Choosing where to live in Massachusetts,

For people moving into Massachusetts from out of the area, selecting even the general area of the state to begin looking in can sometimes be an intimidating one. Many of them are commuting into Boston itself, and when sitting in their home a thousand miles away looking at a map, they aren’t really able to discern any difference between the different areas. I put this information together for you as a guideline, based in part by my personal observations of the region, as well as the commentary and experiences of some of the hundreds of people whom I’ve helped relocate in and out of our area. Hopefully some of these insights will help you clarify where to begin your search.


Commuting into Boston Massachusetts – a beginners guide…..

Determining where in the Greater Boston area you wish to live is simple, once you establish a few simple requirements.

  1. How much will you spend on your home
  2. How large of a home will you need, on how much land, and of what age.
  3. How long of a commute are you willing to do on a daily basis
  4. What things are important to you in a town (Schools, Status, Recreation, Shopping)
  5. What town services do you need?  Town water and Sewer? Are you willing to do a Septic System and Private Well?

With those as our target items, the selection of towns is really quite simple.

First… one can commute into Boston from the North, Northwest, West, Southwest, or South 
(those with a large houseboat can also commute from the East)


Here are some of the pros and con’s of each, along with some representative communities:

  1. Commute from the North. Towns like Swampscott, Boxford, Rowley, Andover, Reading (The North Shore)
  2. Pro’s – Some very lovely towns along this spoke of the wheel. Many of these communities have excellent school districts, and while some are urban and industrial, many others are very picturesque. Some, like Marblehead and Swampscott are right near the water, which is a big plus for ocean lovers.

    Con’s – These towns can be extremely Expensive for the incoming homebuyer. Many of the areas, are predominantly older homes in established neighborhoods, which some people really like. To the person looking for a new or newer home, however, be prepared to spend a lot of money to live up in these areas.

    Also, commuting in from the North can be tough due to traffic. These areas are nice for people commuting into Cambridge, but for people commuting into Boston itself, getting over the River in the morning can add another 20 minutes to the already long commute.

  3. Commuting from the North-West. Town like Concord, Acton, Sudbury, Wayland, Boxboro.
  4. Pro’s - Again, just a gorgeous area with lovely homes and excellent school system data from our standardized tests. For people who like a more rural feel and more spread out communities these towns work really well.

    Con’s – Once more, these towns can be brutally expensive. In some of them, prices in the $350-$400,000 range are needed just to buy a building lot. Others, can be slightly more reasonable, but in any case be prepared to write "the big check" to live out this way. Likewise, the commute along Route 2 in the morning can be nothing short of brutal, and this is exacerbated by having to cross the river into Boston, once you finally reach Cambridge.

  5. Commuting in from the West. Towns like Natick, Framingham, Southboro, Westboro, Hopkinton, Shrewsbury, Grafton - otherwise known as Metro-West and Eastern Worcester County.
  6. Pro’s - In my opinion, this general direction clearly represents the best choice for the Boston commuter.

    Commuting in along the Massachusetts Turnpike (Route 90) provides the path of least traffic during the morning rush hour period. Whether commuting to Boston or Cambridge, there are exits off the Pike, which dump you into either area. Commuter Rail service is also available. This section of the state is currently undergoing the most growth, leading to a predominance of New Construction and Young Resale homes, new schools being built in many towns, brand new shopping malls etc.. Additionally, this area represents one of the most affordable. A new 4 Bedroom Colonial can still be had in a town like Shrewsbury, for example, for under $300,000, that might cost $100,000-$200,000 more in the North Shore or Northwest regions.

    Con’s – None really, except that once one has decided on commuting in from the West, one needs to them evaluate which of the towns to move to. Sometimes, this decision can be made easier by evaluating criteria such as schools or housing cost. For example, if a Buyer needs a 3000 square foot, 4 Bedroom Colonial, in a neighborhood, under 10 years old, the choice of town will be dictated by their personal budget. For $500,000, they can live in Southboro and commute 25 miles into Boston. $400,000 and a 30 mile commute, get’s them the same home in Westboro. $300,000 and a 35 mile commute and they can live in Shrewsbury etc….

  7. Commuting in from the Southwest. Towns like Sharon, the Bridgwaters, Franklin.
  8. Pro’s – Commuter rail service runs from the Franklin area into South Station.

    Some of the towns in this region are reasonably priced, while others remain pricey.

    Con’s – Commuting by car into Boston from the Southwest can be an arduous process. The Route 24 and Route 1 highways can be tough in the morning. Additionally, one often winds up merging near the Route 128 loop, which is famous for it’s morning traffic.

  9. Commuting in from the South. Towns like Hingham, Cohasset, and Norwell – the "South Shore."

Pro’s – One of the most historic areas of the state. Main streets lined with 200-year-old homes, often built by whalers give some of these towns a museum-like feel. All are in reasonable proximity to the coast, as well as easy access to Cape Cod.

Con’s – While I love to visit this lovely area, and walk through some of the historic homes, I tend to prefer "newer" communities to actually "live in." Commuting into Boston by car can be nothing short of Brutal, as traffic coming in from the South is often bumper to bumper for mile after mile after mile along Route 3 or Route 93. Newer homes in towns like Duxbury and Cohasset tend to be extremely pricey, when compared to other regions of the state.

    6. Living in Boston itself.  Areas like Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End etc...

Pro's - Nothing can quite compare to life downtown, depending on your lifestyle.  Walking hand-in-hand down gaslighted streets.  Dining on Newbury Street followed by the Boston Pops.  Definitely an interesting and dynamic life for those who love the city.

Con's  City life is expensive.  For the cost of a 4000sf home in the burbs, you get a 2BR condo in Back Bay.  For the price of a 1800sf home in the burbs, you get a parking space in Back Bay.  Money talks!  


Public Transportation.   There are commuter rail lines into the city from all different directions.  Traveling in from the North, Northwest, South or Southwest where commuter  traffic is a big issue..these rail lines become indispensable. Traveling in from the West...where traffic into Boston is more manageable, the rail line provides just another option for those who like to get some work done on the way in, and don't want to park in town.  You can view a layout of all of the rail lines into the city at the following site Commuter Rail Map

Another thing you should really look at is Air Transportation into the region, both for your house hunting visits, and your families travel needs in general.   While Logan airport  has flights going throughout the country, it can be a tough place to get in and out of.  In all was a mess before they started the Big Dig (that's a road construction prject that seems like it was started when Lincoln was president and will continue until we have Earth colonies on Mars) and certainly has not improved since then.   Before you book your flight, why not check out the option of flying into either Worcester Regional Airport or TF Green International Airport in Providence.  Both offer many flights in and out of the region and are often a lot closer to your destination here in Central Mass.  


If you are going to fly into Logan, and don't want to rent a car there...consider taking one of the Marlboro Westboro Airport Shuttles or Knight's Airport Limousine out to the hotel here, and renting your car in Marlboro or Westboro near your hotel.   


Anyway…. These are just a few thoughts, based on my personal opinions and experiences. Feel free to confirm all of them on your own. You may also want to jot down the names of some of these towns, and then from the Multiple Listing access link on my home page, do a search for the type of home meeting your criteria in those towns, and see what you come up with.  You can research the local School Systems or Cost of Living information directly from my home page via the link below.

Regardless of where you decide to live, we have wonderful agents ready to assist you. Just drop me an e-mail and let me know which area you want, and I’ll have the appropriate person contact you and arrange to send you out a package of relocation information on that particular area.



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