THE GOODS: Founded in 1626, Beverly was once a summer playground of Boston's elite but has since evolved into a diverse community. The downtown is in the midst of an ambitious renovation, as the city embarks on three initiatives: construction of a new MBTA garage to provide additional commuter parking; revitalization of Rantoul Street, near the train station; and waterfront development along the Danvers River.
PROS: The houses in Beverly are as diverse as its residents. Here you'll find a bevy of condo complexes, town houses, and multifamily homes as well as modest single-family Colonials and jaw-dropping estates. Young professionals looking to buy their first place often are drawn to the new condominiums that hug the Danvers River and dot the downtown landscape. A two-bedroom, two-bath unit sells for about $250,000. Those looking to sacrifice modern amenities for a bit more privacy might consider an antique Colonial - a two-bedroom, one-bath home on a postage stamp size lot can be had for as little as $175,000. From there, prices for single-family homes climb as high as $6.1 million for a sprawling nine-bedroom oceanfront estate in Prides Crossing. Magnificent mansions may also be found in the exclusive neighborhoods of Beverly Farms, Beverly Cove, and Curtis Point. In addition to its seaside location and bustling downtown, Beverly's draw includes Endicott College and Montserrat College of Art, as well as the highly regarded Beverly Hospital.
CONS: The city's schools suffered a blow in 2005 when the high school's accreditation was nearly revoked because of the poor condition of its building. City residents responded by voting to increase property taxes to pay for a new academic wing. Contractors broke ground on the $80 million project last month.
BRENDA J. BUOTE