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Bargain towns under $200,000

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 14, 2012 08:37 AM

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Yes, even in high-priced Massachusetts, you can buy a house now for under $200,000.

In many parts of the country where housing has long been more affordable, this would hardly be worth the notice. After all, the median price nationally is $158,100, and falling.

But here in the Bay State, with prices on the rise again in the more affluent Greater Boston suburbs and in coveted or hip urban locales, all in Boston or Cambridge, it is worth remembering that we are dealing with two very different real estate markets here.

Beyond the gilded burbs, prices have fallen a lot steeper and continue to erode.

Here's what I found leafing through the real estate records of Banker & Tradesman.

If you are looking for small town living under $200,000, your best bet is to start driving around some of the little-known hamlets scattered across Central and Southeastern Massachusetts.

OK, if you work in Boston or even in an outlying suburb, you may be in for a long haul each morning. But there are a bunch of towns under this threshold, which is not necessarily all that cheap given you need to be pulling down roughly $70,000 a year to buy a $200,000 home.

By contrast, if you want to get closer into Boston under this price point, you are going to either have to go condo or consider urban living.

Southeastern Massachusetts: Examples include Seekonk ($192,450); Acushnet ($191,500); Somerset ($195,000); and Halifax ($193,375); New Bedford, not a small town but at ($130,000) worth mentioning; I'll throw in Hynannis ($180,000) on Cape Cod for good measure.

Central Massachusetts: I may be stretching the geographic definition, but here goes: Asburnham ($138,000); Ludlow ($177,500); Palmer ($166,065); Shirley ($156,350); Auburn ($196,000); Barre ($124,500); Brookfield ($188,000); West Brookfield (($159,000); Dudley ($150,000); Southbridge, ($129,250); Webster ($153,000); Spencer ($177,500); Hardwick ($125,000); and of course, while these are hardly small towns, you can't leave out Worcester ($144,500), Leominister ($174,400), and Fitchburg ($115,000).

Urban living under $200,000: Your commute will be better, in some cases much better, but this is city not country living: Here goes: Dorchester ($192,000); Roxbury ($160,250); Mattapan ($177,400); Revere ($180,000); Lawrence ($140,000); Lowell ($175,000).

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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