Melrose is definitionally a bedroom community. Employment within the city is picayune compared to most other suburbs of Boston. Bedroom community has nothing to do with minimum quarter, half acre or single acre plus zoning. Melrose's population has stayed within a 26k-33K population band for the past 70 years of the post-WW2 era (with the peak being 1970) and is currently estimated be in the middle of that band.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how much real estate churn slows down in the coming few years. Historically, it took Melrose a few years after each real estate crash to bottom; can't tell how many people bought with too much debt in the overextended cycle that is coming to an end and will have to sell or those who will stay put because they can't afford to buy-up to communities with better schools systems. This will be my fourth or fifth cycle here, depending on how one counts them (peak to peak or trough to trough).
I’d agree with most of your post except for the population talk. I don’t think there is any way in hell we are under 30,000 residents. And that 33,000 statistic you mentioned from the 70s, I bet we are right around that mark. This census will be interesting.