Setting: Dover lies along a cluster of tidal rivers 13 miles northwest of Portsmouth (NH) Harbor, 70 miles north of Boston, and 60 miles southwest of Portland, Maine. It's connected via limited-access Route 16 to I-95, 10 miles distant, and is a stop on Amtrak's Boston-Portland Downeaster. Highs range from 25 to 30 degrees in winter to the mid-80s in summer.
Attractions: Compact city (population 29,000) is convenient to restaurants, shopping, Portsmouth's cultural scene, the university town of Durham, and the New Hampshire and Maine seacoasts. Public schools rate high, with private schools as alternatives. (Philips Exeter Academy is nearby.)
Drawbacks: Southeastern New Hampshire's economic boom has drawn white-collar jobs away from Boston―and attracted bigger traffic snarls as well. The bridge to Portsmouth can be a bottleneck at rush hour.
Housing Options: Residential neighborhoods tightly circle downtown's commercial district. To the north and west, farmland has given way to lower-density development. South between the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers lie Dover Neck and Dover Point. Outlying neighborhoods feature Capes, ranches, and Colonials, with a few old farmhouses along Back Road on Dover Neck.
What It Costs: Housing prices vary little by neighborhood, with waterfront property the exception. Average cost is $200,000 ($325,000 for new homes). Average waterfront cost is $600,000 and can go much higher. Vacant lots are rare; expect to pay about $90,000 with town services, $100,000 to $150,000 more on the water. Rentals run $700 to $1,200 a month.
Your Next-door Neighbors: University of New Hampshire administrators, professors, and (in the few available rentals) students; high-tech and financial sector workers attracted to converted downtown mill space that houses employers such as PC Connection and MBNA.
Where You'd Spend Free Time: With two marinas in town, sailing and powerboating are big. Nearby lakes and ocean beaches beckon; the White Mountains are an hour and a half away. There's an 18-hole golf course in town and others close by, plus two indoor skating rinks and a 50-meter outdoor pool.