Home to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country, Massachusetts is always on the list of most expensive states in the US. The price of an average home in MA is about three times the national average. This is not to say, however, that you cannot find an affordable place to live on The Bay State.
The standard of living is generally more expensive in MA. However, towns like Athol, Franklin Town, Longmeadow, Agawam Town, and others mentioned on our list will give you a bang for your buck.
One of the biggest factors people use to determine where you want to live in the cost of living. And while the general cost living is almost the same everywhere in MA, the towns listed below will give you a better deal in terms of homeowners’ insurance, local property tax data, and home costs relative to income.
Table of Contents
- 9. Athol, MA
- 8. Bellingham, MA
- 7. Longmeadow, MA
- 6. Palmer, MA
- 5. Agawam, MA
- 4. Adams, MA
- 3. Franklin, MA
- 2. Wilmington, MA
- 1. Somerset, MA
- How Much Do You Need to Make to Comfortably Live in Massachusetts?
- Buying a Home and the Cost of Living in Massachusetts
- Why is Massachusetts So Expensive?
- Why Live in Massachusetts?
9. Athol, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $3,154
- Annual Property Tax: $2,411
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $528
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $7,004
- Median Income: $50,714
- Affordability Index: 36.64
Located amongst the rolling hills of north-central MA, Athol is said to be one of the cheapest towns to live in 2020. This is based on a 2020 study performed by the financial technology company, SmartAsset.
Athol is an amazing rural area, with spectacular views and scenery. The waterfalls, lakes, and mountains are truly breathtaking. Anywhere you go, you’ll be within a short distance to a lake and mountainsides.
Athol is a town where everyone knows each other by name. Its small population consists of fewer college students, renters, and small children. So, if you’re looking for a small, peaceful town, then you may want to consider moving here.
While employment isn’t the best in Athol, going to where jobs are is within a short commute. Finding a reasonably priced house to rent or buy shouldn’t be too difficult.
8. Bellingham, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $3,556
- Annual Property Tax: $3,535
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $974
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $12,925
- Median Income: $85,844
- Affordability Index: 36.08
A medium-sized town, Bellingham is another Massachusetts town that is cheaper than the average town in Massachusetts. Aside from being cheaper, there are many reasons why Bellingham is a good place to live in.
This town doesn’t have a shortage of good schools, highly educated neighbors, and low crime rates. Most houses here are predominantly single-family properties. So, if you are looking for a good community to raise your family in, put this on your list.
The most prevalent occupations of the population living here are a combination of blue- and white-collar jobs. Generally, this is a town made of office and sales workers, managers, and other professionals.
The infrastructure in this town has significantly improved throughout the years. Low residential tax rates, affordable housing, and safe communities continue to attract young families. There are also newer and renovated school buildings, town services, and many shopping locations.
Basically, you don’t need to travel to another town to have what you need.
7. Longmeadow, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $4,593
- Annual Property Tax: $7,179
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $1,288
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $17,086
- Median Income: $114,271
- Affordability Index: 32.53
located in Hampden County, Longmeadow has a population of 15,700. This town is an upscale, gorgeous, with appealing streets, which offers a great sense of safety!
An ethnically-diverse town, the people who live here describe themselves as belonging to various ethnic and racial groups. A huge number of Longmeadow populations are made of white, followed by Asian. Significant ancestries of people in Longmeadow include Italian, Irish, English, Polish, as well as German.
6. Palmer, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $2,854
- Annual Property Tax: $3,383
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $723
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $9,593
- Median Income: $60,333
- Affordability Index: 31.77
Another place that deserves a spot on this list for it being more affordable is Palmer. Living here will give you a scant suburban feel and most residents own their properties. A big part of the population living here is made of young professionals, which makes it a perfect place for young families.
Palmer is a fairly busy small town, with many restaurants and local bars which gives it authenticity. The town offers a great school system, together with good sports teams that might bring some excitement and color to the town.
Living here, you’ll find that the place is pretty peaceful. It’s mainly because of its smaller population. So, if you are looking for a simple life to start fresh, this would be a great option.
5. Agawam, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $2,319
- Annual Property Tax: $3,377
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $868
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $11,511
- Median Income: $67,219
- Affordability Index: 31.05
Located in Hampden Country, Agawam is a place that will offer you a dense suburban feel. Most residents who live here own their homes. They enjoy the many parks and restaurants around the area.
Agawam attracts a lot of young professionals and retirees who enjoy the many amenities in the community. The education level of the population in Agawam is so much higher compared to the standard US community. Furthermore, more than 30% of adults who are living here carry a bachelor’s degree.
This wonderful town has a rich history that dates back to the 13 colonies. Today, it’s a town full of amazing people that help each other in times of need.
It is a wonderful town. It has a lot of history going back to the 13 colonies. Agawam is filled with wonderful people that come together in times of need.
The Six Flags New England is located in Agawam. So, if you have kids, this place is going to be amazing for them. All in all, Agawam is a great town that just offers a friendly and homey feeling that anyone can enjoy!
4. Adams, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $3,297
- Annual Property Tax: $2,799
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $578
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $7,665
- Median Income: $47,593
- Affordability Index: 30.39
Another one on the list is the historic town of Adams. This is a scenic town just 15 minutes from both borders of New York and Vermont states. This town is an amazing place to live if you love spending time with nature.
A lot of the houses you will see in Adams were built before World War II, which makes it one of the older and more historic towns not only in the state but also in the whole country. This nice town is beautifully located at the foothills of Mt. Greylock, which is the tallest mountain in the state. From biking, hiking, and camping to fishing, swimming, and snowmobiling, the Mount Greylock State Reservation has so much to offer.
Adams is an old mill town that lost a fair number of jobs throughout the years. This being said, it remains to be a great place to live, as long as you find a job.
3. Franklin, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $3,442
- Annual Property Tax: $5,510
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $1,610
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $21,363
- Median Income: $115,355
- Affordability Index: 29.42
A medium-sized town, Franklin has a population of 33,230 people and 5 constituent neighborhoods. For the size of this place, public transportation here is quite heavily used. Generally, those who use it for their everyday commute are taking the train.
One interesting thing about Franklin’s economy is that 7.91% of their workforce worked from their home. This might sound small, but with the fraction of the total workforce, this is considered high compared to the rest of the country.
A high number of these workers are in the telecommunication industry who work in white-collar, knowledge-based work. Most of these people working from home are self-employed who operate their own business remotely.
Unsurprisingly, it attracts younger adults and families, who all enjoy the many bars, parks, and coffee shops all around the city.
2. Wilmington, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $5,589
- Annual Property Tax: $5,895
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $1,715
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $22,752
- Median Income: $122,813
- Affordability Index: 28.97
Another medium-sized town, Wilmington is a more affordable town located in Middlesex County. With its size, you’ll be surprised by the many things to do, restaurants to eat at, and places to shop. And if you love coffee, then you will fall in love with this town!
This town can be quite busy and traffic can be quite heavy, but safe and beautiful nonetheless. The sense of community it offers makes up for the negatives. There are several community and charity events you can get involved in. If you are looking for a nice town to meet kind people who will be happy to be there in times of need, this is the place to be.
1. Somerset, MA
- Average Closing Costs: $3,687
- Annual Property Tax: $3,952
- Annual Homeowner’s Insurance: $1,043
- Average Annual Mortgage Payment: $13,835
- Median Income: $76,311
- Affordability Index: 28.96
Located in Bristol County, Somerset is another good place to live and raise your family. This is a small town that offers an amazing sense of community that is ideal for a family of any age and size.
The town is located on the western shore of the Mount Hope Bay and Taunton River. Incorporated in 1790, this town offers an interesting and rich heritage dating back to colonial days.
Today, this beautiful coastal community with excellent schools, public services, and shopping places. It offers convenient access to highways, which makes going to the city a lot easier. There is also a commuter rail that is scheduled to start operating with service to Boston in 2021.
How Much Do You Need to Make to Comfortably Live in Massachusetts?
Based on a recent study, the average resident of Massachusetts would have to make $33.81 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the fair market rent. According to the “2019 Out of Reach” report released by The National Low-Income Housing Coalition, an average two-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts costs $1,758.
This means that if you want to afford this level of rent and utilities, without having to spend over 30% of a given income on housing expenses, your household must make $5,861 per month or $70,333 per year.
Of the almost 2.6 million households in Massachusetts, the study says that about 38% are occupied by renters, not property owners. The projected “housing wage,” or wage necessary to afford market rent, differs extensively by region.
Buying a Home and the Cost of Living in Massachusetts
If you’re planning to purchase a property in The Bay State, you’ll find that this is where you will find some of the most expensive residential home markets in the country. For the price of a 2-bedroom house in Massachusetts, you can buy a 5-bedroom one in Texas.
Naturally, buying a residential property in Massachusetts can be a long and complicated process. On top of the down payment that is normally 15% to 20% of the selling price, you also have to deal with the closing costs.
Other Living Expenses to Consider
After buying and moving to your new home, there are going to be utility and maintenance expenses on top of the property taxes and home insurance that are going to contribute to your cost of living.
So, if this is something you want to do, then plan it out properly and make sure you can afford it. Many benefits come with living in Massachusetts, but the high cost of purchasing a home isn’t one of them. Buying a home in Massachusetts can be compared to buying one in California.
Why is Massachusetts So Expensive?
Many reasons contribute to why Massachusetts is expensive. For one, the state has the best education system in the US. If you want your kid to study in a good school, Massachusetts is a great place to be. Harvard and MIT being two of the biggest colleges that draw people in.
High Minimum Wage
Another reason is the higher minimum wage – salaries are generally higher. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $12/hour, compared to the federal minimum wage that is $7.25.
Of course, taxes are higher as well, but they pay for the superior education in the state. Most things cost more in Massachusetts because it has so much more to give to its residents. It’s like paying extra to stay in a fancier hotel to get better services and amenities.
So, all things considered, living in Massachusetts and having to pay more essentially worth it.
Why Live in Massachusetts?
Although expensive, there’s no denying that Massachusetts is one of the most beautiful states in the US. On one hand, it offers some of the best education and hospitals in the world, with a major port city that offers what you would expect from a city. And on the other, there are the massive farmlands and mountainous areas, that offers everything outdoors, all within a short drive.
Short Driving Distance & Beautiful Sights
You will stumble upon several major cities within short driving distance, regardless of which direction you’re coming from. To the north, you’ll enjoy the sight of long, beautiful mountain ranges. To the east, you’ll fall in love with some of the best beaches in the country.
This state has so much to offer, and whatever you want, you can find it here. Sure, the winters can be brutal but when the summertime comes, you’ll see yourself in paradise. With its bright, sunny days and cool, breezy nights, the summer air draws tourists and visitors from different parts of the world.
More importantly, the economy of Massachusetts is continuously booming. Massachusetts is always on the list of states with the best economies in the US.
In an article released by Business Insider, Massachusetts ranked sixth. It also says that the state’s average weekly wage of $1,369 was the second-highest, while the per capita GDP of $86,919 was the third-highest among the states and DC in Q3 2019.
The strong economy of Massachusetts largely stems from its thriving high-tech industry, highly educated population, and also staple areas like trade, agriculture, and fishing. The diversity found in Massachusetts makes it an excellent place to live in.