Reviews & Comments
Manchester, NHMight have what you're looking for
I've done a lot of research lately on different parts of the country as I'm hoping to go somewhere different. What I've found is that the only time a review is useful is when the author is someone like you. So, with that in mind: I'm 46, white male, college educated white collar worker (engineer). I'm fiscally conservative and socially mid-stream. Honestly I identify best with Libertarians.
I grew up in a very small town in neighboring MA where I went to college and relocated to Manchester (MHT) in mid 1998. I've been in Manchester proper the entire time and have worked various jobs in the surrounding area.
Most statistics put MHT around 10% higher than the US average for cost of living. As of this writing there is still no income or sales tax. Residents will find the largest tax burdens coming from personal property taxes in the form of vehicle registration fees(including RVs, motorcycles, boats, etc) and true (land) property taxes. The property taxes usually get passed along to renters as well so there won't be much escaping it.
Utility costs can be high as well. NH has some of the highest electrical rates in the nation and a lack of infrastructure to deliver fossil fuels efficiently raises prices as well.
Those are the biggest things but they are still manageable. Shopping around for every day items will help make your buck go a little further.
I'll shy away from commenting on the housing market and its cost as I'm not well versed and I'm sure there is a lot more useful data out there.
MHT proper is about 110k people but the surrounding area (the triangle of Nashua-MHT-Salem) makes up likely 5 - 6 times that, maybe more. There are many smaller communities around within a manageable drive that have a number of nice neighborhoods. MHT has a number of nice neighborhoods as well and will have the lowest tax rate in the state because it has the biggest tax base. Make sure to ask about and understand the property taxes where you're looking to buy, it can mean a BIG difference.
I'm definitely not a people person but find that if you're civil to them they're typically civil to you. If someone is being brainless and you let them know it sternly enough they'll usually get out of your way.
The job market for professional staff like me isn't bad. There's less now than there was when I first moved here. It seems to have migrated slightly South, back into MA. Many continue to live in NH and commute to MA to work but I'm not on