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We know it's hard to believe to most North Easterners, but there is more to life than the New England Patriots and the Red Sox, folks. There's the need and want for affordable living and Massachusetts has just that.
The Bay State wants you to call one of its many affordable cities home.
Massachusetts has a boatload of wicked affordable cities. Hip millennial cities like Boston and Cambridge have multiple opportunities for young professionals to pad their bank accounts. Cities like Salem and Provincetown provide inexpensive staycations. And if you 'bang a left,' you can find safe, affordable, family-oriented cities like Newton and Melrose.
What Massachusetts lacks in size, they sure make up in millionaires. They have the sixth largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. And with a statewide median income close to $68,000/year, who wouldn't want to get their hands on all that 'cheddah'.
If you want to live the American dream without a hefty Beantown price tag, look beyond Boston. More importantly, don't fret. We've done the work for you. Take a look below at our top affordable cities in Massachusetts' list for 2020. Grab some lobstah chowdah, a regular coffee, find a quiet spot at the Cape, and read on. We promise it will be wicked cool.
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Massachusetts
It's simple economics, people. The less you have to spend on bills, the more you will have to spend on things that matter: like your home, good food, Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Celtics tickets, and just overall good East Coast fun.
This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Massachusetts.
So, what does the most affordable place to live in the Bay State look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents, Palmer Town takes the cake.
If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Massachusetts, where your salary will let you live like royalty.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Massachusetts and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2020
When it comes to affordability, there's nowhere better in Massachusetts than Palmer Town. Palmer Town residents pay a median price of $188,600 for homes and earn a median income of $60,333. That gives Palmer Town the best ratio of home price to income in Massachusetts. And with a median rent of $907, Palmer Town is also one of the cheapest places to rent in the state, taken as a proportion of income. With all that extra cash, you can afford to splurge at the Yankee Flea Market any day of the week.
The median household income in Palmer Town comes in at $60,333 and the median home value is $188,600 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.9%.
Located across the Connecticut River from Springfield, Agawam Town ranks as the second cheapest place to live in Massachusetts. At $226,300, the median home price in Agawam Town is a bit higher than in Palmer Town. But, thanks to residents earning a slightly higher median income of $67,219, Agawam Town ranks as the second most affordable place to buy a home in Massachusetts, when taken as a proportion of income. If you need another reason to buy a home in Agawam Town, remember that it's the home of Six Flags New England. Friends from out of town will be visiting all the time, whether you want them to or not!
The median household income in Agawam Town comes in at $67,219 and the median home value is $226,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.6%.
Gardener is the third most affordable city in Massachusetts, thanks to the low price tag on housing for both buyers and renters. The median rent in Gardner is a measly $811, which is bound to make Bostonians super jealous. But where Gardner really shines is the cost of homes. At $181,500, Gardner has the fifth cheapest homes in the state. And with residents earning a median income of $50,239, it's a piece of cake to pay off the mortgage. Those of an outdoorsy inclination will find plenty to do at Dunn State Park without having to break out the wallet at all.
Gardner is about 40 miles north of Worcester.
The median household income in Gardner comes in at $50,239 and the median home value is $181,500 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.7%.
Located just west of Springfield, Westfield ranks as the fourth cheapest city to live in Massachusetts. With a median price tag of $227,400, Westfield has the second highest home prices on this list. However, because residents earn $63,660 as a median income, Westfield still has the fifth best ratio of home price to income in the state. It's also economical to rent in Westfield, where the median rent to income ratio is among the best in Massachusetts. We should also mention that Westfield was just shy of making the cut of best places to live in Massachusetts, so if you want quality on a budget, look no further.
The median household income in Westfield comes in at $63,660 and the median home value is $227,400 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.4%.
If you're looking to buy a home in Massachusetts, you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere cheaper than Pittsfield. The median home price in Pittsfield is the third lowest in the state at $172,600. With residents earning a median income of $48,555, paying off a mortgage in Pittsfield couldn't be easier. Even more good news for those who want to live the high life on a budget: Onota Lake has a free public beach, boat launch, and fishing. That's how you enjoy the Berkshires year-round without spending a dime.
The median household income in Pittsfield comes in at $48,555 and the median home value is $172,600 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.2%.
Located about 30 miles west of Lowell and north of Worcester, Fitchburg ranks as the sixth most affordable city in Massachusetts. Fitchburg has the third lowest home price to income ratio in the state, with a median home price of $190,900 and a median income of $55,277. Living in Fitchburg, you won't know what people are talking about when they say that Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states in America.
The median household income in Fitchburg comes in at $55,277 and the median home value is $190,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.1%.
At first glance, the affordability of Attleboro might not be obvious. Housing is more expensive here than anywhere else on this list, with a median home price of $283,100 and a median rent of $1,057. However, because Attleboro residents earn an above average median income of $74,255, it's the 11th easiest place to pay off a mortgage in Mass. On top of that, Attleboro is in the top ten statewide for income to rent ratio and scored a 8.5/10 on our overall SnackAbility scale, meaning it's an all-around great spot to call home.
Attleboro is just 20 minutes northeast of Providence, Rhode Island.
The median household income in Attleboro comes in at $74,255 and the median home value is $283,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.6%.
Located just north of Springfield, Chicopee ranks as the eighth cheapest city in Massachusetts. With a median home price of $176,700 and a median income of $49,434, Chicopee has the sixth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. The median rent in Chicopee is $917, so it's a little more economical to buy than rent here.
If you can get your entertainment fix through free activities like hiking at Chicopee Memorial State Park, you'll have even more money in your wallet at the end of every week.
The median household income in Chicopee comes in at $49,434 and the median home value is $176,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.7%.
Whether you're renting or buying, living in Greenfield Town won't set you back much for housing. The median income in Greenfield Town is $48,653, while the median home price is $188,700 and the median rent is $866. This puts Greenfield Town's home price to income ratio near the top ten statewide and rent to income ratio just outside of the top twenty. You can write a poem while overlooking the Berkshires from Poet's Seat Tower without any financial stress weighing you down.
Greenfield Town is about 40 miles north of Springfield.
The median household income in Greenfield Town comes in at $48,653 and the median home value is $188,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.9%.
Rounding out our list of cheapest places to live in Massachusetts is North Adams, a city in northern Berkshire County near the New Hampshire border.
You won't feel like you're living in an aggressively cheap city when you've got the Mass MoCA downtown. With a median rent of $736, North Adams has the cheapest rent on this list. Not to mention that it's more than three times cheaper than the average rent in Massachusetts. North Adams also boasts the cheapest homes in the state, with a median price tag of $144,300. With residents earning a median income of $39,411, North Adams has the ninth best home price to income ratio in the state.
The median household income in North Adams comes in at $39,411 and the median home value is $144,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.2%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Bay State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Massachusetts to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 53 places in Massachusetts that have more than 12,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Massachusetts according to the data is Palmer Town. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Massachusetts Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Massachusetts, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Massachusetts according to the data:
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In Massachusetts
- Best Counties To Live In Massachusetts
- Best Places To Buy A House In Massachusetts
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Massachusetts
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