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Hampshire, Franklin communities make ‘best places to live’ list

Five towns in Hampshire County and six in Franklin County have made the Boston Globe’s “Top 25 Places to Live in Massachusetts” list.

Hampshire County’s Amherst earned the No. 2 slot, followed by Chesterfield (7), Cummington (9), Northampton (13) and Hadley (15). In Franklin County, Shelburne earned the highest rating at No. 5, with Leverett coming in at No. 11, followed by Rowe, Greenfield, Northfield and Gill.

Cambridge topped the list.

The Globe did an online survey of its readers, saying it wanted to match their needs with different towns and cities in Massachusetts.

Using Dreamtown Finder, the criteria the newspaper used to choose towns and cities included schools and SAT scores, fun, including movies and restaurants, and a category called “hipster,” which included things like how many colleges were close by, whether there were any Starbucks, and how many residents owned hybrid cars.

The Globe also looked at location, including crime rates, public transportation and grocery stores, as well as housing costs.

The newspaper asked readers to prioritize their needs and then used Dreamtown Finder to match them with data it had collected.

With a population of 37,819, Amherst was noted for being home to Massachusetts’ flagship public university, having “strong schools and decent housing costs” and for being a “safe community.”

Chesterfield wasn’t rated either “fun” or “hip” by the Boston Globe, but ranked high in location and housing scores, with average house costs coming in around $200,000.

Leverett earned its ranking because of its “great schools,” decent housing costs, and location.

The Globe points to No. 13 Northampton as “home of Smith College and a fair number of hipsters,” with low housing costs, “admirably” performing schools and “great amount of open space” protected.

For the complete list, visit: www.boston.com or search for Dreamtown Finder: “Top 25 places to live in Massachusetts.”

Phoebe Mitchell contributed to this story.

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