Massachusetts is a state with a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a thriving economy. With excellent schools, great job opportunities, and an unparalleled quality of life, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to call this state their home. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is, in many ways, the birthplace of the United States. Everyone knows the history of the pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock, Boston’s role in the American Revolution, and the many influential figures and celebrities that have come out of the state in the years since. But what about living in Massachusetts?
As one of the central New England states, it’s highly desirable. According to WalletHub, which looked at the economy, education, quality of life, and safety, Massachusetts is the most desirable state in the nation. That’s some high praise! The only downside was affordability. It ranks as one of the most expensive to settle in.
Still, the perks far outweigh the cost for many people, and there are some incredible communities to put down roots in the state. We examined some of the statistics for safety, real estate, cost of living, and amenities and put together this list of the best cities to live in Massachusetts.
Here’re the 10 best places to live in Massachusetts.
Table of Contents:
1. Adams – Berkshire County
Adams is the most affordable option on our list, but it is no less desirable. In fact, those who don’t mind living in a more rural county away from the major cities will find Adams enjoyable for its slower pace and stunning natural landscape. As a town of just 7,895, people here tend to know each other well, adding to the sense of community.
The overall cost of living in Adams is its biggest draw. It’s 24% lower than the average of the rest of the state. Real estate is even more affordable. The median home price is just $183,100, making it 57% lower than in Massachusetts. Even rental prices come in at 44% lower. The inexpensive lifestyle does not come at the cost of safety, either. Crime rates are lower than average here.
Adams has seen tremendous growth in amenities over the last few years. Once home to a dying series of mills, these properties have been invigorated with new development. Modern lofts, shops, and artisan markets have replaced the old structures. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is a popular spot in North Adams, especially for the people of western Massachusetts. It adds a youthful bend to the city.
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2. Salem – Essex County
Salem is best known as the home of the infamous witch trials, undoubtedly baked into the city’s unique DNA. Each October, the city sees an influx of up to 100,000 visitors daily, hoping to get a taste of the Halloween spirit. Salem is a good-sized city as well. It’s home to 43,581. It’s a nice midpoint between a more significant urban center and a small town.
Violent crime in Salem remains very low. It’s nearly 7 points less than the national average. The cost of living is on par with the rest of Massachusetts, but real estate prices are 7% lower. The median home cost sits around $503,100. These costs are certainly fair for such a historic city with so much to do.
While there is an overabundance of things to do around Halloween in Salem, it has plenty of year-round amenities and activities to keep anyone happy. The architecture is classic New England. Art lovers will want to check out the Peabody-Essex Museum for some of the best exhibits outside of Boston. Students can enroll in Salem State University, which has been operating since 1854. Of course, Salem also has its share of restaurants and quirky shops in the sprawling downtown area.
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3. Clinton -Worcester County
Clinton might take the cake for a balance of safety, affordability, amenities, and proximity to major urban areas. It’s considered a suburb of the central city of Worcester, so people in Clinton have easy access to city life. The town of 13,962 still feels small enough for its residents to be part of a tight-knit community.
Clinton is among the safest cities in Massachusetts. Its crime rate is 92% lower than the rest of the state, providing a wonderful peace of mind for anyone settling here. The overall cost of living is 7% lower than the state, and real estate prices are 32% lower than the average. Clinton’s median home will cost $357,100.
Clinton has multiple parks and town-operated facilities and is close to Worcester. These are highlighted by Central Park, which is a perfect place to take children or pets and is impeccably maintained by the town. Most uniquely, Clinton is home to the Museum of Russian Icons, a one-of-a-kind facility exhibiting an exhaustive collection of Russian trinkets to maintain the culture of the Russian population in the area.
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4. Plymouth – Plymouth County
If the name Plymouth sounds familiar, that’s because of how prominent it is in the scope of American history. The first European pilgrims established the Plymouth colony here, giving it the modern nickname “America’s Hometown.” Today, the town of 62,654 is a wonderful choice for people looking to settle on Massachusetts’s south shore.
Plymouth crime rates are on par with the rest of Massachusetts, and violent crime is especially low, so citizens can feel safe in their Plymouth neighborhoods. While the overall cost of living is about equal to the state’s average, real estate is not. The median home costs $585,200, which is around 8% lower on average than other communities of its size in Massachusetts.
A town with such rich history has lots of cultural and historical attractions. The most famous is the actual Plymouth Rock, where the famous ship the Mayflower landed back in the 1620s. There is also plenty of classic restored New England architecture and even the historical Plymouth Plantation, a popular spot for school field trips and history classes. If you prefer more modern amenities, don’t worry. Plymouth has plenty of contemporary restaurants and shopping.
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5. Waltham – Middlesex County
Rounding out the list is the 62,069-person city of Waltham, located just west of the Boston area. Waltham has seen a major resurgence in recent years. Many young people are attracted to the area because of its accessibility, proximity to the city, and local amenities that rival some of the best parts of Massachusetts.
Waltham crime rates are 45% lower than Massachusetts’s average, and the unemployment rate is low, mainly owing to its easy commute. The cost of living is a bit higher, however. Real estate is on the higher end of the cities on our list; the median home cost is currently $706,100. Many people will find the cost worth it for all of the things to do in the area.
Waltham has a rich community scene. Breweries, wineries, restaurants, and cafes are prominent all across town. There are plenty of golf courses nearby for athletes who love that activity. A bustling arts scene has given rise to the Waltham Mills Artists Association and the Waltham Art Museum. As a town whose history is steeped in production, people can also check out the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation to see some of the region’s contributions to the state’s growth.
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6. Franklin – Norfolk County
Franklin is the most worthy place to begin our list of best places to live in Massachusetts. It’s nestled in the vast suburbia of Norfolk county, southwest of Boston and just north of Rhode Island. Since Franklin’s population is 36,745, it’s large enough to be called a city. Still, it retains the official status of town because the people here wish to maintain the quaint, quiet qualities that make it so comfortable.
Crime rates in Franklin are virtually nonexistent, coming in at a whopping 92% lower than the average for the rest of the state. It’s exceedingly quiet, so those who wish to make that a priority should look here. The low crime rate doesn’t translate to very high real estate prices either. While real estate does cost a bit higher than the rest of Massachusetts on average, the median home is valued at about $539,000. The cost of living in Franklin is just 4% higher than in the rest of the state.
Franklin is full of amenities that keep its citizens happy. It has numerous medical centers, a bustling town square with cafes and restaurants, and a shopping center for anyone looking to pick up new items. One boast of the town is that it’s home to the nation’s first public library, which is still operational today.
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7. Medford – Middlesex County
Medford truly has it all. Located just a few short miles from downtown Boston, bisected by Interstate 93, and accessible by public transit, Medford residents can quickly get anywhere they need to go. The population here is 60,847, making it a decent-sized community in the immediate Boston area.
For being so close to Boston, Medford is incredibly safe. Its crime rate is 22% lower than the Massachusetts average, making it a good place for anyone, including families, young professionals, or retirees. The neighborhoods tend to have a distinctly suburban feel, filled with single-family homes and plenty of public parks. Due to this, real estate is a little highly-priced. The median home currently costs $716,700, about 24% higher than the state’s average. The cost of living in Medford is about 13% higher than Massachusetts’s average.
One of Medford’s advantages is that it’s home to the world-class Tufts University. As the home of such a prestigious campus, it has to have the infrastructure and the businesses to serve so many students who call it home. As a result, there are many restaurants, bars, and a terrific downtown area. Nature lovers even have an unexpected option so close to the city. The Middlesex Fells reservation covers 2,200 acres and five separate communities. It has picnic areas, ball fields, walking trails, and a serene nature to enjoy.
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8. Winthrop – Suffolk County
You can’t get any closer to Boston while still enjoying the perks of a small town than Winthrop. It’s a seaside peninsula with multiple beaches bordering East Boston to the north of Boston Harbor. Its proximity to Logan International Airport and Boston’s public transit system makes it uniquely connected to the city and makes it easy to travel elsewhere. Many of the town’s 18,466 people commute to work quickly.
Even though it is next to the city, Winthrop’s crime rates are low. They come in at 34% lower than the rest of Massachusetts. While the overall cost of living is higher than the rest of the state, it isn’t by very much. The median home costs $504,700 in Winthrop, which is excellent for being so close to the action of Boston.
Winthrop’s unique geography means it has multiple beaches for its residents to enjoy. The town center is home to all the businesses that people need, including restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping. The people of Winthrop can also get their fresh air at one of the many parks maintained by the town.
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9. Easthampton – Hampshire County
Easthampton is another of the more budget-friendly entries on our list. In addition, the town of 15,750 is on the southern edge of the pioneer valley, a very scenic area of Massachusetts. It’s very close to the college campuses of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, giving it plenty to see and do around the area.
Easthampton’s real estate prices are 29% lower than the state’s average, so you can find a home for a median cost of about $291,300. That’s pretty good for living in Massachusetts. Rental prices are also about 20% lower than in the rest of the state, so living here is certainly affordable and within reach for most people. The crime rates are about average, but violent crime is 9% lower than in other towns.
The citizens of Easthampton love it for its vast natural landscape. They have a popular wildlife sanctuary, an oft-visited rail trail, and the Mount Tom State Reservation. The beer brewing culture is booming in this part of the state. There are at least two major breweries in Easthampton alone ready to quench the thirsts of the populace.
10. Spencer – Worcester County
Spencer is another quiet town on our list, with a population of just 11,898. It’s fairly close to the city of Worcester and is accessible by multiple major routes. It’s a town known for its many acres of preserved parks and nature reserves for those inclined to value that in a community.
Safety is a big draw in Spencer. Crime rates here average 39% lower than the rest of the state overall. The cost of living is another perk. It averages about 15% less. Those home shopping on a budget will also be attracted to Spencer. The median home costs just $330,200, significantly less than most other safe communities in Massachusetts.
While the natural areas and local parks are the dominant attractions in Spencer, the downtown area is great for dining out and enjoying the local scene. Restaurants of every genre line the main drag, so there’s something for everyone here.
Massachusetts may be one of the more expensive states to settle down in. Still, its towns and cities are rich with history, activity, and culture. Each one brings its own unique sense of community to the table, and the state has something for everyone. This list of the best places in Massachusetts is just a starting point, as there are endless more communities to explore in this New England hub.
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