15 Best Places to Live in Massachusetts

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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They say it is where America started. In Plymouth, Massachusetts. The place where the first European settlement was set up in 1620. That momentous occasion served as a harbinger of what was to come because, to this day, this progressive New England state continues to act as a national compass regarding transformation.

It first emerged as a farming, fishing, and whaling center, from which it morphed into the original American industrial heartland.

Towards the end of the 20th century, the Old Colony State would undergo a drastic reinvention as a high-tech and artistic powerhouse in what is now famously dubbed “The Massachusetts Miracle.” That reinvention has since gone on to inspire a rustbelt-reinvention all over the globe.

Today, the Greater Boston area alone boasts more IT brainpower than some central European countries. Massachusetts has firmly established itself as an academically prestigious state, and it is not surprising that technology and education remain its most prominent industries.

Indeed, WalletHub ranked it the most educated state in America in 2017, with the Commonwealth state at No.3 on the list of most innovative states.

The personal finance website also placed Massachusetts sixth overall on the best states to raise a family, with solid ratings, particularly in education & child care, health & safety, affordability, and family fun – just the perfect recipe for anyone looking for a desirable place to set up home.

Massachusetts’s best places to live are strewn all over The Bay State. The closer you are to jobs-rich Boston, the higher the cost of living. The farther away you move from “The Hub,” the slower life gets, but do not misconstrue this to mean boring.

Below, we list our 15 best places to live in Massachusetts.

1. Waltham, Massachusetts

Waltham, MassachusettsSource: BillDamon / Flickr

First on our list is Waltham, a city in Middlesex County and one of the best places to live in Massachusetts. This bustling city offers many things for its residents and visitor to explore, such as its long list of outdoor activities.

Residents living here love taking advantage of the outdoor activities at Prospect Hill Park and the Charles River Reservation. Waltham has a population of around sixty-four thousand residents, an excellent school system, a thriving economy, and many recreational opportunities. 

Waltham is known for having the best education system, arts and cultural scene, and historical interest. As for the economy, job opportunities in Waltham have increased by four percent, with unemployment below the national average. Compared to the national average, the cost of living is forty-nine percent higher, but its to be expected when living in the Northeastern United States.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Waltham are:

  • Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation
  • Prospect Hill Park
  • Rose Art Museum
  • Gore Place Museum
  • Landmark’s Embassy Cinema
  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Science

2. Lexington, Massachusetts

Lexington, MassachusettsSource: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / Flickr

Lexington was named #1 on the Best Places to Live in Massachusetts by Niche, and it is a name you are probably conversant with. That is because it is here that the first shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired.

The community of almost thirty-three thousand residents commemorates the early days of the struggle for independence on the first Monday of April every year without fail.

It was only fitting that such a site of national importance became a decent town long after the shots died down, which is precisely what became of Lexington. The area has some of the best performing public schools in the whole country, with little crime rate to talk about.

The cost of living is high, though, with median home values at a hefty quarter million. Still, the residents likewise enjoy some of the highest median household incomes in the nation at six figures.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Lexington are:

  • Lexington Battle Green
  • Wilson Farm Inc
  • Hancock-Clarke House
  • Wagon Wheel
  • Lexington Visitors Center
  • Lexington Venue Movie Theater
  • The Harvard Museum of Natural History

3. Leverett, Massachusetts

Leverett, MassachusettsSource: Dougtone / Flickr

If peace and quiet are ranking factors in your location evaluation criteria, you cannot do better than Leverett.

Located in Franklin County, Leverett makes it to our list due to its affordable cost of living about the perks you enjoy. The serenity and picturesque surroundings aside, the small town of just two thousand residents is served by a highly-ranked school district with an almost non-existent crime rate.

Life is affordable for a place of its stature, with home values above the national average. As a resident, however, you must contend that the area has no bars, restaurants, or movie theatres.

Leverett encourages an old-school lifestyle because it makes up for this dearth through abundant natural attractions and to-do’s.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Leverett are:

  • Puffers Falls
  • Emily Dickinson Museum
  • North Hadley Sugar Shack
  • Mead Art Museum
  • Lake Wyola State Park
  • Leverett Pond
  • Memorial Hall Museum
  • Adventure In Adventure Out

4. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge, MassachusettsSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

This is Cambridge, the small town home to two of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

If hanging around a stupidly brilliant crowd sounds like your idea of a fulfilling life, few places in the whole wide world can guarantee you that as much as this Middlesex County city of over one hundred thousand residents.

But it’s not like it is all work without play, Cambridge. The area has one of the liveliest nightlife, with plenty of excellent bars, restaurants, and unique art centers.

On average, homes in Cambridge fetch half a million, just about the going rate for a two-bed one-bath condo.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Cambridge are:

  • Harvard Square
  • Harvard Art Museums
  • MIT Museum
  • Harvard University
  • Central Square Shopping Mall
  • Boston Common City Park

5. Winchester, Massachusetts

Winchester, MassachusettsSource: edella / shutterstock
Winchester, Massachusetts

Winchester is a suburb of Boston that is home to twenty-two thousand people. This is one of those towns designed particularly with family in mind. Winchester has been widely viewed as such since the 1970s, a distinction the town has held ever since.

As with virtually every family town in Massachusetts, Winchester’s school district is one of the best performing in the nation, earning the highest possible score of 10 on GreatSchools.

The area has few incidences of crime, and the town is an easy commute to the big city. Mystic Lakes is a favorite hangout spot for residents whenever they want to swim, paddle, sail, or ice-skate.

But life in Winchester doesn’t come for cheap.

Budget over $1,500 for rent per month, on average. And if you are looking to splash on a dream home, you will find many options in the area, although this should set you back a quarter of a million.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Winchester are:

  • Stone Zoo
  • Ginn Field
  • Launch Family Entertainment Park
  • Central Rock Gym
  • New England Aquarium

6. Newton, Massachusetts

Newton, MassachusettsSource: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / shutterstock
Newton, Massachusetts

TIME’s Money Magazine named Newton the 26th best place to live in the United States.

The affluent town of eighty-eight thousand people comprises 13 villages. It is well-known for its outstanding public schools, leafy green streets, and historic homes, whose median value is a quarter million.

The Garden City, as it is often called, is less than 10 miles from Boston, but this commuter town has a flourishing economic life. The job market is extremely healthy, and the most prominent employers include Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Boston College.

Newton residents enjoy high incomes necessary to cushion them from the high cost of living, with households taking home six figures on average each year.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Newton are:

  • The Shops at Chestnut Hill
  • Jackson Homestead and Museum
  • Longyear Museum
  • Hemlock Gorge
  • Hammond Pond Trail
  • Newton Centre

7. Sharon, Massachusetts

Sharon, MassachusettsSource: Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger) / Wikimedia

Speaking of Money Magazine, Sharon may not have made it to the esteemed TIME publication in 2017, but it has been a constant feature over the last several years. Niche.com lists it as the second-best place to live in this New England State.

Located in Norfolk County, Sharon is home to eighteen thousand people. Its proximity to Boston has seen it benefit from the numerous jobs available, and the high employment rate has been bolstered by the many other jobs in nearby Providence and the Route 128 tech corridor.

These high-paying jobs see families in the area take home a hefty six figures on average. The natural beauty of Sharon gives it an air of a remote suburb, with 40% of the town remaining open space.

This beauty has also become a famous summer resort, with the cherished Lake Massapoag a significant attraction for residents and visitors who go here for picnics, swimming, and enjoying the famous Memorial Beach concerts.

Sharon is highly diverse, and its exceptional public schools encompass 30% of non-white students.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sharon are:

  • Borderland State Park
  • Ames Mansion
  • Ward’s Berry Farm
  • Lake Massapoag
  • Moose Hill Farm
  • Warner Trail
  • Crescent Ridge Dairy

8. Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, MassachusettsSource: holbox / shutterstock

If you fancy having a home near alluring beaches, no place in the Codfish State beats Provincetown.

As it’s known to its three thousand residents, P-town is situated at the very tip of Cape Cod, and it is a booming tourist destination for this one reason. Visitors flock to its shores in their droves across all seasons, winter included. For the beaches. And art. And something else.

Amazingly, P-town has managed to maintain its unique identity despite many decades of positioning itself as a cultural hub in the area. What will strike you most about Provincetown is its artistic solid flair, evident in every little corner within its precincts.

It is chock full of varied craft stores and art galleries, complete with centers to promote visual arts and writing.

Provincetown is also famous for its large LGBTQ community, doubly so in summer. America’s oldest gay bar, The Atlantic House, can be found here. But it has a history of something somewhat different: hosting intellectuals. Homes in Provincetown have a median value of half a million.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Provincetown are:

  • Old Harbor Lifesaving Station
  • Province Land’s Visitor Center
  • Long Point Beach
  • Beech Forest
  • Provincetown Library

9. Marblehead, Massachusetts

Marblehead, MassachusettsSource: Richard Cavalleri / shutterstock

Next up on our list of the 15 best places to live in Massachusetts is Marblehead, a suburb of Boston located in Essex County, where more than twenty thousand residents call home.

The crime rate in Marblehead is slightly higher than most of the entries on this list, but don’t take that to mean Marblehead is unsafe. It is anything but; just that what constitutes a crime in some of these areas could be, for instance, making off with a bottle of wine after a fancy get-together.

Families in Marblehead earn a combined six figures per household on average. Their kids are educated with some of the country’s sharpest brains in public schools with a near-perfect score on GreatSchools.

Marblehead is also keen to foster a sense of community, and this also trickles down to the students through the Marblehead High Schools booster club, which awards academic scholarships for success on the field (and off of it).

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Marblehead are:

  • Fort Sewall
  • Downtown Marblehead
  • Devereux Beach
  • Old Burial Hill
  • Castle Rock Park
  • Crowninshield Island

10. Sudbury, Massachusetts

Sudbury, MassachusettsSource: Major42 / shutterstock

Sudbury is a beautiful town in Middlesex County with everything going for it. Crime in the area is a foreign concept to over eighteen thousand residents. Its public schools are widely regarded and considered among the state’s best.

For instance, lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School students have been acing it in science, mathematics, and English subjects in the MCAS, hitting a minimum score of 90% in the last several years.

The town has easy access to medical care, with grocery stores, restaurants, and shops within a short drive. Sudbury is a close-knit community, and its folk often come together for many events, including movies, holiday dinners, and more.

The major downside to living in the area, even as some residents admit, is the high cost of living. Homes average a quarter a million, but rent is affordable, below $1,000 monthly. But finding a rental in the area is not at all easy. The median household income in Sudbury is well over six figures.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sudbury are:

  • Wayside Inn Grist Mill
  • Tippling Rock
  • Redstone Schoolhouse
  • New England Garden Company
  • Haskell Field
  • Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

11. Wellesley, Massachusetts

Wellesley, MassachusettsSource: Andrew Livingston / shutterstock

Wellesley is a typical Massachusetts town.

It is renowned for its outstanding school district, evident from the high number of students who attend colleges in the area.

One of the most notable includes Wellesley College, a sight to behold thanks to its sprawling campus that perfectly marries the charm of old with modern buildings, lush landscapes, and trees everywhere. Babson College is similarly appealing.

The 29,000 residents who live in this Norfolk County town are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities, with miles upon miles of trails that pass through every place imaginable, an arboretum, and quiet parks.

Like many other proud towns in the Commonwealth state, Wellesley has several distinctive shops, including the Blue Ginger restaurant, Wasik’s Cheese Shop, and Wellesley Books, all treasured by locals and visitors.

The area is synonymous with a high quality of life, albeit with an equally high cost of living. The homes, which fetch a whopping million on average, are bound to lock out many.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Wellesley are:

  • Wellesley Square
  • Wellesley College
  • Brook Path
  • Hunnewell Park
  • Wellesley Symphony
  • Elm Bank Reservation

12. Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, MassachusettsSource: Joseph Sohm / shutterstock

Concord is a special town in American history as it is here that the battles that sparked the American Revolution were fought; the battles of Concord and Lexington.

The town of more than nineteen thousand residents also has a great literary history, homing an elite group of authors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Their work has been preserved in the rustic, snug, wood-paneled town library with a dedicated transcendentalist wing.

Concord is an alluring proposition for anyone looking for some of the best schools in the state, varied amenities like shops and restaurants, and anyone who can spare a quarter of a million on average for a home.

There are less costly options, some as low as $400,000 for a three-bed, two-bath single-family property, but generally, the cost of living in the area is a little steep.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Concord are:

  • Battle Road Trail
  • Minute Man Historical Park
  • The Concord Museum
  • Old North Bridge

13. Newburyport, Massachusetts

Newburyport, MassachusettsSource: NadyaRa / shutterstock

Newburyport has a long seaport history, making it a hot tourist spot. But the welcoming town is also a fantastic place to call home, as the eighteen thousand residents here have found out. Though not as high as some places on this list, the residents of this Boston suburb enjoy high wages that average almost $90,000 per household.

Commuting to the state capital also takes a little longer, but the good thing is it is a bearable drive. If you are keen on positively impacting the environment, you can leave your car behind and opt for the train instead, as the city has a commuter rail stop.

The crime rate in Newburyport is moderate, and the town has a wealth of local dining spots that serve everything from local favorites to New Orleans-style fare. On average, homes here are a bit more affordable, just under half a million.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Newburyport are:

  • Maudslay State Park
  • Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Waterfront Park
  • Riverwalk Brewing Co.
  • Plum Island Lighthouse
  • Clipper City Rail Trail
  • Cashman Park

14. Beverly, Massachusetts

Beverly, MassachusettsSource: User:Magicpiano / Wikimedia
Beverly, Massachusetts

The next town on our list of 15 best places to live in Massachusetts is Beverly, one of the oldest cities in The Old Colony State.

It is located just 16 miles from Boston, and the forty thousand residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living, with median home value standing above the national average.

At around $75,000, the average wage is above the national average. This, coupled with a relatively low crime rate, makes it an excellent choice for many, including families, with the additional bonus of taking their children to high-performing schools.

Beverly makes for easy commuting to Boston, but the presence of many restaurants and local attractions in the area means the residents don’t have to hop on the commuter train during their off-hours.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Beverly are:

  • Long Hill
  • John Cabot House
  • North Shore Music Theatre
  • Dane Street Beach
  • Larkin Theatre
  • Independence Park
  • Baluch House

15. Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Longmeadow, MassachusettsSource: Dougtone / Flickr

Last but not least is Longmeadow, a town in Hampden County home to under sixteen thousand people.

The dreamy town is the definition of quaint, but that is not to mean life is slow here. The public school system is one of the best in the state. Longmeadow High School is a classic example; its students consistently outperform in their college entrance exams, and 96% of the graduates return to college.

The high school music program performs exceptionally well during its nationwide travel competitions, bagging numerous Grammy Awards.

What else you will love about Longmeadow is the affordable cost of living, at least compared to the other alternatives on this list. Median home value is a little over the national average, and depending on location, you can get a three-bedroom or four-bedroom single-family property for a hundred grand cheaper than that.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Longmeadow are:

  • Longmeadow Historic District
  • Forest Park
  • Alex’s Bagel Shop
  • Greenwood Park
  • The Longmeadow Shops
  • Six Flags New England


15 Best Places to Live in Massachusetts:

  • Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Lexington, Massachusetts
  • Leverett, Massachusetts
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Winchester, Massachusetts
  • Newton, Massachusetts
  • Sharon, Massachusetts
  • Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • Marblehead, Massachusetts
  • Sudbury, Massachusetts
  • Wellesley, Massachusetts
  • Concord, Massachusetts
  • Newburyport, Massachusetts
  • Beverly, Massachusetts
  • Longmeadow, Massachusetts