I'm thinking of moving to Worcester! Tell me pros and cons
I'm in my mid-30s, but I've lived in Worcester a long time now, after living in Boston for a while. I still work in Cambridge, and the main difference to me is just how small Worcester feels. It's actually pretty big and spread out, but there's lots of parts I just don't go to. Not because they're dangerous or anything, but because there are huge parts of the city that are just super-residential and boring and have nothing going on… maybe Worcester is sort of like a giant Hyde Park with a couple of tall buildings.
I don't really think of "going out" here the same way I did in Boston, where my friends and I would basically pick an area and spend the afternoon or night shopping, dining, drinking. IE, go to Pour House on Boylston St and hit up Bukowski's stroll down Newbury St, etc. or hang in Allston Village where there's a bunch of food, bars, dessert, shops. When I go out in Worcester, it usually involves driving or ubering from one place to another.
I definitely felt a dip in quality in terms of nightlife, but there are a handful of really cool bars here (thinking Nick's, Vincent's, Ralph's, Hotel Vernon, Electric Haze, Armsby Abbey), and the restaurants are really good and more coming up. The bummer part is that it feels like a lot of new places (especially downtown) are very corporate and not very good, and the negative effects of gentrification are a bit worrisome (people and businesses being priced out).
Walkability and the 'connectedness' of the city has been a major gripe for me… so many spots where sidewalks just end and it just seems like this place is pedestrian-hostile. Like drivers are shocked that people would actually be out walking in the city.
As others have said, the prices here are great, and I was able to buy a big house and a big yard, but I can't walk anywhere since it's so residential where I'm at for at least like 1.5 miles in every direction. I do not feel like I live in the 2nd biggest city in New England.
To me, driving into Cambridge has definitely worked better than trying to take commuter rail because of the flexibility, but I think it depends where you're headed. I'm able to be really flexible with my schedule, working at home 2-3 days a week. On days I do go in, I try to leave Worcester early (like 6am), and head home when my in-person meetings are over… either mid-day or afternoon so I don't get stuck in evening commute. My wife also works, and we have a young child, and it's actually worked OK.