A Guide to Boston’s Hottest Suburbs: Carlisle

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

Photo by Richard Pasley Photography

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 Carlise. This tiny town northwest of Boston increased in popularity during COVID, a time when many were looking to get as much space between them and their neighbors as possible. As if on cue, there was Carlisle: a town where most of the (limited) home stock comes with acres of land in between, plus tons of trails and walking areas for a taste of the great outdoors. Even now as people inch back together, Carlisle is still having its moment. Read on to find out why.

The Costs:

Median listing single-family home price: $1,370,160

Median sold single-family home price:  $1,460,234

Median listing condo price: $590,500

Median sold condo price: $676,000

Source:  MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) via Massachusetts Association of Realtors, June 2021-June 2022

Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: Not applicable. There are currently no rentals on the market in Carlisle, per Redfin and Zillow.

What Your Money Gets You:

carlisle town guide

Photo by Robert Pessolano

282 Brook St., Carlisle
3,938 square feet
Bedrooms: 3
3 full, 1 partial

For more information, contact Laura Baliestiero, Coldwell Banker Realty,

The Commute:

Drive: Carlisle is a little over 25 miles away from Boston’s downtown, but the drive can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on traffic on I-93 and I-95, which you’ll need to take to get to the city from this suburb.

Public transit: Carlisle doesn’t have public transit, but you can take the commuter rail to neighboring towns. The Lowell line runs from North Station and gets you to nearby Billerica in about 40 minutes, while the Fitchburg line gets you to neighboring Acton or Concord in about the same amount of time.

Average commute time: 36.9 minutes

Source: US census data

Walkability: 7 – Carlisle is wonderful for many reasons, but the ability to walk around town isn’t one of them. Prepare to get most of your steps in on the town’s trails and to rely on the car for your errands.


Downtown Life:

Carlisle’s downtown is a bit of a “blink and you’ll miss it” situation. At least that’s how Sue Revis describes it. A partner with the Ridick Revis Group of Compass, she’s been selling in town over 30 years, and she says town residents tend to rely on nearby Acton and Concord for their shopping needs, since Carlisle’s “downtown” mostly consists of the town hall and Fern’s Country Store, a general shop where hikers and bikers can stop in for a sandwich and drink during their workouts.

Weighing the Pros and Cons:

It’s pricey. Inventory is scarce. And there’s not much of a downtown. These are the downsides to Carlisle and they’re easy to notice. But the reason there’s such a battle to live there is because of how much it offers by way of space and proximity, both to nature and other, more populated communities, Revis says. “A lot of the buyers who gravitate toward Carlisle are looking a little more toward a rural feel and it’s right there.”

By right there, Revis means within an hour of Boston, but also near Route 128 and other booming metro communities, so it’s easy to do.a little shopping in Acton or in the city and then come home to enjoy Carlisle’s many hiking trails and green spaces. The latter, especially, are a draw for people love the outdoors and staying active. “The sense of community in Carlisle is particularly strong…because everyone is so into their families, schools, and healthy lifestyle,” she says.

Local Secrets:

Want to get a sense of life in Carlisle? Revis recommends visiting Great Brook Farm State Park, a 1,000-acre space with over 20 miles of trails and a working dairy farm. It’s open year-round, so you can hike or snowshoe there, depending on the time of year. No matter what though, be sure to wrap up your day with some ice cream from Kimball’s Farm. With 50 flavors, you may need to plan a few follow-up visits, just to make sure you sample everything you want to try.

Fun Facts:

Carlisle was once home to Blue Jay Studio, an unassuming recording space where names like Lady Gaga and Aerosmith once came to record, making it one of the top production spots for artists in New England. Let’s just hope the costumes Gaga was famous for early in her career fit in the car she inevitably had to take to get to this hidden spot.