Maybe you’ve been in Boston for years, but you’re now having kids and looking to relocate. Maybe you’re planning a move to the Boston area from another city in the U.S. or abroad, and you’re trying to make sense of your options. Whatever the case, Boston Moms is here to help with a handy guide to some popular towns in the area! We’ll tell you about the vibe, income levels, schools, and fun insider info to help you figure out the best place for you.
How we got here ::
When my husband and I were not parents yet, my husband befriended a co-worker who had gotten married around the same time. He and his wife would invite us over to their home in Nahant for summer weekend beach days followed by barbecues at their house. We loved these special days and always left thinking if we ever moved out of the city (we had a condo in Jamaica Plain at the time), the only “suburb” we would consider would be Nahant.
In 2012 we had our first child, and soon after, the housing market in JP got incredibly competitive, benefitting sellers. So one day in spring 2013, we decided to casually start looking at houses in Nahant. We looked at a few homes and strongly considered them, but right as we were about to move on and wait another year to start looking again, an awesome one-story ranch, steps from the beach, went on the market. My husband and I took one look at it and knew this was our future home. We made an offer to the seller, and as soon as it was accepted we put our JP condo on the market! It all worked out and we never looked back!
Nahant is the definition of a small town. It’s technically the smallest town in Massachusetts, at one square mile. That said, it is like no other small town. Nahant is like an island, but it is connected to the mainland (near the border of Lynn and Swampscott) by one road on what is called the Causeway, or a tombolo (which is defined as a bar of sand or shingle joining an island to the mainland).
On the Causeway, which has two lanes of traffic in each direction, you will find a public beach with paid parking, run by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). It is a beautiful beach and very popular with non-residents who come early in the morning on warm sunny days to enjoy a day at the beach. It has a great walkway about 1.7 miles long, which is great for dog walking, jogging, roller skating, biking, etc.
The town itself has various other beaches with resident-only parking (unless you have extra parking spaces for guests, or if non-residents are using a business’s parking as customers).
Nahant is very safe, family-friendly, and beautiful. Even in the colder months there’s always a reason to feel grateful to live here. As a parent of school-aged children, when you move to Nahant you become a part of the community as soon as you start meeting other parents at school drop off or at the beach or playgrounds. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family AND you feel like you live in a postcard to boot!
Nahant has a mix of housing, ranging from all sizes of single-family homes to some multi-families, apartments, condos, and subsidized housing through the Nahant Housing Authority. There is also a nursing and rehabilitation center in town called Jesmond.
Our little town features one school, Johnson Elementary School, which serves children from the age of 3 (paid preschool for ages 3 and 4) through the 6th grade. The Johnson School is like a family where all the children know each other and friendships can flourish across grade levels as there are fewer than 200 students who attend.
When children graduate from 6th grade, they head to Swampscott Middle School and then Swampscott High School (children can get transportation from the Swampscott school district. Alternatively, starting in the 4th grade, Nahant students may also apply to attend Marblehead Community Charter Public School; high school students also have the option to attend Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School located in Danvers.
Aside from spending every possible warm and sunny day on the beach, there’s a handful of playgrounds in town, including a forest playground that opened recently on the Johnson School grounds.
The town has beautiful hiking trails, including Mass Audubon’s Nahant Thicket Wildlife Sanctuary, and other nature trails where you can find families out for walks, children riding their bikes, and birders from all over walking quietly with their binoculars and cameras.
For the avid golfers there is a public nine-hole golf course called Kelley Greens, which many locals and out-of-owners enjoy year-round, weather permitting.
Kids can try many different sports growing up in Nahant. There’s the Nahant Youth Soccer League and Nahant Little League, both of which accept children starting around age 4. There’s sailing, which children can start learning from age 8 through the Nahant Dory Club, and tennis lessons offered through the Nahant Country Club (no need to be a member to sign up for lessons). Finally, Nahant kids have lots of other options for basketball, lacrosse, hockey, flag and tackle football, etc., through leagues in Swampscott, Lynn, and other nearby towns.
Finally, the Nahant Public Library is a beautiful building with comfortable and quiet sitting areas for children and adults alike, and the Nahant Historical Society offers an opportunity to learn a lot of interesting history in its museum.
To live in Nahant, you would be better off with a car, as you will be doing most of your shopping and other activities in adjacent towns. If you work outside of town, you may need a car to get to the Lynn commuter rail station, which is about a five-minute drive from town (and then a 20-minute train ride to Boston’s North Station) or the Revere Blue Line MBTA station at Wonderland, which is about a 15-minute drive from Nahant (and then a 20-minute T ride to Government Center).
That said, there is an MBTA bus (#439) that operates in Nahant and can connect residents to the Lynn Bus and Commuter Rail Station as well as the Wonderland T Station. Nahant is only about 12 miles from Boston, so driving into Boston can be a breeze (20-25 minutes) or a bit more tedious (45 minutes) depending on traffic.
Within town, it is quite easy to walk or bike to many locations.