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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:
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. And the worst place to live in Massachusetts? That would be Brockton.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Massachusetts
- Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts
- Most Dangerous Cities In Massachusetts
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2021
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?
Springfield places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live in Massachusetts.
You can imagine it's a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 2nd cheapest in the state, and at $156,200, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (8.2%) is the 5th highest in Massachusetts, and income levels are far below the state average. And 26.9% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Springfield has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Massachusetts?
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.
Fall River has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 11th-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 8.4%.
Additionally, 19.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
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.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Massachusetts, Holyoke came in 6th. Let's see why.
The city has very bad crime (worst) and an employment rate that's nearly the highest for cities of its size 6.0%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
Would you believe that Chelsea is the 10th most dangerous place in Massachusetts? That's the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 67.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within Chelsea city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 148 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Chelsea. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Massachusetts, that's just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Chelsea's unemployment rate is the 23rd highest in Massachusetts (4.7%), and homes are the 22nd cheapest in the state ($350,800). Say what you want about 'cheap living', the fact is homes are priced on demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Chelsea.
If you live in Lynn, you're either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn't matter, because science says it's the 8th worst place to live in the state.
You've got the 15th highest crime rate in Massachusetts, which saw 465 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 69.6 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 201 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Lynn.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Lynn sports the state's 12th highest unemployment rate (5.9%), and families bring in a combined $56,181 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $323,100.
You can sure expect that Lawrence is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 9th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Lawrence has the 18th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 541 violent crimes here in 2021, and residents have a 1 in 83.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Lawrence, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 9.3% which is the worst in Massachusetts.
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 75.7 chance of being robbed. So be aware.
How we determined the worst places to live in Massachusetts for 2021
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
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 12,000 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 -- Brockton. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Massachusetts. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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, Brockton ranks as the worst city to live in Massachusetts for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Massachusetts:
- Woburn (Pop. 40,304)
- Melrose (Pop. 28,113)
- Newton (Pop. 88,593)
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In Massachusetts
- Safest Places In Massachusetts
- Best Cities For Singles In Massachusetts
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Massachusetts?