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Real Estate Spotlight: Western Massachusetts, Where Have You Been All My Life?

By Eleanor Boschert

There is more to Massachusetts than just Boston. An area spanning four counties, Western MA encompasses 103 towns and 11 cities that feature everything from vibrant urban and economic areas to productive farmland to gorgeous country settings. There are Fortune 100 businesses, local shops and restaurants, exceptional colleges, boundless recreation, and thriving arts and cultural centers that offer an ideal way of life for families, professionals, and retirees.

Berkshire County

Stretching miles of bucolic New England settings, the Berkshires have it all. World-class museums, music, theater, universities, and recreation make this area a haven for culture and the arts. An ideal place to work, play and live, it has been rated one of the "Ten Best Destinations on Earth" by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. In 2009, U.S. News and World Report identified it as one of the "Top Ten Housing Markets" for the next decade.

Great Barrington

Southern Berkshire's largest town, Great Barrington is a vibrant arts and culture center featuring history, natural beauty, and a thriving local business community. It boasts a fashionable downtown shopping district, many fine restaurants, and recreational opportunities. Music, art, dance, and creativity thrive in its culturally-rich environment.

Population: 2,231

Median Home Sale 2012: $297,900

Look for homes for sale in Great Barrington

Hampshire County

Home to culture, education, and industry, Hampshire County is part of the Springfield Metropolitan area. It is known for hosting the Five College Consortium, including the University of Massachusetts flagship campus and four well-known private colleges: Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith.

Northampton

Renown for being an artistic, musical, and countercultural hub, Northampton offers a diverse community only 15 miles from the urban amenities of Springfield. Located along the banks of the scenic Connecticut River, it is home to Smith College and has a particularly active and highly creative youth population.

Population: 28,549

Median Home Sale 2012: $246,300

Look for homes for sale in Northampton

Hampden County

An urban mecca second only to Boston, Hampden is the cultural and economic center of Western MA. Its Knowledge Corridor surrounding Springfield-Hartford is New England's second most populous urban area with 1.9 million people.

Springfield

The economic hub of Hampden County and Western MA, Springfield contains a high concentration of manufacturing, retail, high-tech, banking, banking, legal, and medical/scientific research groups. Within its Knowledge Corridor, there are 32 universities and liberal arts colleges, boasting the second-largest concentration of higher learning institutions in the U.S. Known as The City of Homes, it features a wide range of housing, including Victorian and Gilded Age mansions, urban condos, brick apartment blocks, plus suburban post-World War II architecture.

Population: 153,060

Median Home Sale 2012: $114,400

Look for homes for sale in Springfield

Franklin County

The most rural county in MA, Franklin is located in the upper Connecticut River Valley in the western part of the Commonwealth. It features farmland vistas, historic cities and towns, arts and culture, and plentiful outdoor recreation and exploring activities. Progress has barely changed its many 19th century quaint villages, leaving their charm virtually untouched.

Greenfield

The center of life in Massachusetts's Pioneer Valley, Greenfield is known for its picturesque and vibrant downtown. Its quintessential Main Street offers shopping, dining, shopping, entertainment, history, architecture, and recreation. Within the open fields and tumbling hills surrounding the town, modern industry, quiet residential neighborhoods, and innovative educational institutions reside.

Population: 17,860

Median Home Sale 2012: $157,300

Look for homes for sale in Greenfield

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