Best Places to Live 2009

Our annual guide to Hub real estate spotlights the lucky towns emerging from the market crash with their values intact. Plus: The smart buys for those still shopping, and sanity-saving tips for those staying put.

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Good schools. Low crime. Ample leisure-time amenities. They’re all things that make for a desired community—but it’s funny how an economic crisis moves the base line. For this year’s roll call of superlative addresses, we focused on a far more basic indicator: namely, how well a town’s home values are holding up. In these lucky burgs, there’s been less a real estate crash than a soft landing. And a favored few even got through the past year with their bubbles intact.

Map: Realty Check

How the real estate market treated Greater Boston and surrounding towns last year, based on changes in median single-family home prices. Check your town!

It Could Be Worse

Boston magazine’s methodology and the sources behind the data.

Places the Plunge Forgot

Ten towns and neighborhoods where home prices are taking a pass on this whole meltdown thing.

The Teflon Ten

In today’s economy, holding steady is no small victory. And when the market finally recovers, these spots are primed to take off first.

Masters of the House

The region’s busiest real estate agents give us their read on the market (and a few words of wisdom, too).

Five Case Studies

We analyzed the current values for specific single-family homes or condos in Cambridge, Wellesley, Allston, Scituate, and the North Shore.

Where Vultures Score

If you’ve got the financial security—not to mention the stomach—here’s where to look for real steals.

Yes, You Can Still Get $$$

With national banks doing the bailout shuffle, the best chance for loans lies closer to home.

How to Hunker Down

Your starter home is looking like a stay-put home. (Or the empty nest is no longer yielding golden eggs.) Our tips for making do, constructively.