Piece of the ACK-tion

Island living is large—if you can afford it. Here are five towns close to Boston that approximate Nantucket life, sans the six-figure property taxes.


Photograph courtesy of iStockphoto


Bring your oil paints

This peninsula on the North Shore has a thriving cultural scene complete with galleries and a performing-arts center.

Population › 7,044

Area › 17.6 square miles

Average sale price over 12 months › $514,601

Beaches › Six beaches and nearly zero public parking keep out the riffraff.

Historical charm › Twin lighthouses (built in 1771) mark Thacher Island. Old Castle, built circa 1712, has housed six generations of Rockporters.

Food › Dozens of eateries line the town’s main streets.

Recreation › Thacher Island and Halibut Point State Park offer walking, hiking, and cross-country ski trails.

Summer fun › A local band plays at Back Beach on Sundays.

What the locals say › “We’re boaters, and whenever we go to the islands, we say, ‘Oh—we have the same thing at home,’” says Lynda Hemeon, a local real estate agent and Rockport native.


Photograph courtesy of Mattapoisett Boat Yard


Come Join the Yacht Set

Once a shipbuilding town, Mattapoisett is now perfect for recreational sailors who come for its harbor on Buzzards Bay.

Population › 6,400

Area › 17.5 square miles

Average sale price over 12 months › $398,502

Beaches › The three beaches here are tiny, so the area stays quiet.

Historical charm › Ned’s Point Lighthouse was built in 1838. The Inn at Shipyard Park is the country’s oldest seaside inn.

Food › Enjoy barbecue cooked on a wood-fired smoker at the South Coast Local Diner.

Recreation › The Mattapoisett Rail Trail leads to nearby Fairhaven.

Summer fun › Harbor Days Festival takes over the waterfront in July.

What the locals say › “I’ve sold houses to people who left Nantucket and came here because it had the coastal-village feeling they were looking for,” says Anne Bramhall, of Robert Paul Properties.


Photograph courtesy of the Patriot Ledger


A Working Man’s Paradise

This low-key beach town features weathered cottages tightly packed on streets that dead-end at sandy shores.

Population › 25,000 (year round); 40,000 (in summer months)

Area › 31.7 square miles

Average sale price over 12 months › $397,645

Beaches › Professional lifeguards watch over the town’s five beaches.

Historical charm › Marshfield’s 19th-century general store (known as “The General”) was saved by native celeb Steve Carell in 2009.

Food › Tuck into a seaside breakfast at Arthur & Pat’s.

Recreation › The North River Wildlife Sanctuary attracts avian fans.

Summer fun › The Marshfield Fair is a 145-year-old tradition.

What the locals say › “People go to the pier and watch the boats bring in the king-size tunas. Then buyers from around the world make bids,” says real estate agent Betsy Hines.


Photograph courtesy of iStockphoto


This Deal Won’t Last Long

Close to Boston but still quaint, Scituate is an unpretentious alternative to Duxbury and Hingham.

Population › 18,234

Area › 16.9 square miles

Average sale price over 12 months › $491,205

Beaches › Five sandy beaches with lifeguards mean plenty of umbrella space for all.

Historical charm › The Old Scituate Lighthouse (1810) and Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse (1850) continue to warn ships of undersea dangers.

Food › Oro and other fine-dining spots mix with townie staples like Cosmos, Riva, and the Mill Wharf.

Recreation › Cyclists and strollers enjoy the town’s bike trail and Harborwalk.

Summer fun › Heritage Days bring games, local crafts, and music to town every August.

What the locals say › “You walk through the harbor and people smile and say hi to each other,” says Margie McShane, of Coldwell Banker.


Photograph courtesy of Dreamstime


So Much to Beach About

Fried-clam lovers and antiques buffs find their fix here.

Population › 13,531

Area › 33 square miles

Average sale price over 12 months › $462,815

Beaches › The only time Crane Beach’s four miles of sandy shoreline isn’t crowded is when the greenheads take over in July.

Historical charm › Ipswich has 59 First Period homes (1626 to 1725), more than any other town in the United States.

Food › The Clam Box has been dishing up plates of deep-fried seafood since 1938.

Recreation › Castle Hill has four miles of trails and roads that surround the Great House.

Summer fun › In July and August, the Crane Estate hosts picnic concerts on the lawn on Thursday evenings.

What the locals say › “We have eight humongous mansions, beautiful homes, and some teensy-weensy 80-year-old houses,” says Jean Moss, of Olde Ipswich Tours.

Still Want Nantucket?

There are few buildable plots in Nantucket, a problem that has resulted in overcrowded enclaves of McMansions. So if privacy is what you seek, be prepared to spend major cash on people-buffering land. This 75-acre seaside estate—now worth more than six times what it fetched in 1997—was renovated a few years ago and has all the luxe amentities you’d expect. Something it doesn’t have? Neighbors. —Rachel Slade


Photograph courtesy of Great Point Properties


Address › 260 Polpis Rd., Nantucket

Listing Price › $47.5 million

Listing agents › Bill Liddle, Greg McKechnie, Sam Parsons, and Edward Sanford, Great Point Properties, 508-228-2266, greatpointproperties.com

Stats › Nine bedrooms, nine baths, one half bath, a boathouse, and a barn

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