Help me find a retirement town near Boston

I know you didn’t need water, but Gloucester has some less expensive housing stock. A cute downtown with good places to eat. It’s the last stop on the commuter rail. They have a movie theater and a library (which they are planning to expand.)


They are planning ahead. In 10-20 years there won’t be many looking for 55+ community while more millennials will be looking to buy. In some places, they are converting 55+ to family friendly.

@kiddie I pay twice as much for property tax. Mine is not a big house or fancy by any measure. Your post makes me think I need to get out.

What about someplace near Westerly RI? Should be less costly than greater Boston if you stay away from beach areas.

There is a bus line (Boston Express) that runs to South Station from Tyngsborough MA, Nashua, Manchester, Londonderry and (I think) Salem NH. We use it a half dozen times a year and find it extremely convenient and inexpensive (about $25 pp for a round trip). If you plan to go into Boston (or the inner belt of suburbs) a lot, having public transportation options is important. I was at a HS track meet in Roxbury yesterday, and it was quite pleasant driving in on a Saturday morning. Most other times, not so much. And then there’s the parking.

I have lived in the Greater Nashua (NH) area for 30+ years (from SW CT originally), and I like it very much. We probably won’t retire here, but it’s not out of the question. You can get to a lot within an hour/hour and a half (White Mountains, Seacoast, Boston), and the housing costs are pretty reasonable for the area. Property taxes in NH are generally high since it is the main source of tax revenue. We pay around $7500 for a with about a $350000 assessed value. It varies A LOT from town to town.

This area is a lot less expensive than MA and somewhat less than the Seacoast.

The towns around here all fail at least some of your criteria, but two that might be worth checking out are Hollis and Milford. Hollis is an “upscale farm town” bordering Nashua to the west. It has a small downtown, if you want to call it that, but is only 10 or 15 minutes from Nashua. Milford is grittier (or rustic, maybe?) and more “New Hampshire-y”, but it has an interesting downtown area (“the Oval”). It’s also 15 minutes or so from the bus to Boston.

I think someone also mentioned Exeter, which I would also second. I don’t know about public transportation from there to Boston, although I think there’s an Amtrak station there. The only thing that makes me nervous about Exeter is that I think it’s in a floodplain. I know it’s had issues with that in the time I have lived in NH.

There’s also Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire, which also has an Amtrak station and a small downtown area. The Durham area is on our list of places to potentially retire.

The last one I can think of around here is Bedford, which doesn’t have a downtown (more like a long strip on Route 101), but which is right next to Manchester. Bedford might be the most “upscale” town in NH. If you’re looking for a 55 + community, or a condo, Bedford is probably your best bet of any of the towns I mentioned.

Good luck to you in your search.

NH has high property taxes but no sales tax, no estate tax, no income tax. Butit does have a meal tax and income and dividend tax.

I’d move to Rhode Island. The east side of Providence (near Brown) is lovely. Lots of great restaurants (Providence has world class restaurants) and very walkable. The commuter rail or Amtrak gets you to Boston south station in 40 minutes.

I’d also look at Barrington, RI, which has a small, but cute downtown area, and another thought is Bristol, RI, which has a lovely downtown with lots of shops and restaurants. Famous for their Fourth of July parade.

Newport is another idea - it’s a fantastic walking town, although busy in the summer.

I’ve had 2 kids go through URI and I just love Rhode Island, but I would check out the tax situation there first. Around here it has a reputation for being a high tax, poorly run state (Curt Schilling, anyone?), but for all I know that’s just an urban legend or something formerly true but not anymore.

Buses are out - must have a train (daughter suffers bad carsickness in bus or car). What does anybody think of Cranston RI or Salem MA - which have also been suggested to me?

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Another vote for Gloucester MA, and check some towns in Rhode Island.

Not urban legend.

Cranston doesn’t have a real downtown or central area - just kind of a sprawl. That said, it’s right on 95 and convenient to Providence. Its main “downtown” is Garden City, which is a large outdoor mall/shopping area. There is a Whole Foods and pretty much anything you’d ever need.

East Greenwich is a lovely town about 15 minutes south. It has a nice historic downtown and is extremely safe - about 25 minutes to Providence. Great public library, cute harbor area, and nice community feel. A bunch of fantastic restaurants on Main Street.

RI has a decent governor and the state is no more “poorly run” than any other, IMO. Property taxes are fairly high, but not as high as taxachusetts. Real estate prices are significantly lower than the Boston area, so you can get quite a bit more for your money. Because of its small size, RI is more like one spread out city - literally, everyone knows someone who knows someone you know. The entire state can be traversed in 45 minutes. We have beaches, farms, urban, suburban, rural all within a very short drive.

Seconding Providence. I believe you can find a condo in your price range that ticks all your boxes. Property taxes are high in Providence, though. There are a lot of non-profits in Providence (hospitals, schools), though, which drive up taxes for tax-payers.

Can’t tell you about Salem or Cranston, although Salem is on the ocean so probably very pricey for what you get.

Cranston made me think of the time I took a wrong turn out of the Wrentham outlets on my way to URI and ended up in North Attleborough MA. It looked like a nice place with a decent downtown, although that conclusion comes from nothing more than driving through it. There are also a couple of MBTA stations fairly close.

My Boston area 30 y.o. “kid” went out to Salem MA with some colleagues and says “Salem is actually really fun! It has a very nice, walkable downtown with a lot of stuff going on.”

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Cranston is not a good place to consider in my opinion. No downtown and quasi-city but not in a fabulous way. I live near Bristol, RI and that would be my pick if looking an hour or so out and south of Boston. My D22 goes to school on the east side of Providence and I love it over there. Taxes are super high though.

I think Salem, MA would be worth considering.

I see a 1500-ish sq ft home for $498K and property taxes of $5,730.

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Too bad buses are out. There are many bus options from South Station.

Example: We visit Bourne (canal end of Cape Cod) in summer, and DS has choice of 2 bus lines (one to Bourne traffic circle on cape side, one to mainland near Sandwich bridge). Since he comes in summer, sometimes he uses the Cape Flyer weekend/summer-only train… but that is more limited, and I would not bank on it staying around forever.

Maybe Plymouth? Our aunt that bought in Cape Cod also very much liked Plymouth - it is closer to Boston… about 30 min from Braintree stations. Seems affordable per Zillow.

Note: It often makes sense to rent first in a new community. I’d say it makes even more sense in your situation since you might opt for a different community.

As you have noticed from other responses, there are actually quite a few towns outside of Boston that appear to meet your criteria.

There is a train from Brunswick Maine to Boston that stops in Portland Maine and also in Durham NH. I am not sure how far the Durham stop is from Portsmouth NH, which is a very nice small city.

However, Portland is significantly further than an hour from Boston. Durham is only slightly more than an hour if you avoid rush hour.

I think that you might want to consider Littleton MA. It is a bit less than an hour from Boston (if you avoid rush hour) and has a train that runs directly into Boston. I think that the same train stops in West Acton, which is also worth considering. If I am remembering correctly the next stop is Concord, which is very pricey.

Mansfield, MA is also worth considering. There’s a small downtown with a train station, with trains to Boston and Providence. There’s a lot of condo development in the downtown area right now, and there are other shopping nearby. I don’t think there’s a movie theater or bookstore in the downtown though.

Another town that I love is Needham, MA. Though I suspect cost of housing will be higher there.

With respect to libraries, all the towns in the Boston area have their own library and there’s an inter-library system where you can borrow from other libraries in the area. They’ll even bring it to your home library. In addition, any resident of MA can get a library card at the Boston Public Library. I’ve made good use of inter-library loans and especially digital offerings. I believe Rhode Island has a similar setup.

I was going to say Nix Needham. (DS went to college there - very lovely! But also very pricey). Zillow confirmed my assumption on house price… most over 1million, some over 2million. However, I did see a 2BR/2bath Apartment $359K and a newer large condo $750k. So possibly there would be some affordable options if you dig further.