25 Cheapest Places to Live in New Hampshire, From Retirement Refuges to Family Havens


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Nestled in the heart of New England, New Hampshire offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and modern opportunities. The state’s job market excels in technology, healthcare, and education, bolstered by its proximity to major cities like Boston.

However, New Hampshire’s cost of living (COL) is a notable consideration: It clocks in at fully 15 times higher than the national average. This places the state ahead of nearby New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Driving the higher cost of living are factors like utilities, groceries, health, and transportation costs.

Despite its reputation as a low-tax state (owing to its absence of personal income and sales taxes), New Hampshire still demands careful consideration before making a move. With the fourth-highest property tax rates in the U.S. and boasting an average effective rate of 1.77%, prospective residents must plan well to ensure the state is the right fit for their financial situation and goals.

If it is, a wonderful home state can await. Whether drawn by the allure of outdoor adventures or the promise of professional growth, New Hampshire can provide a dynamic blend that draws a diverse population.

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Best Places to Live in New Hampshire

Home to Dartmouth College and the beautiful New England outdoors, New Hampshire also boasts numerous towns and cities with appeal for families, young professionals, nature-lovers, and more. The state also has a higher median household income and lower poverty rate than the national average, indicating that economic opportunities are available for residents. For more details, here are several lists of the places to live in New Hampshire based on such variables as affordability and age.

New Hampshire’s cost of living can be a key focus for many potential residents, so first consider the most affordable places to live in the state

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Best Affordable Places to Live in New Hampshire

Is cost of living (COL) a concern? If so, here are the top five cities in New Hampshire ranked for affordability:

1. Berlin

If you want small-town life with a state forest in your backyard while maintaining a modest budget, Berlin can accommodate your needs perfectly. It’s also popular for retirees. Here are the key stats:

  • Population: 9,518
  • Median Household Income: $39,479
  • Cost of Living: 86% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,150
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.18
  • Average Property Tax: 2.32%

Housing Affordability: Berlin’s median rental costs have experienced a $355 year-over-year increase, following national trends reflecting housing supply and pricing shifts. Despite this increase, its real estate market maintains a low level of competition and offers considerable affordability vs. both state and national figures

The town’s affordability combined with outdoor recreation (fishing the Androscoggin River, camping and hiking in Jericho Mountain State Park) make it an attractive option for those who want to enjoy nature and pay lower prices for housing.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

2. Claremont

Avid outdoors fans will also love Claremont, where the Sugar River, Cornish Town Forest, and Green Mountain Trail are within easy reach. In addition, the Claremont Opera House is a venue for all forms of art, enhancing the area’s cultural and entertainment offerings. Here’s a breakdown of the city’s affordability:

  • Population: 13,149
  • Median Household Income: $46,414
  • Cost of Living: 90% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,444
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.94
  • Average Property Tax: 2.78%

Housing Affordability: Claremont’s median rental costs have stayed almost static over the past year, increasing by just $37. However, its real estate market is warming up, making for potentially higher housing prices in the future.

While property taxes are more than twice the national average, the absence of state income and sales taxes offsets this expense. As a result, Claremont combines suburban flair with country surroundings at a low price point, which can be attractive, especially when combined with first-time homebuyer programs in New Hampshire.

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3. Rochester

One of New Hampshire’s most populated cities, Rochester features a fine art museum, opera house, and nature trails. Its more urban setting means higher prices than the towns above, but the average median income helps to accommodate the costs. Here are the metrics for this bustling region:

  • Population: 33,169
  • Median Household Income: $70,582
  • Cost of Living: 102% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,000
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.95
  • Average Property Tax: 2.56%

Housing Affordability: Rochester is becoming slightly more expensive to rent in, experiencing an $250 increase in median rental costs from last year. Rents, however, are still lower than the national median, and the city’s average median income is about $1,500 more than the country’s. So, those looking for an urban feel in New Hampshire can find their place here without the massively inflated prices of bigger cities.

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4. Somersworth

Somersworth is a suburb sitting on the Maine border. It offers numerous parks, a golf course, and a higher median income than rural areas in the state. Here are the numbers to know about this region:

  • Population: 12,159
  • Median Household Income: $68,762
  • Cost of Living: 101% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,800
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.29
  • Average Property Tax: $2.56%

Housing Affordability: Somersworth’s rental market has stabilized in recent months, seeing a $50 year-over-year price increase. Increasing competition is causing the real estate market to heat up, but rent is fortunately still 14% lower than the national median.

Plus, Realtor.com ranked Somersworth as the 10th best real estate market in the country for first-time homebuyers. These advantages result in charming suburban living at a reasonable cost.

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5. Keene

Whether it’s an outdoor concert, nighttime gala, or the annual Ice & Snow Festival, there’s always an event happening in Keene. Home to Keene State College and Antioch University New England, the city is brimming with life and energy. In addition, residents can enjoy the numerous local trails, nature preserves, and art galleries. Here’s what to know about the town’s affordability:

  • Population: 22,774
  • Median Household Income: $63,490
  • Cost of Living: 101% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,845
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.04
  • Average Property Tax: 2.90%

Housing Affordability: Keene’s median rental price has increased by $270 since last year. The real estate market is receiving more attention than in the past, but its median costs still fall beneath national averages. The town offers the perfect balance of small suburb and the outdoors without walloping your budget.

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Best Places to Live in New Hampshire for Families

Families across America have similar priorities, such as good schools, safety, healthcare, and kid-friendly amenities. Fortunately, New Hampshire has several optimal locations for families to live:

1. Bedford

Bedford’s population is about 81% families, and over 40% of households in the city have children. Parents are likely drawn here in part because the town is known for a top-notch K-12 public school system with an average of 14 students per teacher in the district. Here are additional data points to note about Bedford:

  • Population: 23,704
  • Median Household Income: $143,119
  • Cost of Living: 122% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,197
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.31
  • Average Property Tax: 2.23%

Housing Affordability: Beford’s real estate market is expensive but consistent, experiencing just a $12 increase in rental prices from last year. Renter demand is low, with owner-occupied housing accounting for 85.51% of the city’s housing units. However, Bedford is less affordable than the other cities covered so far.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

2. Hanover

small town in the center of the state, Hanover has kid-friendly spots such as the legendary Nugget Theater. The population is about 81% families, and over 40% of households in the city have children. Prospective residents who are parents will appreciate its well-rate schools. Here’s a deeper dive into Hanover’s characteristics:

  • Population: 11,612
  • Median Household Income: $136,992
  • Cost of Living: 140% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,950
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.46
  • Average Property Tax: 2.08%

Housing Affordability: Hanover’s rental prices jumped $650 over the last year, which could cause strain for renters, who represent 42.67% of housing usage in town. Rental demand, though, is modest in the town. In addition, Hanover has higher home price-to-income ratios and is generally more expensive than the rest of the state. However, numerous benefits come with the price tag, such as available outdoor activities, short commutes, and lucrative economic opportunities.

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3. Dover

Dover is another of the best places to live in New Hampshire for families. Home to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and the Hilltop Fun Center, the city provides excitement and activities throughout the year. It’s located on the Atlantic coast, meaning it offers quick access to the beach, and it’s more populous than most of New Hampshire’s cities. Here are some essential numbers to know about Dover:

  • Population: 33,416
  • Median Household Income: $82,387
  • Cost of Living: 108% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.77
  • Average Property Tax: 2.56%

Housing Affordability: Renting in Dover costs $100 more than last year, indicating more stability and affordability than some other markets in the state. Furthermore, renter demand remains low, helping control prices. However, housing prices are higher compared to the city’s median income, meaning families looking to own can struggle to find available and affordable housing.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

4. Amherst

Not to be confused with the Massachusetts college town with the same name, Amherst is a small suburb on New Hampshire’s southern edge with a country flavor. Just 30 miles from the wildly popular Canobie State Park, the town can be an ideal place to settle down, especially if you are looking for a location with well-rated public schools. Over 38% of households in Amherst are families with children, who can enjoy the town’s offerings and attractions. These are the figures to know about living in Amherst:

  • Population: 11,898
  • Median Household Income: $141,424
  • Cost of Living: 124% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,800
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.77
  • Average Property Tax: 2.23%

Housing Affordability: Amherst’s median rent has risen to $3,600 versus the national median of $2,100 over the last year. Demand is increasing among renters, squeezing the supply among the 7.09% of housing stock for rent. Fortunately, since housing is more affordable in Amherst than other cities in the list, ownership is more accessible for families, a fact that can be important to first-time homebuyers.

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Best Places to Live in New Hampshire for Young Adults

New Hampshire has numerous places for young folk looking for nightlife and economic opportunity to thrive in. Here are the top five:

1. Portsmouth

New Hampshire’s oldest city captures the hearts of the state’s younger crowd by combining top-notch breweries, boutiques, restaurants, and outdoor activities. About 23% of its residents are between ages 20 and 34, and residents compare the city’s nightlife to Boston. In addition, the area’s median income of $91,915 reflects growing job opportunities. Here are more stats on the city:

  • Population: 22,713
  • Median Household Income: $91,915
  • Cost of Living: 117% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,525
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.3
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Despite price swings over the last year, Portsmouth’s rental market has remained stable, only seeing a $25 increase in the last 12 months. Modest demand has kept the rental market cool, but purchasing a home is more expensive than renting. Portsmouth has one of the state’s highest median home price-to-income ratios at 5.3.

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2. Lebanon

A diverse suburb packed with shops, restaurants, and outdoor recreation, Lebanon offers a lively atmosphere for young people. It has a lower price tag than Portsmouth and provides transportation to New York and Boston via the Dartmouth Coach. The city also houses the Powerhouse Mall, a regional shopping center, and is next door to Dartmouth College. Here’s how Lebanon compares to other towns for young adults, who make up over 29% of its population:

  • Population: 115,044
  • Median Household Income: $80,619
  • Cost of Living: 110% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,450/month
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.4
  • Average Property Tax: 2.08%

Housing Affordability: Renting in Lebanon has become $750 more expensive than last year. However, the rental market’s supply continues to outpace demand, so it can be a good town to settle into.

Buying a home in town is also less expensive than other urban centers in the state, and property taxes are cheaper. In addition, the area’s median household income gives young professionals plenty of spending power for a high quality of life.

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3. Newmarket

Here’s another of the best places to live in New Hampshire for young adults: Newmarket. It provides a tight-knit setting where young professionals (who make up about 26% of the population) can network and grow. The town is an entrepreneurial hotbed with robust economic opportunities. It’s also home to popular hang-out spots, such as Deciduous Brewing Company.

Here, more about Newmarket’s demographics and housing data:

  • Population: 9,414
  • Median Household Income: $83,070
  • Cost of Living: 113% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700/month
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.06
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Newmarket’s median rent prices have increased by over $1,200 in the last year. While the market has been volatile, it has enough supply to meet current demands. Thinking of becoming a homeowner? That typically means taking on a debt load of over four times the area’s median annual salary.

On the bright side, Newmarket’s property taxes are 2%, among the lowest in the state.

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4. Salem

Home to the Rockingham Park Mall, the largest in New Hampshire, Salem has numerous amenities for young adults. The Castaway Island water park features a 60-foot water slide, while those who seek pure wilderness can find it in the White Mountains and surrounding lakes. In addition, Tuscan Village offers shopping, nightlife, and economic opportunities. Salem’s population includes 20% of residents between the ages of 20 and 34.

Here’s more about how the city stacks up:

  • Population: 30,647
  • Median Household Income: $91,276
  • Cost of Living: 126% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.89
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Salem’s median rental price has increased by $90 last year, reflecting low demand and consistent supply. Furthermore, owning a home bears a cost of almost four times the median annual income, making renting a more affordable choice.

Finally, despite Salem having about three times the population of many locations on this list, its prices aren’t inflated, and its taxes are relatively low.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

Best Places to Live in New Hampshire for Retirees

As retirees embark on a new chapter of life, their priorities tend to align around factors like tranquility, healthcare access, recreational opportunities, and a welcoming community. In this regard, New Hampshire emerges as a haven for retirees, offering a selection of prime destinations tailored to meet these needs. Consider these five:

1. Exeter

In southern New Hampshire, a short drive from Manchester, Exeter shines as a unique retirement destination. With a remarkable 0.43 retirement community availability per 1,000 residents, the town offers abundant specialized living options. This figure, the highest among its peers on the list, underscores Exeter’s commitment to catering to retirees. Here’s more about this historically significant town that dates back to 1638:

  • Population: 16,178
  • Median Household Income: $77,298
  • Cost of Living: 110% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,750
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.30
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Exeter’s rental landscape has witnessed a significant shift in recent times, with the median rent surging $3,000 year over year. It also saw a significant increase of $600 month-over-month. Rent is 43% higher than the national average, which is worth factoring into your retirement plans.

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2. Portsmouth

Positioned right along the Maine state line, hugging the banks of the Piscataqua River, this town takes the lead in this compilation, boasting an impressive 2.85 recreation centers per 1,000 residents. When it comes to retirement communities, however, Portsmouth lags at the bottom of the list, offering merely 0.05 per 1,000 residents. For those who prefer to age in place, this may not be an issue.

  • Population: 22,713
  • Median Household Income: $91,915
  • Cost of Living: 117% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,525
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.30
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Portsmouth has experienced a subtle evolution in its rental dynamics. In the previous year, the median rent has incrementally increased to $2,750, rising $350 year over year.

Although rents in Portsmouth remain about 31% higher than the national median, Portsmouth has many qualities and amenities that make it attractive to retirees.

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3. Rochester

Situated along the border shared with Maine, Rochester emerges as another best place to live in New Hampshire for retirees. However, it falls second-to-last on this roster in terms of medical centers, registering only 1.10 per 1,000 residents. Despite this, Rochester boasts a significant senior demographic, with 18% of its population composed of older individuals.

  • Population: 33,169
  • Median Household Income: $70,582
  • Cost of Living: 102% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,000
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.95
  • Average Property Tax: 2.56%

Housing Affordability: For retirees seeking their haven, Rochester is witnessing an upward trajectory in rental costs, with a noteworthy $250 surge in median rental monthly expenses vs. the previous year. This increment echoes the rising demand within the market, a trend that appears poised to endure.

However, it’s worth noting that rental rates remain below the national median despite this increase. Moreover, Rochester boasts an average median income that outpaces the national average by about $1,500. This aspect presents a promising prospect for retirees yearning for an urban ambiance in New Hampshire.

Image Credit: Cocheco River at Rochester, New Hampshire by (CC BY-SA).

4. Londonderry

Londonderry presents a prime location with proximity to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, easing travel for retirees and their social circles. Londonderry boasts a robust medical infrastructure, with 3.82 medical centers per 1,000 residents.

While the town maintains a lower senior population of 14%, Londonderry can be an appealing choice for retirees seeking a diverse community inclusive of various ages and family structures.

  • Population: 26,543
  • Median Household Income: $116,286
  • Cost of Living: 108% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,100
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.15
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Londonderry offers an appealing housing landscape for retirees. In the previous year, the median rent has significantly decreased by $3,699 year over year, settling at $2,100 a month at present.

Rents in Londonderry are in line with the national average, rendering it an economical choice for retirees to embrace their golden years. The drastic year-over-year change underscores the town’s dedication to affordable housing, enhancing its allure as a suitable retreat for retirees seeking a budget-conscious location where they can settle.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

5. Concord

Located just north of Manchester, Concord can offer healthcare options for people as they age, with 1.93 medical centers per 1,000 residents. And it suits those who like an active lifestyle as well, with 0.71 recreation centers per 1,000 residents.

As the state capital, Concord boasts a wealth of historic structures, particularly resonant given New Hampshire’s colonial heritage. The New Hampshire State House, built from 1815 to 1818, is the oldest state house where the legislature still convenes in its original chambers.

  • Population: 44,503
  • Median Household Income: $73,156
  • Cost of Living: 103% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,905
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.35
  • Average Property Tax: 2.52%

Housing Affordability: Concord paints an inviting picture for retirees. Over the past year, the median rent has decreased by $105, now resting at a budget-friendly $1,905 a month. This trend highlights well-balanced real-estate market conditions.

Particularly noteworthy is that rent is 9% lower than the national median, offering retirees a significant economic advantage.

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Best Places to Live in New Hampshire Near the Water

New Hampshire features lakes, rivers, and beachfronts to swim in, fish in, and enjoy. If you’re a fan of the water, consider living in these cities:

1. Conway

Echo Lake, Diana’s Baths, and Lower Falls Swimming Hole make Conway a water-lover’s dream. The town makes up for what it lacks in ocean waterfront with tubing down the Saco River, with its crystal-clear water and pristine beaches. In addition, the cheap cost of living makes the town accessible across demographics. Here are the key stats about what it’s like to live in Conway:

  • Population: 10,244
  • Median Household Income: $58,371
  • Cost of Living: 103% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $978
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.55
  • Average Property Tax: 1.34%

Housing Affordability: Conway’s rental market is low-demand, reflecting its affordability and stability. However, the cost of homeownership in town reflects the overall pattern in the state, with the median home price costing over 3.5 times the median salary. Fortunately, its rock-bottom property taxes bolster the area’s cost-effectiveness.

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2. Hampton

Sitting on the Atlantic Coast, Hampton offers a boardwalk with beautiful beaches, the Casino Ballroom entertainment venue, carnival games, deep sea fishing, and whale watching tours. In addition, bird-lovers and adventure-seekers can enjoy exploring the Hampton Salt Marshes.

Although the property taxes sit at a modest 2%, living in this coastal town can be more expensive than inland locations with similar populations. Here’s a breakdown of the basic data:

  • Population: 16,484
  • Median Household Income: $87,418
  • Cost of Living: 109% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.61
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Hampton’s median cost to rent has increased $660 annually over the past year, but rental units remain more plentiful than the demand. The cooling rental market may lower prices in the coming months, providing relief to renters. While the median rental and homeownership costs are higher than other areas, its water-related offerings are unique to the state.

Image Credit: AlbertPego/istockphoto.

3. Portsmouth

Portsmouth makes a second appearance, this time as an ideal beach town. It contains the mouth of the Piscataqua River, which features fantastic beaches, Peirce Island, and cliffside hiking areas. Plus, the USS Albacore Museum will inspire you to embrace life on the sea. Remember, Portsmouth is one of the more expensive locations in New Hampshire, so it can be cost-prohibitive depending on your budget.

  • Population: 22,713
  • Median Household Income: $91,915
  • Cost of Living: 117% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,525
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.3
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Portsmouth’s rental market has remained fairly stable, seeing a $125 increase in the last twelve months. Modest demand has kept the rental market cool, but purchasing a home is more expensive than renting. Portsmouth has one of the state’s highest median home price-to-income ratios at 5.3.

Image Credit: AlbertPego/istockphoto.

4. Rye

Rye is just south of Portsmouth and is an exemplary beach town. For instance, you can enjoy Bass Beach, Foss Beach, Jenness State Beach, Odiorne State Park, Sawyers Beach, and Wallis State Beach. Although it’s less populous than other towns on the oceanfront, housing can be cost-prohibitive for budget-conscious folks. Here’s a snapshot of Rye’s housing prices and population:

  • Population: 5,602
  • Median Household Income: $116,332
  • Cost of Living: 122% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $4,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.18
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Rye’s median rental unit price has increased by $800 year over year. However, its rental market remains cool overall, so if you have the means to live there, you can likely find a place.

Owning a home costs over six times the median income in the area, making it among the most expensive locations on this list.

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5. Seabrook

Seabrook offers a less-trafficked area, where residents and tourists can enjoy Salisbury Beach and Seabrook Dunes Beach. The mansions dotting the beach are typically vacation spots instead of permanent residences, and housing is likely more affordable than Hampton or Rye. Here’s how Seabrook looks by the numbers:

  • Population: 8,438
  • Median Household Income: $79,173
  • Cost of Living: 120% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.76
  • Average Property Tax: 2%

Housing Affordability: Renting in Seabrook costs $500 annually more than a year ago. However, the rental market is cool overall, and housing is less expensive than the surrounding areas, providing affordability to residents. Overall, only Conway rivals Seabrook in affordability for areas with wonderful beaches and water activities.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

The Takeaway

Exploring the most affordable places to live in New Hampshire reveals a range of options that balance cost-effectiveness with quality of life. From the serene landscapes of Berlin, where the average monthly rent is a wallet-friendly $1,150, to the pricier beach town of Rye, the state has plenty of options for young professionals, families, and retirees alike.

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This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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