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Life in New Hampshire: Salem NH

Salem NH hot air balloon over residential neighborhood

When it comes to life in New Hampshire, Salem is more than just a pit stop between Boston and Manchester. This peaceful southern New Hampshire town is a great mix of urban and country feel with both quiet neighborhoods and a bustling business section. Read on to see why you may want to consider moving to Salem NH.

Salem Stats

Salem Population

With 29,234 people, Salem is the 7th most populated city in the state of New Hampshire out of 236 cities. The biggest cities in the state are Manchester and Nashua with 112,109 and 88,815 people respectively.

Salem Demographics

Salem NH is not an ethnically diverse town. This should come as no surprise since we’re talking about New Hampshire after all. The greatest number of Salem residents report their race to be White (95%), followed by Asian (2%) and Hispanic or Latino (2%) with the remaining 1% being a combination of African American, Native American and other races.

As for ages, the majority of residents are young adults between the ages of 25-44 (32%). Here’s the rest of the age breakdown: 45-65 (25%), under 18 (25%), older than 65 (12%), 18-24 (6%).

Salem Resources

Town of Salem NH

Salem NH Commute Times

Salem is centrally located in between the two major airports of New England: Boston’s Logan Airport and the Manchester Regional Airport. Residents have easy access to both cities by jumping on 93 North and South, respectively. It is easily commutable to the mountains, the beach, the lake, or the city which makes the location unbeatable.

Towns Neighboring Salem NH

Haverhill MA
Methuen MA
Atkinson, NH
Pelham NH
Windham NH
Derry NH

Family-Friendly Activities in Salem NH

If you’re looking for something fun to do locally, Salem is home to Canobie Lake Park, a fun amusement park with a wide range of rides that appeal to all ages. A water park is included with admission. My 3- and 9-year old kids love it there. In fact, I wrote an article about why you should get season passes to Canobie Lake Park.



Canobie Lake Park – Salem, New Hampshire

Canobie Lake Park - Moving to Salem, New Hampshire


Canobie Lake Park – Salem, New Hampshire

Shopping in Salem NH

Salem is the ideal location for great shopping. Route 28 is a large street filled with shops and businesses that will fulfill your every want and need. From Barnes and Nobles to Home Depot, Salem really does cover the fullest range of stores. The Rockingham Mall has plenty of shopping with stores like Pandora, Sephora, Lululemon, Vera Bradley, and so many more. The best part about shopping in Salem is that it’s in tax-free New Hampshire. All of these factors make Salem a shopaholic’s dream. 

I love exploring farmers’ markets to learn about an area and meet local people. The Salem farmer’s market is open year round every Sunday morning.

The new Tuscan Village brings many businesses and job opportunities. It’s a Renaissance of the area that started with the removal of an old racetrack located near the Rockingham Mall. The development will include restaurants, stores, hotels, entertainment and housing.

Outdoors in Salem NH

Moving to Salem NH doesn’t mean you have to give up the outdoor scene. There are many parks and trails in town. I love taking my daughters to the Field of Dreams park. It has a big wooden playscape for kids that’s different than other parks. It can also be hard to find your kiddos with all the wood structures so I recommend dressing them in bright, easy-to-spot clothing if you want to keep an eye on them. The park also has an outdoor stage on which bands perform during select dates in the summer.

The rail trail, also called the “Salem Bike-Ped Corridor,” is a favorite place of mine. You’ll find people running, walking, or biking on the rail trail. It’s a paved surface of 5 miles that connects with the Windham Rail Trail and Methuen Rail Trail. The plan is for a future 125-mile route connecting Massachusetts to Vermont! You can find parking for the Salem rail trail at Tuscan Kitchen restaurant on Main Street.


Rail Trail in Salem NH. Photo courtesy of Alison Colby-Campbell

For swimming, sunbathing, picnics and a skate park, consider Hedgehog Park:

Hedgehog Pond


Hedgehog Pond in Salem NH. Photo courtesy of Alison Colby-Campbell

Nestled in the northern woods of Salem is America’s Stonehenge, a privately owned tourist attraction and archaeological site. There is a lot mystery behind the stone walls and man made caves. Some believe the granite structures were created by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago; others believe that they were created in the 19th century. If you like nature, history and mystery, this is a perfect place to visit!

With over 300 acres, the Salem Town Forest offers another spot for active recreation and fresh air. There are over 5 miles of trails here.

Salem NH - Salem Town Forest


Salem Town Forest in Salem NH. Photo courtesy of Alison Colby-Campbell

America’s Stonehenge in Salem NH. Courtesy of New England Today.

Restaurants in Salem NH

There are plenty of restaurant choices in Salem NH. You can find a variety of foods from American, Mediterranean, Indian, Italian, Chinese and more. Feel like eating Japanese food that food is cooked in front of you by an outstanding chef who’ll toss food in the air, make a volcano out of sliced onions and show off their knife skills? I can think of three Japanese hibachi restaurants in Salem for that: Tomo, Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse and Wasabi Steak House.

Some key restaurants that are a must visit are The Copper Door and Trattoria Amalfi, both sit down restaurants with great atmosphere and wide menus respectively.


The Copper Door restaurant. Courtesy of

For breakfast, MaryAnn’s is a local favorite for its iconic old-fashioned nostalgia theme and good service. Even though it is technically in Derry, New Hampshire, The Nutrition Corner is too good to leave out. Right on the border or North Salem, this cafe type restaurant has the best healthy shakes and smoothies with so many different options. 

Companies Headquartered in Salem NH


    • Hadco Santa Clara Inc: Electronic equipment, instruments and components

Schools in Salem NH

Salem, New Hampshire has 25 preschools, 10 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 2 high schools. Of these, 25 are public and 9 are private.

House Affordability

The average price for a single family home in Salem NH is $448,952 which is higher than the New Hampshire state average of $399,751. Salem homes prices are lower than neighboring towns Windham ($627,212) and Pelham ($501,950), but higher than Derry ($379,624), Atkinson ($299,000), Haverhill ($432,121) and Methuen ($432,408).

Most people in Salem own a home versus rent a home, 78% and 22% respectively. It’s a dense suburban feel in Salem NH.

Cons of Salem NH

Now it wouldn’t be an accurate guide about moving to Salem NH to talk about the pros and none of the cons. From speaking to current residents, I gathered a few of their gripes about living in Salem.

Moving to Salem NH Con #1: Traffic

The influx of new businesses brings more jobs, but also more traffic.  Residents have mentioned the town has grown exponentially and that the town is becoming more of city. Salem also gets very busy during the holiday shopping season because it is right over the border into tax free New Hampshire. I’ll never again stand in line outside the Best Buy store for Black Friday shopping. Lesson learned!

Moving to Salem NH Con #2: Massachusetts Takeover

New Hampshire natives complain about Massachusetts implants and also retired New Yorkers. Since Salem is right on the Massachusetts border, you’ll see an increased number of Massachusetts license plates on the road. Massachusetts drivers have been known to upset local Salem residents because of their driving skills and lack of clear direction on the road. Also worth mentioning: Lots of people work in Massachusetts but they live in New Hampshire because of the lower housing costs; they get hit on both the income taxes and the property taxes!

Moving to Salem NH Con #3: Lack of Nightlife

Salem NH is a great place to live and raise a family, but if you won’t find a big nightlife scene. You’d have to travel to surrounding areas if you’re looking for that. Salem NH is a quiet, peaceful town.

Moving to Salem NH Con #3: Low Diversity

As I mentioned in the demographics section above, Salem NH has little racial diversity. A majority 95% of the residents in Salem consider themselves to be White. If ethnic diversity is important to you, then you may want to consider looking elsewhere. On the bright side, you can easily find a diverse mix of restaurants along Route 28: Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican and Chinese to name a few.

Life in New Hampshire: Final Thoughts

Salem is becoming an up and coming town with many improvements made in the recent past and with many more projects on the horizon. It’s a very versatile town that has something for everyone. The location opens residents up to so many different fun options to fill their day with and boasts great schools filled with welcoming and friendly people.

The common theme I heard from Salem residents was that they love the very strong sense of community in the town along with strong family values. The town boasts tranquil, safe, and homely neighborhoods. Salem strikes the perfect balance, with reasonable commute times to the beach, countryside, and city, making it an exceptional community to experience life in New Hampshire. 

Jeni Lu

Jeni Lu

I'm Jeni Lu, a neighborhood guide and Realtor® at Bentley's The RE/MAX Collection. I've spent years finding the best restaurants, shopping, outdoor spots and events so you can enjoy the neighborhood. I look forward to showing you around the Boston North shore and Southern New Hampshire area. If you live in the area or you're thinking of moving here, you've come to the right place!


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