Best Places to Live 2010: South Shore
The ultimate guide for every kind of house hunter.
Oh, the pretty beaches, the picturesque gray shingles, the preppiness of it all. And now that the train buzzes along the coast, the South Shore is even more attractive to those who work in the city. Lots of people still telecommute, possibly because there’s just so much to do here, from farmers’ markets to concerts to play groups. “The place is crazy on the weekends with people boating and sailing,” says Shari Shane, a buyer’s representative and longtime Duxbury resident. “Families bring dinner to the beach, or if you have the right permit, you can drive right onto the beach and let the kids fall asleep in the car.”
> Gold Standard
MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $599,900
ONE-YEAR CHANGE: -5.2%
SINCE MARKET PEAK: -9.8%
While neighboring towns have seen house prices dip more significantly, Hingham is holding its value, thanks to younger buyers jostling to return from the city. The downtown restaurants, harbor concerts, and Derby Street Shoppes make the area appealing to those who don’t think the word “suburb” should be synonymous with sleepy. Condos start in the mid-$200,000s, and amid the mansions at Crow Point you can find small homes with water views in the $400,000s. World’s End, Summer Street, and the Cottage Street area near Derby Academy are premier territory, at $2 million and up.
> Best Value
MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $515,000
ONE-YEAR CHANGE: -8%
SINCE MARKET PEAK: -6%
If you like a rural vibe, Norwell may be the place for you. There’s no real downtown, but there is the North River and the South Shore Natural Science Center, which gives residents access to 230 acres of conservation land. Despite the half-million-dollar median price tag for homes here, there’s plenty for less, such as starters in the mid-$300,000s in the Norwell Homes neighborhood, off Grove Street. The Riverside neighborhood, off River Street, is another good value, with 1970s-era homes selling in the $600,000s; they’re comfortably roomy (2,500 to 3,500 square feet) but not McMansion-esque.
> Opportunity Knocks
MEDIAN HOME PRICE: $294,000
ONE-YEAR CHANGE: -11.7%
SINCE MARKET PEAK: -16%
Pembroke is enjoying a real moment of opportunity. Six years ago, in the midst of strong population growth, it broke off from the Silver Lake Regional School District to create its own. The move brought class sizes down and boosted community connectedness, says town administrator Ed Thorne. (Test scores, however, are still a work in progress.) Most post-1980 subdivisions feature single-acre lots, with sizeable homes going for $400,000 to $600,000; smaller options are found in winterized summer cottages on the ponds. The state recently earmarked $13 million in federal stimulus funds to kick-start Pembroke Plaza, a development that will replace a dingy strip mall in the town center. As for quality of life, there are three public beaches, a landing for small boats at Oldham Pond, and raved-about Italian food at Orta.