The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2021


We used data and science to determine which places in Massachusetts go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts.

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 2021. Grab some lobstah chowdah, a regular coffee, find a quiet spot at the Cape, and read on. We promise it will be wicked cool.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Massachusetts

  1. Palmer Town
  2. Westfield
  3. Pittsfield
  4. Chicopee
  5. Agawam Town
  6. Gardner
  7. North Adams
  8. Fitchburg
  9. Leominster
  10. Attleboro

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 2021

Palmer Town, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,237
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 67.2x (44th cheapest)
More On Palmer Town: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

When it comes to affordability, there's nowhere better in Massachusetts than Palmer Town. Palmer Town residents pay a median price of $197,000 for homes and earn a median income of $64,651. That gives Palmer Town the best ratio of home price to income in Massachusetts. And with a median rent of $962, 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.

Palmer Town is located between Worcester and Springfield in the south-central part of Massachusetts.

Westfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 41,449
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (7th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.0x (2cheapest)
More On Westfield: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located just west of Springfield, Westfield ranks as the second cheapest city to live in Massachusetts. With a median price tag of $234,400, Westfield has the second highest home prices on this list. However, because residents earn $67,862 as a median income, Westfield still has the seventh 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.

Pittsfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 42,766
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.6x (35th cheapest)
More On Pittsfield: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $174,300. With residents earning a median income of $51,411, 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.

Chicopee, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 55,421
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.7x (40th cheapest)
More On Chicopee: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Located just north of Springfield, Chicopee ranks as the fourth cheapest city in Massachusetts. With a median home price of $182,100 and a median income of $53,225, Chicopee has the fifth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. The median rent in Chicopee is $923, 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.

Agawam Town, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 28,696
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 62.8x (11th cheapest)
More On Agawam Town: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Located across the Connecticut River from Springfield, Agawam Town ranks as the fifth cheapest place to live in Massachusetts. At $230,700, 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 $68,944, Agawam Town ranks as the second 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!

Gardner, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 20,610
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.7x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.3x (15th cheapest)
More On Gardner: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $838, which is bound to make Bostonians super jealous. But where Gardner really shines is the cost of homes. At $185,700, Gardner has the fifth cheapest homes in the state. And with residents earning a median income of $49,679, 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.

North Adams, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 12,959
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.8x (32nd cheapest)
More On North Adams: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $757, 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 $140,900. With residents earning a median income of $41,471, North Adams has the fourth best home price to income ratio in the state.

Fitchburg, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 40,702
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (6th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 56.3x (50th cheapest)
More On Fitchburg: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located about 30 miles west of Lowell and north of Worcester, Fitchburg ranks as the eighth most affordable city in Massachusetts. Fitchburg has the sixth lowest home price to income ratio in the state, with a median home price of $196,600 and a median income of $57,207. 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.

Leominster, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 41,606
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.9x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.5x (39th cheapest)
More On Leominster: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

From the Leominster State Forest to the winter fun a short drive away at Wachusett Mountain, Leominster is a city with a prime location for people who love outdoor recreation. The area is also about an hour away from Boston, for those who crave even more city action.

The community of 41,606 is also a haven for people looking to save a few bucks when it comes to their cost of living. If you're ready to reside in Leominster for a while, expect homes to come with a median value of $241,800. A price that isn't bad if you earn the areas median household income of $61,825.

Avoiding a mortgage here won't burst your budget either. Renters can look forward to a median rate of $973. As a matter of fact, Leominster has one of the best rent rate to household income ratios in Massachusetts, coming in at No. 10.0. And as if helping you keep more money in your wallet wasn't a big enough perk of calling this place home, the area is also incredibly safe.

Attleboro, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 44,789
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.9x (12th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 69.3x (25th cheapest)
More On Attleboro: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $292,900 and a median rent of $1,081. However, because Attleboro residents earn an above average median income of $74,962, 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.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Bay State For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. 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 2015-2019 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 53 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.

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 2021.

Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Massachusetts according to the data:

  1. Boston
  2. Cambridge
  3. Somerville

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

The Most Affordable Places To Live In Massachusetts

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Palmer Town 6.0 12,237 3.0x 67.2x
2 Westfield 9.0 41,449 3.5x 70.0x
3 Pittsfield 9.0 42,766 3.4x 57.6x
4 Chicopee 9.67 55,421 3.4x 57.7x
5 Agawam Town 10.0 28,696 3.3x 62.8x
6 Gardner 10.67 20,610 3.7x 59.3x
7 North Adams 11.0 12,959 3.4x 54.8x
8 Fitchburg 13.0 40,702 3.4x 56.3x
9 Leominster 13.0 41,606 3.9x 63.5x
10 Attleboro 13.67 44,789 3.9x 69.3x
11 Easthampton Town 14.0 15,960 4.0x 63.8x
12 West Springfield Town 15.0 28,609 4.2x 60.4x
13 Southbridge Town 15.0 16,887 3.9x 57.3x
14 Greenfield Town 16.0 17,375 3.8x 54.5x
15 Franklin Town 16.33 33,256 3.5x 89.0x
16 Amesbury Town 17.0 17,434 4.1x 69.0x
17 Taunton 19.0 57,124 4.3x 62.1x
18 Methuen Town 19.33 50,282 4.3x 62.8x
19 Springfield 21.0 154,139 4.0x 45.0x
20 Haverhill 22.33 63,533 4.3x 57.5x
21 New Bedford 23.0 95,239 4.9x 54.7x
22 Weymouth Town 24.67 56,734 4.4x 58.0x
23 Holyoke 25.67 40,241 4.8x 48.7x
24 Marlborough 26.0 39,736 4.3x 54.6x
25 Northampton 26.33 28,516 5.0x 57.4x
26 Brockton 26.67 95,594 4.5x 52.6x
27 Braintree Town 26.67 37,220 4.7x 63.4x
28 Newburyport 27.0 18,077 5.0x 82.1x
29 Worcester 28.67 185,143 4.7x 44.0x
30 Lowell 29.33 111,306 4.7x 49.1x
31 Melrose 29.67 28,113 5.3x 70.6x
32 Beverly 30.0 41,885 5.4x 62.9x
33 Fall River 30.33 89,388 5.6x 54.1x
34 Gloucester 32.33 30,162 5.9x 61.2x
35 Woburn 32.67 40,304 5.0x 55.8x
36 Barnstable Town 33.33 44,406 5.2x 54.4x
37 Newton 34.0 88,593 6.1x 77.9x
38 Salem 34.33 43,252 5.3x 53.4x
39 Peabody 34.67 52,906 5.3x 53.6x
40 Lynn 37.0 93,743 5.8x 47.3x
41 Medford 38.0 57,637 5.2x 53.1x
42 Waltham 38.33 62,777 5.6x 55.6x
43 Quincy 39.33 94,207 5.5x 51.7x
44 Watertown Town 39.67 35,401 5.5x 54.6x
45 Lawrence 40.33 79,942 6.1x 39.0x
46 Revere 41.67 53,692 6.0x 44.1x
47 Winthrop Town 41.67 18,542 5.9x 52.3x
48 Chelsea 43.67 39,992 6.2x 40.0x
49 Everett 44.33 46,118 6.2x 45.1x
50 Malden 45.0 60,984 6.1x 41.8x
51 Somerville 47.33 80,906 6.8x 51.9x
52 Cambridge 49.67 116,632 7.4x 46.4x
53 Boston 49.67 684,379 7.5x 43.9x

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About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.