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6 Cheapest Places to Live in Massachusetts

By: Susan Finch
September 7, 2021

Massachusetts’ colonial history and growth as a transportation and economic hub of the country make it a diverse place to live, work, and place. Despite the Northeast's reputation for a high cost of living, you can still find cheap places to live in Massachusetts.

Ready to move to the roots of American history and industry? Discover some of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts.

Note: The data provided below comes from our rent estimates. These numbers expand beyond what's listed on our platform. For further information, learn about our methodology.

1. Lowell

  • Population: 110,997
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,605.71
  • Median Household Income: $56,878

Lowell, Massachusetts, was incorporated in1826 as a mill town and was dubbed the carle of the American Revolution for its textile mills and factories. Its position along the rapids of the Merrimack River helped expand its mills and it soon became the most significant industrial complex in the country.

The city fell onto hard times as more manufacturing bases moved south during the 1920s. Lowell saw a revival during the 1970s, as it drew new immigrants to the area and became headquarters of new laboratories. Today, the largest employers around Lowell include healthcare, education, software, telecommunications, and supermarket goods, attracting millennials looking for new opportunities.

College students attend the historic University of Massachusetts or choose nearby institutions like Merrimack College and Brandeis University. Reasonable rents and school districts make Lowell attractive for families as well.

Locals embrace industrial history with stops like the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, while quilt lovers enjoy the specialty New England Quilt Museum. Cocktail bars, breweries, bars, and grills are also never far away in Lowell for cold drinks and dancing.

Locals take advantage of the two-mile waterfront along Lowell Heritage State Park for a stroll, summer concerts, and boating. It's also the place to see the canals and mills constructed during the 19th century. Shedd Parks caters to families with sports and fitness programming, splash pads, and adult yoga and Zumba classes.

2. Worcester

  • Population: 185,428
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,655.57
  • Median Household Income: $48,139

Worcester was founded in 1731 and soon became a center of American revolutionary activity. It also became home to the radical newspaper, the Massachusetts Spy, and was the site where Thomas Jefferson first performed his public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Like many areas around Massachusetts, factories and textiles were driving economic forces during the 1800s.

Worcester's biggest employers and industries include healthcare, the University of Massachusetts Medical Group, insurance, public schools, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The job outlook isn't as robust in Worcester compared to the rest of the country but boasts a low cost of living.

Worcester welcomes college students with its prestigious institutions, including Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Clark University, and Worcester State University. Reasonable rents, quality schools, and green space draw families to settle in Worcester as well.

You don't need to live in Boston's expensive city center to enjoy culture in Massachusetts. Worcester is home to a renowned art museum, The Hanover Theatre, Conservatory for the Performing Arts, and historic Mechanics Hall. As a college town, stops like Wormtown Brewery are among local favorites. Plus, residents can walk to many pizza joints and eateries.

Worcester may have a reputation for a city with industrial roots, though it still boasts tranquil green space. Cascading Waters is a hot spot for hiking and strolling, and Elm Park is among the country's oldest and publicly financed parks. The unique EcoTarium features exhibits, live animals, a nature trail, and seasonal train rides for visitors.

3. Boston

  • Population: 692,600
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,886.86
  • Median Household Income: $71,115

Compared to nearby metro areas, you can still find some affordable rents in Boston. The city was founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists and became the political and commercial center of the region. After battles with the British, which damaged much of the city's economy, the city recovered as a transportation hub with railroads, schools, and medical centers.

Rents aren't as cheap in Boston as the rest of Massachusetts, though the city has a booming economy and top-rated job market. Boston remains an economic powerhouse and is considered a premier place to do business in the US. Its biggest industries include finance, research and development, tourism, medicine, education, commercial fishing, government, and more.

Millennials and college students make themselves at home in Boston, attending Boston College, MIT, Northeastern University, and nearby Harvard University. The job market, rich history, waterfront views, and green space make it an idyllic city for families.

It’s hard to feel bored in Boston with so much to see and do. Locals and visitors alike stroll the Freedom Trail for a walk through history. It's also an excellent way to see the city while popping in and out of historic pubs and eateries. Sports lovers unite at Fenway Park, and culture lovers stop by the 600,000-square-foot Museum of Fine Arts. The North End is filled with shops, pubs, and cafes for a taste of Old Word meets new.

There are plenty of green spaces to visit, and Boston Public Garden boasts 600 varieties of trees, flowers and owns the title as America's first public garden. Boston Common, Quincy Market, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace are all perfect stops for the best in urban outdoors. Come hungry for lobster rolls, clam chowder, and restaurant hopping along the way.

4. Peabody

  • Population: 53,070
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,956.57
  • Median Household Income: $73,217

The area of Peabody was settled by English colonists as part of the Salem settlement in 1626. Once a farming community, Peabody's surrounding rivers and streams were operated by water power. The area was also home to mills and a hub of New England's leather industry.

Although recent job growth has been sluggish in Peabody, it's set to surpass the US average. Major industries and employers around Peabody include education, finance, medicine, and consulting. Vanderbilt Peabody College draws students and academic staff.

Peabody's tight-knit community and family-friendly vibe lacks urban amenities, though still offers a cozy feel. Brooksby Farm is situated near the North Shore and is an idyllic spot for seasonal apple picking. Locals bike ride along the Independence Greenway Bike Route past meadows and tranquil landscapes.

Locals can make the 16-mile journey into Boston for more attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. Traffic gets intense around Boston, but the short distance to Peabody opens up more job opportunities for locals.

5. Framingham

  • Population: 74,416
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,032.57
  • Median Household Income: $82,709

Europeans settled Framingham along the west bank of the Sudbury River on an ancient trail known as the Old Connecticut Path. The town was an annual gathering spot for abolitionists and the anti-slavery society. After World War II, Framginham's population boomed and soon grew into the "largest town" in Massachusetts.

Today, Framingham is the corporate headquarters of several companies, including Bose Corporation, Staples, and TJX. Recent job growth outpaced the US average and is set to surpass the US average within the next 10 years. Framingham State University offers higher education opportunities in town and a mix of community colleges and private institutions.

Locals make the 23-mile trek into Boston for cultural opportunities and nightlife. Framingham is home to nature stops, including the New England Wild Flower Society Garden in the Woods. Throughout the gardens, you’ll find a lilypond, plenty of wildlife, and blossoming cacti. At Callahan State Park, trails and woods wind past a pond and an old cabin nestled in the woods.

6. Quincy

  • Population: 94,470
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,117.86
  • Median Household Income: $77,562

Quincy, Massachusetts, was settled in 1625 and became a city of innovation. In fact, Quincy was the founding city of Howard Johnson's and Dunkin Donuts, the first commercial railroad in the United States, and produced the only seven-masted schooner ever built.

Quincy's reputation as a bedroom community means more space, more peace and quiet, and fewer central job opportunities. Some of the more prominent industries in Quincy include insurance, telecommunications, and retail. Locals also make the 10-mile commute into Boston to grow their careers. The median age in Quincy is 40, though the city is also welcoming to families and students.

Historical stops around town include Quincy Homestead, Thomas Crane Public Library, and USS Salem & United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum. Locals can also tour the United First Parish Church, where President Adams, John Quincy Adams, and their wives Abigail Adams & Louis Catherine Adams, were laid to rest.

Quincy's location along the shoreline provides locals with excellent beachfront exploration in places like Wollaston Beach. Marina Bay offers docks and boat rentals to get out on the water. Garden and historic home stops include Adams National Historical Park to see the preserved home of United States presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Final Thoughts - Where Should I Move to in Massachusetts?

From waterfront towns to urban metropolises, these are the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts. The best places to live in the state boast rich history, a booming economy, and proximity to all the amenities you need. Ready to make a move? Sign up for Apartment List to find an affordable apartment in Massachusetts.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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