THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2020


We used science and data to determine which Bay State cities are the real gems.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Massachusetts.

There's more to Massachusetts than Boston. There's Martha's Vineyard, Harvard, the Boston Red Sox, as well as some of the best cities in America. Lucky for you, HomeSnacks took the guessing out of Massachusetts' places to live and created a list of the top ten best places in Massachusetts for Newton based on science.

Ask any Bay Stater and they will tell you that there's definitely more to their best cities than just numbers. However, to put the best of the best Massachusetts cities into perspective, we measured household income, home prices, education, and safety. The competition was wicked fierce to say the least. The best cities in Massachusetts really brought their A-game.

So not surprising, many of our top ten cities house global leading companies in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, and finance. All Fortune 500 companies and fancy islands aside, Massachusetts is the sixth oldest state in the country. We think that's all the more reason that they should have the best cities. They've had some time to perfect them. And that's just what the Massachusetts' cities on our top ten best places to live list have done

So grab yourself a bowl of baked beans, a frosty Cape Cod, and read on.

Massachusetts' cities are known for their quirky 'we discovered America' eastern culture with amazing local flare and out-of-this-world 'chowdah' carts. Needless to say, it was difficult to narrow down Massachusetts' best cities to a list of ten.

So, what city is the best place to live in Massachusetts for 2020? Well according to the UC Census and FBI data we crunched, Newton is the best place to live in the Baked Bean State.

To see a list of Massachusetts' other best cities, take a look below. And if you don't see your favorite city there, head to the bottom.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2020

Newton, MA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 88,660
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $886,100 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (2nd best)
More on Newton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Newton is by far, the best place in the state of Massachusetts.

We're not saying that places where people are broke is a bad thing, inherently. But it's certainly not desirable, right? Newton is the opposite of broke. The residents here earn way above the state average in household income, and the homes are among the most expensive in the state ($886,100). Plus, the unemployment rate is as close to zero as you can get.

Newton has it made.

Melrose, MA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 28,116
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $508,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (1st best)
More on Melrose: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Melrose is another great city in Massachusetts with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: " We feel incredibly safe in Melrose. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it's wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things."

Enough said.

Woburn, MA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 40,298
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $421,200 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (4th best)
More on Woburn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Who wouldn't want to live in a place where there's low crime and everyone is rich? That's the case with Woburn.

Things are looking peachy keen here. The unemployment rate is the 4th lowest in Massachusetts and the median income comes in at $88,745.

This is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

Newburyport, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 17,990
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $514,700 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (9th best)
More on Newburyport: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of Massachusetts, as there were only 18 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 9th lowest in Massachusetts (4.4%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 4th most expensive in Newburyport ($514,700), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $103,220 a year.

Beverly, MA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 41,731
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $411,700 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (6th best)
More on Beverly: Real Estate | Data | Photos

We wouldn't be surprised to see CNN call Beverly one of the best places to live in the United States. Not only do the residents all make great livings, there's essentially no crime in the entire city. And the residents are very involved in the community.

They can't build homes fast enough here as it seems everyone wants a piece of Beverly.

Cambridge, MA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 115,665
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $719,300 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (10th best)
More on Cambridge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cambridge's unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state and the median income is the 4th highest, making Cambridge a great place to work and settle down if you're look for a stable job with a stable income.

Additionally, Cambridge has above average education and low crime, making this place a safe place to live.

Medford, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 57,771
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $464,400 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (3rd best)
More on Medford: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Let's take a look at why Medford is a great place to call home for 2020.

There's low crime in Medford, and the residents here are gainfully employed (3.3% unemployment rate).

You can make Medford your home for only $464,400 which won't be too hard on a $92,363 household salary.

Waltham, MA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 62,979
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $497,100 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (7th best)
More on Waltham: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Waltham has been called one of the best small towns in America. If you live here, you're most likely already aware of how great it is to live there.

Just about everyone who wants a job in Waltham has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 4.3% and lowering. And the Waltham police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the 9th lowest in the state here.

Who wouldn't want to live in a place like this?

Somerville, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 80,434
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $616,100 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (5th best)
More on Somerville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Somerville isn't just the nicest place to live in Massachusetts - it's also the one of the fastest growing places in the state. And with good reason.

It's got the 5th lowest unemployment rate, the 6th highest adjusted income, and rates above most places in education.

When you're looking at science and data, Somerville definitely deserves a spot on the list for 2020.

Peabody, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 52,865
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $372,300 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (12th best)
More on Peabody: Real Estate | Data | Photos

There's two types of people who live in Peabody. Either the old hold outs who have lived there forever and are watching their home values skyrocket, or those d who can afford to buy a $372,300 home there.

Either way, you're set. Your kids go to great schools, there's a ton of things to do, and you earn a great salary. Peabody is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Massachusetts

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Boston with a population of 679,413 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 13,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 13,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 39 cities, 107 towns, and 14 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Massachusetts have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 13,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Massachusetts

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Massachusetts across a number of criteria from one to 39, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Massachusetts".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Massachusetts? That would be Newton.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Massachusetts.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Newton at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Massachusetts

If you're looking at areas in Massachusetts with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Newton made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Massachusetts for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Massachusetts

  1. Forestdale (Pop. 4,888)
  2. Topsfield (Pop. 3,435)
  3. Dover (Pop. 2,453)
  4. The Pinehills (Pop. 1,275)
  5. Nahant (Pop. 3,471)
  6. Cordaville (Pop. 2,847)
  7. South Duxbury (Pop. 3,684)
  8. Duxbury (Pop. 1,498)
  9. West Falmouth (Pop. 2,021)
  10. Essex (Pop. 1,476)

Best Small Towns To Live In Massachusetts

  1. Seabrook (Pop. 413)
  2. Siasconset (Pop. 183)
  3. Madaket (Pop. 307)
  4. New Seabury (Pop. 900)
  5. Mashpee Neck (Pop. 877)
  6. Edgartown (Pop. 649)
  7. Petersham (Pop. 220)
  8. Cheshire (Pop. 647)
  9. Blandford (Pop. 352)
  10. Brookfield (Pop. 675)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Massachusetts according to the data:

  1. Holyoke (Pop. 40,376)
  2. North Adams (Pop. 13,089)
  3. Springfield (Pop. 154,596)

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Massachusetts?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Newton 88,660 2.9% $886,100
2 Melrose 28,116 2.8% $508,700
3 Woburn 40,298 3.7% $421,200
4 Newburyport 17,990 4.4% $514,700
5 Beverly 41,731 4.1% $411,700
6 Cambridge 115,665 4.4% $719,300
7 Medford 57,771 3.3% $464,400
8 Waltham 62,979 4.3% $497,100
9 Somerville 80,434 3.9% $616,100
10 Peabody 52,865 4.9% $372,300

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

9 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2020

    1. I had the same question & wondered why the Cape & Islands were left out? I’d be very happy in Wellfleet, North Truro or Provincetown. I assume the “Cape” is not so depressed because they have the tourist trade?…ditto for the islands.

  1. This study really should be titled, “These are the best places for rich people to live in Massachusetts.

    I’d like to see a similar study that examines cities with a median income is close to the state’s median. Then you would see where the best schools money can’t buy are. Where can people get the median-priced home for for the median income.

    For Wellesley you say, “In fact, there are probably enough butler and landscaping jobs available here to put every single unemployed resident to work. That’s actually not a bad idea”. Truth be told, those butler and landscaping jobs wouldn’t provide enough money to afford that median $994K house cost – or one within a standard deviation or two lower. These butlers and landscapers would most often live outside of the 495 loop in place like Lowell, for example.

    1. Not really, lived in some of these towns and they are awful! Newton is nice, but Peabody, Beverly, Merose and Marlborough/Marlboro…some nice parts, but crappy places to live.

  2. Merrimac is way better than Cambridge (not that I have a problem with Cambridge.) Andover is way better than Brookline or Reading (not that they’re bad at all.) Groveland should be in the top 10, or at least close to it.

  3. First of all, that is not a picture of Sharon, not sure what town that is. Secondly, who has butlers anymore? Yes, cleaning ladies, nanny’s and professional landscapers, but I think that’s it, lol. I just thought I’d give my 2 cents about Sharon since I live nearby and am very familiar with the town and the people living in it. Sharon is conveniently located between Boston and Providence. Sharon is a bedroom community right next door to Foxborough, with high taxes and homes that cost more than the same exact thing in neighboring towns. There is no major benefactor or industry so the high taxes are what keeps the town up to its standards. If you have children, it might seem like a desirable choice. However things are not as they seem. The schools are touted as “excellent” but the truth is the data is based on test scores. The average text scores are high because the parents send their kids off to Kumon right after school. You can see a school bus after school every day in the Shaws Plaza off exit 8 on 95 with kids getting off and entering the testing center https://www.kumon.com/sharon/ Smoke and mirrors. The teachers are not better than any of the neighboring towns and neither are the facilities. The parents have more money, so generally speaking you will have children of more educated people in the schools, so yes, you will have smarter children, or children of parents who value education more compared to a middle/working class town. But when you hear about the “great schools” it’s the test scores that you are really looking at. I have heard from people who work in education that the students in Sharon are under so much stress due to pressure to do well that they break down often. One good thing to note, Sharon is known for having a great program for children with learning disabilities. Highly educated families with disabled children, autism, preemies, etc find that very enticing and are moving there in droves. Sharon is an upper middle class town, so you will deal with some degree of snobbery as well (similar to Swampscott, Concord, Winchester, Weston or Wellesley). A few years back, a friend who just moved to Sharon and had a small child was not happy with the women in the local moms club and asked to be in the neighboring towns moms club. The data says that the town is diverse, but it really isn’t. The town was once a vacation community a long time ago because of beautiful Lake Massapoag. In the 1960’s and 70’s, many Jewish people moved to Sharon due to blockbusting and the busing crisis in Boston. At the time, it was middle class and people lived in split levels or smaller homes. In the 1990’s new developments were built with McMansions. The town then became exclusive and incredibly expensive. Jewish people were the largest ethnic group for over 40 years (however that is changing as they simply cannot afford it anymore and are moving to nearby Mansfield, Foxborough and Easton), All Sharon schools have the most important Jewish holidays off. Sharon now is home to a mosque, Islamic Center of New England, http://icne.net/ which is indicative of the very large Muslim population that moved in during the 90’s when the new developments were being built. The “multicultural” town of Sharon is a relatively new thing because the highly educated Indians and Chinese who have moved in. You will not find Hispanic, Southeast Asian or black people in Sharon. Indians move to Sharon because it’s the place to be for them as their friends and colleagues have moved there. It’s following the same pattern with the Jewish people in the 1960’s and 70’s. The newer ethic groups in Sharon that make the town seem “multicultural” do not assimilate and stay within the confines of their own groups socially. There was an article in 2011’s Money Magazine citing Sharon as the 11th best place to live in the country and that is simply not true. Somebody living in Sharon must have paid someone off at that magazine to raise property values, lol. Sharon has an MBTA commuter rail stop with 2 parking lots owned by the town. Because the lots are owned by the town, the town gets to dictate parking. For example, one lot is for Sharon residents and the other lot is for both Sharon and out of town residents. Sharon residents have been very vocal about not wanting any out of town people parking in the second lot. They feel that since they own the land, and they pay such high taxes, it should all be theirs. Unfortunately there are only enough spots in it’s entirety to fit one third of Sharon residents so the town parking passes sell out within an hour of going on sale. Legally, some spots have to be open to out of town people, so, they gave all the bad spots (and there are not that many) in the second lot to the non-residents. So there is a certain entitlement factor you are dealing with in Sharon. To be clear, Mansfield has an MBTA commuter rail stop and one lot is for the residents of Mansfield, and the other lot is owned by the MBTA. Neighboring Foxborough residents have a lot nearby that they can park in as well which is very convenient when there is bad weather and there are no spots in the Sharon lot for out of town commuters. Kraft is working on getting an MBTA stop in Foxborough. Yes, Sharon is a safe place to live with a beautiful lake and good schools but you can get that in any of the neighboring towns for much less (minus the lake) although Wrentham has Lake Pearl which is beautiful, and don’t forget the outlets. Foxborough is a small quiet town as well with the stadium not being an issue as it is located on the highway. Foxborough benefits financially from having Patriot Place and the stadium technically located in the town. Foxborough Mansfield and Easton are wonderful options as they all have excellent schools. So, I hope I clarified the reality of Sharon and people can make an informed decision on any town they choose to live in based upon those criteria

  4. No talk about schools? Diversity? Sensible affordable housing? These stats are indeed elitist. Obviously there will less poverty if it’s all rich people living there!!! Unemployment rate???

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