These five towns are the most affordable to buy a home in Massachusetts, specifically on the North Shore or in Essex County.
To curate this list, I looked at both the average and median sale prices of both single families and condos in each market so far this year.
Condos are generally the most affordable option, so it may make more sense in determining affordability just looking at the lowest option.
#5 Methuen, MA
Methuen comes in at number 5 on my list, as the fifth most affordable place to buy a home in Essex County
The average single family sale price so far this year is about $521,500 with the median being $500,000.
Looking at the condos in Methuen that have sold, the average has been ~$482,500 and the median $399,500.
I include both the average and the median because the average obviously gives you the average: the total sales volume divided by the number of sales, but the median is more useful in that it tells us half of the sales were above and half were below.
So with a median of $399,500, we know about 50% of the condos in Methuen have sold for less than $400k.
Methuen is not the cheapest when it comes to condos and a lot of that has to do with the fact there’s many adult communities in Methuen.
55+ condos that are all newer, updated, large, with amenities- lots of these are almost like single families and generally sell in the 7-900 range which obviously will push the needle higher on both average and median.
But the reason it’s #5 on my list is that it’s actually the second cheapest when it comes to single family homes with half of the sales this year being under $500k.
A little bit about Methuen, it’s more of a city which is a trend you’ll see on this list given the nature of affordability and having a higher density.
There’s a population of just over 53,000 people.
Methuen is the northwest corner of Essex County south of Salem and Pelham New Hampshire right along the MA NH border.
In Mass, it’s bordered by Haverhill to the east, North Andover, Lawrence, and Andover to the south.
And then Dracut to the west which is over in Middlesex County.
When it comes to commuting, a nice thing about Methuen is that it’s directly off of 495 and 93.
Taking 93, you can get into Boston in about 35 minutes not accounting for traffic.
It’s basically equidistant from Boston as it is to Manchester New Hampshire depending on where you need to be.
Taking the train from Methuen, not really great… Your best bet is to drive or take the bus to Lawrence or Lowell depending on the train schedule then taking the haverhill or Lowell line on the Commuter Rail.
Homes For Sale in Methuen
#4 North Andover, MA
Next up on the list coming in at #4, this one might be debatable, but I’ll explain why it makes my list: North Andover.
If you’re familiar with Massachusetts, North Andover, Merrimack Valley- you may know North Andover for having $1Million+ large colonials to which you’d be correct.
Single family homes in North Andover are not at all what makes it affordable…
The median and average for single families is in the mid-high $800,000s.
The condos; however, a much different story!
The average sale price of condos so far this year is about $393k and the median.. $355k!
And there’ve been 47 condos sold this year so we’re not necessarily working with very limited data either.
North Andover has an estimated population of over 31,000 people and is quite large so the density of that population varies from area to area.
Bordering the town, is Haverhill to the northeast, Methuen to the north just across the Merrimack River, Lawrence to the northwest, Andover to the West, North Reading, Middleton, and Boxford to the South and east.
Looking at the towns that border North Andover can probably give you a decent idea on why some parts are more expensive than others.
As I said earlier, North Andover is pretty large, so the commute to Boston will vary depending on which part of North Andover you’re in.
The fastest route into Boston is 495 over to 93 straight down at about 30 minutes.
The range is anywhere for 30-40 minutes into the city. Fairly similar to Methuen given its proximity.
Similar story also with taking the train and your best bet is probably catching a ride to either Lawrence or Andover and heading out form there.
Homes For Sale in North Andover
#3 Haverhill, MA
In Haverhill, the average single family sales price has been about $552k, and median slightly lower at $525k. So it is more expensive than Methuen in this department.
Looking at condos, the average sale price is just shy of $372k and the median is right on par with North Andover at $355k.
So Methuen was cheaper when it came to single families, North Andover fairly comparable with condos, but overall- Haverhill is generally more affordable than the other two. Which is why it’s number 3
Haverhill, much like Methuen, has more of a city atmosphere for the most part with the exception of Bradford.
The population stands at over 67,000 people, the largest so far.
Haverhill also includes Bradford which is the part of Haverhill south of the Merrimack River.
You’re probably noticing that all of the towns so far are in the same area roughly along 495 and the Merrimack river.
That being said, the commute from Haverhill into Boston is similar to the others, best route being take 495 to 93 straight down & expect it to be about 40 minutes.
Luckily Haverhill does actually have a commuter rail in town so public transportation is better here than the other two.
Again, I did a more in depth post on Haverhill, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested in Haverhill Specifically.
Homes For Sale in Haverhill
#2 Lynn, MA
Down to number two on the list and this one is not in the same area as all of the others have been. The second most affordable place to buy a home is Lynn
Single families are generally a bit more expensive than some of the ones we’ve covered so far.
With the average sale this year at about $540k and median at $530k. The reason Lynn is number two on the list is for its condos.
Despite the higher median for single family, the average sale price for a condo in Lynn this year is $353k and the median is even lower at $335k. This making Lynn the cheapest to buy in so far.
Lynn is more of a city with a population just over 100,000 people.
Northeast to Lynn, you have Swampscott, Salem, and Peabody.
Northwest is Lynnfield, west is Saugus, South is Revere.
You also have Nahant which is more of an island off of Lynn.
Lynn is only 10 miles north of Boston, though it’s generally about a 30 minute drive into the city.
Getting into Logan is a few minutes less, about 20-25.
For public transportation, you can take the blue line or the commuter rail, as Lynn is along the Newburyport Rockport line.
The wait will vary, but it the ride itself should only be about 20 minutes into North Station.
Homes For Sale in Lynn
#1 Lawrence, MA
Finally, the most affordable place to buy on the North Shore or more broadly Essex County is: Lawrence.
Lawrence smokes the other cities and towns in terms of affordability.
The average and median sale price for a single family home in Lawrence is around $435k, $65k lower than Methuen, the second lowest
Condos are also priced much lower than the others in Lawrence with the average being about $279k and the median $260k
Lawrence has a population of over 89,000, it’s fairly small geographically making it much more dense. (As you might expect for it to be the cheapest)
Lawrence is also like the epicenter of some of the towns we’ve covered so far.
It’s on the Merrimack river south of Methuen, and North of Andover and North Andover
As you might expect commute time is similar to Methuen and North Andover with the drive into Boston a bit over 30 minutes
The difference here is that Lawrence does have a commuter rail downtown which takes about an hour but is much more doable especially if you don’t have a car
Homes For Sale in Lawrence
So there you have it, those are the five most affordable places to buy in Essex County Massachusetts.
I want to note that these are not necessarily the best places to live, usually when it’s cheaper there are reasons.
But with that said, there are good neighborhoods in every town and city and it’s still possible to find a decent place to call home on a lower budget.
Other options outside of the North Shore could include Further west in Massachusetts or into New Hampshire.