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Why Is Everyone Moving to This State? (Maybe It's the Zero Taxes and Promise of Freedom)

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In the past year, two cities in New Hampshire have topped the list of the hottest real estate markets. Here’s why...

( / Getty Images)

By Meera Pal

What is it about New Hampshire? It’s the ninth state of the union, the site of the first potato grown in these United States, and, perhaps most laudably, the home to not one but two of the nation’s most desirable real estate markets.

Over the past year, two cities in the Granite State have topped the® hottest markets list: Manchester, which held the top spot for nine out of 12 months, and Concord, which ranked No. 1 in June 2022.

And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Hampshire was one of 2021’s fastest-growing states in the Northeast, with a population growth of 0.8%.

So let’s take a look at why people are flocking to this tiny, unassuming state—and making it one of the most popular places to buy a home in the country.

New Hampshire’s location

“New Hampshire is an hour from the mountains, the sea coast, and to Boston and Vermont,” says Pamela Young, a real estate agent with eXp Realty who’s called New Hampshire home since 1983.

In addition to boasting breathtaking views and easy access to nature, the state is ideally situated in the Northeast—and bordered by Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. New Hampshire is also within driving distance to several major metropolitan areas, including New York City and Montreal.

White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire (Getty Images)

“Many people are choosing New Hampshire as a place to work and live,” says Kris Neilsen, communication manager with the New Hampshire Department of Travel and Tourism. “Its seven regions are distinct and diverse, offering something for everyone.”

Homes are still affordable in New Hampshire

Concord, NH (Getty Images)

Next up on New Hampshire’s list of many charms: relative affordability. Home prices are slightly higher than the national median list price of $450,000 in both Manchester ($478,000) and Concord ($457,000). Yet those prices are far below the median list price in nearby Boston, where homes average an eye-watering $759,000.

And the median list price in Hillsborough County (home to Manchester) currently sits at $425,000. Meanwhile, homes in Merrimack County (where Concord is) have a median list price of $399.000.

New Hampshire has no state income or sales taxes

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” What he didn’t mention is that where you choose to live can play a huge role in how much you pay Uncle Sam—or if you pay taxes at all.

It’s little wonder then that New Hampshire’s tax structure is a huge draw for homebuyers. It’s the only state that does not impose a tax on wage or salary income.

Instead, the state has a flat 5% individual tax levied only on interest and dividend income. However, beginning in 2023, the state is phasing out the interest and dividend tax by 1 percentage point a year until it’s fully repealed by 2027. And once that happens, the state income tax will be 0%.

New Hampshire also does not have state or local sales taxes. (For comparison, you pay an extra 7.25% for everything you buy in California.)

The state’s ‘Live Free or Die’ ethos

Entering New Hampshire (Getty Images)

New Hampshire adopted “Live Free or Die” as its official motto in 1945. And its in-your-face assertion of independence, a founding tenet of this country, makes it one of the most well-known state mottos.

The maxim is attributed to Gen. John Stark, the state’s most famous Revolutionary War hero, who wrote a letter to a group of veterans commemorating the Battle of Bennington.

“I will give you my volunteer toast—Live free or die—Death is not the greatest of evils,” Stark wrote as a postscript.

“Granite staters are fiercely proud of this motto, and you can see it displayed on our license plates and at our state borders,” says Neilsen. “New Hampshire is the only state that has proudly integrated the state’s motto into its tourism brand ‘Live Free.'”

New Hampshire is proudly politically independent

New Hampshire has one of the country’s largest groups of independent voters, at nearly 42%. And because the state runs an open primary, any undeclared voter can cast a vote on primary day.

A recent Vox news report notes that most of New Hampshire’s undeclared voters don’t sign up as Democrats, Republicans, or independents because they want flexibility in their voting rights. (And they simply don’t like labels.)

Is New Hampshire right for you?

Young, who has been in real estate since 1986, says she’s seen a recent influx of homebuyers from out of state. She recently worked with homebuyers from Arizona, California, and Oklahoma who purchased homes sight unseen.

“I even sold an investment property to somebody from Hawaii,” Young says. “That’s a long way for an investment property, so I asked him why.”

According to Young, the buyer was attracted to the state’s motto, tax structure, and independent voters.

Another reason the Granite State draws people? “New Hampshire’s weather is great year-round, with temperate summers, gorgeous falls, and cold but charming winters,” says Young.

So if you love saving money, having political independence, and experiencing great weather—maybe it’s time to start home shopping.



Meera Pal is a Northern California-based writer with a background in journalism and books. She covers tech, real estate, and everything in between.


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