Median home price: Singlefamily,$335,000; condominiums, $268,000
Residential tax rate: $8.67
Average tax bill: $3,423
Choice location: Sunset Lake is a place to go for a brief bit of sun, a shallow paddle, and in summer it hosts concerts.
Cocktail party nugget: Retirement home of Thomas A. Watson, the co-inventor of the telephone with Alexander Graham Bell.
SOURCES: Warren Group, US Census,Town of Braintree, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Braintree Historical Society
THE GOODS: "Crossroads" by Eric Clapton might be the theme song for this South Shore town, which is plunked on Interstate 93 just around the corner from the Southeast Expressway and split by Route 3. It is home to South Shore Plaza, private Thayer Academy, and much history as it was among the first places settled by Europeans. It's home to numerous office parks and now the headquarters of the Boston Archdiocese. Residents recently adopted a mayor-led government, more fitting for a community of 34,000 with an extensive commercial base. The MBTA provides bus, Red Line, and commuter rail service.
PROS: Away from the busy roads and businesses along them, quietude is readily reached. This is one of the more affordable communities within the Greater Boston ring. Housing stock ranges from small, but comfortable, Capes to proud Victorians with soaring ceilings. Given the age of the community, it is not uncommon to see 100-plus-year-old homes in a good state of repair. When new development comes, it is in small chunks and cul-de-sacs, not suburban sprawl. The school system scores well in MCAS rankings, according to Globe analysis of 2007 results.
CONS: The problem with being a gateway is that lots of people like to pass through. And that's the case here every weekday when main roads - such as Route 37 at Braintree Five Corners - become mirror images of the stalled traffic on surrounding interstates.
JOHN R. ELLEMENT