Top spots to live 2011
Median single-family home price: $579,500
Median condo price: $300,000
Residential tax rate (and average bill): $13.62 ($7,021)
People sometimes mistakenly say that Essex is part of the excellent Manchester-by-the-Sea school system, but the two towns are actually part of one regional district. With the opening of a new Manchester Essex Regional High School in 2009, families are seeing opportunities here. People view it as a less expensive alternative to Manchester, says Alice Miller, a broker with Coldwell Banker in Manchester. Traditionally a clamming town, Essex is also known for antiques shops and kayaking. But a bumper sticker, Welcome to North Manchester, formerly known as Essex, hints at growing pains.
RUNNER-UP: Downtown Crossing