Most Affordable Cities to Live in New England

Kristine Cameron

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Kristine Cameron

January 25th, 2022
Updated January 25th, 2022

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Best overall | Best small town | Best for families | Best for commuters | Best for seniors | Best for renters | Methodology | FAQ

New England consists of six states in the Northeastern U.S.: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. And overall, they're all very expensive to live in.

The region is full of charming seaside and historic towns, excellent ski slopes, Ivy League schools, thriving job economies, and amazing scenery. All of those perks make New England an incredibly popular — and costly — place to live.

The standard metric for housing affordability, PTI, reveals that on the whole, all six states in New England have PTI ratios way above most people's budgets.

🤔 What's PTI?

Financial experts use PTI (price-to-income) to calculate housing affordability.

PTI = home price ÷ household income

If the PTI of a location is over 2.6, it usually means home prices far exceed what people can afford based on the median household income.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the PTI ratios for each New England state are:

Connecticut
3.5
Maine
3.3
Massachusetts
4.7
New Hampshire
3.4
Rhode Island
3.9
Vermont
3.7

Although all New England states have higher PTI ratios than recommended by financial experts, there are still pockets of affordability throughout the region. To help you find the cheapest places in New England, we looked at PTI ratios, costs of living, and other factors in our research (learn more about our methodology).

💸 Remember the 28/36 rule

Financial experts recommend spending no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing, and no more than 36% of your gross monthly income on ALL debts. This will give you a much better understanding of what YOU specifically can afford and where you should live.

Top affordable cities in New England

🏡 Best overall
🚴 Best small town
👪 Best for families
🚘 Best for commuters
⛳ Best for seniors
🔑 Best for renters

Best overall: Torrington, CT

PTI
2.4
Median home value
$153,700
Median household income
$63,172
Median rent
$949
Population
34,489
Median resident age
44.9
Crime rate
30.64 per 1,000 residents

Torrington is a great option for budget-minded residents, especially those commuting to Hartford, which lies about 20 miles east. Torrington's town slogan — "It's Welcoming Here!" — definitely rings true when it comes to community volunteerism and activism. Popular initiatives include the Torrington Chore Program, a volunteer-led service that performs household chores for older residents at no cost.

Parents will appreciate the high-quality education offered through the Torrington Public Schools district, especially if art programs are a priority. Torrington has been nationally ranked as "One of the Best One Hundred Communities for Music Education" 8 times and recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for over 20 years.

Senior residents may find their new home at the Keystone Place at Newbury Brook, a complex offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care for older citizens. Keystone Place has fitness classes, arts and crafts, its own on-site movie theater, and hosts regular outings to local concerts and restaurants.

Honorable mention: Manchester, CT

Located just a few miles from Hartford, Manchester is another commuter-friendly option for home buyers on a budget. Manchester's PTI is 2.6, making it largely affordable for most residents earning the median household income of $62,622.

Manchester has plenty of fun things to do, including dozens of hiking trails, a public shooting range, a local country club, and an indoor archery range. Active retirees can enjoy events and activities hosted by Connect55+, such as fitness classes, art lessons, and movie nights.

The Manchester School District consists of 10 schools and has shown outstanding levels of commitment to students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its customized data dashboard shows the community how it's helping students succeed, and includes important data points like:

  • Percentage of students reading at or above grade level
  • Percentage of students scoring at or above the state average on the PSAT
  • High school graduation rates

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Get in touch with our Concierge Team and find out how much cash you can get back after buying a house.

Best small town: Berlin, NH

PTI
2.4
Median home value
$92,100
Median household income
$39,130
Median rent
$750
Population
10,221
Median resident age
42.3
Crime rate
30.29 per 1,000 residents

The little town of Berlin is located in the Androscoggin Valley, a scenic area between the White Mountains and the Great North Woods. Despite its small population, Berlin offers countless recreational opportunities.

Hikers and nature photographers will love exploring hundreds of miles of trails throughout the White Mountain National Forest, Jericho Mountain State Park, and Milan Hill State Park. Meanwhile, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the nearby Black Mountain Ski Resort and Bretton Woods — the largest ski area in New Hampshire. During the summer months, Berlin residents can drive about 10 minutes to reach Moose Brook State Park, where they can enjoy camping, river fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and swimming.

The Berlin Recreation and Parks Department maintains a public recreation center, seven athletic fields and tennis courts, a dozen parks, and several playgrounds. After a long day of enjoying the outdoors, Berlin residents can check out Berlin's St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, which hosts art exhibits, live performances, music programs, and more.

Best for families: Naugatuck, CT

PTI
2.4
Median home value
$183,400
Median household income
$74,944
Median rent
$1,069
Population
31,347
Median resident age
39.9
Crime rate
19.99 per 1,000 residents

Naugatuck is a family-friendly commuter city near New Haven, Connecticut, and just south of Waterbury. Naugatuck is home to the Naugatuck State Forest, Hop Brook Golf Course, Whittemore Glen State Park, and the Naugatuck Dog Park.

Families will love the several public fairs and concerts on the Town Green hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department throughout the year. Seasonal events include ice skating at Breen North Field, fall craft nights, 4th of July celebrations, summer music festivals, and the Light the Night Downtown Festival. The department also runs various youth activities, such as sports programs and summer playground programs.

Naugatuck Public Schools consist of 11 schools, from pre-kindergarten to adult continuing education. The district boasts an 84.8% graduation rate, and 80% of graduates plan to attend a two-year or four-year university.

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Best for commuters: Longmeadow, MA

PTI
2.8
Median home value
$343,700
Median household income
$122,035
Median rent
$1,353
Population
15,791
Median resident age
45.0
Crime rate
8.76 per 1,000 residents

Longmeadow is a small commuter town located just a few miles south of Springfield, Massachusetts. Longmeadow residents are about a 30-minute drive from the career opportunities in Hartford, Manchester, and Northampton.

Commuters to these areas can take advantage of employment options in a wide range of industries, including education, healthcare, tech, insurance, energy, engineering, and finance.

City
Top employers
Hartford
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
ESPN
Eversource Energy
United Technologies Corporation
University of Connecticut
Manchester
Cyma Systems
Lydall Inc.
Manchester Community College
Manchester Memorial Hospital
Phoenix Environmental Laboratories
Northampton
Amherst College
Cooley Dickinson Health Care
National Evaluation Series
800+ small tech businesses
Springfield
Baystate Health
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
Mercy Medical Center
Northeast Utilities
Springfield College
U.S. Postal Service

However, you don't have to commute to find entertainment and fun things to do. Longmeadow offers numerous parks and recreation programs, aquatics facilities and classes, and nine different community parks.

Best for seniors: Rochester, NH

PTI
2.8
Median home value
$172,300
Median household income
$62,179
Median rent
$1,041
Population
30,955
Median resident age
41.8
Crime rate
28.06 per 1,000 residents

The city of Rochester offers residents art and adventure, as well as easy access to both Manchester, NH, and Portland, ME.

Active seniors and retirees can enjoy Rochester's Cornerstone Court Adult Community, strictly reserved for those aged 55 and older. The community offers a maintenance-free lifestyle, so residents don't have to worry about lawn care, snow removal, and other day-to-day chores.

Three independent living senior communities — Lincoln Terrace Home, Meadow View Manor, and Rochester Manor — offer assisted living, memory care, and hospice care and are within three miles of Frisbie Memorial Hospital.

Regardless of age, Rochester offers plenty of recreational activities, events, and entertainment to keep all residents busy. Musical performances are regularly held at the Rochester Opera House and the Rochester Performance and Art Center. Golf enthusiasts can join the Rochester Country Club and enjoy playing at the Double Eagle Golf Course.

Active individuals can sign up for fitness programs at the YMCA of Strafford County and the Rochester Recreation Center, or they can enjoy public ice skating at the Rochester Ice Arena.

For those feeling especially adventurous, Rochester's Skyhaven Airport offers flight instruction through the Skyhaven Flying Club. If you've ever been curious about flying airplanes, here's your chance to take off!

» MORE: Buying vs Renting in Retirement: Which Is the Better Idea?

Best for renters: Lewiston, ME

PTI
3.2
Median household income
$44,523
Median rent
$748
Population
36,095
Median resident age
39.7
Crime rate
28.72 per 1,000 residents

Although Lewiston has a higher-than-recommended PTI, residents can take advantage of a median rent of $748 — $105 lower than the national average. Residents can easily cross between Lewiston and its sister city, Auburn, using the Auburn Riverwalk just across the Androscoggin River.

Lewiston is home to the Simard-Payne Memorial Park, Range Pond State Park, and the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary. The Lewiston Recreation Department offers sports and fitness programs for residents of all ages, in addition to a variety of annual events.

Some highly anticipated annual activities include the Liberty Fest on the 4th of July, the Great Falls Balloon Festival, and the Lewiston–Auburn Greek Festival. The Lewiston Senior Citizens also organize fundraisers, an annual "Just Us Concert," parties, and special events for residents aged 55 or older throughout the year.

Downtown, residents will find unique local restaurants, art studios, entertainment venues, quirky small businesses, and breweries. A few local highlights include the Gendron Franco Center, Forage Market, Boba, Chill Yoga Studio, and Baxter Brewing Company.

Methodology

We selected the most affordable cities by analyzing each city's price-to-income (PTI) ratio, which is calculated by dividing each city's median home value by its median household income (both from the latest U.S. Census). While cities with PTI ratios close to or below 2.6 were considered, we looked beyond housing costs alone to determine each area’s affordability.

We reviewed factors such as median rent prices, costs of living, taxes, health care, and city-specific expenses using the latest US Census Bureau data, Payscale's Cost of Living Calculator, and Data USA. Crime statistics were gathered from NeighborhoodScout, CrimeGrade.org, and the FBI.

Furthermore, we included honorable mentions to account for more individual preferences, such as school systems, transportation options, and culture and entertainment.

Finally, we narrowed our options to cities with at least 10,000 residents.

Frequently asked questions about affordable places in New England

Based strictly on price-to-income ratio, Torrington, Connecticut is the cheapest place to buy a home in New England. With a PTI ratio of just 2.4, residents can comfortably afford to buy a house on the local median household income of $63,172.

Rochester, New Hampshire is one of the most affordable places in New England for residents age 55 and older to buy a home or rent an apartment. The median home value is $172,300 and the median rent is $1,041, which is $70 lower than the state average. It's also home to several independent senior communities, assisted living facilities, and excellent healthcare centers.

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