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Globe Magazine

Top spots to live 2019: South of Boston

If you want a relative bargain, go south, where one city is doing a brisk business in homes under $400,000, and the highest-priced category starts at $800,000.

Marilena Perilli for the Boston Globe

Buyers looking for a relative bargain might want to focus their search south of Boston: It’s the only region without a million-dollar median town, so we lowered our price tiers accordingly.

Take Brockton, winner of the under $400,000 category, where the typical single-family home still sold for less than $300,000, even after a 62 percent run-up in prices since 2013. “When you compare it to the next town over, you’re talking about a $70,000 price increase as you go from Brockton to Easton,” says Luis Martins, owner of RE/MAX Synergy and longtime resident. Brockton’s price point allows a family with kids to buy a home and still have enough money to go on vacation or eat out, he says — and there are plenty of local options for fun, from Brockton Rox baseball at Campanelli Stadium to the Fuller Craft Museum. “The only thing we’re missing is a movie theater,” he says. “It’s the only reason I leave the city.”


Martins says neighborhoods such as Brookfield, a cluster of suburban-style single-family houses near the Abington line, are highly sought after. But inventory is still low, so expect competition. “We’re getting seven to 10 offers per house that’s listed, and there are only 80 houses on the market in a city with 100,000 people,” he says. “That’s not a lot of houses for sale.”

With fewer than 15,000 residents Hanover is relatively sleepy by comparison — but its real estate market has been anything but, making it the top gainer in the $400,000 to $600,000 category. Hanover draws buyers for its rural feel and large lots, wide selection of new construction, and state-of-the-art high school (built in 2011), says Lisa Coyne, a realtor with Coldwell Banker. It also appeals to sticker-shocked buyers relocating to Boston from less expensive parts of the country, such as the South. “Hanover’s price point can mimic the Carolinas, they can get the pool, the home theater,” says Coyne. More new housing is on the way, with plans in the works to transform the struggling Hanover Mall into an upscale retail-and-residential development.


Across the Neponset River from Boston, Milton takes the $600,000 to $800,000 category in part thanks to itsmix of bucolic landscapes, skyline views, and compact neighborhoods such as East Milton Square and Lower Mills. Popular restaurants such as Steel & Rye enhance the town’s social scene. “It’s almost like living in Boston, but you have the benefit of all the suburban amenities,” says real estate broker Pat Tierney — including a well-regarded school system and access to the Blue Hills Reservation.

Topping the over $800,000 category is Hingham, one of the few towns south of Boston where median single-family prices crack that level. Its coastal charm is amplified by a walkable downtown dotted with boutiques, restaurants, and beautifully restored antique houses along what Eleanor Roosevelt once described as the most beautiful Main Street in America. “You have people who lived in Beacon Hill, they enjoyed that vibe and they get the same feeling in Hingham,” Coyne says.

And it’s all just a boat ride away from downtown Boston on the year-round commuter ferry (though there are also two commuter rail stops for landlubbers).


■  Under $400,000 — Brockton

Median single-family price: $290,000

Change since 2013: +62 percent

■  $400,000 to $600,000 — Hanover ‘

Median single-family price: $541,000


Change since 2013: +39 percent

■  $600,000 to $800,000 — Milton

Median single-family price: $685,500

Change since 2013: +39 percent

■  Over $800,000 — Hingham

Median single-family price: $813,750

Change since 2013: +24 percent

■  Holbrook — $336,500

■  Rockland — $339,990

■  Randolph — $366,500

■  Raynham — $400,000

■  Quincy — $480,500


49 Waldron Road, Braintree.


■  Price: $609,000

■  Bedrooms: 3

■  Bathrooms: 2 full

■  Square feet: 2,252

■  Lot size: 0.16 acre

■  Distance to downtown Boston: 15 miles

Charm-preserving updates to this 1923 bungalow include a second-floor master suite with a new spa bath.

* In 2018, median sales prices for single-family houses in the Boston area broke $600,000 for the first time since the Greater Boston Association of Realtors began tracking home prices, as half of homes sold for more than $610,000.

Jon Gorey is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Additional reporting by Lilly Milman. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.