Last Updated on: 28th December 2023, 07:20 pm
The Boston housing market is notorious for high prices, stiff competition, and limited inventory. The Boston median home price is now $799,000, up 1.5% year-over-year. When buying a house in Boston, you’ll pay an average of $726 per square foot.
The Boston suburbs real estate markets sometimes aren’t much better, but you can expect to pay less in most places and get more for your money. In some Boston suburbs, home prices are about half the median price you’ll pay in Boston – and many cities even offer their own first time home buyer programs!
Just remember that home prices aren’t the only thing affecting affordability. Don’t overlook property taxes. Boston suburbs often (but not always) have higher property tax rates than Boston which is $10.74 per $1,000 in assessed value. In many suburbs, tax bills are more than $14,000 per year.
Ready to make your dream of homeownership a reality? Here are the best Boston suburbs to buy a house. This list covers affordable Boston suburbs with a lot of appeal and a few higher-cost options that are still a great investment. If you’re a first time buyer, check our guide to Massachusetts first time home buyer programs. We noted below which cities offer their own programs too.
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Salem – Walkable & Diverse Suburb Popular with Young Families & Millennials
- Median home price: $485,000 ($387/square foot)
- Median condo price: $390,000
- Residential property tax rate: $12.51 per $1,000
With its cobblestone streets, picturesque homes, amazing seafood, fun downtown, general walkability, and commuter rail access to Boston, the appeal of this historic town is hard to overstate. That’s why so many tourists end up living in Salem full-time. It’s hard to believe Salem is one of the most affordable Boston suburbs!
Salem is known for its 1692 with trials and modern-day Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, but it’s increasingly becoming known as a foodie destination and one of the best places to buy a house in Massachusetts. Where else can you live within 20 miles of downtown Boston and pay under $500,000 for a home?
Single-family homes in Salem have a median home price of $575,000 – a steal for the area – while the median price for condos is just $390,000.
If that isn’t enough, the City of Salem is one of the few suburbs of Boston to offer its own down payment assistance program. As one of 26 Gateway Cities, MassHousing increases its down payment assistance in Salem and the maximum income threshold.
Salem first time buyer programs:
- The First-Time Homebuyer Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (FTHB) from the City of Salem matches up to $7,500 toward your down payment. This is a no-interest, deferred loan that is repaid if you move out or sell your home.
- MassHousing Down Payment Assistance offers assistance of 10% of the purchase price up to $50,000 in Salem.
Lynn – One of the Best Boston Suburbs to Buy a Home for Commuters
- Median home price: $522,500 ($350/square foot)
- Median condo price: $320,000
- Residential property tax rate: $11.15 per $1,000 value
Low crime, a fun downtown area, and excellent outdoor attractions like Nahant Beach and Lynn Woods are just the start of what makes living in Lynn so appealing. This charming suburb on Nahant Bay is perfect for commuters with multiple commute options. Lynn to Boston commuter ferry service is returning with 30-minute trips expected to cost $2.40 each way with free parking in Lynn and bicycles allowed. The Lynn commuter rail station is currently being rebuilt but until then, residents can take a shuttle to Swampscott for commuter rail service or a bus to the Blue Line.
Most Boston inner core communities don’t offer much savings for home buyers and instead provide more space and amenities (and potentially greater availability) than you’ll find in the city. Lynn is one of the few exceptions.
Lynn’s median home price is a whopping $278,000 below Boston with a property tax rate that’s only slightly higher. Your budget goes far here with condos in the low $300s and single-family homes in the mid $500s. Plus, first time home buyers can take advantage of down payment assistance from the Lynn Housing Authority and a boosted $50,000 cap on assistance from MassHousing.
Lynn first time buyer programs:
- Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development offers CHAPA-certified home buyer classes and up to $10,000 in down payment assistance for first time buyers.
- MassHousing Down Payment Assistance provides up to $50,000 in assistance toward buying a house in Lynn.
Peabody – Great Boston Suburb for Families with Affordable Homes & Short Commute
- Median home price: $575,000 ($381/square foot)
- Residential property tax rate: $9.52 per $1,000 value
Families that want to stay close to Boston but enjoy greater affordability and space don’t need to look much further than Peabody. This North Shore suburb next to Salem doesn’t have direct commuter service to Boston, but it’s an easy drive or bike ride to Salem or Beverly for commuter rail service.
One of the biggest perks of living in Peabody is the affordable housing. Boston suburb real estate often means high property taxes, but Peabody’s property tax rate is lower than Boston and most cities at just $9.52. Combined with a median home price that’s $225,000 cheaper than Boston, plus up to $50,000 in down payment assistance from MassHousing as a Gateway City, your budget can go far as a home buyer!
Amesbury – Historic Residential Community North of Boston for Quiet Living & Great Scenery
- Median home price: $620,000 ($321/square foot)
- Residential property tax rate: $16.34 per $1,000 value
Amesbury is one of the most unique suburbs on this list. One of the most northern communities in Massachusetts in the Merrimack Valley of the North of Boston region, it’s not a community high on the list for most commuters. Instead, the appeal of living in Amesbury lies in its rich history, gorgeous scenery, and close-knit community.
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Amesbury is a great place to raise a family or retire with very low crime, an active Quaker community, a strong arts scene, and family-friendly amenities. There are extensive youth sports options and outdoor attractions like Lake Attitash for swimming, water skiing, and boating. There are dozens of historic sites to visit and attractions like Cider Hills Farms with famous apple cider and a farm-to-table restaurant.
Buying a house in Amesbury is easier than most Greater Boston communities. The median home price is just $620,000 (almost $700,000 for single-family homes) with a median 20 days on market. While the market is competitive, that’s better than most Boston suburbs where 13 to 15 days on market is the norm. Just be aware of the high property tax rate!
Amesbury home buyer and homeowner programs:
- MassHousing Down Payment Assistance of 10% of the purchase price up to $30,000 when buying a house in Amesbury.
- Amesbury Housing Rehabilitation Program provides technical assistance and deferred payment loans up to $35,000 to improve or repair residential properties for low- and moderate-income property owners.
Framingham – Exciting City with Great Amenities and Easy Commute
- Median home price: $651,000 ($351/square foot)
- Median condo price: $310,000
- Residential property tax rate: $13.09 per $1,000 value
Framingham has been ranked one of the best places to live in Massachusetts and the entire country. What makes living in Framingham so appealing? A vibrant arts scene, commuter rail service to Boston, great schools, a bustling downtown, and economic opportunities for starters! It’s also one of the best Boston suburbs to buy a house with a median home price below average for the MetroWest area. You can find condos in the low $300s and single-family homes in the mid $600s.
Framingham has become more desirable over the past few years thanks to rising home prices and revitalization in the area. Millennials and young professionals are flocking to the city for its great commute (under an hour to South Station!), great amenities, and bustling downtown with breweries, shopping, and parks.
Danvers – Walkable Suburb Great for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Median home price: $590,500 ($389/square foot)
- Residential property tax rate: $11.75 per $1,000 value
Danvers is a North Shore town on the Danvers River offering a great location and beautiful surroundings. With direct commuter rail service to downtown Boston, Danvers is also close to Revere and Gloucester beaches and minutes from the nightlife and fun downtown of Salem. Danvers has close ties with the Salem Witch Trials and itself was once called Salem Village and part of the town. It was here that most of the preliminary hearings for the trials took place.
The Danvers area offers endless outdoor recreation and entertainment. Endicott Park is popular with families with an animal park and large playground. Visit the 140-acre Connors Farm to pick your own pumpkins and fruits! Hit the water from the Liberty Marina or spend an afternoon working on your bowling game at the Sunnyside Bowladrome.
Living in Danvers is more accessible than most suburbs with a median home price under $600,000 and single-family homes under $700,000. The Danvers real estate market is a bit less competitive than most Boston suburbs and its property tax rate is only a bit higher than Boston.
Beverly – Affordable Oceanfront Boston Suburb with a Great Quality of Life
- Median home price: $685,000 ($419/square foot)
- Residential property tax rate: $11.26 per $1,000
Beverly is one of the more expensive places on this list, but it’s still a great place to buy a house in Massachusetts because it’s more affordable than Boston, on the coast, and offers great amenities. This upscale North Shore community has two yacht clubs, many pristine parks, and five beaches including Dane Street Beach and Rice’s Beach by Hospital Point Lighthouse.
If oceanfront beaches aren’t enough, Bass River offers boating and fishing too. Beverly is also home to Endicott College, a private oceanfront college on a 235-acre campus.
Living in Beverly offers a truly unbeatable value and great quality of life. The median home price of $685,000 is higher than most suburbs on this list, but still lower than Boston. You can even find condos in Beverly in the mid $400s.
Wakefield – Great Boston Suburb for Families with Affordable Homes & Good Schools
- Median home price: $729,000 ($381/square foot)
- Residential property tax rate: $11.73 per $1,000 value
Wakefield has the highest median home price of the suburbs on this list, but the price per square foot is comparable to other affordable suburbs and it’s very close to downtown Boston.
Living in Wakefield means you’re never far from downtown Boston with many commute options. Wakefield has two commuter train stops and the 137 bus (or a bike ride) takes you to the Oak Grove Orange Line. It usually takes under 30 minutes to get from Wakefield to North Station on the commuter rail.
The highlight of this North Shore community is Lake Quannapowitt with plenty of recreation opportunities and activities during the summer. Downtown Wakefield is within walking distance of the lake for shopping and dining.
Map of the Best Boston Suburbs to Buy a House
Buying a house in the Boston area doesn’t need to feel hopeless. You’ll still deal with low inventory and competition almost anywhere in the Boston metro area, but these eight suburbs offer a combination of relative affordability, great amenities, and ideal location, plus many have their own programs for first time buyers!
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