Rightfully so, Boston is a popular city brimming with offerings. But there's a significant challenge to contend with when it comes to Boston: the cost of living is exceptionally high. To put it bluntly, it's really expensive. With a median home sale price reaching $615,000 and median rent hovering at $3,000, the dream of securing that charming brownstone overlooking the Public Gardens may seem out of reach for most prospective residents.
But here's the silver lining: numerous smaller cities and suburbs in the vicinity offer an attractive solution. They provide easy access to Boston while presenting their own unique allure. In fact, if you were to ask many self-proclaimed Bostonians where they call home, you might discover that they technically reside in nearby Medford, Waltham, or even Worcester, where the cost of living isn't as exorbitant. These alternatives not only come with a more affordable price tag but also boast their own merits as fantastic places to live and work. What's more, most of them are seamlessly connected to the bustling city via efficient public transit systems, making commuting a breeze if the need arises.
Here are 6 affordable cities to live in near Boston that offer just as much rich history and culture as the city affectionately known by locals as “Beantown.”
Medford, home to Tufts University, enjoys a convenient proximity to Boston, with just a 15-minute drive connecting the two. What's more, Medford offers a more budget-friendly living alternative, featuring a median home sale price of $562,450 and a median monthly rent of $2,750.
Nature enthusiasts will revel in Medford's abundant green spaces, boasting over 24 public parks. Among them, the expansive Middlesex Fells Reservation beckons with its picturesque walking trails. For those who prefer indoor pursuits, Medford Square presents an array of dining options, or you can opt to catch a live performance at the Chevalier Theatre.
Residents of South Medford are in for an extra treat, as they can embark on a brief stroll to reach Somerville's vibrant Davis Square, replete with shops, eateries, and outdoor musical entertainment. Additionally, this area provides easy access to the city via the subway, complemented by a network of bus routes threading through Medford.
While Portsmouth lies just outside the state borders, it remains delightfully close to Boston, situated less than 60 miles to the north and a mere hour's drive away. Even more appealing, it offers an alluring blend of charm and affordability, boasting a median home price of $420,000 and a median monthly rent of $2,300.
Once a bustling seaport and hub of shipbuilding, Portsmouth's maritime legacy is woven into the fabric of the city, evident in its historic residences and well-preserved lighthouse. The city's active port ensures an exceptional seafood experience that's truly worth savoring.
Portsmouth also shines in the realm of arts and culture, boasting a profusion of galleries to explore. The Prescott Park Arts Festival adds to the cultural vibrancy, drawing world-class musicians for a free outdoor concert series each summer. Additionally, the splendidly antiquated Music Hall serves as a venue for theater productions, film festivals, engaging speakers, and talented musicians, making Portsmouth a cultural haven.
Salem, situated 16 miles north of Boston, is easily accessible with a 40-minute drive or a convenient 30-minute commuter rail ride. Unsurprisingly, Salem also offers a significant cost advantage, with a median home sales price of $365,000 and a median monthly rental cost of $2,025.
This picturesque coastal city is renowned for its rich history, famously known as the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Salem's historical legacy is evident in attractions such as the Witch History Museum, complemented by themed tourist sites, modern witchcraft shops, and even high school sports teams bearing the name "The Witches."
However, Salem is far from being exclusively associated with cauldrons and the Crucible (although its lively October Halloween celebrations might lead you to think otherwise). Once a vital seaport, Salem boasts a wealth of historic homes, lighthouses, and even replicas of sailing ships, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere. The Peabody Essex Museum houses an impressive art collection, and the city offers an abundance of picturesque parks for leisurely strolls.
Waltham, situated less than 12 miles west of Boston, is currently in the spotlight. While Waltham may not be the most budget-friendly choice, it offers a significant cost advantage compared to Boston proper, with median rent prices approximately $500 lower. Despite this affordability, it maintains strong connections to the bustling city through efficient bus and commuter rail routes.
Situated along the Charles River, much of Waltham exudes a suburban ambiance, providing a peaceful escape from the urban hustle. However, residents don't have to venture far for a vibrant night out. Moody Street in Waltham offers an extensive array of options, from dive bars to ethnic restaurants and trendy eateries, catering to diverse tastes.
The city's two prominent universities, Brandeis and Bentley, attract a diverse community of students and academics, enriching the local atmosphere. History enthusiasts find a treasure trove in Waltham, reflecting its proud heritage, particularly its pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution. Evidence of this heritage can be seen at sites like the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation and repurposed old watch factories, some of which have been transformed into modern apartments.
In less than an hour's drive or a quick train ride from Worcester (pronounced "Wooster"), you can find yourself in Boston, but the two cities couldn't be more different. Worcester offers a cost-effective alternative, with a median home price of $236,000 and rental costs nearly $1,000 lower at $1,700 per month. Nestled in central Massachusetts, Worcester's prime location provides easy access to both ends of the state and nearby Providence, RI.
However, Worcester is not just a budget-friendly choice; it's a thriving cultural gem. Discover a lively "Little Italy" on Shrewsbury Street, an underground music scene, and a collection of retro lunch car diners courtesy of the Worcester Lunch Car Company. After Boston, Worcester takes the lead as the state's second-largest arts center. Here, you can indulge in Broadway productions at the Hanover Theatre, savor symphony performances at Tuckerman Hall, or enjoy concerts at Mechanics Hall, one of the nation's oldest concert venues.
While Worcester's downtown area possesses an urban vibe, it maintains a manageable size. For those yearning for tranquility, explore the Salisbury Hill neighborhood, where historic homes create a close-knit community atmosphere. Alternatively, unwind amidst the picturesque walking paths of Elm Park, offering a serene escape from the urban bustle.
Contact KW Evolution Realty
If you're intrigued by the prospect of making one of these cities your home or simply want to explore your options further, don't hesitate to reach out to the Keller Williams Evolution Realty team. We're here to help you navigate the real estate landscape and find the perfect place to create your own chapter in the story of these remarkable cities. Contact us today to discover more about affordable cities near Boston.