Real Estate News

What is it like to live in Swampscott?

When Amy and Brian Paul wanted to start a family, they moved from South Boston to the suburbs.

Youths play with a ball on the beach in Swampscott. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

Amy Paul and her husband, Brian, lived in South Boston when they were first married. (She’s from Rhode Island, and he grew up in upstate New York.) When it was time to start a family, Amy persuaded him to move to the suburbs.

“We basically drove around the North Shore,’’ Paul said, “through Salem and Marblehead.’’ That led them to Swampscott.

They loved the fact that the town, just 15 miles north of Boston, offered such an easy commute into the city, either by car or commuter rail. Amy was also happy to note that there was a Trader Joe’s. (That’s gone, but there’s a Whole Foods down the road.)


They bought a home, then moved into a bigger one when the two kids got older. “This place is best in summertime,’’ Paul said. “In the summer, I’m probably at the beach every day with my kids.’’

In their first home, the Pauls had neighbors who’d raised their own children in the town. Some of those kids moved away, but came back to raise their families, Paul said. In the Pauls’ new neighborhood, “the kids are outside playing on the street together. It’s very kid-friendly.’’

Like many in town, the Pauls spend a fair share of their time (and money) at Mission on the Bay, the waterfront restaurant and bar on the site of the former Red Rock Bistro. “It has a beautiful roof deck,’’ Paul said. “We need more restaurants, but it’s easy to go to Salem and Marblehead, too.’’

Amy Paul of Swampscott. – Handout



The number of Academy Awards won by Swampscott native Walter Brennan, one of Hollywood’s most widely respected character actors. Only two other male actors, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson, have received three Oscars.



The number of stone pillars that make up the Sun Circle, a public sculpture designed by artist and architect Bruce Greenwald. The installation, located in Beach Bluff Park, marks the locations of the rising and setting sun on the solstice and equinox dates, as well as north and south.


The number of lobster pots used by Ebenezer Thorndike, the Swampscott shoemaker and fisherman who is credited as the inventor (in 1808) of the lobster trap, according to the town’s historical society.


The payment made to neighboring Lynn when Swampscott incorporated as a town in 1852. “Originally part of the large Saugus land grant and later the eastern part of Lynn’s Ward One, Swampscott was settled and established in 1629, when Francis Ingalls came and built the first Massachusetts Bay Colony tannery on Humphrey’s Brook,’’ according to the town’s website.




The beaches

Six of them, to be exact. Residents enjoy an impressive range of waterfront, from the promenade of King’s Beach along the Lynn border to the scenic hideaway of Whales Beach. “The beaches are probably the reason we’re here,’’ resident Amy Paul said.



School infrastructure

The three elementary schools buildings “are in terrible condition,’’ Paul said, “but every staff member and teacher we’ve come across has been fantastic, and we’re really happy with the education.’’ In December, the town was accepted into the Massachusetts School Building Authority program to replace Hadley Elementary (built in 1911, the oldest of the three), and then in April, the selectmen authorized the district to submit statements of interest to consolidate all three, The Daily Item has reported.

View additional photos of the community here:



Zachary Aranson, 4, of Swampscott, practices soccer at Linscott Park. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Tulips bloom at a war memorial. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Swampscott-MA-Town Hall

A child rides a bike in front of Town Hall. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Officer Brendan Reen talks who had just sold out of lemonade at their stand. From left to right: Will Bush, 10, Mia Leoni, 10, Ty Bush, 7, and John Von Barta, 9. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Swampscott Public Library. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Swampscott High School. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Sunset as seen from Fisherman's Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Sir John Humphrey House, built in 1637 for Humphrey, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Homes near Fisherman's Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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A view of Swampscott businesses. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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The home Ralph Coffman Jr., a retired archaeologist. He and his wife have made their home into a makeshift museum dedicated to the artifacts he Coffman acquired in his 50-plus years of being an archaeologist. They plan to digitize all the artifacts to make them accessible online. Coffman is seen in a room dedicated to African masks and artifacts of the Shang Dynasty. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Waves crash on the rocks at Phillips Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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A Canada goose pauses in the reeds off Ocean Avenue. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Olivia Meleg, 7, and her brother, Alexander, 10, both of Swampscott play at the ocean at Fisherman's Beach. Olivia draws a heart in the sand, while Alexander carries driftwood in from the water. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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The Mary Baker Eddy Historic House on Paradise Road. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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A man walks through the water at the beach off Humphrey Street. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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A view of the Boston skyline from Whales Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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A book exchange at Phillips Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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Boats moored off Fisherman's Beach. Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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James Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @sullivanjames. Subscribe to our free newsletter on real estate, home repair, and design at


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