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Globe Magazine

Top spots to live 2019: West of Boston

Values to the west just keep getting higher. And the winning town in the over $1 million category also saw some of the biggest price jumps.

(Marilena Perilli for the Boston Globe)
Explore the Top Spots to Live 2019 by region:

Many of Boston’s western suburbs are famously expensive, and the search for an affordable home increasingly takes buyers to communities along Interstate 495 — to places such as once-humble Hudson, which had the top price growth for towns with medians below $500,000. “Growing up, there was nothing in Hudson, and now it’s become a real hot spot,” says Donna Moy-Bruno of RE/MAX Results. A walkable town center anchored by craft breweries, boutiques, and trendy restaurants such as the Rail Trail Flatbread Co. has drawn interest from young people, especially those who work along the I-495 corridor. “It’s more affordable at this point than, say, Framingham is,” she adds.

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Meanwhile, a 55-plus community with newer construction has poached downsizers from wealthier enclaves in MetroWest, who find they can get more for their money close to their favorite haunts.

Waltham tops the $500,000-$750,000 category, buoyed by the company it keeps: It shares a border with Lexington, Weston, Belmont, and Newton, among other pricey towns. Hans Brings, a realtor with Coldwell Banker, says the restaurants of Moody Street, the canoeing and kayaking on the Charles River, and the easy commuter rail and highway access are the envy of some sleepier suburbs. “It’s just an amazing place to be,” he says. “And rather than people just visiting at this point, they’re saying, ‘Hey, I’d rather just live here.’ ”

Also nestled between tony towns is $750,000-$1 million winner Needham, which continues to see plenty of bidding wars, especially for houses under $1 million, according to Amy Gworek, a realtor with William Raveis. Buyers are drawn by good schools, a concentrated town center with buzzy restaurants, and an easy commute: Needham boasts four commuter rail stops and easy access to Route 128 and the Mass Pike. “We don’t have many people moving out of town, people move in and they stay,” Gworek says.

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The $1 million winner, Dover, also saw some of the biggest price jumps. There are three big reasons home buyers are willing to pay a median price of $1.2 million to live here, according to realtor and longtime resident Jay Hughes: A school system consistently ranked among the state’s best, relatively low taxes, and spacious lots less than 20 miles from Boston. Since there’s no town sewer or water service, he says, most houses are sited on 1- or 2-acre lots that can safely accommodate both a septic tank and a well. “So in addition to a sizable home, you’re also getting a nice piece of land around it for kids and so forth,” Hughes says. Add in the town’s substantial conservation land and he calls it a bit of nirvana in the middle of Boston’s urban sprawl.

THE WINNERS WEST OF BOSTON IN FOUR PRICE CATEGORIES

■  Under $500,000 — Hudson

Median single-family price $375,000

Change since 2013: +38 percent

■  $500,000 to 750,000 — Waltham

Median single-family price: $603,200

Change since 2013: +42 percent

■  $750,000 to $1 million — Needham

Median single-family price: $976,250

Change since 2013: +30 percent

■  Over $1 million — Dover

Median single-family price: $1,210,500

Change since 2013: +47 percent

ALSO TRENDING WEST OF BOSTON, BASED ON MEDIAN SINGLE-FAMILY PRICES

■  Watertown — $650,000

■  Arlington — $788,250

■  Belmont — $1,150,000

■  Brookline — $1,770,000

* 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.

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WHAT’S AVAILABLE FOR THE MEDIAN SINGLE-FAMILY SALES PRICE WEST OF BOSTON*

6 Robinhood Road, Natick.
6 Robinhood Road, Natick.

6 ROBINHOOD ROAD | NATICK

■  Price: $614,900

■  Bedrooms: 3

■  Bathrooms: 1 full, 1 half

■  Square feet: 1,660

■  Lot size: 0.23 acres

■  Downtown Boston: 20 miles

This 1950 Colonial has hardwood floors, a large deck, and a level, fenced-in yard out back.

* 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.

Explore the Top Spots to Live 2019 by region:

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

This file has been updated to correct a subhed indicating that the Natick house listing is west of Boston.