Single Family Median Price: $576,500
Increase since 2016: 64.7%
When Dan Costa and his family moved to Rochester to take over Lloyd’s Market, a butcher and grocery store that’s been a mainstay since the 1950s, he wasn’t sure what to expect. “I didn’t know much about Rochester before I got here, but I’m happy to be here,” Costa said.
It’s much quieter and more peaceful than Boston’s North End, where Costa had owned a store on Hanover Street for 18 years. “It’s just a simpler, calmer way of life,” he says. The town is a Right to Farm community – meaning residents are committed to living with the sounds and smells of standard farming operations – and Lloyd’s sources much of its supplies from local farmers. “It’s actually really pretty with the farmland we have, and some of the ponds here make you feel like you’re in New Hampshire lakes,” he says.
When the family came to town with their two young children, they rented for a few years before buying a house. “And then we decided to live here based on what we thought about the community and the school system, which is just great,” Costa says. “We decided that was where we wanted to be.”
Finalists in the category under $600,000
Single Family Median Price: $395,000
Increase since 2016: 63.9%
Single Family Median Price: $440,000
Increase since 2016: 60.9%
Despite being one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, 2021 Top Spot Brockton — aka the “City of Champions” — offers suburban-style neighborhoods full of single-family homes, as well as the DW Field Park and Golf Course designed by Olmsted. In nearby Rockland, factories that once produced shoes for the Union Army now house artists’ studios and residents in a quiet suburb that includes a 3-mile rail trail.
BEST SPOTS TO LIVE SOUTH OF BOSTON FOR $600,000-$800,000
The best spot: Mattapoisett
Single Family Median Price: $620,000
Increase since 2016: 65.3%
Mattapoisett Harbor on Buzzards Bay attracts many boaters and the community swells with seasonal residents each summer. But it’s not really a tourist town, says Chris Demakis, agent at Demakis Family Real Estate and co-owner of the Town Wharf General Store.
Demakis grew up in Mattapoisett and, after a stint in Boston, returned to his hometown in 1999. He commuted around the city for nearly two decades before a career change allowed him to stay local. Lately, he’s seen many other homebuyers who are able to do the same, without having to change jobs.
“More and more people are choosing to live where they want, rather than where they have to,” says Demakis – a decision that for many people leads to the ocean. “And when you look at our housing prices compared to the South Shore or Cape Town, Mattapoisett and the South Shore in general turn out to be, I think, better value for money.”
The village of Mattapoisett features historic homes, a public boat launch, a series of giant stone docks from the city’s shipbuilding heyday, and a municipal park called Shipyard Park, which hosts free concerts and other events in the summer. “People treat the wharf like their backyard,” Demakis says. There is also a public beach nearby and the town offers a sailing camp for children in the summer.
Finalists in the $600,000 to $800,000 category
Single Family Median Price: $610,000
Increase since 2016: 54.4%
Single Family Median Price: $762,500
Increase since 2016: 53.7%
Easton is home to Stonehill College, the Ames Estate, a children’s museum and an impressive collection of buildings designed by HH Richardson, the architect of Trinity Church in Boston. Salty Scituate features waterfront (and often storm-battered) homes from Minot Beach south to Humarock, more typical suburban neighborhoods (and a pair of commuter rail stations) further east. inland and a walkable village near the port.
BEST SPOTS TO LIVE SOUTH OF BOSTON FOR $800,000 AND MORE
The best spot: Cohasset
Single Family Median Price: $1,350,000
Increase since 2016: 66.7%
Another pretty coastal town — this one on the bay side and on the commuter rail — has seen the fastest price growth of any city south of Boston. “Cohasset could be a pretty town if it were 40 miles inland,” says Dan Leahy, 77, a photographer for the Cohasset anchor who has lived there since 1982. But the oceanside setting takes it to another level, he says.
“Every time you have a bad day or a low moment, you go down to the harbor and sit there for 15 minutes and breathe in that wonderful salty air and take in that beautiful scenery,” says Leahy. Families with children flock to Sandy Beach in the summer, while Leahy is more likely to stroll the quieter Black Rock Beach or photograph the wildlife or lobster boats in the working harbor. “Whether it’s a foggy day, a cold day, or a snowy day, he just pushes all my buttons.”
Beyond the natural beauty, Leahy, who raised six children in Cohasset, says the schools are “phenomenal”. From academics to athletics to extracurricular activities, “they do it all, the teachers are all really involved,” he says – like the rest of the town. “You go to any school play or debate or any school event. . . the whole community gets involved.
Finalists in the $800,000+ category
Single Family Median Price: $1,025,000
Increase since 2016: 55.7%
Single Family Median Price: $1,100,000
Increase since 2016: 48.6%
Wedged between the mega-malls along Route 128 in Dedham and the tony suburbs of Dover and Needham, 2020 finalist Westwood offers a mix of convenience (including a Wegmans grocery store and Amtrak Acela service to New York) and convenience. suburban calm. From modern harborside condos a short boat ride from Boston to historic settlements in its downtown core, Hingham offers beautiful accommodations and plenty of parkland — including a state park and three Reservations Trustee properties — for those who can afford its high housing prices.
WHAT YOU GET FOR ABOUT $750,000 SOUTH OF BOSTON
19 Highland Avenue, Mattapoisett
Square feet: 1,674
Lot size: 0.13 acres
Bedrooms: 3 Baths: 1.5
Just one block from Sandy Beach in the Point Connett neighborhood, this 1935 clapboard cape offers ocean views from the large porch and cozy wood-paneled living room with fireplace. (Listed by Lauren Kavanagh, Jack Conway & Co. Mattapoisett)
—Additional reporting by Kim Costigan
Discover the Top Spots to Live 2022 by region: City districts | North | West
Jon Gorey is a regular contributor to Globe Magazine. Send your comments to [email protected]