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Buying

10 Homes in America's Best School Districts: Massachusetts Edition

  • 15-Utica-St-Lexington-MA-7a4f755fb58b0510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____

    A 1905 farmhouse with a modern addition in Lexington, MA

  • 7-Mountain-Rd-Lexington-MA--7a4f755fb58b0510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____

    The homey interior of a this 1970s reproduction of an 18th-century home

  • 1475-Massachusetts-Ave-Apt-106-Lexi-7a4f755fb58b0510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____

    A two-bedroom condo in a converted high school is one of the least expensive homes in Lexington

  • 5-Willard-Cir-Lexington-MA--7a4f755fb58b0510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____

    A contemporary colonial in Lexington, MA

  • 6-Robinson-Rd-Unit-8-Lexington-MA---7a4f755fb58b0510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____

    A four-bedroom townhouse in a Lexington, MA development

There's no question: A home in a great school district is usually a top priority for families looking to buy. And, more often than not, such homes come with a correspondingly premium price tag. Some families will pay hundreds of thousands more for a pad that will guarantee the kiddies entry to a fine educational institution. An investment in the future, they call it.

But how do you find such homes? We're here to help! In this new series, we locate the best* school districts in each state and then scour our listings for some of the most inviting homes within each one -- at prices ranging from (relatively) affordable to not so much. Of course, as we've written about before, "good school" means different things to different people. You may prize the student-to-teacher ratio above test scores, or emphasis on the arts more than on the absentee rate. Or maybe the rate and quality of college admissions is your magic ticket.

For our "bests," we're parsing all of those different strains of data, including amount of funds spent per pupil, graduation rates, and length of teacher tenure, to see what averages the highest.

Several sites rank Massachusetts as having the overall best grade, and most sites homed in on Lexington, a wealthy suburb of Boston, as the top spot within the Bay State.

Lexington is known as the site where the Revolutionary War's first gun was fired -- yep, the legendary "shot heard around the world" -- and now hosts many a re-enactment and museum dedicated to those times.

As for its modern incarnation as a quaint town of around 32,000, well, remember we said "wealthy suburb"? The average home price is $1,299,000. (That translates to 43 years of $30,000-per-year private school, by the way.) Here are some options in Lexington:

132 Marrett Rd

Price: $3.9 million

You want the most expensive home in Lexington, you say? Here you go. This six-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 9,229-square-foot Dutch Colonial/shingle-style mansion has five fireplaces, a library, and limestone floors. Also check out the grand foyer and circular doorway.

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5 Willard Circle

Price: $1.75 million

The kitchen in this four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 4,158-square-foot contemporary Colonial is designed to wow. It has a six-burner Viking stove, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a warming drawer, and -- in case your wine coolers don't fit in the Sub-Zero -- a beverage fridge. It has central air and, so that you don't have to lug the old Hoover around, a central vacuum system.

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19 Eliot Road

Price: $1.2 million

Hey, it's Massachusetts -- there are lots of Colonials on the market. This one with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and 2,500 square feet was built long after Colonial times, in 1928. But it still has an old-fashioned feel: a galley kitchen, a butler's pantry, a kitchen booth, and a windowed porch. Less old-fashioned but greatly desired: a two-car garage.

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6 Robinson Road, Unit 8

Price: $1,099,000

Don't be fooled by the picture: You get only one townhouse for that price. It has four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a gas fireplace. Even better, the development has a nature trail and a playground on its 4 acres.

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3 Allen Street

Price: $999,800

Wait, another Colonial? Well, this one has a more traditional suburban style, and it's kind of charmingly un-updated inside -- see the variety of wallpaper! The four-bedroom, three-bathroom house has 3,075 square feet, with an in-ground pool, beamed ceilings, and a three-season porch.

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7 Mountain Road

Price: $969,000

This 1974 Colonial is inspired by an 18th-century home, and the beamed ceilings and 20-paned windows certainly harken to that era. It sits on 1.5 acres and has five bedrooms, two bathrooms and 3,000 square feet. There's even a barn, or a barnlike garage.

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15 Utica Street

Price: $949,000

An early 19th-century farmhouse with a modern addition, this three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,386-square-foot house has a wraparound porch, skylights, and a balcony in the master bedroom. Though it sits on a .38-acre lot (standard size for the area), the home is close to the 100-plus-acre Lower Vine Brook Conservation area.

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26 Partridge Road

Price: $825,000

Finally, a break from the Colonials! This four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home was built in 1963, but it's pleasantly 21st-century, thanks to two modern additions. It has huge glass windows, cathedral ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, and a screened-in porch. It also comes with a membership to Paint Rock Pool.

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85 Oak Street

Price: $659,900

How about a little Arts and Crafts with your academics? This four-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow measures 1,834 square feet and has built-ins and woodwork endemic to this style of house. It also has an eat-in kitchen, a fireplace, and window seating.

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1475 Massachusetts Ave., Apt 106

Price: $392,500

If you move for the schools, you might as well live in one. One of the most affordable, but still sort-of family-size (as in having more than one bedroom) homes in Lexington is in the old Muzzey High School Condominiums. This one has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and 1,100 square feet. Plus the schoolyard.