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Bargain towns below $300,000

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 10, 2012 06:48 AM

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Weary of looking at worn out, overpriced homes selling for half a million or more?

The good news is that it's still possible to buy below $300,000, with a whole bunch of towns and neighborhoods with prices in the $200,000s now.

But they are not in the the posh burbs and hip urban neighborhoods everyone is beating down the door to get into - and which have seen prices relentlessly rise right through the downturn.

And more often than not, you may end up with a tougher commute - and a fair amount of fixing up to do as well.

But then again, you won't find yourself saddled with a $500,000 mortgage either.

Here's my list, drawn from the real estate records of Banker & Tradesman. Today we'll tackle the suburbs, tomorrow the world. Just kidding, next week I will look at bargain-basement urban alternatives for those frustrated with Davis Square and other overpriced, over-hyped neighborhoods.

North Shore:
Marblehead, Rockport and Salem - some of my favorite towns are on the North Shore. The first two towns sport prices well above $300,000, but in Salem, the median is a less lofty $226,800, having dropped more than 10 percent in the last year.

South Shore:
Another great place to live, with lots of cool little seaside towns anchored on either end by two relatively-large, affordable and history-packed communities, Quincy and Plymouth.

Commuting from Quincy, where the median price is $279,500, can be a breeze, though fighting your way up Route 3 from Plymouth ($242,500) through Route 3 rush hour traffic is not for the faint of heart. In between, there are some great places like Weymouth ($261,000), Marshfield ($299,900), Pembroke ($237,500), and Kingston ($252,500).

Boston/Providence corridor: I grew up in the southern suburbs - they are often overlooked in the competition to get into towns closer to Boston. But you can have the best of both worlds here, with Providence just a half hour drive away or less. You can buy in Attleboro for $200,000, according to Trulia, or Wrentham ($262,000), Plainville ($201,000), not to mention Millis ($291,500) and Medway ($280,362).

Western suburbs: The affordability crunch is hitting hardest here - I know, living in Natick, where prices are heading back towards the $400,000 mark. But there are still some glimmers of hope - with Framingham ($290,000), Ashland ($287,500) and Marlborough (279,000) providing some alternatives.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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