Best Places to Live

TRADING UP

The problem with first homes, of course, is growing — or rather, outgrowing — pains. But buying to accommodate an expanding family has its benefits. Trading-uppers are generally savvier than first-timers, says Realtor Linda O’Koniewski, owner of RE/MAX Heritage in Melrose. “They know how a house actually works, and the value of things like mudrooms, storage space, and a master bath.” Brand-name towns (Wellesley, Newton, Cohasset) still command top dollar, because families love the schools. Moving into them may require a jumbo mortgage (meaning more than $417,000); these normally carry higher interest rates, but as of press time were within one percentage point of a traditional 30-year fixed rate. In other words, you may never find such favorable terms again. Moving up? Check out these great towns.

HINGHAM
Median Home Price: $631,000
One-Year Difference: +5%

With its Derby Street Shoppes and posh but quaint downtown boutiques, its redeveloped harbor, and its restaurant scene colonized by Boston chefs, Hingham is the South Shore’s most sophisticated playground. All this development has been tasteful; historical homes still abound, and scenic Main Street winds past everything from clapboard Capes in the $600,000s to Colonial-era beauties at $1 million-plus. Where you should be looking: Growing families favor the Liberty Pole neighborhood; near South Elementary, it’s a maze of child-friendly culs-de-sac and wide yards with easy access to Route 3. Dedicated “Polers” love the street hockey, pickup Wiffle ball, and crab-apple fights.   

SUDBURY
Median Home Price: $619,600
One-Year Difference: +7%

If you find bigger to be better, Sudbury is overflowing with large, new homes — that just happen to be selling at discounts. For example, $1 million might fetch you a 6,300-square-foot, 18-room spread with nine parking spaces. (It’s 60 Atkinson Lane in North Sudbury, if you’re interested.) Because of an overbuilt luxury market, prices have dropped roughly 20 percent here since the 2005 peak. The deals won’t last forever, though. The town has rustic charm, powerhouse schools, and a handful of good restaurants. Where you should be looking: Tall Pines, which is off Horse Pond Road in South Sudbury. It’s the best neighborhood for top-notch, new-construction homes at a steal.  

HOPKINTON
Median Home Price: $519,500
One-Year Difference: +6%

Look here for “that small-town American experience,” says Kathleen Buckley, owner of Star Realty and Hopkinton resident. With prosperous neighborhoods, good schools, and half-century-old grocery and drug stores, Hopkinton is indeed a Rockwellian throwback that seems farther removed from city life than the 26 miles that separate the town — the start of the marathon — from Boston. ] Where you should be looking: Because of overconstruction in the past decade, a fully loaded house — four-plus bedrooms, three-plus baths on an acre-plus lot — now goes for around $700,000 in neighborhoods like Blueberry Lane, coveted for its proximity to the town center and schools.

MARBLEHEAD
Median Home Price: $507,000
One-Year Difference: +9%

It’s a common summer sight: young Headers setting out in white dinghies from the Pleon, the 124-year-old kiddie yacht club. Marblehead’s other charms are equally storybook: clapboard homes downtown the shades of Jordan almonds; a summer sleep-away camp hosted on Children’s Island, one of half a dozen islands off Marblehead’s coast. Where you should be looking: Buyers willing to part with millions should pounce on anything in Marblehead Neck, Clifton, and Peach’s Point, which have stunning water views and large lots, a rarity in town. But slightly smaller lots, and lower prices (just under $1 million), can be found in the “Cliffs” area — Pinecliff, Driftwood, and Shorewood roads — a wooded stretch close to conservation land and playing fields.

  • Carole

    My husband and I were the original developers of Tall Pines, Sudbury. Thank you for recognizing this fabulous neighborhood. Carole Daniels,VP Coldwell Banker

  • Carole

    My husband and I were the original developers of Tall Pines, Sudbury. Thank you for recognizing this fabulous neighborhood. Carole Daniels,VP Coldwell Banker

  • Bob

    You capture the essence of Hingham but there’s a lot more here. A great place to buy a home.

  • Mike

    “Since 2002 the median home price has risen $20,000, or 7 percent.” Lipstick on a pig – that’s a 0.75% compound annual rate in 9 years. Stick your money in a CD.

  • marilyn

    I was surprised that Lynnfield was not listed in your report. Its a great little town just north of Boston. It has much to offer.

  • Mary

    As always a whole segment was forgotten. What about those of us who are established singles or couples without kids. We aren’t interested in the school system and can get more bang for our buck because of it. If you don’t want to have a bunch of kids then you never get included in any of these articles.

  • Mary

    As always a whole segment was forgotten. What about those of us who are established singles or couples without kids. We aren’t interested in the school system and can get more bang for our buck because of it. If you don’t want to have a bunch of kids then you never get included in any of these articles.

  • Joe

    Tall Pines in Sudbury is a nice neighborhood in a great town, but a new house hasn’t been built there in years. Also, Atkinson Lane is not in North Sudbury. Fact checking is important if Boston Magazine wants to be taken seriously.

  • maggie

    That home looks might familiar. I doubt it would sell for as little as $660,000. Very misleading, perhaps a mistake via layout.

  • Felisha

    I’m twenty and just going to graduate from my university. I want to get my first apartment in Boston, I’ve been wanting to move to the East Coast. I am from California, and I’m single and love the city. What areas in Boston should I look into?

  • gerhard

    you should stay in California…

  • George

    A recent ASPS survey asked mothers, if cost were not an issue, would you consider a “mommy makeover?”62% of Mothers Would Consider Plastic Surgery

  • d.

    Starting out, you’re saying Marshfield is the best place to live? Out of all of the fabulous towns in the Boston Metro. Or Roslindale? Fenway? Why not suggest actual good neighborhoods in Boston that are affordable and up and coming. We recently bought a house in East Somerville near the Charlestown line for a fraction of what your article is stating as the expected amounts for a condo to pay. You’re called Boston.com, not Bostonsuburbs.com, and not all of your readers aspire to live in the suburbs. If I followed your lead and bought in the Fenway area, I’d move out of Boston as a next stop.

  • Bob

    who came up with Marshfield as a great place to live? If I was going to pick a suburb south of Boston, I would pick Duxbury, Norwell, Hingham or Hanover anyday over Marshfield! Marshfield is kind of dumpy.

  • FLAmoveGuide

    This may all be true but how do these places compare to other areas? In Florida you can buy the same kind of place for half or less and live free for many years on the difference. Best asset protection state in US, no state income tax, etc.

  • Finneas

    Melrose is nothing like moving to Winchester. The schools are in freefall, and if you talk to families living there, they are either moving or scraping money together for private school. Their MCAS scores stink, their High School is on warning status, and they were cited for ELL and SPED issues in their last review. Maybe if you are older without kids…