Residential

The suburbs just west of Boston have been sought out by affluent innovators who want to build a quiet life yet stay connected to the big-city lifestyle since the mid-1600s. Many of the towns, including Lexington, Dedham and Newton, became the nation's earliest commuter suburbs once railroad and streetcar lines and roadways connected the rural areas to Boston.

As the technological boom sprawled along Route 128 from the 1950s through the 1980s, the suburban communities flourished. In many cases, populations quadrupled and then doubled again as skilled workers, scientists and entrepreneurs established homes near their workplaces in the nearby industrial parks. Shopping centers, family parks and recreational centers quickly followed to meet the demands of the growing upper middle class. The close proximity to some of the nation's leading educational institutions, including Boston College, Wellesley College, Harvard and MIT, has also helped attract well-educated, wealthy residents.

Route 128 provides access to charming towns that have managed to retain their rustic charm while transitioning into sophisticated metropolitan hubs of innovation. Nestled among picturesque farmlands, fruit-laden orchards and lush woodlands are elegant colonial estates and historic mansions that are in high demand. The resurgence in interest from high-tech and biotech firms is once again driving the housing market along Route 128, prompting the building of several large developments of modern apartments and townhouses over bustling shopping centers.

While many work nearby, public transportation efficiently provides transportation into the city. Tucked between the highly desirable neighborhoods of Dedham, Lexington, Waltham, Needham, Newton and Burlington are pockets of wealthy communities, including Westwood, Wellesley and Weston.

Places to Live Along Route 128

Dedham

The county seat of Norfolk, Dedham has formed Boston's southwest border since 1635. This historically suburb is accessed by Route 128 and commuter rail service from Boston's South Station. There are a number of neighborhoods in this city's 10.6 square miles, including Greenlodge, Oakdale and East Dedham. The average median sale price for homes is much lower than surrounding suburbs at nearly $365,000.

Lexington

Originally a farming community that supplied Boston's daily produce, Lexington has held on to its character throughout the Route 128 technology booms. The affluent town offers beautiful colonial homes, and a nationally recognized school system. With the median home price surpassing $850,000 in 2014, Lexington is one of the most sought after suburbs in the Boston area.

Waltham

Located in the center of the Route 128 beltway, Waltham continues to lead the way in the region's urban development. Some of the northern neighborhoods offer spacious lots while the lively downtown riverfront bustles with colorful eateries, shops and pubs. Restaurant Row along Moody St. is becoming a renowned food district, and young professionals appreciate the efficient access to the Mass Turnpike and commuter rail lines into Boston. Rent for luxury apartments at new upscale developments, such as the Merc at Moody & Main, is available for half the price as comparable downtown Boston residences.

Needham

The building boom has captured Needham by storm with older homes being demolished to make room for modern single-family residences. The median home price is approximately $740,000.

Newton

Named by Money magazine in 2012 as the fourth best small city to live in America, Newton consists of a cluster of more than a dozen villages that each has its own separate downtown area. Nicknamed The Garden City for its lush cityscape, the town is home to six colleges, including Boston College, and two symphony orchestras. Residents can travel the seven miles to downtown Boston by car on Route 128 or via three modes of public transportation, including light rail, commuter rail and bus service. However, most residents prefer to stay close to their vintage Tudors and elegant mansion, choosing to work in Newton or the surrounding suburbs.

Burlington

The furthest Route 128 suburb from Boston, located roughly 20 minutes from downtown, Burlington is once again undergoing expansion. The town hosts numerous technology companies along Cambridge St. while the Burlington Mall, Wayside Commons and Middlesex Commons offer upscale shopping. Single-family homes in this cozy town are much more affordable at a median sale price of $381,000.