Best Places to Live 2013: The Boom Is Back!

Boston Magazine |

Throughout Boston, the upside-down real estate market is but a distant, unpleasant memory. Bidding wars are once again erupting, houses are selling for above asking price, and some homeowners are even discovering that (gasp!) their property is worth more than what they paid for it. The market, in other words, is sizzling again—and with inventory scarce and interest rates at historic lows, it’s a safe bet that things are only going to get hotter. But even in a seller’s game, savvy buyers can score. Here, our market cheat sheet and picks for where to buy, whether you’re starting out, moving up, or going huge.

How does your town stack up against the rest?

Real Estate Chart: Single-Family Home Prices in Greater Boston
Real Estate Chart: Condo Prices in Greater Boston

boston's best places to live

Market Snapshot

It’s a battle out there. Don’t believe it? Here’s a look at the forces behind Boston’s suddenly red-hot real estate market.

boston's best places to live

Starting Out

The threat of yet another rent hike (or new roommate search on Craigslist) scared you straight months ago, and you’ve managed to sock away enough cash for a modest down payment. Congratulations! You’re ready to join the hunt. Sky-high prices may shut you out of the posh suburbs and gold-standard neighborhoods, but here are some great sleeper locations for first-time home buyers.

Moving Up

The second kid is on the way and your closets already look like an episode of Hoarders. (Is it possible your place is actually shrinking?) You need more space, for sure, but schools are a top priority. And you wouldn’t mind shortening your commute….

Going Huge

You’re the broker’s white whale—the all-cash buyer intent on a prestige address. Lucky you! But with great resources comes great responsibility…like figuring which swanky town to call home.

boston's best places to live

Getting in the Game

Follow these easy tips to upgrade to your dream house—or make a bundle offloading an old pad.

boston's best places to live

By the Numbers

$277,000: The average annual income in Weston. 99.1: Percent of students who graduate from Masconoment Regional High School. These and more statistics about Boston real estate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DollyWholey Kathleen Mccormack

    Many thanks for the very informative information, so nice of you to share. Thank You!!

  • Tom Truong Real Estate Advisor

    Good stuff. Glad to hear some positive news about the Boston Real estate market, Finally.

  • Guest

    Hingham is a wonderful town for all ages. Near the water and only 30-35 mins into Boston by boat. Here is a link for some local info:
    https://ui.constantcontact.com/rnavmap/emcf/email/view?flow=view&camefrom=view&agent.uid=1111289491648

    • Guest

      It is fine for all ages except 27-34.

  • martha

    A very good place to live if you have children. The schools are very good. Wonderful town library. Many and good state parks (cycling, rowing, sailing, camping, rambling), access to beaches. Can use either the Quincy or Hanover YMCAs (excellent year round facilities for all sorts of activities, especially swimming) easily. The Lincoln Maritime Center has wonderful wonderful sailing classes in the summer, and their rates are SO much cheaper than any almost all other community sailing organisations. The 2 draw backs for young people can be turned to good things. Local public transport is non existant…but just get your kids to put their bikes to practical use. It makes them independent, and is a cheap, healthy, environmentally nice way of getting about. Culture is thin on the ground, but with the center of Boston only 30 minutes away by train or boat…teach young teenagers how to get to Boston and use the public transport there, and they have all the wonderful richnesses of Boston’s culture available. It helps them learn independence and makes them comfortable with cities. Come college years, to save money, a college attending “child” can stay on at home and commute up to one of the many colleges in Boston. Yes, that means 4 more years at home. But the money saved is significant, especially if the child is smart/lucky/hard working enough to be attending one of Boston’s superb universities.

  • Tony

    Good data but readers would have benefited if the number of units
    involved in the determination of median price would have been provided.
    In addition to median, the average sale price and average assessed
    valuation would have enhanced the information available to the reader
    wanting to make a decision.
    The average sale price gives an
    indication on the distribution of values. If the average price is close
    to the median sale price then a normal distribution can be assumed. The
    average assessed valuation gives the reader an idea of the town’s
    assessors evaluation of the market dynamics. Average assessed valuation
    close to the median and average sale prices would indicate that the
    market dynamics are not being influenced by a large new development.
    Maybe
    in the future, the above data could be linked with school data to
    include SAT and MCAS scores. Number of AP courses, cost/pupil and # of
    athletic teams are not relevant for an academic evaluation. % of
    students that received scores of 4 or 5 on AP courses would be of
    benefit.
    Commuting times and choices would be of interest to every day workers.
    Age,
    educational level, ethnic, religious affiliation and income
    distribution of population would also benefit prospective buyers.

  • MrsUnderwood

    Hingham is gorgeous and I’ve been in love with it since I was a kid. I love the way they’ve kept it so pristine. A beautiful place to live. No one would regret it.. Love it!!

  • stefania

    Opinions on Stoneham?

  • Kevin Raiten

    Hi Guys, I’ll be going to school in Boston. I’m 42. I’m looking for a place outside of Boston with a little more privacy and more trees…. Don’t have much money. I’d like to be near art and music but saw nothing on Craigslist in Cambridge for $800/ mo.

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/phillips-angley/88/39b/987 Jeffrey T. Angley

    This is really very beautiful place to live here with family. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Lawyer Jeffrey T Angley