11. Acton, Mass.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Median Home Price||$462,000|
This diverse community offers natural beauty, open space, and great schools. The Acton-Boxborough Regional High School is ranked #20 in the state and #12 in STEM education, with 30% minority enrollment. Acton has become a big draw for Indian and Chinese families, who help account for the town’s nearly 20% Asian population. The Acton Chinese Language School offers classes in language and culture (including tutoring for the AP Chinese exam) that are open to the whole community.
Compared to closer-in Boston suburbs, Acton offers room to breathe and space to roam -- in and around Nagog Lake, the Acton Arboretum, Nashoba Ski Area, the Acton Discovery Museum, and more than 1,600 acres of conserved land. The commuter train into Boston takes about 50 minutes; it’s a half hour drive to the tech and life sciences companies along the Route 128 corridor. Cisco Systems is the largest nearby employer, in next-door Boxborough.
There's a price for all that Acton offers: Though home prices are still slightly below their 2005 peak, multiple offers are common and a starter three-bedroom home goes for a half a million dollars. Buyers with $700,000 or more to spend have a choice of spacious Colonials or newer construction homes on roomy, often wooded, lots. —Adam Bluestein