If you want history, hominess, and humility, then you really need to take a look at New England, because it’s got all that and more.
Excellent chowder and the best maple syrup, beautiful architecture, pristine nature, some pretty revolutionary history, and the birthplace of sports like basketball and volleyball…what more do you want?
But not all places in New England are created equal, and there are a few spots that are head and shoulders above the rest. Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we were determined to find out where those places were, and we turned to the power of mathematics to do it.
We crunched the numbers and came out with this truly amazing list of the best places in New England:
1. Town of Lexington, MA
2. City of Waltham, MA
3. City of Watertown, MA
4. Town of Framingham, MA (Tie)
4. Town of Brookline, MA (Tie)
6. City of Cambridge, MA
7. City of Stamford, CT
8. City of Woburn, MA
9. Town of West Hartford, CT
10. Marlborough, MA
You may notice that there’s a whole lot of Massachusetts on our top 10. Still, we actually found the top 50 places in New England, and there’s a lot more diversity there.
To see those great 50 places, check the chart at the bottom of this article. If you’re also curious how we judged a place as best, you can find out by reading about our methodology in the next section.
In order to create this Big Deal List, we turned to sources including the 2012 U.S. Census, business listings, and National Weather Service data.
To start, we made a list of all the places in New England over 30,000 people in size. Any place that we could not get data for was omitted from the list. That left us with 79 places, and we researched those in seven important criteria:
- Amenities per capita
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
Once we had that data, we ranked each place in each of these criteria from one to 79, with scores closer to one being better. We then averaged all of each place’s rankings into one Big Deal Score. The place with the lowest number for that score became our best spot in New England.
Let’s take a moment with each of our top 10, to examine why each place ranked so well, and what awesome perks they have to offer locals.
1. Lexington, MA
This Massachusetts town has history, community, and was definitely a cut above the rest.
The “shot heard ‘round the world” happened here, and the national pride in this town is still very strong, with the Fourth of July being particularly patriotic. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from also having some of the best Indian food around, with the Royal India Bistro serving up naan that’ll knock your socks off.
Just going by the numbers, it’s hard to go wrong here. The quality of life ranked No. 3 and crime ranked No. 2 on our list, plus the taxes and unemployment were both the fourth lowest.
The amenities per capita ranked No. 17 and the commute was pretty middle of the pack. Even the weather was ok, with the air quality ranking 32nd.
A couple of additional perks here were the highest median income, at $130,637, and a student-teacher ratio of only 12 to 1. Throw in some national parks, landmarks, and great museums, and there’s pretty much something for everyone here.
2. Waltham, MA
Also sometimes called Water City, this place definitely knows how to whet your appetite for fun.
The 10th best amenities per capita here included decent Mexican food, museums, pretty parks, and so much more. That fun probably isn’t too surprising, considering this place is home to Brandeis University and Bentley University.
Stat-wise, this place is no slouch either. Waltham tied for the fourth lowest taxes, had the eighth lowest crime, and had an average commute time of only 27 minutes. The eighth best quality of life ranking also included a student-teacher ratio of 11 to one and a median rent of $1,285, so you can bet this is a desirable area.
As an added bonus, if you’re a comic book nerd, you’re going to feel right at home in The Outer Limits comic book shop. Just be sure to say hi to Steve for us.
3. Watertown, MA
Keeping up the water-themed places trend, Watertown is perfect for those who are cultured and want their families to be as well.
For starters, they had a huge number of amenities despite being a fairly small city of 31,915 and were home to national landmarks and museums such as the Abraham Browne House and the Armenian Library and Museum of America.
The perks don’t stop there. This place had the seventh lowest crime, the ninth lowest unemployment rate, and the fourth best quality of life. That stellar quality of life score included the lowest student-teacher ratio at nine to one, and a decent median income of $74,081.
And in case you’re worried about this small city not having anything to tickle your tastebuds, fear not. Between the Baklava at Sevan Bakery and the Moxie glazed chicken wings (oh my gosh yum) at Strip T’s, you’ll have plenty to enjoy.
4. Framingham, MA
If you want a pretty place to call home, this town is definitely what you’re looking for.
There are a ton of parks, some historic and elegant buildings, and the downtown is downright picturesque. There are also plenty of amenities, and the weather here scored quite well in our rankings.
Other than that, Framingham had a lot going for it. The place was pretty safe, due to the ninth lowest crime, and the unemployment ranked the 10th lowest. Even the taxes here were quite low.
Another great place for students, Framingham had a student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1, and was also home to Framingham State University. That student population also probably has something to do with the good nightlife in these parts, featuring places like Tavern Framingham and Railroad Six Sports Grill & Entertainment.
4. Brookline, MA
By the numbers alone, Brookline looks pretty spectacular.
This place had the second best quality of life ranking, the sixth lowest crime, a very low tax rate, a decent amount of amenities, and so much more. And that’s not even mentioning the The Puppet Showplace Theatre or the numerous parks.
The biggest standout score here was the No. 1 ranked unemployment. A truly shocking 97.4 percent of people here were employed, so you don’t have to worry about job hunting in this area.
Throw in the fourth highest median income, at over $95,000, and working or playing in Brookline looks pretty darn good.
If you’re into art, there are some beautiful places to peruse, such as Kolbo Fine Judaica Gallery or the Brookline location of the rather funny MOBA (Museum Of Bad Art). Of course, if you prefer a more “physical” form of art, you can’t do much better than the highly rated Good Faith Tattoos.
6. Cambridge, MA
We’ve all heard of this large city before, and that’s thanks to Harvard University.
One of the most well known colleges in the U.S., Harvard keeps Cambridge classy and interesting, and it probably has something to do with this place’s sixth most amenities per capita ranking. It’s also no surprise, given the education here, that the student-teacher ratio was only 10 to 1.
Besides all this school business, the numbers here were pretty stellar. This place had the seventh best quality of life, the third lowest unemployment, and even a pretty decent average commute time.
As far as things to do and sights to see, the list goes on and on. For food, you have to stop by Hungry Mother or Alive & Kicking Lobsters, for nightlife it’s all about Club Passim, and there’s the Brattle Theatre for all your cult movie needs.
7. Stamford, CT
First of all, this place seems to really know what it’s doing when it comes to Mexican food. Despite being so far from the border, this place was home to eateries like El Charrito, Casa Villa, Brasitas, and more. It’s no wonder Stamford had the No. 8 ranked amenities.
Beyond the obvious tastiness, Stamford had a lot more to boast about. The scores here were great all around, offering the the fifth best quality of life, the 11th lowest crime, and the second best weather.
On top of that, the student-teacher ratio here was only 12 to 1, so it’s an ideal spot for students and parents alike.
Speaking of students, Stamford had branches of the University of Connecticut, the University of Bridgeport, and Sacred Heart University. So while this place might be stressful during finals week, you can bet it’s pretty lively as well.
8. Woburn, MA
By numbers alone, Woburn is definitely a place not to be overlooked.
This spot had a very good quality of life rank, the 17th lowest crime, a low tax rate, a low commute time, and even a fairly low unemployment rank. All in all, this place is just a solid contender in the best places in New England competition.
The other really solid score here was the amenities per capita, which ranked first. Though this is a smaller locale, at only 38,120 locals, it still managed to have a wide selection of unique restaurants, such as Zaika Indian Bistro, Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar, and 3 Country Bistro.
When you’re not munching, you can always head to Laser Craze, which is fun for both the young and young at heart.
Beyond all those great perks, it should be mentioned that this place is naturally pretty, and they have numerous enjoyable parks to prove it.
9. West Hartford, CT
Coming in at No. 9 was West Hartford, a place that’s not at all new to top rankings. In fact, in 2010, CNN Money ranked West Hartford as the 55th best small city in America, which makes them a shoo-in for our best places in New England ranking.
Of course, we did everything by the numbers, and the numbers here had a lot to say about how great this place was. There were plenty of amenities per capita, a high quality of life, decently low crime, and decently low unemployment. This place also had the eighth lowest commute and the ninth best weather, thanks to some great average temperatures.
It’s also worth mentioning that the housing prices, cost of living, and median rent were generally lower here than other places in our top 10. Still, the median income here was a high $78,530, so this is likely one of the most affordable place in our top 10 for all you bargain hunters out there.
10. Marlborough, MA
Our No. 10 city may be little, but it’s packing one heck of a punch. Just by the numbers alone, this is definitely a place you want to be. The city had the 13th lowest unemployment, some very good weather, the 14th most amenities per capita, and even the 18th best quality of life ranking.
If locals still need more to smile about this place had fairly low crime on top of it all. The housing prices here do speak to the desirability of the place, but they definitely weren’t the most expensive on our list either.
The student teacher ratio was only 13 to 1, and the median income was actually quite high. Besides all those fantastic numbers, though, there’s plenty to do. From the Callahan State Park for nature lovers to the New England Sports Center for skating and hockey fans, you can find just about anything here if you look for it.
The Appeal Here Is Heavenly
From Maine to Rhode Island, New England is a great place to call home. Beautiful nature, especially in the fall, interesting people, and a wealth of valuable history all make this a wonderful place to visit and an even better place to live, especially in these 10 great places.
If you’re thinking about moving out that way, we reccomend it, and would love to help you get there, given that we also sell houses. Besides, with the leaves starting to change, now’s the perfect time, right?