THE GOODS: Once a booming industrial center, Malden is making strides to shed its word at the edges image. An ambitious downtown redevelopment effort underway, with a focus on mixing chain retail stores and restaurants with local standbys. The real appeal of Malden, however, is the neighborhood feel for residents living in its five squares, coupled with its proximity to Boston. Few suburbs have greater ease of access to the city than Malden, with the centrally-located Orange line and commuter rail stop, bus service, and highways I-93 and Route 1. Many residents, however, don't have to trip into Boston for a night out, with a new crop of restaurants, bars and nightclubs now available. New developments are helping to ease pressure on the tax base, which has taken decades to recover from the loss of light manufacturing companies.
PROS: Stately Victorian homes combine with relatively new condominium construction to make the city a top choice for starter-home seekers and renovators. In between the two extremes is ample post-war housing stock, apartment complexes and a relatively strong commercial tax base. The trend is reflected in demographic data, which shows a spike in residents in their late 20s and early 30s.
CONS: Despite improvements in MCAS test scores, Malden's public schools continue to struggle with a high drop-out rate and low teachers' salaries and student attendance compared to other districts.