Median home price: Single family, $850,000.
Residential tax rate: $12.86
Average tax bill: $10,610
Choice location: The Wilson and Clark families placed 64 acres of the Clark Farm under conservation protection in 2003. The protected land includes sprawling hayfields and original farm buildings and has become something of a symbol for town residents.
Cocktail party nugget: "Get Fuzzy" cartoonist Darby Conley is a Carlisle native and makes several references to the town in the comic strip.
SOURCES: Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
THE GOODS: Carlisle has used a two-acre minimum zoning law to maintain its character as a classic, quaint New England town. About a quarter of its land is conservation land, and the town boasts a traditional town center and ample farmland on its outskirts. The tight restrictions on building and land use have contributed to escalating property values, making Carlisle affordable almost exclusively to the most affluent buyers. It was ranked 202d on Forbes magazine's list of the 500 most expensive zip codes.
PROS: With a median income of $100,000 for singles, Carlisle is affluent and the housing stock reflects that. Converted farmhouses and turn-of-the-century houses are setback from the town's winding, tree-lined roads. Contemporaries with seven-figure price tags are stylish and airy, and the stock includes midprice modern homes of varying designs. Despite the rural feel, Carlisle is just 23 miles northwest of Boston.
CONS: Carlisle has next to no commercial tax base. The town of 5,320 residents has a single store, no major grocery store, and the closest gas station is four miles away. The one bank branch closed several years ago and was replaced by a single ATM. That not only makes it difficult for residents who want to shop locally, but it also increases the burden on residential taxpayers.