The cheapest places to live in Massachusetts are not a pipe dream; it’s a reality for many residents who’ve discovered the Bay State’s hidden gems. This northeastern haven, renowned for its love of the New England Patriots and the Red Sox, offers more than just sports fandom. It provides a cost-effective lifestyle, which is why we’ve compiled this list of the most affordable locations in Massachusetts.
In our search for the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts, we’ve discovered many cities that offer affordable living without compromising quality. Boston and Cambridge, for instance, are hip, millennial-friendly cities with a low cost of living that allows young professionals to save more. Salem and Provincetown, on the other hand, are great for inexpensive staycations. Newton and Melrose offer safe, cheap, and comfortable homes for family-oriented living.
Our methodology for determining the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts involves analyzing data on home prices, cost of living, and other relevant factors.
We’ve done the hard work for you, so all you have to do is sit back, find a quiet spot at the Cape, and read on to discover the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts. Trust us; it’s going to be wicked cheap.
The 10 most affordable places to live in Massachusetts
So, what is the most affordable place to live in the Bay State? The cheapest place to live in Massachusetts is Palmer Town after crunching data from the US Census regarding median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living for cities with over 5,000 residents.
The less you have to spend on bills, the more you will spend on things that matter in Massachusetts like Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Celtics tickets, and overall East Coast fun.
If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Massachusetts where your salary will let you live like royalty.
Check out some more reading about Massachusetts and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 cheapest places to live in Massachusetts for 2023
When it comes to affordability, there’s nowhere better in Massachusetts than Palmer Town. Palmer Town residents pay a median price of $208,500 for homes and earn a median income of $70,090. That gives Palmer Town the best ratio of home price to income in Massachusetts. And with a median rent of $977, 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.
Located just west of Springfield, Westfield ranks as the second cheapest city to live in Massachusetts. With a median price tag of $256,300, Westfield has the second highest home prices on this list. However, because residents earn $73,692 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.
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 $183,600. With residents earning a median income of $59,522, 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 across the Connecticut River from Springfield, Agawam Town ranks as the fourth cheapest place to live in Massachusetts. At $248,800, 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 $78,619, 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!
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 $816, 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 $152,200. With residents earning a median income of $48,575, North Adams has the third best home price to income ratio in the state.
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 $915, which is bound to make Bostonians super jealous. But where Gardner really shines is the cost of homes. At $200,300, Gardner has the fifth cheapest homes in the state. And with residents earning a median income of $52,770, 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 $198,000 and a median income of $56,509, Chicopee has the sixth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. The median rent in Chicopee is $1,006, 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.
Located about 30 miles west of Lowell and north of Worcester, Fitchburg ranks as the eighth most affordable city in Massachusetts. Fitchburg has the ninth lowest home price to income ratio in the state, with a median home price of $232,400 and a median income of $60,466. 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.
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 43,478 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 $275,300. A price that isn’t bad if you earn the area’s median household income of $69,525.
Avoiding a mortgage here won’t burst your budget either. Renters can look forward to a median rate of $1,064. As a matter of fact, Leominster has one of the best rent rate to household income ratios in Massachusetts, coming in at No. 12.0. 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.
West Springfield Town is a great spot for those looking to live in Massachusetts without breaking the bank. With a median home value of $251,600 and median rent of $949, this town offers lower housing costs compared to many other areas in the state.
Part of the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, West Springfield Town residents can enjoy the charm of small-town living. With its convenient location on the western side of the Connecticut River, West Springfield Town has a rich history and plenty of local attractions.
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 2023
Determining affordability for places in Massachusetts boils down to two factors:
- How much money do I make?
- How much does it cost to live here?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make to determine affordability. For example, imagine a place in Massachusetts where median incomes are $100,000 and housing costs $200,000 to buy. That’s more affordable than living in a place with a median income of $50,000 where houses cost $101,000. The ratio of income to home prices is higher in the first example.
With that logic in mind, we derived several cost of living statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2017-2021 for Massachusetts. The cost of living statistics are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Rent / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Home Price
You can include median home price as a stand alone variable because high home prices generally correlate with higher costs for all goods and services (heating, electricity, food, etc). You then compare these cost of living metrics for each place in Massachusetts to figure out which is the least expensive.
We aggregate those rankings into a “Cost of Living Index” for each city in Massachusetts. The “Cost of Living Index” allows you to rank all of the 52 places in Massachusetts that have more than 12,000 people from least expensive to most expensive.
The place in Massachusetts with the lowest cost of living according to the data is Palmer Town.
We updated this article for 2023. This reports reflects our tenth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Affordabilility Summary
This is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Massachusetts for 2023, if you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Massachusetts.
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
- Most Dangerous Cities In Massachusetts
- Best Places To Buy A House In Massachusetts
Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts
|Rank||City||Population||Median Income||Home Prices||Rent||Home Price To Income||Rent To Income|
|10||West Springfield Town||28,814||$60,023||$251,600||$949||4.2x||0.2x|