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2 Mass. towns make Money magazine’s Best Places to Live list

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07/22/15: Chelmsford, MA: A sign which says that Chelmsford was settled by people from Concord and Woburn is pictured downtown.   (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section:sports  topic:080915LocationPics
A sign in downtown Chelmsford says that the town was settled by people from Concord and Woburn. Jim Davis / Globe staff

Two Massachusetts towns just landed on Money’s list of the 50 best places to live in America.

Chelmsford ranked No. 14 and Braintree was No. 26 on the list. (The No. 1 community was Avon, Ga., which Money called “a fast-growing town with a welcoming atmosphere and Southern charm.”

Chelmsford, located 30 miles from downtown Boston, “may be the best kept secret of Middlesex County,” wrote Money.

(What is it like to live in Chelmsford?)

The town’s historic center boasts dozens of Colonial-style homes and historic buildings, and there’s a popular farmer’s market on the town common between June and October.

Here’s what the publication wrote about the town’s schools: “The schools in Chelmsford are also well-regarded. Students at Chelmsford High score higher than the state and national average in math and reading proficiency. The school frequently organizes international exchange programs and allows its students to earn college credits at Middlesex Community College in Bedford.”

The median home price in Chelmsford is $342,000, “more modest” than the adjacent town of Concord ($800,000-plus), the publication noted. A report The Warren Group, a data analytics firm and publisher of Banker & Tradesman, released Wednesday found that the median sales price for single-family homes here dropped 4.7 year over year in August to $510,000, while the median sales price for condos rose 8.8 percent to $307,500. (View the latest sales transactions in Chelmsford.)

A paddle boarder traverses Sunset Lake in Braintree. —Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Meanwhile, Braintree, a 15-minute drive from downtown Boston, is “an ideal spot for commuters looking for an affordable place to call home,” Money wrote.

(What is it like to live in Braintree?)

Here’s what the magazine wrote, in part, about the town: To the west, Braintree borders the 6,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation, which features hiking and mountain biking in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. To the east is what Bay Staters call the South Shore, including picturesque beach towns like Hingham and Cohasset. The entrance to Cape Cod is only a little bit further, about 45 minutes away.”

The median home price in Braintree is $427,000, which is expensive by national standards, but median prices in nearby towns close to Boston are more than $1 million, the publication said. The Warren Group reported that the median sales price for a single-family home here rose 4.9 percent in August to $580,000, while the cost of a condo fell 5.7 percent to $378,000. (View the latest sales transactions in Braintree.)

Two other New England states were represented on the list: South Windsor, Conn., ranked No. 12; Cheshire, Conn., was No. 28; and Salem, N.H. came in at No. 37.

Money composed the list by considering cities and towns with a population of at least 25,000 and removing those with more than double the national crime risk, a median income level lower than 85 percent of its state’s medium, and little to zero ethnic diversity.

After that, the website whittled down a list of 1,890 locations by considering nearly 212,000 data points, provided by research partner Witlytic.

“We put the greatest emphasis on economic factors (such as employment opportunities), housing, cost of living, diversity, and health and safety,” wrote Money. “Education, weather and lifestyle, and amenities — both for safety and entertainment — also played a role in our calculations.”

View Money’s entire list of 50 best places to live in America.

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