Best Boston Suburbs For Young Families
Considering buying a house or condo in the Boston suburbs? Our in depth report identifies the suburbs with the best commute, the largest homes, the most affordable homes, the best schools, the best, shopping, dining, and more.
Many young Boston families find it’s far more economical to move to the suburbs than it is to try to secure housing in the city itself. In the suburbs, the houses have more bedrooms, the school systems are often stronger, and there’s often less sticker shock for homeowners who are coming in from out of state to take advantage of Boston’s hot job market.
But don’t worry—the suburbs are anything but second best! Many of the home buyers I work with absolutely fall in love with the communities they come to call home. Some of these suburbs offer the full “big city” experience with all the trimmings. Others offer a more small-town atmosphere, all while delivering outstanding commuting options that keep everything Boston has to offer within easy reach.
Knowing that’s the case, all you have to do is choose the right community—the one you’ll be happy to live in for the next five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty years.
This article introduces you to Boston’s hottest suburbs, arranged by the different considerations young families need to think about when it is time to choose a community.
Choosing the Right Suburb
Before we dive into the individual suburbs let’s look at the different factors which might make one suburb stand out as the clear choice for your first home.
The first consideration is the commute, especially if you work in Boston. Nobody wants to spend four hours in a car every day, so an easy, great commute is an important consideration for most families.
Affordability and home size definitely matter too—they’re the primary reason why many first-time homeowners start looking to the suburbs in the first place. After all, you can often get a single family home with a yard in the suburbs for the same price you’d pay for a condo in the heart of the city.
The school system has to be another top concern. Our suburbs offer lots of great options for getting your kids into some of the nation’s top schools. There’s plenty of stuff for pre-school kids and toddlers to do, too.
If you and your family love staying active and getting out into nature you’ll want to consider those facilities too. It’s harder to exercise if you have to spend an hour getting to the nearest walking trail or community pool.
Shopping, dining, nightlife and entertainment make a big difference too. Unless you’re specifically looking for a small town experience (that’s totally possible in the Boston metro area) you’re likely to want to be close to at least some of the action. While few families make entertainment their very first consideration it’s always nice to know what’s around.
Finally, if you’re coming in from out of state you might want to take the general friendliness of the suburb into account, as some are more welcoming than others.
I’ve chosen the top suburb picks in each of these categories to help you zero in on the amenities and features that concern you the most. Note that these are just the best of the best—some suburbs might still have many of the features you’re looking for even if they’re not listed as the “best of” their category. For example, Arlington offers many shopping, dining, and nightlife options, even though it didn’t make the top four in that category. Later, I’ll tell you how to take the next steps so you can engage in an even more in-depth exploration of these communities so you can truly find the place you’ll be proud to call “home.”
Boston Suburbs with the Best Commute
If you live and work in Boston then your commute is going to have to be one of your biggest concerns. This is more challenging for suburban dwellers than for those who live within the Boston City limits. However, when it comes to positively zipping to work, several communities do stand out.
Brookline is just four minutes away from Boston’s downtown area by car—and that’s if you don’t just work in Brookline. Given it plays host to some of the Boston metro area’s most major employers all by itself, that’s certainly a possibility. In either case you’ll also have access to the Green Line rail service as well as several MTBA bus routes, just in case you’d rather play on your iPad on your way to work than sit behind the wheel of a car.
If you want to be even closer try Somerville and Cambridge. Both are equally served by the transportation system, and they’re just 3 minutes away from downtown Boston. Cambridge is similar to Brookline in that it, too, holds many of the metro area’s hottest employers.
Medford and Arlington are both less than 10 minutes away as well. Like Brookline, both are served by Boston’s light rail system, as well as MTBA bus routes if you don’t care to risk getting caught in traffic.
If you don’t care to be super close but still want a reasonable commute, you could also try Canton. You’ll either zip into Boston via I-95/MA 1 on a 20 minute drive, or you’ll have the option to take a leisurely train ride into the city—this community just offers the perfect intersection of options (no pun intended). You’ll get your space from the city when you’re home, but you’ll still be able to reach it whenever you want to.
Boston’s Most Affordable Suburbs
Affordability is a top concern for every young family I talk to. That’s why these super-affordable suburbs are absolutely worth a look.
First, let’s talk about Revere, practically the star of the show when it comes to affordable living. Average home prices there are typically incredibly low. These are single family homes with yards—not condos.
Malden and Quincy are a close second and third—they’re each a little pricier than Revere, but not by much. Again, we’re talking about spacious, well-kept, pretty homes, often with fenced yards.
Stoughton gets an honorable mention. While Stoughton homes are not as inexpensive as homes in Revere, Quincy, and Malden, they’re still well within the range of affordability for most young families in the Boston metro area. These homes seem to lounge comfortably on meticulously landscaped plots of land, and it won’t be too uncommon to see neighbors settling into rocking chairs on their front porches.
Wishing you could get this kind of affordability right inside of the Boston city limits? Believe it or not, you can! Check out what Brighton, Roslindale, and Dorchester have to offer in The Best Boston Communities for Young Professionals. Inside the city limits, however, space is as big a hurdle as price is—you may be able to find cheap, but getting enough bedrooms may be a challenge.
Boston Suburbs with the Largest Homes
While size isn’t everything, many first-time homebuyers are definitely looking for some room to grow. Whether you’ve got a baby on the way, an entire squad ready to pile into the SUV or simply love having the space to entertain, three Boston suburbs stand out as offering some of the most spacious homes in the metro area.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to find homes between 1600 square feet and 2600 square feet by venturing into Medford. Many of these homes are still fairly affordable, too—finding a large single family property in the mid-to-high $300,000s isn’t unheard of. It’s worth noting Medford is only a little pricier than Revere, Quincy, Malden, Quincy, and Stoughton.
If you’re willing to pay for it you can easily find 5,000 to 8,000 square feet in Wayland. However, there are spacious homes to be found even if you’re on a budget. You can easily find 1500 to 2500 square feet of home even at more modest price points. Many people come to Wayland for the yards, which are big enough for the kids to get out and stretch their legs with ease.
Finally, Winchester offers a lot of home for your money if you move quickly enough to catch them. Come ready to buy with a pre-approved mortgage and you can snap up a 2,000 to 3,000 square foot home at mid-range price points of $400,000 to $500,000. If you’ve got more money to spend you’ll have more leisure time and more options, including some which are practically iconic “American Dream” homes.
Longing to live inside the city limits, but convinced you’ll never find any space there? Be sure to check out Roslindale, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain before you make your final decision. Just read The Best Boston Communities for Young Professionals to learn more. Just keep in mind that you may sacrifice price and strong schools to get more space in the city.
Boston Suburbs with the Best Schools
Many young families flee to the suburbs specifically to escape the struggling Boston School System. And while many of Boston’s suburbs deliver fine educations, there are several stand-out choices for those who want to make sure their kids get the very best.
Greatschools.org has given the Arlington school system an impressive 9 out of 10 rating based on student test scores across all 12 grades. US News and World Report places Arlington High School in the state’s Top 20. It’s also in the top 500 for the entire country.
The Brookline public school system offers another outstanding education without forcing you to get too far away from Boston itself. Great Schools has also ranked it at 9 out of 10. Brookline High’s US News and World Report ranking isn’t quite as impressive as Arlington’s, but it’s close…it is #22 within the State of Massachusetts and still within the top 500 in the nation.
Winchester is another GreatSchools.org 9/10 pick. Boston Magazine ranks Winchester at #15 in the state for the 2015 year, which means it’s a great bet. US News and World Report places Winchester High School at #25 in the state (#473 in the Nation).
Finally, there’s Lexington, which shares the Greatschools.org 9/10 rating. If you want to be blown away, check out Lexington High School’s position as #5 in the state and #194 in the nation. Don’t be worried about your elementary students either: Boston Magazine has ranked Lexington’s school district at #3 in the state for the entire K-12 educational system.
Newton, ranked #10 in the state by Boston Magazine for 2015 (Great Schools rating of 8), gets an honorable mention. Much depends on whether you live in the northern part of Newton or the Southern part. US News and World Report ranks Newton South High School at #12 in the state and #256 in the nation. Newton North isn’t bad at #38 in the state, but it plunges to #845 nationally, dragging the averages down.
If you want to compare all of the school districts at once, click here. You’ll see the most recent list from Boston Magazine.
Want a school in the Top 10? Boston Latin School in Dorchester is #2 in the state, and Boston Collegiate Charter School, also in Dorchester, is #3. See The Best Boston Communities for Young Professionals to learn more about Dorchester.