyst in corporate. If you want to make that (or more) just work in a consulting company. Also you don’t have 3 BAs, that’s 3 majors.

You can certainly live on $50k if you get a couple of roommates. MIT postdocs are paid that much. Also live close to the T so you don’t need a car.

Still cheaper than NYC (but with worse/more expensive food).


PassionPit101 OP t1_jaduemx wrote

Hi! It's interesting because at my university it actually is considered 3 separate degrees rather than a triple-major (I just learned this myself so I was pretty surprised...unless I was misinformed).

Can you work in consulting without a business/accounting/finance degree? Im not as familiar with the corporate sector so this is brand new info for me.

Not too worried about food. My partner's a great cook and we can squeeze a penny when it comes to groceries. We also both despise driving so ditching the car and using public transport will be an easy transition!


alexblablabla1123 t1_jadvndk wrote

That’s definitely interesting and I apologize for my ignorance before.

Yes it’s possible to work in consulting without business/economics/stem degrees. But it may depend on your school. Good thing is there’re a metric ton of them in Boston: the top 3 (McKinsey, BCG, Bain), the big 4 (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC) and various specialized firms (healthcare consulting, economics consulting etc.). I would say none of them required specialized skills for entry level. Maybe basic accounting/Excel. It’s not for everyone but they do hire a decent amount of college grads year after year.


PassionPit101 OP t1_jae37sm wrote

No need at all to apologize! I get the confusion pretty often.

While I have my career aspirations in the museum/cultural institution sector, when push comes to shove i'll be thankful for an office job that pays a living wage as a backup plan, especially graduating in this economy! So thank you so much for sharing this!


thenomadwhosteppedup t1_jadoh42 wrote

If you're relocating with your partner presumably you'd be living together and splitting the cost of a one-bedroom? In that case a salary of $50K is perfectly liveable in Boston. However, I would honestly be surprised if someone in your field with your number of years of experience is actually making $50K - I would budget lower and expect to earn a pretax salary of around $42K. I've worked in the museum/art nonprofit sector for 10 years and make under $70K. I'm sure this isn't anything you haven't heard before, but the field you're in is very competitive; there are relatively many jobs in those fields in Boston, but there are also a ton of well-qualified graduates coming out of all the schools here. What kind of work experience did you have in college? If it was something like a work-study job or similar admin/entry-level experience that won't make you stand out at all in job applications or allow you to negotiate for a higher salary. If you did have a higher level of responsibility that would allow you to apply for more mid-level jobs then you could maybe earn around $60K, depending on the organization and exact industry. Also, I know you just listed two arbitrary examples, but assistant curator and PR assistant are two extremely different jobs with extremely different levels of responsibility and experience required - it's basically unheard of these days to become a museum assistant curator without a PhD (except at maybe very small/regional museums, which in turn are not going to be able to offer a high salary). I'm not saying any of this to scare you off of moving here - you can definitely earn a perfectly liveable salary here working in the area you want to work in, although you would also need to rely on cost-saving measures like splitting costs with your partner, living with roommates, whatever, to make it doable. I do however think you should realistically adjust your salary expectations downwards even from $50K.


PassionPit101 OP t1_jady5fo wrote

Thanks so much for your insight! My partner would be going back to college shortly after we move so I would have more credentials than him, but either way he would split costs with me using financial aid from school or working an entry-level job. In any case I would probably be contributing a bit more in the meantime while we make the transition---do you think $50k would be doable if the other person is making around $30k? Anticipating the worst-case scenario. I mentioned $50k because that's just under the starting salary I've recently seen for those holding only a BA at places like the MFA which are well-endowed, but naturally it makes sense that smaller nonprofit museums would have less to offer salary-wise.

I'm doing two part-time jobs---one working in a rare book and manuscript library where I'm getting some professional development experience with conservation and curation as well as working with researchers---"the kind of thing many people do for summer internships but instead year-round", according to what my boss has told me anyway. I've been doing that for 3 years. The other is working as a historical manuscript transcriptionist/paleographer for a local cemetery's digitization project, which I've been doing for 2 years. I almost secured an internship at an art museum before the pandemic happened and they were forced to close, and I'd be trying for that again after graduation if no other opportunities materialize in order to boost my resume.

Definitely heard curatorial assistant take a lot more credentials---meant that as more of a placeholder for museum/library jobs in general like collections, archives, museum education etc. (I should probably go edit that!) As for PR that's because my Media Production/Communication degree would technically qualify me to do that as well content creation. Definitely a totally different path from History or Classics but I wanted those hard skills to offer to the museum space or even if I needed to pivot to a totally different industry.


[deleted] t1_jadzd0e wrote



PassionPit101 OP t1_jae2llm wrote

I see your point! I think I'm kind of an exception in terms of what I find fun though haha---I'm from rural Appalachia so I can't lie, I'm pretty easily entertained just taking advantage of the free things the city has to offer like parks and museums! Plus neither my partner or I are the drinking/partying type. We're more than happy to save a little bit over time to do fun things on occasion.


thenomadwhosteppedup t1_jae0z3i wrote

Yes okay that makes sense! I would say a combined salary of $80K is doable (tight but doable). It sounds like your experience would qualify you for jobs in university libraries, archives, special collections, etc. which there are definitely a lot of in the Boston area (more than there are in other areas of the arts and nonprofit sector). Those jobs also tend to pay relatively well in my experience too, like $50-60K although it depends on the university, exact responsibilities, blah blah. But I think you guys should be fine! Good luck!


catsforzas t1_jadv5pr wrote

I make a little south of $50k at a museum here - and I have an MA. While it’s not my first job it’s my first paid one in GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Museums, and Archives). That seems to be standard if not high for a “starter” job in the industry. Would NOT be able to live within a decent commute of my job if I didn’t live with my partner - who has a graduate stipend and makes a little less than me (I think between 42 and 45?). Our rent is $2200 in Brighton for a one bedroom. Things are doable if you’re making this much - especially if you’re living with a partner who also works. Also check out HireCulture for jobs - it’s a job board run by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and it’s pretty active (and how I found my job!)


PassionPit101 OP t1_jae4k1z wrote

Wow thank you for your insight! May I ask how you get to work (walk/drive/take the T?) There seems to be this dichotomy of people who love the T and others who say it's unreliable (I hate driving so I certainly want to love the T and utilize it for my commute, or just walk to work).

Our situation sounds similar--my partner would be going back to college so I'm assuming his contribution would be around $30k in the meantime, either from financial aid or a part-time job. In any case, it would be a little less than mine.

And thank you so much for sharing the HireCulture board! I've just been checking LinkedIn/Handshake and had no idea about this.


catsforzas t1_jae5go8 wrote

I take the bus — it’s not the most reliable but there aren’t any transfers between home and work. The MBTA is… fine. It’s not good but it’s there and it gets me to where I need to be. A bus-only pass runs me I think $50 monthly (if you add in the train system, the T, it’s $90 - so I just pay for my rare T rides separately) and I do have a car but I’m looking to sell it since I only really use it for grocery shopping and the occasional Facebook marketplace furniture pickup. Would recommend not bringing one, haha.


-CalicoKitty- t1_jaea119 wrote

Definitely possible with that income. It's not just rent though; groceries and other everyday items are also expensive here. Keep in mind that most apartments will require 4x rent up front (first, last, security, and broker). You can try to look for no-fee apartments to avoid the broker fee.

If you're serious about getting your masters you could probably get a job at a university and get your degree part-time for almost free. My wife and I both did this and we know many others who did as well. Good luck!


PassionPit101 OP t1_jaeq6aq wrote

Thanks so much for the advice! I'm honestly considering working as a university employee for that exact reason. If you don't mind me asking, where did you and your wife decide to get your MAs? I've noticed some universities are less generous than others in terms of employee education benefits.

Also, where do people usually find their no-fee apartments?


-CalicoKitty- t1_jaew7lh wrote

You're welcome! We got our degrees from Boston University in 2.5 years. At the time the benefit covered 100% tuition for the first class each semester, 90% for the second. You also pay federal taxes on the value over a certain limit.

Edit: Just noticed your last question. Craigslist, Zillow, maybe Trulia,, or Facebook.


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