Best Places to Live 2014: Moving Up
Considering kiddos but fear sharing office space with a changing table? Longing for a bigger lawn to mow, a spacious en suite, and maybe even a two-car garage? If so, it’s time to trade up. These towns provide solid value, a strong community vibe, and good schools. (The commute’s not bad, either.)
— Winner —
Median home price: $440,000
One-year change: +5%
Natick remains one of the few affordable towns within the swanky Wayland-Wellesley-Weston cluster. Beyond the massive mall, attractions include a cute town common, a brand-new high school with waterfront views and a public preschool right on the grounds, a commuter- rail stop, and Mass. Pike adjacency. Despite easy highway access, much of the town feels unspoiled: There are numerous ponds, the Henry S. Hunnewell Town Forest, and Lookout Farm (among the country’s oldest). Homes frequently arrive on the market in the $400s. Choice neighborhoods include Wethersfield, with its postwar ranches, and MacArthur Road, close to the Wellesley line. On the Framingham side, look at Sherwood, dotted with three-bedroom Colonials. Spacious lots are found in woodsy South Natick, off Cottage Street.
On the Market
Address: 4 West St., Natick
Stats: Three bedrooms, one and a half baths
Listing Price: $409,000
— Also worth a look —
Median home price: $481,500
One-year change: +0.3%
Acton is a bedroom community during the week and a pastoral paradise come weekends. Perched between Route 2 and I-495, it’s home to a commuter- rail station with parking. Off the clock, residents relax at NARA Park and the Acton Arboretum, browse Idylwilde Farms for fresh produce, and visit the Discovery Museums with their tots. About those tots: They grow up to be driven. Acton has the highest percentage of students achieving proficiency on AP exams and the second-highest SAT scores in Greater Boston.
Median home price: $469,900
One-year change: +15%
If Norman Rockwell designed a close-in Boston suburb, Sharon would be it. Here, find sidewalk- lined streets (many kids walk to school); more open space than other suburban towns (it borders Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary); and easy access to the big city via interstates 93 and 95. It’s also home to Crescent Ridge Dairy, and locals can get milk delivered in glass jugs. Quaint!