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 in terms of transformation.
It first emerged as a farming, fishing and whaling centre, 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 in some major European countries.
Massachusetts has firmly established itself as an academically prestigious state, and it is not surprising that technology and education remain its biggest industries.
Indeed, WalletHub ranked it the most educated state in America in 2017, with the Commonwealth state coming in 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 strong 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.
The best places to live in Massachusetts 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 recommendations.
1. Waltham, Massachusetts
In the Money Magazine Best Places to Live in America 2017 list, occupying the No.13 slot was humble Waltham, a town near Boston in Middlesex County with a population of 62,500.
The town gets its name from the Waltham Watch Co., an assembly line watch factory that produced more than 40 million watches and clocks in the 19th century.
Waltham is within close proximity of Boston (less than 10 miles) and there are two local universities based in the area: Brandeis University and Bentley College.
Unsurprisingly, the city has an active nightlife and also features an eclectic dining scene, with over 260 bars and restaurants to choose from, most of which you will find on Moody Street.
The town’s entertainment scene also includes five museums, several parks and theatres.
Household incomes average $75,205 per household, with major employers including the likes of online marketing company Constant Contact, defence contractor Raytheon, and Student Universe, a tech firm that provides students with discount travel services.
2. Lexington, Massachusetts
Lexington was named #1 on the 2017 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 33,000 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 become a decent town long after the shots died down, and that is exactly 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.
Cost of living is high, though, with median home values standing at a hefty $736,600, but the residents likewise enjoy some of the highest median household incomes in the nation at $149,306.
3. Leverett, Massachusetts
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 in relation to the perks you get to enjoy. The serenity and picturesque surrounds aside, the small town of just 2,000 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 averaging $343,900. As a resident, however, you will have to contend with the fact that there are no bars, restaurants or movie theatres in the area.
You could say Leverett encourages an old school type of lifestyle because it makes up for this dearth through an abundance of natural attractions and to-do’s.
4. Cambridge, Massachusetts
This is that Cambridge, the small town that is 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 smart 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 108,000 residents.
But it’s not like it is all work without play, Cambridge. The area has one of the liveliest nightlife, with plenty of awesome bars and restaurants, and amazing arts centres to boot.
Homes in Cambridge fetch at $581,700 on average, which is just about the going rate for a two-bed one-bath condo.
5. Winchester, Massachusetts
Winchester is a suburb of Boston that is home to 22,000 people. This is one of those towns designed particularly with family in mind. In fact, Winchester has been widely viewed as such since as early as the 1970s, and it is 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.
There are few incidences of crime in the area, and the town is an easy commute to the big city.
Mystic Lakes is a favourite hangout spot for residents whenever they want to swim, paddle, sail or ice-skate.
But life in Winchester doesn’t come for cheap.
Budget $1,565 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 $738,200 on average.
6. Newton, Massachusetts
Newton was named by TIME’s Money Magazine as the 26th best place to live in the United States.
The affluent town of 88,000 people comprises 13 villages. It is well-known for its outstanding public schools, leafy green streets and historic homes whose median value stands at $739,700.
The Garden City, as is often called, is less than 10 miles from Boston, but this commuter town has a flourishing economic life of its own. The job market is extremely healthy, and the biggest employers include the 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 $121,000 on average each year.
7. Sharon, Massachusetts
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 18,000 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, as well as the Route 128 tech corridor.
These high-paying jobs sees families in the area take home a hefty $124,444 on average.
The natural beauty of Sharon gives it an air of a remote suburb, with 40% of the town remaining an open space.
This beauty has also seen it become a famous summer resort, with the cherished Lake Massapoag a major attraction for both residents and visitors alike 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.
8. Provincetown, Massachusetts
If you fancy having a home within close proximity of alluring beaches, no place in the Codfish State beats Provincetown.
P-town, as it’s known to its 3,000 residents, 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 strong artistic flair that is evident in every little corner within its precincts.
It is chock full of varied craft stores and art galleries, complete with centres set up to promote visual arts and writing.
Provincetown is also famous for its large LGBTQ community, doubly so in summer. In fact, America’s oldest gay bar, The Atlantic House, can be found here. But it has a history of something rather different: hosting intellectuals.
Homes in Provincetown have a median value of $473,500.
9. Marblehead, Massachusetts
Next up our list of 15 best places to live in Massachusetts is Marblehead, a suburb of Boston located in Essex County where more than 20,000 residents call home.
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 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 $102,993 per household on average. Their kids are educated with some of the sharpest brains in the country, in public schools that have 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).
10. Sudbury, Massachusetts
Sudbury is a beautiful town located in Middlesex County that has it all going for it.
Crime in the area is a foreign concept to the 18,400 residents who live here. Its public schools are widely regarded and considered to be among the best in the state.
Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School students, for instance, 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 $640,700, but rent is surprisingly affordable at $569 on average. But finding a rental in the area is not at all easy.
Median household income in Sudbury is $165,745.
11. Wellesley, Massachusetts
Wellesley is a typical Massachusetts town.
It is renowned for its outstanding school district, something that is 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, with 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, examples of which include the Blue Ginger restaurant, Wasik’s Cheese Shop and Wellesley Books, all treasured by locals and visitors to the town.
The area is synonymous with a high quality of life, albeit with an equally high cost of living. The homes, which fetch at a whopping $936,900 on average, are bound to lock out many.
12. Concord, Massachusetts
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 19,200 residents also has a great literary history, homing an elite group of authors that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Their work has been preserved in the rustic and snug wood-paneled town library which has 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 basically anyone who can spare $702,400 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.
13. Newburyport, Massachusetts
Newburyport has a long seaport history which has seen it become a hot tourist spot. But the welcoming town is also an amazing place to call home, as the 18,000 residents who live 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 $85,556 per household
Commuting to the state capital also takes a little longer, but good thing is it is a bearable drive. If you are keen on making a positive impact on the environment, you can always leave your car behind and opt for the train instead as the city has a commuter rail stop.
Crime rate in Newburyport is moderate, and the town has a wealth of local dining spots that serve everything from local favourites to New Orleans-style fare.
Homes here are a bit more affordable at $444,200 on average.
14. Beverly, Massachusetts
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 40,670 residents enjoy a fairly low cost of living, with median home value standing at $369,600.
At $72,837, the average wage is above the national average. This, coupled with a crime rate that is relatively low, makes it an excellent choice for many, including families who have 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.
15. Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Last but definitely not least, is Longmeadow, a town in Hampden County that is home to a little under 16,000 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 proceed on to college.
The high school music program performs exceptionally well during its nationwide travel competitions, bagging numerous Grammy Awards in the process.
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 at $334,300, and depending on location, you can get a three-bedroom or four-bedroom single-family property for a hundred grand cheaper than that.