So, You Want to Live in Chatham?

This Cape Cod enclave has an idyllic on-the-water setting and a classic New England town center—but be prepared to pay a pretty penny if you want to live here.

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1. Pick Your Price Point

Surrounded by water on three sides, Chatham is a fishing community that has evolved considerably from its quaint 18th-century origins to become a bustling summer resort town. With a year-round population of roughly 6,500 residents, it swells to more than 20,000 in the summer. As a result, homes here cost a lot, with the median sale price hovering around $1.8 million and several properties on the market listed between $3 million and $7 million. You can find some homes listed at $1 million and even a few below that, but they’ll be considerably dated and far from the beach.

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2. Plot Your Commute

Chatham is just under 90 miles from Boston, with the best route going over the Sagamore Bridge. But beware of summer traffic—at peak times, travel between Chatham and Boston can go from what’s typically a two-hour drive to four. There are no commuter-rail stops here, but you can take the Plymouth & Brockton Bus Company’s shuttles from nearby Hyannis to South Station.

Photo via Getty Images/Melissa Partridge

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3. Take in the Vibe

Chatham has a whopping 66 miles of coastline that includes bays, harbors, and beautiful white-sand beaches. The nearly 8,000-acre Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge showcases salt and freshwater marshes, ponds, dunes, and tidal flats. Main Street, meanwhile, is dotted with clothing boutiques, high-end gift shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a classic New England feel. The town boasts several inns and hotels that cater to its seasonal clientele.

4. Check out the Culture

Chatham’s coastal location led to its prosperity as an 18th-century fishing, shipbuilding, and whaling center, and there are several intact buildings dating to that era in town. The Chatham Windmill is one of the country’s last surviving wooden windmills, and the Chatham Railroad Museum pays homage to the 50-year period, beginning in 1887, when the depot connected Chatham to the Old Colony Railroad, which transported travelers from Boston and New York.

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5. Scope out the Schools

Together with Harwich, Chatham is in the Monomoy Regional School District. The town is home to one public elementary school, as well as Monomoy Regional Middle School. High schoolers attend Monomoy Regional High School in Harwich. Prefer a private option? Some students attend the K–8 Cape Cod Christian Academy in Harwich.

First published in the print edition of the July 2024 issue with the headline, “So You Want to Live In…Chatham.”

So, You Want to Live in…