Submitted by aimforthehead90 t3_11308ok in massachusetts

Hello! I know these posts come up often, and I've used them to create a list of cities my wife and I are considering, but any advice on what we're specifically looking for would be appreciated.

We're early 30s and own a successful business in CA. We plan on saving for about 2 years then moving to New England region and working part time, assuming we meet our financial goals by then. We're childfree and both have degrees (speech pathology and computer science) but likely won't work in those fields.

In 2021 we visited Maine (Portland, Brunswick), New Hampshire (Dover), and Mass (Boston) and fell in love with the entire area. We visited in the fall and are absolutely not prepared for north east winters, but are confident we can adapt.

What we're looking for is a single family home around 600k (newer is preferred, we don't want to deal with excessive fixes/repairs), a safe and walkable city/downtown (we don't mind suburbs that are 10-15 minutes outside of the city), less harsh winters are ideal but good snow removal services either way, hiking options, we eat out a lot, and a very important one for us is easy transit to other cities so we can explore without having to drive, the Downeaster was awesome. We plan on working part time (possibly remote) when we move, so career options aren't a priority.

In MA we're considering Haverhill and Northampton. It sounds like Northampton is a bit more preferred by locals, Haverhill has mixed reviews but is in a more ideal place for travel it sounds like. Outside of MA, we're considering Exeter, New Hampshire, Westbrook, Maine, and Brunswick, Maine (one of our favorite areas on our trip). While we loved Maine, the weather seems more harsh and it will be more rural in general, so we're leaning towards MA but not discounting anywhere yet.

Are these cities good for what we're looking for? Any thoughts or other considerations would be appreciated!



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[deleted] t1_j8n82et wrote



aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8nz496 wrote

Strongly considering Northampton. The main reason we're leaning towards Haverhill is because it's on the Downeaster line and we would use that very often for day trips and traveling. If it's 4+ hours to get to Portland, we probably won't go very much. But it sounds like Northampton has a lot going for it. I'm going to look more into what's near there. Thanks!


thedecentshepherd t1_j8ohlm6 wrote

The Downeaster line isn't too great for day trips to Portland, you're almost better off just driving. But everything in New England is closer than it seems, (depending on traffic). You might not have Portland, but Northampton has great access to a lot of the scenic little towns in southern Vermont and easy access to the white and green mountains.


11BMasshole t1_j8oi2ze wrote

Portland is under 4 hour’s drive from Northampton.


laterbacon t1_j8ndaxp wrote

Greenfield might be worth considering. It's got an Amtrak station, a cute downtown with some very good restaurants, easy highway access to Boston and northern New England, and tons of great hikes very close by (some even in city limits).

It's 1 hour from Bradley Airport, 2 hours from Albany, Boston, and Providence, about 3 hours from Burlington, Portland, and NYC, and only about 4.5 hours to Montreal.

The winters aren't terrible, especially by Vermont, NH, and Maine standards, but usually pretty snowy.


aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8nxtwd wrote

I'll look into Greenfield, it looks like it checks a lot of boxes. Thanks!


wolf95oct0ber t1_j8rbh0t wrote

Western Mass is great, just know outside Amtrak getting you to CT, NYC and a little into VT you are driving around here. There’s a bus system that isn’t bad but there’s no transit to central or eastern mass and some of the area was hit hard by the pandemic so it a in recovery mode, but pushing forward. Also the housing stock is far more older homes than new but with that price if you can buy something lower than your budget and fix it up you’ll be good.


Hoosac_Love t1_j8nk119 wrote

Northamton is very nice with great restaurants but western MA does not have what eastern MA has for jobs.The colleges are the primary employer in Northamton area,so if you have a skill that a college would need you are in luck otherwise you may need to commute to the Springfield area which is quite do able at 15-18 minutes.


singalong37 t1_j8ptd7k wrote

Northampton may get more railway service if MA and CT extend the Connecticut passenger rail north of Springfield, where it still terminates. There is Amtrak but infrequent. And Mass is looking at restoring passenger rail from Worcester to Springfield, Pittsfield and possibly Albany. Who knows when? Rail is on an upswing and Northampton will benefit but I suppose a bird in hand is worth many in the bush.


In-Verse t1_j8n6tym wrote

Maybe Lowell? Lowell is a former mill city like Haverhill. I currently live here without a car and love how walkable it is by the river and canals with urban pathways (see northern canal walkway). There's also great food, from 5$ breakfasts to an array of different Asian options. There's lots of great community organizations to get involved in (Lowell makes, Litter Krewe, LTC community programming, CMAA, Mill City Grows, etc.). That said, Lowell does have a reputation. Your comfort level may not align with it.

I love all the other cities on your list! I would also add Salem. It has a cute downtown, great museums (PEM!), and ocean access. You can also get easily to Boston with the commuter rail. One of the downsides/upsides is that Salem becomes witch city in October. There's a lot of people and traffic.


aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8nxkhk wrote

I haven't looked into Lowell yet, it looks great though! I'll look more into that and Salem, although we're looking to stay away from excessive crowds, I'm not sure how bad Salem is in that regard. Thanks!


ednamillion99 t1_j8o4z4j wrote

Google ‘Salem Halloween crowds’. It’s…bad. All month long. And getting worse.


geographresh t1_j8p8kw5 wrote

You'll be pressed to find a new-ish single-family in Salem for $600k, unfortunately.

Haverhill sounds like it would meet a lot of your specifications. It does not give the same quaint vibes as coastal Maine/NH though, be forewarned.

If you can push your budget closer to $700k you might open up some options closer to Boston like Norwood, Beverly, or Hudson which would have better transit than Maine/NH, too.


jjgould165 t1_j8q4vaf wrote

You also need to inquire about flood insurance and how much it would be if you are thinking about moving to a coastal place like Salem.

I would also suggest coming in the winter (not this one cause it hasn't arrived yet) but you need to know what it is like to be near the ocean in the winter and how dark it gets here before you move


EtonRd t1_j8oou8l wrote

I can understand the appeal of Brunswick, I’ve taken several summer vacations in Harpswell. It’s gorgeous up there. But I can’t stress enough that the winter would likely break you. Especially if you’re coming from California. I can’t imagine how isolated it would feel to be in Brunswick in the winter.

Northampton would be fine, it has a lot to recommend it, but the housing prices are very high compared to surrounding towns.


aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8wmtic wrote

Thanks for the warning. Is Brunswick colder in particular, or do you think we should reconsider Maine entirely because of the winters there?


sonderaway t1_j8nvj5k wrote

I love Northampton as a city but it definitely isn't as convenient to the eastern part of the states where jobs are.

I currently live in Haverhill and have for about four years and I love it. A lot of my peers are moving to Haverhill because it's one of the most affordable communities in the area. House prices are on the rise though, and the city is definitely still a bit "up and coming" so who knows where prices will be in two years. Restaurants downtown are amazing and there are plenty of parks and stuff in the area to walk around etc. Let me know if you have any questions!


aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8nx86g wrote

That's good to know! This one is near the top of our list for sure because of the affordable houses and the Downeaster line. Do you consider the city safe for things like walking at night?


sonderaway t1_j8o0aia wrote

There are a couple neighborhoods I would be wary of, but I'm also a woman. I would say most of it is totally safe for walking at night, the main roads are very well lit all over the city, and I've walked home from downtown restaurants at night with no qualms


aimforthehead90 OP t1_j8o3wyu wrote

That's reassuring. Any neighborhood recommendations to look into?


cathouse1320again t1_j8p678y wrote

I have 2 recommendations, ….

  1. North Reading, Ma. I lived there for 18 years, lovely town, but may be way past the $600K mark by now, approx 15-20 miles north of Boston. No crazy Maine winter unless the whole region is getting hit by that. Less than 1/2 hour to most of the north shore beaches. 15 minutes south of NH. Very good forest coverage.

  2. Almost anywhere in the southern tier of Maine, though you’ll have more driving distance to most things you may wish to do


Unable-Bison-272 t1_j8pmxey wrote

Brunswick is great. That’s my plan for retirement.


AnteaterEastern2811 t1_j914fwe wrote

Check out Worcester.....things are changing/growing fast.


Icy-Neck-2422 t1_j8r7g6c wrote

Haverhill vs. Northampton is a no brainer. Haverhill unfortunately is heading in a not great direction these days.

Westbrook, ME has a super walkable downtown. It's not a "cute" downtown and the park gets a bit methy, but it's not like there are homeless camps there. Good beer there at Mast Landing.

Brunswick is great college town with a great walkable downtown. Traffic there in the summer is tough if you are trying to do something away from Bowdoin - other than that it's a great option.


vancaes t1_j9mxh7k wrote


Could you explain why Haverhill is not doing so great?