A Guide to Boston’s Hottest Suburbs: Grafton

Thinking of moving outside the city? Here's what you need to know about Grafton, which is gaining in popularity in today's housing market.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that buying a home in the greater Boston area is a costly endeavor (unless you live under a rock, in which case, congrats on finding an affordable home). This reality means by the time many city-dwellers are ready for home ownership, they’re looking more in the suburbs than the South End. When COVID-19 hit and everyone fled from the city to the comfort of a single-family home out in the ‘burbs (or further afield), this only drove home prices up more. Between the competitive market and the newfound ability to skip the commuter rail in favor of working from home, people are spreading further and further throughout the state, venturing into towns they’d only dream of living in (but not commuting from) before.

Alternatively, you may be looking through Zillow and filled with dread and confusion as you expand your house hunting radius further and further into affordable parts unknown. But never fear: We’re bringing you a guide to towns you may have heard of, but never considered as a home before now.

This month, we’re looking at Grafton. Yes, this town might be a little far out (it’s more a ‘burb of Worcester than Boston), but you’ll still have a direct line into Boston via the Worcester commuter rail line and via the nearby Mass Pike. But for a slightly longer commute, you’ll get a small-town feel, great schools, and a little more bang for your buck when it comes to real estate than you might get elsewhere (two words: Turnkey. Homes). At least, that’s what Kris Koliss, broker/owner at Grafton’s Paramount Realty Homes and a Grafton resident herself, has found. She’s seen the town grow exponentially and likes it so much, she ended up moving there herself. “I just love it,” she says. “It has everything we need; it’s centrally located. I go on the Pike a lot, so it’s perfect for that. It’s just a great little town.” Not convinced? Read on and see otherwise.

The Costs:

Median single-family home sales price:  $720,000

Median sold condo price: $345,000

Source: Massachusetts Association of Realtors, April 2022

Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,188

Source: Zumper

What Your Money Gets You:

grafton town guide

Photo by Dave Corrigan

19 Milford Road, Grafton
Price: $655,000
Size: 2.578 square feet
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2 full, 1 half

The Commute:

Drive:  The 43-mile drive between Grafton and Boston can take a little over an hour in traffic via I-90 West.

Public transit: You can get back-and-forth between Grafton and Boston via the Framingham/Worcester line in a little over an hour. There’s a commuter rail station right in town.

Average commute time: 33.2 minutes

Source: US census data

Walkability: 37 – WalkScore rules Grafton a car-dependent city, so maybe cross this town off your list if you’re looking for a place where you don’t have to drive to run errands. Some neighborhoods are considered more walkable though, such as South Grafton.


Downtown Life:

In the center of Grafton, you’ll find your classic town center, with a gazebo and all, Koliss says. Country store? Check. Small inn with a great restaurant? Check. Small local watering hole? Check, check, check. While most of Grafton isn’t super walkable, you can get around this area by foot easily. Not only can you swing by the local antique store and town library from here, but some of the town’s parks and conservation land is walkable from downtown too, as an added bonus.

Weighing the Pros and Cons:

There’s a lot to love about life in Grafton, Koliss says. Getting in and out of town is a breeze thanks to its location near the Mass Pike and its commuter rail stop in town. And if you have little ones, you’ll delight in knowing ranked the public schools here as some of the best in the county.

But while homes here are more affordable than some of its other western counterparts, like Natick or Southboro, prices are steadily increasing, Koliss says, with the average “starter” home now costing well above $400k on average (or likely more, given the market). And living here is becoming even more expensive with steadily increasing property taxes. The Grafton News reported in 2019 that the mill rate was $16.50, translating to a tax increase of more than $300 for the average homeowner. In fiscal year 2022, the mill rate was 16.88, indicating a continuing upward trend.

Local Secrets:

Planning a visit to town to see what it’s all about? Try stopping in at Cancuns Mexican Restaurant for authentic and delicious Mexican fare. Afterwards, grab something to nosh on at Pecorino Cheese Shop, a European-style shop with local and imported cheese, wines, beers, and breads.

Fun Facts:

If you love unusual museums, you’ll be tickled by the Willard House and Clock Museum. Not only is this home one of the town’s oldest buildings (dating back to the 1700s), but it also boasts the world’s largest collection of Willard clocks, with over 90 timepieces displayed for viewing. The Willards were descended from the home’s original owner, Joseph Willard, and were some of the best clockmakers of the 19th century, patenting the “banjo” clock, which was the most significant timepiece style at the time. Today, you can view this historic timepiece collection in the homestead.