Barnstable is the commercial center and gateway to Cape Cod. The towns along Cape Cod are typical New England coastal towns with attractive commercial and residential areas and seaside wharves. The considerable fishing industry and tourist market support a large assortment of restaurants and local entertainment. Surrounding Cape Cod is an outdoor recreation and entertainment paradise. Educational attainment at all levels is among the highest in the state.
Because of tourist appeal and relatively constrained land for building, cost of living and housing are highest in the state, and home prices have grown somewhat faster than elsewhere in Massachusetts. The economy, supported mostly by service and hospitality industries, isn’t very well balanced. Jobs in this sector don’t pay enough to afford most of the available housing, so the economy is dependent on wealth arriving from elsewhere. The area is crowded with tourists at certain times of the year, but escape from the crowds is possible and off-seasons are nice. Those who can handle the high costs and the periodically damp marine climate will do well in the area.
The Barnstable area is located on the mostly flat coastal plain of Cape Cod with beaches to the north. Climate is marine continental with a strong water-borne moderating influence year-round. Summers are warm but not hot with more prevalent sunshine than the rest of the state. Other seasons are highly variable with frequent fog, rain, and snow. The area has far fewer rainy days and far less snow than the rest of the state. First freeze is end of October, last is mid-April.