Massachusetts is, by all accounts, a very special place in this country. You’ve got a ton of history and culture. Its residents are proud Americans with a rich sense of passion and purpose. Avid sports fans, and true-blood, die-hard folks, without whom, this nation wouldn’t be the same.
Boston just might be America’s finest city.
And then you have places like Brockton and Taunton. Some real pits.
Like all states, Massachusetts has its share of issues. We’re not here to get into a debate with Massholes in terms of which city you think is best. We’ll leave that to the comments. Instead, we’ll approach this from another standpoint.
We’re going to use science to tell us where the really bad places in the Bay State are to live. Because, data never lies, does it?
After analyzing the 39 most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Massachusetts:
- Springfield (Photos)
- Holyoke (Photos)
- Fall River (Photos)
- Lawrence (Photos)
- Brockton (Photos)
- New Bedford (Photos)
- Chelsea (Photos)
- North Adams (Photos)
- Fitchburg (Photos)
- Worcester (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case. We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Massachusetts for 2017
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 13,500 people were considered — leaving 39 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 39 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Massachusetts — Springfield. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Massachusetts.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 153,947Home Values: $144,700 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (2nd worst)
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 1st worst in Massachusetts.
Springfield residents had a 1 in 29.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Springfield is through the roof, as more than 13.3% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $144,700, Springfield has the 1st-lowest home prices in the state of Massachusetts.
Population: 40,342Home Values: $186,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (3rd worst)
While numbers in Massachusetts are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Massachusetts cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Holyoke average $186,500, which is the 7th lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Holyoke.
Plus, 25.9% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 1st highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Holyoke city limits, you have a 1 in 20.2 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
3. Fall River
Population: 88,727Home Values: $232,500 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (1st worst)
Fall River has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 14th-highest in the state of Massachusetts. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 13.3%.
Additionally, 19.4% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 78,804Home Values: $219,600 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (4th worst)
Say what you want about how beautiful Lawrence might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 4th highest in the state at 13.1%. Homes are the 10th lowest priced ($219,600), and the median income per household is just a tad over $34,852.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
Population: 94,532Home Values: $221,400 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (6th worst)
Anyone who has been to Brockton will tell you it’s not the most inspiring place to be. If you live in Brockton, you probably expected that your city would be somewhere high up on this list.
The schools are overcrowded, and the crime is sky high. Is there a worse combination?
6. New Bedford
Population: 94,909Home Values: $206,900 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (7th worst)
According to science, New Bedford is by far the worst place to live in the state of Massachusetts.
The unemployment rank is the third-highest in the state and residents here earn the sixth-lowest salaries in Massachusetts.
Plus, the big black eye for New Bedford: Crime. There are only three other cities in the state with a higher crime rate (Holyoke has the worst crime).
If you live in New Bedford, you can brag to your buddies at the bah that you have it rough, and they should buy you a bucket of Sam Adams.
Population: 37,581Home Values: $274,100 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (15th worst)
If you live in Massachusetts, you may or may not be surprised that Chelsea ranked, at least on paper, as the 7th worst place to live in the state. It has the 15th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 5th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Chelsea is the 38th most densely populated city in Massachusetts. Draw your own conclusions.
8. North Adams
Population: 13,459Home Values: $150,700 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (11th worst)
If you want cheap housing, move to North Adams. If you want high crime, no jobs and meager salaries, move to North Adams.
There isn’t a place in Massachusetts that has cheaper homes. Which means no one wants to live there. Including you, perhaps?
If you’re one of the thirteen thousand people who lives in North Adams, at least you have one another. And two Dunkin Donuts.
Population: 40,462Home Values: $177,700 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (5th worst)
Are we seeing a trend here? Fitchburg is also located in the north-central part of the state, along MA-2. It’s looking like if you make the drive east-west from Lowell to Greenfield, you should probably just stay in your car. Unless you need gas. Or a Dunkies.
There were two murders in Fitchburg. And residents have a 1 in 38.4 chance of being robbed. So be aware.
Population: 183,382Home Values: $205,200 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (13th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Worcester is the worst place you can live in Massachusetts. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 9.9%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $205,200, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 34.1 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Worcester is a far drive south from Louisville.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Massachusetts
If you’re looking at areas in Massachusetts with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Springfield ranks as the worst city to live in Massachusetts for 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Massachusetts:
- Newton (Pop. 87,675)
- Melrose (Pop. 27,681)
- Cambridge (Pop. 107,916)
For more Massachusetts reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In Massachusetts – RoadSnacks
- These Are The 10 Most Stoned Cities In Massachusetts – RoadSnacks
- These 10 Massachusetts Cities Probably Think They’re Smarter Than You
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Massachusetts