Best Places to Live 2022
Courtesy of The Somerville Arts Council
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Somerville, Massachusetts

  • County: Middlesex
  • Nearest Big City: Boston

Some cities have July 4th parades. Others have a holiday tree lighting. In Somerville, Massachusetts? They celebrate marshmallow fluff.

The sweet, gooey goodness was invented here in the early 1900s, and over a century later, the town of 79,000 celebrates annually with its fun and quirky “What the fluff?” festival. The event boasts live music, vendors, food, a “ska prom” and a whole host of games (care for a round of fluff jousting or fluff musical chairs, anyone?). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at parkour — at least at this year’s September celebration.

If that’s not your style, head over to the town’s Museum of Bad Art, go shopping at Assembly Row, catch a performance at the historic Somerville Theatre or grab a brew at one of the town’s many breweries. There’s even a LEGOLAND Discovery Center for the little ones. In short? There’s something for everyone in this northeast Boston ‘burb.

For residents, Somerville offers more than just a wide array of activities. The town claims some of the most affordable home prices in the area, its school district is well-rated, and according to the crime and safety experts at Safewise, it’s actually one of the safest cities in the country — No. 40, to be exact.

Residents in Somerville are also just minutes from Bean Town, and thanks to plentiful public transit options, there are numerous ways to get there. If you’re looking to save on gas or get an extra workout in, the city also has its own bike share program, dubbed Blue Bikes. (Your first ride is free!)

Higher education opportunities abound here, too. Both Harvard and Tufts universities are within a 10-minute drive, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — better known as MIT — isn’t much further.

Perhaps the most unique thing about Somerville, though — aside from the fluff, of course — is its Department of Racial and Social Justice. A newly created branch of the mayor’s office, the department works to eliminate inequities in the community and within local policing and public safety efforts. It has even established a Youth Justice League to connect with local teens on these very topics. — Aly J. Yale

Somerville, Massachusetts

  • Population
  • Median Household Income
  • Median Home Price
  • Unemployment Rate
Sources: Population and median household income provided by Synergos Technologies Inc.; unemployment rate (by county) provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and median home price provided by ATTOM Data Solutions.