Median home price: $322,100
Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Boston College and other top-tier universities and colleges in the area attract elite scholars from all over the world. Many stay after graduation, either filling high-paying management and tech jobs or starting their own successful companies -- and buying homes with their newly-earned cash.
That's helped Boston's economy weather the recession better than most metro areas with unemployment at only 6.5% in April, down from 7.2% a year earlier. Median household income tops $85,000, more than 20% above the national median.
The area also boasts many stable, blue-collar communities in which homes stay with families for years and are sold by word of mouth to people who grew up in the neighborhoods. Both of these factors have helped keep prices high.
Helping too, is the charm of many of the area's towns and neighborhoods. There are many old homes and well-kept historic districts that are in strong demand among area buyers.
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