Gloucester Massachusetts – Life by the Sea

Gloucester Massachusetts – Life by the Sea

Touted as America’s First Seaport, Gloucester Massachusetts is all about the sea.   Sitting on an island, just 30 miles north of Boston (and part of the Boston commuter train system) Gloucester (or “Glosta” as the natives pronounce it) was founded in 1623 as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and predates both Salem and Boston.   The farmers moved to the Salem area in 1626 and left the town to the hard-core fishermen and boat builders.    Fishing is a dangerous and hard life and the names of the hundreds of men lost at sea are listed right on the waterfront at the Fisherman’s Memorial.   The area has evolved over the years and now hosts a thriving artists community, the Gorton’s fish processing headquarters, dozens of really fine restaurants with locally caught fresh fish and lobster, galleries, and shops.  It is also steeped in Revolutionary War history.

Gloucester fishermans memorial 2 comp
Fisherman’s Memorial

The scenic beauty of the harbor and local area has drawn artists over the decades including Fitz Henry Lane (his house is on the harbor), Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, Edward Hopper and many, many more.  Smith Cove is home to the Rocky Neck Art Colony – the oldest in the country.   The galleries are well worth a visit.   Rudyard Kipling set his book Captains Courageous (1897) in Gloucester.  A more current book and now movie about the area is The Perfect Storm about the massive storm in 1991.

You will find samples of pre-Revolutionary War architecture and several museums.  Also worth as mention is the fact that not all the accused witches of the Salem Witch Trials came from Salem.   Nine women from Gloucester were also accused in 1692 and acquitted. 

We came in search of ancestors (including one of the nine!) and found several family names at the Fisherman’s memorial and around town.

Gloucester would be a great place to settle in for the summer and explore the area.    Here’s what we found.

Population:   About 32,000 people call this home and 15.6% are over the age of 65.

Housing:  Redfin says the average price of a two bedroom home is $415K which includes waterfront mansions for several million.   We found several in the $275 range.   We found several condo’s in the $140K+ range.   A number of condo’s however are in older buildings.    We found several very nice rentals in the $1200 a month range.

Weather:  The average temperature in January is 27.07 F and the average in July is 72 F.  The town gets about 30 inches of snow per year and about 56 inches of rain.   This is fine coastal living!

Taxes:   All income is taxed at 5.3% but pensions and social security are exempt.  Property Tax is the 8th highest in the US, but there is a $1,000 tax credit for those over 65 who qualify.  

Cannon at Stage Fort Park
Cannon at Stage Fort Park

The oldest part of Gloucester is Stage Fort Park where you can get all kinds of local lore and guidance at the Visitor’s Center.   Be sure to walk out to the point and see the four cannon along the beach.   They are believed to be from the Revolutionary War.   The park has several great little beaches, a pavilion used for concerts and weddings and is officially designated an Essex National Heritage area.   The visitors center is open year round.

We thought “Glosta” would be a great place to bring the RV in the summer, stay awhile, and explore the area.   The commuter train has links to Boston and all over the eastern Massachusetts area.

Zoom in and out on the map below to see more about the area and attractions!


Cheryl and her husband have just recently retired and live in the Pacific Northwest. She has been enjoying her herself by traveling around the world, playing with her grandchildren, and she frequently volunteers in her community. There is certainly never a dull moment with Cheryl. She cheerfully co-founded RetireBook and wants to share her energy, hoping that it inspires her readers to live life at its fullest.