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Best Places to Live in Massachusetts

So, you’re thinking of moving. And much like the Pilgrims, your eyes are set on the great state of Massachusetts. (Okay, it wasn’t a state back then—but you get the point.)

While Massachusetts isn’t known for being the cheapest place to live (hence, “Taxachusetts”), locals and travelers alike love the state for its rich history and natural beauty (it’s home to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard). It also hosts one of the most respected running competitions in the world: the Boston Marathon.

Before you buy a Red Sox ball cap to blend in with the locals, you need to decide where in Massachusetts you’re going to live. So, let’s look at the nine best places to live in Massachusetts.

Just keep this in mind: The best place for you to live in Massachusetts (or anywhere else for that matter) will depend on your individual situation and preferences. You may be looking to launch your career, start a family, or enjoy retirement. As you go through this list, think about which places are the best fit for you.

Where Are the Best Places to Live in Massachusetts?

Here’s the list! In no particular order, the nine best places to live in Massachusetts are:

Let’s unpack each one.

best places to live in massachusetts

Cambridge

Cambridge is an exciting place to live! It offers a less-crowded alternative to living directly in the capital city of Boston. People from all over the world flock to Cambridge for the education, conferences and events at local universities like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Fun fact: Anne Sullivan (Hellen Keller’s teacher) attended the nearby Perkins School for the Blind.

If school and history aren’t your thing, you can look forward to Red Sox (MLB) games at Fenway Park, or Celtics (NBA) and Bruins (NHL) games at TD Garden. Both venues are right across the Charles River in Boston. You can even make the trek on foot thanks to Cambridge’s super walkable layout, with sidewalks that extend all the way to Boston. Plus, convenient bus and train systems help you zip across the city. On the downside, traffic is bad, parking is scarce, and housing is expensive. But every other aspect of the city makes the price of Cambridge worth it for some people.

Population*

118,4891

Median Household Income

$121,5392

Median Home Listing Price**

$998,8753

Median Rent

$3,7004

Unemployment Rate

2.2%5


*Data in all tables collected in May 2024
**Middlesex County

Framingham

Framingham is another one of the best places to live in Massachusetts. This city is conveniently located—taking less than an hour to drive east to Boston or south to Foxborough, where you can catch the New England Patriots (NFL) play at Gillette Stadium. There’s also a commuter rail that’ll whisk you straight to Boston if you want to skip the traffic.

Framingham itself offers plenty of green spaces to enjoy, including lakes, ponds and hiking trails. The city also has the highest percentage of Brazilians of any municipality in Massachusetts.

Population

70,9476

Median Household Income

$94,9097

Median Home Listing Price*

$998,8758

Median Rent

$2,3479 

Unemployment Rate

2.4%10


*Middlesex County

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Westfield

Westfield is one of the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts thanks to its budget-friendly housing. While the city has a quiet, rural feel, it’s close enough to big cities for locals to enjoy the best of both worlds.

See how much house you can afford with our free mortgage calculator!

Westfield earned the nickname Whip City for being a prominent leader in the buggy whip industry during the 1800s. Four whip manufacturer buildings are even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That same industrial spirit carries on today in this small city—still known for its strides in manufacturing.

Westfield State University is the public college here, and it’s known for its high-ranking social work, history, health sciences and sociology programs. Fun fact: Westfield is a short drive away from the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield—hometown of the beloved children’s author.

Population

40,79411

Median Household Income

$78,30712

Median Home Listing Price*

$333,00013

Median Rent

$1,52514

Unemployment Rate

3.2%15

*Hampden County

Falmouth

If you dream of living in Cape Cod, one of the smaller towns in the area could be a smart option for you. Of those, Falmouth is one of the best! As a coastal town, Falmouth gives you easy access to nice beaches like Falmouth Heights and Nobska Beach (check out Nobska’s beautiful lighthouse). Plus, the island of Martha’s Vineyard is only a ferry ride away.

The Shining Sea Bikeway—a 10.7-mile bike path that runs through the entire town of Falmouth—is a great way to explore the area and stay active by walking, running, roller blading or bike riding. And to satisfy all your shopping and dining desires, downtown Falmouth is a perfect spot. Keep in mind, Cape Cod has off-seasons—so some places will close for a few months during that time.

Population

3,88316

Median Household Income

$89,80917

Median Home Listing Price*

$997,00018

Median Rent

$3,50019

Unemployment Rate

3.8%20

*Barnstable County

Easthampton

Easthampton is another one of the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts. The city is part of the Pioneer Valley, which is the Massachusetts portion of the Connecticut River Valley. The river flows south through four states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut) and is the longest river in the New England region at 406 miles.

Easthampton is a mostly rural area with ranch-style homes and big yards—offering plenty of space for growing families to run and play. The city is close to the Five College Consortium (Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst), making it a fantastic area to pursue higher education. Overall, Easthampton is an ideal spot for those who appreciate a quiet home base with the option for urban outings.

Population

16,13621

Median Household Income

$67,32922

Median Home Listing Price*

$560,50023

Median Rent

$1,65024

Unemployment Rate

2.6%25

*Hampshire County

Worcester

Sitting smack-dab in the center of the state, Worcester (pronounced wuh-ster) is another top place to live in Massachusetts. After Boston, Worcester is the second-largest city in New England (Boston is the largest). It has a diverse and growing economy. Health care is a big industry, with huge employers like UMass Memorial Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital.

The city also offers a rich cultural scene, with places like the Worcester Art Museum and the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. There’s even a science and nature museum called the EcoTarium.

Population

205,31726

Median Household Income

$63,01127

Median Home Listing Price*

$550,92528

Median Rent

$2,00029

Unemployment Rate

3.5%30

*Worcester County

Newburyport

Nestled on the northeast coast of Massachusetts, Newburyport is ideal for those wanting to live near waterfront views. The city runs along the Merrimack River, which flows past Plum Island’s beautiful beaches and into the Atlantic Ocean. Boating, sailing, fishing and kayaking are a way of life during the warm seasons.

Newburyport itself is very walkable and pleasant for strolling thanks to the colonial architecture sprinkled throughout the city (but there’s limited room for parking). The business district is dog friendly—your pup will never have to walk too far before coming across a courtesy bowl of water. If you’re looking for a vibrant community full of historical beauty, Newburyport might be just the Massachusetts city for you.

Population

18,35631

Median Household Income

$127,30632

Median Home Listing Price*

$797,00033

Median Rent

$3,00034

Unemployment Rate

2.4%35

*Essex County

Marshfield

Marshfield is another one of the nicest towns in Massachusetts thanks to its picturesque location on the coast, low crime and great schools. Since it’s located about halfway between Boston and Cape Cod, locals are never far from opportunities to enjoy the best the state has to offer.

Marshfield is also close to Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims first settled. You can get an up-close view of what life was like for early settlers with replicas of the original 17th-century village and the Mayflower. You can also stop by the local Marshfield Hills General Store during the summer months for a chance to meet Michael Scott from The Office. That’s right, the store owner happens to be the famous actor Steve Carell. Marshfield is a wonderful place to call home thanks to its beauty, safety and thriving community. 

Population

4,86836

Median Household Income

$118,75037

Median Home Listing Price*

$699,45038

Median Rent

$2,60039

Unemployment Rate

2.8%40

*Plymouth County

Lancaster

Closing out our list of best places to live in Massachusetts is the small, quiet town of Lancaster. Lancaster is one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts, which is great for residents who love a town with a rich history.

Agriculture is important here too. In fact, Lancaster is the birthplace of Luther Burbank, a famous horticulturist who developed the Burbank potato (one of the spuds used for McDonald’s french fries). Also famous locally is Bob’s Turkey Farm. It’s been in business since 1954 and is a big deal for Massachusetts because it’s one of the last family-operated farms in the state. Kimball Farm is another area favorite. Offering 50 flavors of homemade ice cream, it's a memorable place to take the whole family. Overall, Lancaster makes the list for being a scenic rural town with a strong community spirit.

Population

8,39541

Median Household Income

$111,50642

Median Home Listing Price*

$550,92543

Median Rent

$3,48044

Unemployment Rate

2.4%45

*Worcester County

Best Places to Live in Massachusetts for Young Adults

The Greater Boston metropolitan area often tops the list of best places to live in Massachusetts for young adults and singles—despite its high cost of living. One of the most sought-after areas is a city we covered earlier for being a world leader in education: Cambridge. In addition to education opportunities, the Boston metro offers a healthy job market, unique restaurants, coffee shops and parks. Young professionals also flock to other Boston suburbs, including Somerville, Brookline, Watertown and Medford.

Budgeting for Housing in Massachusetts

If you’re anything like us at Ramsey, you know one of the most important things to do before moving to a new area is to calculate the cost of living to make sure it fits your budget. Keep in mind, the biggest factor that’ll determine whether you can afford living in a new Massachusetts city is the cost of housing. To figure out your housing budget, use the 25% guideline—never buy or rent a home that comes with payments higher than 25% of your after-tax monthly income.

If you’re getting a mortgage, that 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, home insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI) and homeowners association (HOA) fees. Use our mortgage calculator to enter your down payment amount and try out different home prices within your budget.

If you want a mortgage you can pay off fast, talk to the home loan specialists we trust at Churchill Mortgage about getting a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Any other type of mortgage will drown you in interest and extra fees and keep you in debt for decades.

Ready to Find Your New Home in Massachusetts?

Whether you’re buying or selling a house there, make sure you’re working with an experienced real estate agent. We can connect you—for free—with top Massachusetts agents who have earned the right to be called RamseyTrusted.

Find a local agent in Massachusetts

 

Next Steps

  • Decide where in Massachusetts you want to live.
  • Interview a few trusted agents from that area.
  • Choose one who’s right for you and start your moving journey.
Find Agents in Massachusetts

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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