#9. Somerville

Municipal leaders from as far away as China have visited Somerville, Mass., hoping to learn more about how this city has achieved vibrancy, growth and the “hip” factor. This Boston suburb has quickly become a New England “it” town, attracting a young, creative class of workers who has helped to spur redevelopment in neglected parts of the city. Somerville is filled with residents who bike to work and local markets. They frequent trendy restaurants, tattoo parlors and carry around growlers of microbrew. Some long-time Somerville residents recently told The Boston Globe that they worry the city is getting “too cool.” Real estate agents say prices for homes and office space are shooting up. Politically speaking, most in Somerville support Democrats, making it one of the Best Cities for Liberals.

At 4.2 square miles, the entire town of Somerville could fit into the downtowns of larger cities. Like many Boston-area neighborhoods, Somerville includes several squares, which serve as the commercial centers of smaller communities. We considered Somerville as a downtown area when analyzing the Top 10 Best Downtowns. Our research shows that Somerville’s median household income is projected to grow by nearly 3 percent over the next five years. Somerville’s low vacancy rate of 3.7 percent shows available properties are getting snatched up fast. Sidewalks and bike paths make getting to the many restaurants, bars and boutiques in Somerville easy. Located between Cambridge and the Mystic River and just north of Boston, Somerville is ideally situated for those looking for an urban area with a small-town feel. 

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