One of six New England states and rich in colonial history, Massachusetts has much to offer residents and visitors alike, but if you’re looking to take up permanent residence in the Bay State, you’ll need to decide which town or city to call home. Will it be western Mass, where you can enjoy stretches of farmland and skiing in the Berkshires? Maybe Cape Cod so you can dig your toes into the sand? With such variety packed into one state it’ll be a challenging decision, but don’t worry, we have you covered. We searched the web to find the consensus best places to live in Massachusetts, according to travel experts, and we’ve listed them here for you.
Before we get to our list, we have some great news for fathers in the workforce looking to settle down in Mass. According to research, Massachusetts is the best state for working dads. Researchers note that MA ranks first in the nation in terms of both work-life balance and childcare. It is also the second-best state in overall health scores and third in economic and social well-being. And if you’re age 65 or older, Boston may be the place to call home.
According to a recent study, moving to a busy urban area can increase longevity among older adults. That’s right, retirees that move away from busy areas may also be moving away from a longer life. Specifically, the study finds adults over 65 who move from a metro area in the 10th percentile (in terms of how much they enhance longevity) to an area in the 90th percentile adds 1.1 years to their lives. This may have you looking at the busier, eastern part of the state.
We want to help you choose the perfect corner of MA to call home. Below is our list of the best places to live in Massachusetts, according to experts. Of course, we want to hear your opinion. Comment below to let us know which city calls to you!
The List: Best Places to Live in Massachusetts, Per Experts
If you want to live close to Boston’s action but not quite in it, Newton is the place to be, according to many experts. But be sure you have the cash because this city, that is located just seven miles outside of the capital, is quite pricey.
Credit Donkey shares that “Newton ranks number one on our list for the highest median income.” And suppose you’re looking for quality education at your doorstep. In that case, they say that “the Chestnut Hill area is home to Boston College, and Newton is located centrally between Boston, Waltham, Brookline, Wellesley, and Needham. The city has a strong tourist trade, but it’s also recognized as a thriving college community with a strong artistic and cultural presence.” In addition, they also highlight that “Newton is usually the top-ranked Massachusetts city in ‘safest city in America’ reports.”
“Newton, MA, is all about the New England charm. The city is divided into 13 villages, all of which are unique neighborhoods that lend the city a special beauty and appeal,” writes Livability. And part of the reason for that high median income? They note that “the commute to Boston is short, meaning jobs in the area aren’t difficult to find.” But it can’t be all about work. They mention kayaking as a popular outdoor activity and also that the Newton History Museum is worth visiting.
If you’re looking for some actual stats, Movingist provides them: “The suburb has a $127,402 median income, 4.7% poverty rate, and 4.4% under-employment rate in a healthy population of 98,317.” They also share that “Money Magazine ranks Newton MA on #12 spots as the best place to live in the US. The publication’s rankings are based on economic health, education, amenities, the highest number of healthy residents, the highest percentage of graduation rates, and more.”
Here’s another popular (and expensive) city located just outside of Boston. It’s actually situated just across the Charles River from Beantown. Cambridge may not be a big city, but it’s big on higher education, housing both Harvard and MIT.
“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, writes The Crazy Tourist. Though they note, “it’s not like it is all work without play”, because “the area has one of the liveliest nightlife, with plenty of awesome bars and restaurants, and amazing arts centers to boot.”
Niche writes that “living in Cambridge offers residents an urban feel and most residents rent their homes.” They go on to share that “many young professionals live in Cambridge and residents tend to be liberal. The public schools in Cambridge are highly rated.”
“Often considered part of Boston, Cambridge is very much a city in its own right, though much of town life revolves around its famous universities. At Harvard Yard, for instance, you can see amazing old halls and charming libraries while Kendall Square is known as ‘the most innovative square mile on the planet’. Thanks to all the start-ups that have emerged here, it was recently named the best city to be a young professional in the United States,” writes Touropia.
Moving a little further outside of Boston, Waltham is about a 30-minute drive to the big city. That is, depending on Mass Pike and Storrow Drive traffic. Waltham, like Newton and Cambridge, is also in Middlesex County, but this city played a large role in contributing to the American Industrial Revolution.
“The history associated with Waltham is attributed to the Waltham Watch Co., which featured an assembly line production of nearly 40 million watches in the 19th century,” according to Nomad Lawyer. But they also note that it’s not all about history in Waltham: “Even with the quaint essence of a town, Waltham has more than 250 bars & restaurants to grab a beer after a day’s work.”
Another city with higher education institutions, “Waltham is home to Bentley College and Brandeis University,” according to Credit Donkey. But if you’re beyond school years and looking for work, they also note: “High-profile employers based in Waltham include defense contractor Raytheon, online marketing company Constant Contact, and StudentUniverse, a tech company that offers discount travel services to students.”
Livability also writes about the industries in Waltham, saying that it “features a diverse economy that is especially strong in the medical and technology fields.” They also note that “the community has a low crime rate, and a welcoming feel,” and lastly that some “must-visit places include the scenic Charles River riverbank and Rose Art Museum.”
Well known as the site of the first shots of the American Revolutionary War, this Boston suburb is steeped in history. But don’t worry if you’re not a history buff because this city has much more to offer, and on top of that, it’s consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live in Massachusetts.
Touropia shares that Lexington is “known as the ‘Birthplace of American Liberty.” They go on to write that “while most people simply tour its battlefields and the atmospheric center of town, Lexington is also a fine place to live. This is because it ranks highly for schools, housing and job opportunities and lies not far from both the massive Burlington Mall and Boston’s bustling downtown.”
“Lexington was named #1 on the 2017 Best Places to Live in Massachusetts by Niche,” writes The Crazy Tourist. They also note: “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.”
And if you’re wondering if it’s a safe place to settle down: “Lexington is safer than 81% of Massachusetts’ cities and towns and is one of the safest cities in the U.S. for these reasons,” writes Movingist. They also mention that “recreation, amusement, restaurants, coffee shops, a library, and nightlife are available,” so there’s plenty to do beyond taking in the history.
Seemingly on the opposite end of the earth from Boston, Provincetown is the fist of the flexing arm that is Cape Cod. P-town, as it’s known, is the site of the Mayflower’s landing and is well known for its art scene and its celebration of individuality and freedom of expression.
Nomad Lawyer writes that “the beach receives a fair share of tourists from the LGBTQ community, particularly in the summers,” while also noting the business and job opportunities that this tourism creates. They also share that “owning a house in P-Town, Massachusetts can set you back by around $450,000, although the strong connection with art & culture is always worth settling down in this beach town.”
Touropia shares that “along Commercial Street, you’ll find dozens of cool galleries and seafood restaurants with cutting-edge theaters and trendy bars also scattered about. Due to its thriving arts and cultural scene and the stunning Cape Cod National Seashore nearby, Provincetown really is a delightful place to live. Only adding to its appeal are its friendly, welcoming residents and the festive ambience in its streets.”
The Crazy Tourist writes that “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. They go on to note that “America’s oldest gay bar, The Atlantic House, can be found here. But it has a history of something rather different: hosting intellectuals.”
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