So You Want to Live in Salem?

Five things to know about living in this sometimes spooky, but always eminently charming Massachusetts enclave.

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1. Pick Your Price Point

Salem might be one of the few places in Greater Boston where you can buy a house without breaking the bank. The median price of a single-family home here was $611,000 in 2022, which is below the state’s median ($650,000 as of July 2022). However, you’ll have to act fast if you want a deal: Housing prices here are on the rise, having gone up 66 percent over the past few years.

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2. Plot Your Commute

Getting from Salem to Boston is easy: On weekdays, the commuter rail runs every 30 minutes or so to North Station. Salem is also home to several bus routes that will take you to Lynn or Revere. If you prefer driving, it’s about 45 minutes to downtown during rush hour.

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3. Take in the Vibe

The atmosphere here in October can only be described as “witchy,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Settled in 1626, the city has a deep history that goes beyond the infamous trials. For a brief taste of this, take a stroll around the McIntire Historic District, which features Georgian and Federal homes dating to the 1700s. For a more thorough education, you can visit Pioneer Village: The oldest living history museum in America, it was designed to represent 1630 Salem.

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4. Check out the Culture

Halloween may be prime tourism season in Salem, but the city offers plenty for residents to enjoy the other 11 months of the year. There’s lots to do on the waterfront, whether you’re visiting the video arcade in Salem Willows, kayaking in the harbor, or checking out Pickering Wharf, a village by the harbor featuring seafood restaurants and quirky boutiques. And if you’re a fine-art aficionado, you might have already paid a visit to the acclaimed Peabody Essex Museum.

The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Salem,
Massachusetts Right Now

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5. Scope out the Schools

Salem’s standardized test scores are a bit below the state average—but, of course, that’s only one part of the equation. The district of more than 3,000 students gets an A from Niche when it comes to diversity and offers a range of after-school activities for students.

First published in the print edition of the October 2023 issue with the headline, “So You Want to Live In…Salem.”