Moving to Salem, MA – 13 Things You Should Know

Salem Waterfront

Living in Salem, MA has never been more desirable than it is right now! At least that’s what the prices & highly competitive nature of the Salem housing market are suggesting. So is all of this hype to live in Salem warranted?


Living in Salem MA

To understand why people are moving to Salem, you’d have to look at what it’s like living in Salem and why buyers are favoring Salem over other nearby neighborhoods.

Salem is located on the North Shore, approximately 15 miles north of Boston. Best known for its rich history, most notably the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Today Salem is a bustling city with a population of around roughly 45,000 people.

With its rich history, Salem has many historic homes that have been well preserved & kept over the years. The oldest known home in Salem is the Pickering House on Broad St with the earliest part of the home believed to have been built in 1651 by John Pickering.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Salem MA is fairly high, the majority of that being the cost of housing in Salem which we’ll expand upon later in this article. Salem is a highly desirable place to live & the cost to live there reflects that.

Salem is; however, very walkable and well equipped with public transportation so it is possible to save on transportation & the costs associated with a car.

Salem being in Massachusetts means residents are subject to a 5% state income tax on top of their federal income taxes. Residents of Salem are also taxed on their property at a rate of $12.51 per $1,000 of assessed value (FY 2023). The property tax is average for the area and similar to other towns within Essex County.


Within the Salem public schools, there are six elementary schools, one large middle school in addition to the grades 6-8 available at Saltonstall Elementary, and 3 public high schools.

Elementary Schools:

  • Bates Elementary School
  • Bentley Academy Innovation School (BAIS)
  • Carlton Innovation School
  • Horace Mann Laboratory School
  • Saltonstall K-8 School
  • Witchcraft Heights Elementary School

Middle School:

  • Collins Middle School

High Schools:

  • Salem High School
  • New Liberty Innovation School
  • Salem Prep High School

In Salem there are also several private and parochial schools in Salem, including St. Mary’s School, the Phoenix School,  and the Salem Academy Charter School.

There’s also Salem State University which is a public university that offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Its programs include education, business, healthcare, and the arts. Salem State also has a strong commitment to community engagement, providing many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work and service learning.


The atmosphere of Salem, MA is a unique blend of history, culture, and modern living. As the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century, the city has a rich historical heritage that is celebrated through its many museums, tours, and events.

Despite its rich history, Salem is a bustling and vibrant city with a thriving arts and cultural scene. It is home to numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues, and hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, including the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival and the Salem Arts Festival.

Salem is also known for its diverse and eclectic dining scene, with many restaurants and cafes offering everything from traditional New England seafood to international cuisine.

Salem Ropes Mansion - Moving to Salem MA

Economy & Employment

Salem, MA, boasts a diverse and growing economy that encompasses various sectors. With a mix of retail, tourism, healthcare, and education, the city offers a range of employment opportunities. 

The proximity to Boston also provides access to a wider job market, making Salem an attractive place for both professionals and job seekers.

Things to do

Salem is a city brimming with exciting activities and attractions for all interests. Delve into its rich history by visiting museums like the Salem Witch Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum. 

Explore the maritime heritage at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, or wander through the historic streets to discover charming boutiques, art galleries, and vibrant dining options.

Commutability / Transportation

Salem’s accessibility is a distinct advantage. The city’s well-connected transportation system, including commuter rail and bus services, makes daily commuting a breeze, especially for those who work in Boston. 

Whether you prefer public transit or the convenience of nearby highways, Salem ensures seamless connectivity.

Moving to Salem MA

Moving to Salem offers a unique blend of historical ambiance and modern conveniences. The city’s strong sense of community, combined with its vibrant events and cultural scene, makes the transition feel welcoming. 

From historic neighborhoods to waterfront living, Salem’s diverse housing options cater to various preferences, making it an exciting destination to call home.

Cost to Buy a House

As of writing this, the median sale price for a single family home is $585,000 so far for 2023. Though the number of sales compared to this time last year is down nearly 27%. 

In my experience of submitting offers for clients in Salem, despite the median showing $585,000, single family homes this year are mostly selling well over ask and it’s difficult to get a home of historical interest or size for this price point. 

Cost to Buy a Condo

The median sale price for a condo in Salem is $480,000 which does give a good idea on costs as there are many more affordable condos in Salem in the $350,000-400,000 range.

With this, there has also been a nearly 40% drop in the number of condo sales in Salem. This is likely due to the new development Brix Salem having less listings this year.

Cost to Rent a Home

The median to rent in Salem is $2,425 per month with there so far being 182 rental transactions through MLS and many more not through MLS. Salem has a very active rental market with both long and short term rentals. 

Competitive Housing Market

Salem’s housing market is dynamic and competitive, reflecting the city’s popularity. Desirable properties, both historic and contemporary, can be found throughout the city’s neighborhoods. 

With demand on the rise, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional who can help you navigate the market and find your ideal home.

Tourism & Halloween

Salem, MA, is not only a city of historical significance but also a major tourist destination, drawing visitors from across the globe. 

Its captivating blend of history, culture, and festivities makes it a year-round attraction. However, it’s during the month of October that Salem truly comes alive. 

With its renowned Haunted Happenings, the city transforms into a Halloween haven like no other. The bewitching atmosphere, haunted tours, and themed events create an unparalleled experience for those who revel in the spirit of the season. 

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a Halloween aficionado, Salem’s unique blend of tourism and spooky celebrations ensures a memorable visit.


Salem is broken down into several different neighborhoods. 

North Salem is basically around Margin St, north of Bridge St so before you cross into Downtown. Within North Salem, you have Mack Park and Northfields

Gallows Hill is a small slice just west of North Salem also bordering Peabody, where you’ll find, as the name might suggest, Gallows Hill park.

Witchcraft Heights is another small slice just west of Gallows Hill, where you’ll find the witchcraft heights elementary school. 

West Salem is the rest of Salem west of Highland Ave that wasn’t cool enough to get its own name. Gallows Hill & Witchcraft heights are pretty much part of West Salem & all have a similar feel to Peabody.

Downtown Salem is the part of Salem between the Salem Common & Washington St where you’ll find a majority of the restaurants, businesses, and happenings in Salem.

Just outside of downtown is the McIntire District which is opposite of Summer St. This is the historic district & includes the Chestnut Street District, Chestnut St being where you’d find a lot of grand Salem mansions.

The Point & Waterfront, Congress Street over by Pickering Wharf and Derby St along the water right next to each other

Salem Neck is where  you’ll find the Salem Willows and Winter Island

South Salem is pretty much between Canal and Lafayette St down  to Loring ave and Vinnin Square Swampscott

Is Salem MA Right for You?

Deciding if Salem is the right fit for you involves considering its unique characteristics and your personal preferences. If you value historical charm, a strong sense of community, and a blend of cultural offerings, Salem might be your perfect match. 

Its accessible location, lively events, and diverse housing market add to the appeal, creating a city that offers both a rich history and a vibrant future.

Aerial Salem MA, Salem Common, Bridge St Neck

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