A Guide to Buying a House in: New Hampshire

(Because it's supposedly THE BEST place to live, afterall)

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

You want to buy a house in New Hampshire, but your mental picture of the state's housing market is a bit on the blurry side. No need to worry, since we've compiled a little guide to buying a house in The Granite State, and included some amusing state trivia along with it. Grab your handy notepad and we'll get started.

The Most and Least Expensive Cities to Live in New Hampshire

New Hampshire's located in New England, which isn't exactly the cheapest area in the country. However, it pays to know ahead of time what areas of the state are the most/least pricey. You might have better luck finding a place that's within your ideal price range if you check out this recap of a few in each category for 2019. 

Most expensive cities:

  • Durham
  • New Market
  • Portsmouth
  • Manchester
  • Hanover

Least expensive cities:

  • Somersworth
  • Suncook
  • South Hooksett
  • Rochester
  • Berlin

There you have it. Starting your house-hunting journey with this insight increases your chances of success, by at least a lot. It's science. No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

New Hampshire's Housing Market

While many know about New Hampshire's gorgeous seacoast and Dartmouth College, it's likely that not as many people are familiar with what it's like to buy a house there. Before you head over to New Hampshire to scout out your new home, it might be worth looking at just a brief overview of the housing market. 

According to the New Hampshire Business Review, it's currently a seller's market as of 2019, and it's expected to stay that way over the upcoming year. The mix of limited inventory along with increased demand, declining inventory and increasing home values makes the perfect recipe for sellers to come out ahead of the game. 

However, this trend is expected to turn around, completely around, in fact. The shift into a buyer's market is predicted to happen in 2020. Mark your calendar accordingly.

Where People Are Moving in New Hampshire

Of course New Hampshire's a great state overall, but there are a couple of areas that seem to be the best places to move to, the first of which being Hanover. The city's home to the famous Dartmouth College, but even if you're not a student, it's still got plenty to offer. Hanover has plenty of museums, an admirable arts and music scene, an antique mall and a nature center, for starters. 

Homes in Hanover aren't the cheapest, though. The average home value in Hanover is currently $566,200 according. Home values have risen 5% over the past year, and are expected to rise another 2.7% within the upcoming year. The price per square foot is about $287. Homes are listed on the market these days for an average of $799,000.

Another New Hampshire hotspot is Portsmouth, which is nestled comfortably along the seacoast that locals rave about. Aside from the beautiful scenery and the beaches, the town's also a great place to be a foodie thanks to its many tasty restaurants. Portsmouth is also rich in history, has plenty of arts festivals annually and is conveniently located just an hour away from Boston.

Portsmouth's also a bit more affordable than Hanover. Home values here average about $441,200 these days. Home values have increased 7.4% over the past year, and they're expected to rise another 8.3% within the upcoming year. The price per square foot is about $352. Homes are listed on the market for around $565,000, and are selling for about $450,700.

Hold the phone, though, cause New Hampshire also has TONS of new construction in development as we speak. Most of it is happening in the state's southeast corner, around Portsmouth, Concord and Manchester. There's still a good bit further west, reaching all the way over to Hanover. There's also a tiny bit up north, near Pittsburg. Basically, if you're looking for a brand new place, pretty soon you'll have plenty of options.

Average Property Cost in New Hampshire

Sure it helps to know where to look for your new house, but wouldn't you almost rather know how much the thing's going to cost you? That being said, we're about to go over some home costs and property values for the state as a whole. Brace yourself.

Research shows, the average home value for the state currently is $273,800. Home values have increased 7.4% over the past year, and they're expected to rise another 6.9% within the upcoming year. The price per square foot is about $163. Homes are listed on the market for around $295,000, and renting a house will cost you about $1,695/month.

As for apartments, the state's capital of Concord has one-bedrooms going for about $2,033/month. You can save a bit of money on a one-bedroom place in Portsmouth, where they're listed for an average of $1,444/month. If you want to go even cheaper, head to Hudson (about $902/month), or Rochester, to get yourself an even more affordable place, for about $818/month.

Next up, townhouses. According to research, renting a townhouse in New Hampshire can range from the low end of about $750/month for a one-bed/one-bath place in Waterville Valley to the high end of about $3,450/month for a two-bed/two-and-a-half-bath place in Portsmouth.

You Might Need to Get Flood Insurance in New Hampshire

That seacoast does look really beautiful . . . until a massive storm comes along and causes a flood. According to the New Hampshire Department of Safety, floods are the most common natural disaster in the state. So, having flood insurance can be a really good idea.

If you live in an area deemed to be "high-risk", your mortgage lender might require you to purchase extra homeowner's insurance coverage specifically for flooding. Though it's important to note that even areas not in designated high-risk areas might still need it. Why? Because water damage is no joke, and neither is having to pay for it.

Before you find out if you even need it, maybe you should first know what it is. Well, broken down, flood insurance will cover your property (the actual structure of your home and your belongings within it - to an extent) if natural water (i.e. rain, waves, etc.) decides to wreak havoc. Many policies will say that the water must cover at least two acres of normally-dry land, in order to qualify for reimbursement. 

Do yourself a favor and check into your specific coverage. If you need extra clarification about what coverage you already have or what you'll need, call up your agent. Don't be shy. It's way better to just be prepared than to kick yourself later. Seriously.

Quality of Schools in New Hampshire

The quality of the school system in a certain state might be another good thing to take into consideration before making your move. So, how does a New Hampshire education rank against the other options in the US? Let's find out.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how New Hampshire schools ranked in the country:

  • #4 overall for the US
  • #4 for quality
  • #7 for safety
  • #3 for highest reading test scores
  • #3 for highest median ACT scores

The top-rated schools in the state are the Academy for Science and Design (high school) in Nashua, and Dartmouth College in Hanover.

Moving to New Hampshire: Pros and Cons

Now we can move on from the necessary important (but less exciting) stuff, and go over some amusing knowledge about New Hampshire as a state. What is it about this place that makes people even want to move here at all? Let's look at what locals consider some PROs and CONs of New Hampshire life.

Here are some New Hampshirite-voted PROs to living there:

  • Politically involved: Being the second state in the country to vote in the primaries, New Hampshire has the benefit of an engaging and active political scene. Politicians storm the state before each approaching election and try to win votes. As a result, locals get involved early here and feel well-informed for making their decisions come election time.
  • Voted the "best state to live in": Our research turned up several mentions of New Hampshire having been voted the "best state to live in," across multiple studies and sources over recent years. One is the highly-respected HomeSnacks 2018 study, which ranks the state at #1 yet again. Rankings are determined by factors such as low unemployment rates, high income and population density. 
  • Access to all kinds of sights: Residents said that one of their favorite things about living in The Granite State is their proximity to pretty much any type of terrain you can imagine, from beaches and mountains to lakes and forests. They're also in close proximity to Boston if they wanna swing by Fenway and get rid of all that clean air they’ve been suckin’ down. 
Fall Foliage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
  • Crime...? What crime?: Another reason New Hampshire consistently ranks among the best states to live in is its super-low crime rate. The state was ranked 3rd overall for public safety, and 1st for the lowest property crime, in 2018, according to Us News.
    Now for the resident-consensus list of CONs:
  • Long, harsh winters: Many a resident complained of the long, harsh winters. Locals experience more cold months each year than they'd like, and winters here aren't to be taken lightly. Mother Nature tends to dump heavy, thick blankets of snow on residents each year without a single apology. New Hampshire ranked itself at #15 on Thrillist list titled "Every State Ranked by How Miserable Its Winters Are". 
  • Soaring property taxes: New Hampshire holds the honor of having the third-highest property taxes in the entire country. Residents complained that while they may save some serious dough on rent costs and home insurance costs, their property taxes wash all those savings out. It’s a give and take kind of thing.
  • Bugs: Locals were quick to mention annoying, creepy and downright dangerous little pests that linger in their home state. Brown recluse (and other) spiders, black flies and disease-carrying ticks were called out among the worst, 'round here. 
  • "Behind the times": Apparently New Hampshire has some serious issues with Wi-Fi — many locals cried over their lack of high-speed Internet access consistently throughout the state. Cell phone service is said to go in and out depending on where you are, too, and even landline users experience dropped calls. And while that old architecture is nice to look at, some residents said that their older houses are much more trouble to maintain than they're worth. 
County Covered Bridge near Hancock, New Hampshire

Stuff to Do in New Hampshire

So now we know a bit about why people move to New Hampshire, but let's check out what these people do, once they arrive. Locals were happy to chime in about some of the state's attractions that are actually worth seeing.

Here just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • American Classic Arcade Museum: In Laconia, the Funspot Arcade has been transformed into the largest arcade museum in the world. What was already the largest arcade now holds more than 200 vintage cabinet games, featuring everything from KISS pinball machines to Tetris. They even host annual classic video game and pinball tournaments here. Bring your baggie of quarters for this one.
  • Ice Castles: Arguably the most breathtaking attraction on our list is found in Lincoln, on the Hobo Railroad grounds in the White Mountains. You'll find caves, tunnels, fountains, slides, and sculptures all made from ice. At night, the attractions are lit up by bright neon lights. It's absolutely incredible . . . but incredibly cold, too. 
  • Cat Alley: This public alleyway in Manchester was transformed into an arts scene featuring nothing but kitties (full-grown cats, too). It began as a campaign to revitalize the street, and the resulting project came about from several local artists. So if you want to see some cat-tastic artwork, take a stroll down the alley.
  • Exeter UFO Festival: This annual festival commemorates the state's most infamous extraterrestrial event. In 1965, a local 18-year-old hitchhiker reported a sighting of strange bright lights to the police. He was so deeply affected by it that he convinced the cops to come check out the strange and disturbing sight with him, and they saw it for themselves. Though the “event” never repeated, locals still gather to honor its memory each year.

Time to Find Your (New) New Hampshire Home

We hope our liner notes version of a guide to New Hampshire's housing market has at least managed to squash a few of your concerns and unanswered questions about buying a house. Bonus points if you actually learned a thing or too about the state, also.

Make sure your new house is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy. If the New England atmosphere, access to great education, and any type of nature you could dream of are enticing enough for you to scout out your new home in New Hampshire, good luck to you.

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