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Pat Molnar

Newton is composed of 13 villages loaded with classic New England charm. Each village has a distinct character, but all have their own elementary schools, pedestrian-friendly shopping centers, parks and playgrounds. More than 25% of households have school-age children and many kids ride their bikes or walk to school, which are known as some of the best in the state.

While Newton is already has a solid base of employers -- Boston College, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Trip Advisor and UPromise, to name a few -- the city and neighboring Needham are developing a technology hub dubbed the N-Squared Innovation Corridor to attract even more tech companies. It’s also less than 45 minutes by commuter rail or express bus to downtown Boston.

Each year, the Boston Marathon runs through Newton. Heartbreak Hill, one of the most dastardly difficult legs of the elite 26.2-mile race, is located near City Hall. But the bigger heartbreak for most people is Newton’s lack of affordable housing. Home prices rose sharply the past year and even starter homes run from $500,000 on up, says local realtor Michael Spurr.

See homes for sale in Newton, Mass.