TOP SPOTS TO LIVE SOUTH OF BOSTON UNDER $600,000
Top Spot: Rochester
Median single-family price: $576,500
Increase since 2016: 64.7 percent
When Dan Costa and his family moved to Rochester to take over Lloyd’s Market, a butcher shop and grocer that has been a mainstay since the 1950s, he wasn’t sure what to expect. “I didn’t really know much about Rochester until I got here, but I’m glad I’m here,” Costa says.
It’s a lot quieter and more peaceful than Boston’s North End, where Costa had owned a store on Hanover Street for 18 years. “It’s just a simpler, quieter lifestyle,” he says. The town is a Right to Farm community — which means residents have committed to living with the noises and odors related to standard agricultural operations — and Lloyd’s sources much of its produce from local farmers. “It’s actually really pretty with the farmland that we have, and some of the ponds around here make you feel like you’re up in the lakes in New Hampshire,” he says.
When the family first arrived in town with their two young children, they rented for a couple of years before buying a house. “And then we decided to live here based on how we felt about the community, and the school system, which is just tremendous,” Costa says. “We decided this is where we want to be.”
Runners-up in the under $600,000 category
Median single-family price: $395,000
Increase since 2016: 63.9 percent
Median single-family price: $440,000
Increase since 2016: 60.9 percent
Despite being one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, 2021 Top Spot Brockton — a.k.a. the “City of Champions” — offers suburban-style neighborhoods full of single-family houses, as well as the Olmsted-designed D.W. Field Park and Golf Course. In nearby Rockland, the factories that once churned out shoes for the Union Army now host artist studios and residents in a quiet suburb that includes a 3-mile rail trail.
TOP SPOTS TO LIVE SOUTH OF BOSTON FOR $600,000-$800,000
Top Spot: Mattapoisett
Median single-family price: $620,000
Increase since 2016: 65.3 percent
Mattapoisett’s harbor on Buzzards Bay attracts plenty of boaters, and the community swells with seasonal residents each summer. But it isn’t quite a tourist town, says Chris Demakis, an agent with Demakis Family Real Estate and co-owner of the Town Wharf General Store.
Demakis grew up in Mattapoisett and, after a stint living in Boston, moved back to his hometown in 1999. He commuted into the city for nearly two decades before a career change allowed him to stay local. Lately, he’s seen many other home buyers able to do the same thing, without having to change jobs.
“More and more people are choosing to live where they want to, versus where they have to,” Demakis says — a decision that, for many people, leads to the ocean. “And when you look at our housing prices compared to the South Shore or the Cape, Mattapoisett and the South Coast in general turns out to be, I think, a better value for your money.”
Mattapoisett’s village includes historic homes, a public boat launch, a series of giant stone wharves from the town’s shipbuilding heyday, and a town green called Shipyard Park, which hosts free concerts and other events in the summer. “People treat the wharf like their backyard,” Demakis says. There’s a public beach nearby, too, and the town offers a sailing camp for kids in the summer.
Runners-up in the $600,000-$800,000 category
Median single-family price: $610,000
Increase since 2016: 54.4 percent
Median single-family price: $762,500
Increase since 2016: 53.7 percent
Easton is home to Stonehill College, the Ames Estate, a children’s museum, and an impressive collection of buildings designed by H.H. Richardson, the architect of Boston’s Trinity Church. Salty Scituate offers waterfront (and often storm-battered) homes from Minot Beach south to Humarock, more typical suburban neighborhoods (and a pair of commuter rail stations) farther inland, and a walkable village by the harbor.
TOP SPOTS TO LIVE SOUTH OF BOSTON FOR $800,000 AND UP
Top Spot: Cohasset
Median single-family price: $1,350,000
Increase since 2016: 66.7 percent
Another pretty coastal town — this one on the bay side, and on the commuter rail — saw the fastest price growth of any town south of Boston. “Cohasset might be a nice town if it were 40 miles inland,” says 77-year-old Dan Leahy, a photographer for the Cohasset Anchor who has lived there since 1982. But the oceanside setting takes it to another level, he says.
“Anytime you’re having a bad day or a down moment, you go down to the harbor and just sit there for 15 minutes and inhale that marvelous salt air, and look out at that magnificent scenery,” Leahy says. Families with kids flock to Sandy Beach in summer, while Leahy’s more likely to stroll quieter Black Rock Beach or photograph wildlife or lobster boats in the working harbor. “Whether it’s a foggy day, a cold day, a snowy day, it just presses all my buttons.”
Beyond the natural beauty, Leahy, who raised six children in Cohasset, says the schools are “phenomenal.” From academics to athletics to extracurricular activities, “they do everything, the teachers are all really involved,” he says — as is the rest of the town. “You go to any school play or debate or any school event . . . the whole community joins in.”
Runners-up in the $800,000 and up category
Median single-family price: $1,025,000
Increase since 2016: 55.7 percent
Median single-family price: $1,100,000
Increase since 2016: 48.6 percent
Wedged between the shopping mega-centers along Route 128 in Dedham and the tony suburbs of Dover and Needham, 2020 runner-up Westwood offers a mix of convenience (including a Wegmans grocery store and Amtrak Acela service to New York) and suburban quiet. From modern, harbor-front condos just a boat ride from Boston to historic Colonials in its town center, Hingham offers handsome housing and plenty of parks — including a state park and three Trustees of Reservations properties — for those who can afford its high housing prices.
WHAT YOU GET FOR AROUND $750,000 SOUTH OF BOSTON
19 Highland Avenue, Mattapoisett
Square feet: 1,674
Lot size: 0.13 acre
Bedrooms: 3 Baths: 1.5
Just a block from Sandy Beach in the Point Connett neighborhood, this shingled 1935 Cape offers ocean views from the big front porch and a cozy wood-paneled living room with fireplace. (Listed by Lauren Kavanagh, Jack Conway & Co. Mattapoisett)
—Additional reporting by Kim Costigan
Jon Gorey is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.