We know it’s hard to believe to most North Easterners, but there is more to life than the New England Patriots and the Red Sox, folks. There’s the need and want for affordable living and Massachusetts has just that.
The Bay State wants you to call one of its many affordable cities home.
Massachusetts has a boatload of wicked affordable cities. Hip millennial cities like Boston and Cambridge have multiple opportunities for young professionals to pad their bank accounts. Cities like Salem and Provincetown provide inexpensive staycations. And if you ‘bang a left,’ you can find safe, affordable, family-oriented cities like Newton and Melrose.
What Massachusetts lacks in size, they sure make up in millionaires. They have the sixth largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. And with a statewide median income close to $68,000/year, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on all that ‘cheddah’.
If you want to live the American dream without a hefty Beantown price tag, look beyond Boston. More importantly, don’t fret. We’ve done the work for you. Take a look below at our top affordable cities in Massachusetts’ list for 2022. Grab some lobstah chowdah, a regular coffee, find a quiet spot at the Cape, and read on. We promise it will be wicked cool.
It’s simple economics, people. The less you have to spend on bills, the more you will have to spend on things that matter: like your home, good food, Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Celtics tickets, and just overall good East Coast fun.
This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Massachusetts.
So, what does the most affordable place to live in the Bay State look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents, Palmer Town takes the cake.
If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Massachusetts, where your salary will let you live like royalty.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Massachusetts and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2022
When it comes to affordability, there’s nowhere better in Massachusetts than Palmer Town. Palmer Town residents pay a median price of $201,800 for homes and earn a median income of $68,694. That gives Palmer Town the best ratio of home price to income in Massachusetts. And with a median rent of $926, Palmer Town is also one of the cheapest places to rent in the state, taken as a proportion of income. With all that extra cash, you can afford to splurge at the Yankee Flea Market any day of the week.
Rounding out our list of cheapest places to live in Massachusetts is North Adams, a city in northern Berkshire County near the New Hampshire border.
You won’t feel like you’re living in an aggressively cheap city when you’ve got the Mass MoCA downtown. With a median rent of $782, North Adams has the cheapest rent on this list. Not to mention that it’s more than three times cheaper than the average rent in Massachusetts. North Adams also boasts the cheapest homes in the state, with a median price tag of $149,300. With residents earning a median income of $49,123, North Adams has the second best home price to income ratio in the state.
If you’re looking to buy a home in Massachusetts, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere cheaper than Pittsfield. The median home price in Pittsfield is the third lowest in the state at $176,800. With residents earning a median income of $56,620, paying off a mortgage in Pittsfield couldn’t be easier. Even more good news for those who want to live the high life on a budget: Onota Lake has a free public beach, boat launch, and fishing. That’s how you enjoy the Berkshires year-round without spending a dime.
Located just west of Springfield, Westfield ranks as the fourth cheapest city to live in Massachusetts. With a median price tag of $247,300, Westfield has the second highest home prices on this list. However, because residents earn $74,456 as a median income, Westfield still has the fifth best ratio of home price to income in the state. It’s also economical to rent in Westfield, where the median rent to income ratio is among the best in Massachusetts. We should also mention that Westfield was just shy of making the cut of best places to live in Massachusetts, so if you want quality on a budget, look no further.
Located across the Connecticut River from Springfield, Agawam Town ranks as the fifth cheapest place to live in Massachusetts. At $233,400, the median home price in Agawam Town is a bit higher than in Palmer Town. But, thanks to residents earning a slightly higher median income of $72,396, Agawam Town ranks as the fourth most affordable place to buy a home in Massachusetts, when taken as a proportion of income. If you need another reason to buy a home in Agawam Town, remember that it’s the home of Six Flags New England. Friends from out of town will be visiting all the time, whether you want them to or not!
Gardener is the sixth most affordable city in Massachusetts, thanks to the low price tag on housing for both buyers and renters. The median rent in Gardner is a measly $867, which is bound to make Bostonians super jealous. But where Gardner really shines is the cost of homes. At $192,500, Gardner has the fifth cheapest homes in the state. And with residents earning a median income of $51,708, it’s a piece of cake to pay off the mortgage. Those of an outdoorsy inclination will find plenty to do at Dunn State Park without having to break out the wallet at all.
Gardner is about 40 miles north of Worcester.
Located just north of Springfield, Chicopee ranks as the seventh cheapest city in Massachusetts. With a median home price of $188,400 and a median income of $52,702, Chicopee has the sixth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. The median rent in Chicopee is $941, so it’s a little more economical to buy than rent here.
If you can get your entertainment fix through free activities like hiking at Chicopee Memorial State Park, you’ll have even more money in your wallet at the end of every week.
The Town of Southbridge has a city form of government with a city council legislative body, but via a statute calls itself a Town. It is located in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,719 at the 2010 census. Southbridge is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain “The town of- in their official names.
Located about 30 miles west of Lowell and north of Worcester, Fitchburg ranks as the ninth most affordable city in Massachusetts. Fitchburg has the tenth lowest home price to income ratio in the state, with a median home price of $216,500 and a median income of $54,683. Living in Fitchburg, you won’t know what people are talking about when they say that Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states in America.
At first glance, the affordability of Attleboro might not be obvious. Housing is more expensive here than anywhere else on this list, with a median home price of $313,400 and a median rent of $1,125. However, because Attleboro residents earn an above average median income of $77,107, it’s the 12th easiest place to pay off a mortgage in Mass. On top of that, Attleboro is in the top ten statewide for income to rent ratio and scored a 8.5/10 on our overall SnackAbility scale, meaning it’s an all-around great spot to call home.
Attleboro is just 20 minutes northeast of Providence, Rhode Island.
Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts FAQs
The county in Massachusetts with the lowest cost of living is Hampden County. The average living wage in Hampden County is $106,670 according to MIT data. Hampden County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Massachusetts as a whole. Childcare costs $27,661 a year in Hampden County for two children compared to the Massachusetts average of $31,879. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $13,548 per year in Hampden County compared to $22,268 on average in Massachusetts.
The cost of living in Massachusetts is 35.3% higher than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Massachusetts is $121,414 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Massachusetts household is $84,385.
The cheapest housing market in Massachusetts is North Adams. The average home value in North Adams is $149,300, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Massachusetts is $398,800, almost 2.7 times higher than North Adams.
Methodology: How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Bay State For 2022
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2016-2020 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Massachusetts to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 52 places in Massachusetts that have more than 12,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Massachusetts according to the data is Palmer Town. You can download the data here.
Summary: There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Massachusetts Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Massachusetts, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts for 2022.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Massachusetts according to the data:
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Massachusetts
- Best Places To Buy A House In Massachusetts
- Best Places To Live In Massachusetts
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Massachusetts
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