Best Places to Live 2012

Our annual guide to finding your happy place.

Edited by Courtney Hollands

Illustration by James Taylor

What makes for a great place to live, anyway? For some, it’s a prestige ZIP code or top schools. For others, it’s a sense of community or abundant green space. Whatever you’re looking for, “now is a good time to take a calculated risk and make a move,” says Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren Jr. Want in on the attractive mortgage rates and low prices? We consulted real estate agents, residents, and town officials to find the most interesting opportunities within the I-495 loop, logging close to 600 miles along the way. Here are 14 towns, cities, and neighborhoods — some up-and-comers, some already-theres — you’ll love to call home. —Kimberly Blanton

14 Great Places to Call Home

Real estate deals and hidden gems to discover.

Real Estate Chart #1

What is the price of a single-family home in Greater Boston?

Real Estate Chart #2

What is the price of a condo in Greater Boston?

Swanky Town Smackdown!

How Boston’s best, fanciest suburbs stack up.

How Much House Do You Get For the Money?



  • jo

    I think it’s wonderful that Somerville is finally on the list of “Best placed to live”……….however I take exception to being called “The New Cambridge” as we are nothing like Cambridge nor do we wish to be. I have lived here all of my 52 years and don’t like the comparison

  • John

    note to Kimberly Blanton…
    Can you let me know what period the Warren Group used to determine/report medium home prices in your article on 2012 top places to live???
    John Durkin, Coldwell Banker-Cohasset

  • Niki Vettel

    Hurray for recognizing Winthrop to be the wonderful small town that it is! This Summer, we’re adding Thursday nights’ French Square Open-Air Market to the list of what makes Winthrop-by-the-Sea such a special place…and the Ferry really is the tops. Just note: ticket prices have gone up for individual tickets this year, but are a bargain if you buy a book!

  • Brooke

    Some years you include towns and some years you don’t…
    Westborough is well withing the 495 belt, why is it not inlcuded?

  • Courtney Hollands

    Hi Brooke: Thanks for your comment. We consider towns that are within the 495 loop — and just one corner of Westborough qualifies: Google map.

    I looked back at our past “Best Places to Live” issues from 2008 to 2012, and Westborough wasn’t included.

    You’ll notice that this year we did make an exception for your neighbor to the north — Northborough — because it’s home to the state’s best grocery store: Wegmans.

    Courtney Hollands
    Senior Editor, Boston Magazine

  • i h8 this


  • AC

    Somerville is “nothing like Cambridge”? I beg to defer. Although there are some clear differences, I think Somerville and Cambridge are more alike than different. Also, I think many of the “newcomers” to Somerville probably do prefer to be more similar to Cambridge in many respects.