Living on the Fringes: Boston

You may love living in Boston, and why wouldn’t you? It boasts a seemingly unending supply of dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment options.

But it’s also pretty expensive to live there, right? We can feel you nodding. Using data from Bert Sperling — hailed by The New York Times as “the guy who picks the best places to live” — and his website BestPlaces, we’ve broken down just how expensive Boston can be.


When compared to the average cost of living the U.S., Boston is nearly 70 percent more expensive, mostly due to housing, but also utilities, health care costs and groceries. The median home cost is $587,000, and renting a two-bedroom apartment will set you back an average of $3,383 each month.

So, while this may have been a great place for you to live and play for a while, chances are that financial and personal reasons, you’ll reach a point when you’re looking beyond the city limits for your next address. But you don’t have to move to a town no one has ever heard of to make your budget stretch further and get a more relaxed lifestyle. Here are the key places to visit outside Boston when shopping for your new home.


The various towns and cities sprinkled around Boston offer an array of great lifestyles. Believe it or not, there are plenty of things to do outside Boston.

Do you still want access to arts, history and culture, but need affordable housing? Try Salem or Beverly. Need something family-friendly with great schools? Check out Sharon.

Looking for better to access to the great outdoors? Worcester & Quincy are the ticket, each featuring great outdoor activities near Boston. If staying as close to Boston as possible is a must, then Salem and Quincy are your best bets.

Check out our full breakdowns below. Start with your priorities and you may realize that you won’t have to sacrifice much when you leave the city. In fact, you may actually gain a lot more than you lose!


Consider Beverly, Salem or Worcester. Besides offering affordable housing options, Beverly boasts a super active performing arts scene. Take in plays, comedy shows and live music, or dance the night away nearly any night of the week at venues like Larcom Theatre and The Cabot. Salem , one of the most affordable towns on our list, possess a spooky history with several related– and unrelated– museums to peruse, including the Salem Witch Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, the nation’s fastest-growing art gallery. Meanwhile, Worcester, the most affordable by far, offers live performances, an art museum and more.


If hiking is your thrill, check out Quincy and Worcester. The latter boosts Elm Park, a historical 60-acre park with nature trails, playgrounds and even disc golf. You can also enjoy lakeside afternoons in Quinsigamond State Park near Worcester. If it’s the salty air of an ocean breeze you seek, you can’t go wrong with Quincy’s 27 miles of coastline. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of staying close to Boston– just 15 minutes by commuter rail, about 20 minutes of the T’s Red Line or half an hour by car.


Beverly, Mass., and Portsmouth, NH, will answer most foodies’ prayers. Beverly’s eclectic food scene includes everythign from Caribbean to Mediterranean menus to enjoy before taking in a show. Sample a plate of bao or the tuna crudo at Alma Caribbean Fusion.

In Portsmouth, which is just over an hour to Boston by car, there are several James Beard-nomintated restaurants and chefs. Try Moxy for an ever-fresh menu planned around local ingredients. Find other tasty choices at Cure, a restaurant whose name comes from the careful way they prepare their meats, and Blank Trumpet, a family-owned wine bar and bistro.


If you’re starting a family or already have a couple kids, local public education may be high on your list of priorities. For that, consider Sharon. It’s a great spot for families, kids and parents alike. Not only does, a company that uses a combination of data analytics tools and real-people reviews, award Sharon A’s for it’s schools and safe, family-friendly atmosphere, but the suburb has also earned a B for nightlife and a B+ for diversity.


Portsmouth, NH, and Quincy, Mass. win in this category. Community snowball fights are a legitimate “thing” in Portsmouth’s Market Square, and many of this town’s storefronts are small businesses. And while Quincy is the most urban of our list of ‘burbs, it still has a small-town atmosphere with quiet neighborhoods in the middle of town.


With affordable housing and an influx of younger residents, both Worcester and Salem exhibit an exciting energy. Just half an hour to Boston by train, Salem has recently become a destination for young professionals aiming to secure their starter homes. Meanwhile, a good portion of Worcester’s residents are young entrepreneurs and artisans, as evidenced by Crompton Collective, a marketplace that “celebrates local independent makers.” Plus, the town has enjoyed some large infrastructure, residential and tourism investments in recent years and offers active nightlife scene with plenty of brunch spots for the mornings after big nights out.


Now that you have a better idea of which suburbs may be best for your budget and your desired lifestyle, check out the cost of living information below to further narrow down the best spot for your next step.

For comparison’s sake, we’ll again offer up Boston’s stats:


Portsmouth, NH





Boston may have treated you well, but there’s no need to share a bittersweet goodbye when it’s time to move on. After all, you can still live nearby and visit your old friend, Beantown on the regular while saving a nice bit of coin for your fun, new spot.

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