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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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
As a life long Bostonian all these 5 places are nice however not many retirees or even young people can afford to live in either of these areas. More retirees are moving out of state for warmer weather, lower taxes and to be closer to family. Younger people due to remote work are moving out of state for affordability and in need of more spacious living quarters, less cohab living.
It is interesting you would pick four cities practically within walking distance of each other. There is more to Massachusetts than the cities within the 128 belt of the Boston area. I am originally from Lenox, MA which is certainly better to live in than the congested overpriced Cambridge. Provincetown may be alive a few months in the summer but is a hardly a place to live year round. Lenox, Williamstown, Scituate, Hingham, Deerfield, Newburyport, Ipswich, Sandwich, Marshfield, Acton, Hopkinton, Hudson, and Franklin, are just a handful of places that are better than Cambridge or Provincetown. Lexington I agree is a fantastic town. Waltham and Newton are also good choices. No normal human being can tolerate the traffic in Cambridge every day or the desolation of a Provincetown winter.
Whoever made this list hasn’t lived in Mass for very long, if at all, and knows very little about the state. Besides P-Town, the other cities on this list are in no way the best Mass cities to live in. This “list” was probably made by someone using an AI chatbot, who’s never even visited Mass!
Strangely enough…the north shore towns have been skipped right over…Danvers, Boxford, Hamilton-Wenham. The list written about is grossly misleading
I agree with that assessment. In Norfolk County there are a lot of hidden gems in I would rather to live in. Sherborn,Walpole and Dover come to mind if you want the low crime and good schools of Newton and Cambridge without the noise and traffic. Ditto for Bridgewater, Duxbury and Kingston in Plymouth County. Middlesex County is overrated.
You are, frankly, out of your mind if you have the audacity to list Provincetown as a viable.place to live in this state. You are multiple, MULTIPLE hours, away from anything and everything in the entire United States. It’s Massachusetts’s version of Key West. Or Long Island.
It’s a fantastic place for tourism. And LGBT rallies and that sort of thing.
But unless you spent your life on Key West, and want the same type of psudeo-iscolation with cold winters, YOU DO NOT want to live in Provincetown.
I also suggest exploring more than the east side of Massachusetts. You never mentioned any of the beautiful areas out west like Springfield, Deerfield or Greenfield. Or any of the more central areas around Worcester.
There’s more to Mass than Boston.
I have to agree with the other commenters. You didn’t have much variety in this list, and P-Town’s location alone would make it a difficult place to live. I would have loved to see a story on what a hidden gem New Bedford is!
Pretty communist selection if you ask me, especially Cambridge where the put a surcharge on your property tax for Woke programs.
I agree I grew up in the pioneer valley and would prefer this area or the Berkshires. There are excellent schools such as UMass and Mt Holyoke not to mention about 10 other very good schools in the area. There is country areas and plenty of shopping including a few malls. Life in this area offers busy and calm styles of life. I am now 75 and love camping and so many choices of shopping within a 10-15 mile radius. Almost all of Mass can offer many choices!
This is very misleading, the 2nd overall should be anywhere within the Merrimack valley. Merrimack Valley holds the following cities: North andover, Andover, Dracut, Lowell, Haverhill, Methuen, Lawrence and a few others
The absurdity of this list, with recommendations by “experts”, rivals any list created during mankind’s existence. What a waste of ones and zeroes. Also, not knowing the difference between further and farther (Moving a little further outside of Boston,…) instantly disqualifies this article from any fifth-grade essay contest.
You seemed to have only picked towns where you need to have a lot of money and an elitist lifestyle. You missed the heart and soul of Massachusetts by not mentioning anywhere West or South (besides the Cape) of Boston. Shame on you.
Really not a great list. I grew up in Wayland! Great place for families. There’s Weston and Sudbury. Still a close commute to Boston
But I’m sorry putting Waltham on the list? Waltham was always kind of considered the “not so good town”. What about Plymouth? But heck no to Provincetown…well, nice spot to visit..perhaps retire..(it’s the cape) but unless you work remotely not a nice commute to the city especially during tourism. Anyway, whoever put this list together didn’t do the homework!
Absurdity doesn’t even come close to this list. Cambridge is a Communist town and therefore most people with functioning brains would never live there. Now if you go by their criteria, South Boston has very pricey real estate, beaches, low crime and everyone knows each other. Try asking anyone in Newton what they know about their neighbors. Ten minutes to airport , TD garden and Fenway. Median income rivals those Socialist town mentioned. So Utopia is here. Did I mention beaches, you know the ones they don’t make anymore.
PTown for $450K? Maybe for a 300 square foot condo with no view…
Sudbury is in this 128 belt. Lots of families and great schools.
Waltham is crowded and tuff to get around.
Lexington, Newton. Weston and Lincoln are pricey.
Providence Town is a tourist town on the tip of the Cape. It is isolated for a lot of ways
Check out the South Shore. You would be surprised. Homes are less money except on the coast.
Really no need to go into Boston for any thing
People are friendly, lots to do, great place to live.