Living and Working on Nantucket

I visited Nantucket last weekend, and a couple of general questions occurred to me about the non-tourists on the island.

  1. I was warned to get ferry tickets well in advance, and months in advance if I wanted to bring over a car (I didn’t). I was wondering if this also applies to Nantucket residents. Do they have to plan any and all off-island excursions – especially those involving their car – months in advance, or is there a special ferry (or set-aside space held on regular ferries) for island residents? What about for emergencies? I know there’s a hospital on the island – I was thinking about things like a death in the family on the mainland, etc.

  2. Support staff – I know that a lot of full-time Nantucket residents are well-to-do, and can afford the high cost of living. But what about the waiters, the dishwashers, the janitors, etc.? In general, do they live on the island or commute from the mainland? Are there “affordable” housing options on-island if you know where to look? Are there seasonal/annual ferry passes available for commuters?

Feel free to structure your answers in limerick form, if you must. :slight_smile:


For (1), tourists want ferry rides at very specific times. Early in the day on Friday or Saturday, and late in the day on Sunday or Monday. Locals have a lot more flexibility.

locals do struggle with the cost of living. the very lucky have homes that have been in the family for eons.

As long as you don’t need to travel at a very specific time, there’s plenty of room for passengers on the ferries. It is true that you have to plan far in ahead if you want to get a car across, though. There is no special ferry, though there is a fast ferry that only takes an hour, but is much more expensive. I’m not sure if you are aware, but there is an airport on the island. It flies to Boston, Providence, and Hyannis, though I think there are also a few other routes like New York as well. Plus, there are plenty of private planes going through. For the most part, people who can afford to live on the island can afford to fly if something comes up.

I believe most support staff live on the island. The commute would be pretty brutal on a daily basis. I think, though don’t quote me on this, that it’s pretty common for restaurant owners and such to own property, such as small apartments, which they rent out to their employees, particularly those that travel to the island specifically to work during the busy season. I don’t think you’d have any luck finding “affordable” housing unless you’re going to work for someone with a connection. I don’t know about any long term ferry passes, though the airlines sell commuter book tickets which are discounted when purchased in booklets of 12(?). Now that I check, though, it looks like the Steamship Authority offers a similar deal: