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)
- North Adams (Photos)
- Holyoke (Photos)
- New Bedford (Photos)
- Fall River (Photos)
- Brockton (Photos)
- Fitchburg (Photos)
- Lawrence (Photos)
- Chelsea (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 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Massachusetts for 2018
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 13,300 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: 153,991Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $146,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (2nd worst)
Springfield places 1st 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 cheapest in the state, and at $146,400, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (12.4%) is the 2nd highest in Massachusetts, and income levels are far below the state average. And 2970.0% 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?
2. North Adams
Population: 13,326Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 6)
Home Values: $149,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (4th 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: 40,280Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Values: $188,600 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (6th worst)
Holyoke has a 10.7% unemployment rate (6th in MA), below average income levels and the 2nd highest crime rate in the state.
This random City-Data comment sums up Holyoke.
‘I visited Holyoke over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.
‘I saw lots people around Holyoke who looked…well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.
‘And what’s with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes?
‘Just looked sad.’
4. New Bedford
Population: 94,988Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $204,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (8th worst)
According to science, New Bedford is one of 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.
5. Fall River
Population: 88,902Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Home Values: $227,900 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (3rd worst)
Fall River has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 10th-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 12.3%.
Additionally, 22.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 94,813Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Values: $226,800 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (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?
Population: 40,441Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Values: $180,200 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (6th 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 47.8 chance of being robbed. So be aware.
Population: 79,337Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Home Values: $229,500 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.8% (1st worst)
Lawrence is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $229,500. That means it ranks as the 14th lowest in Massachusetts.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Lawrence has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 17th worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in Massachusetts.
Population: 38,244Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Home Values: $280,900 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (19th worst)
Welcome to Chelsea, which might be one of the poorest areas in Massachusetts. Residents average $49,614 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 19.3% of Chelsea residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $280,900 and the unemployment rate hovers near 7.5%.
Population: 183,677Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Home Values: $206,500 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (11th worst)
Worcester, part of Worcester County, is the 10th worst place to live in Massachusetts for 2018.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $45,599, and crime 6th worst in Massachusetts.
Additionally, the poverty level is 22.1% in Worcester.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Massachusetts:
- Newton (Pop. 88,317)
- Melrose (Pop. 27,787)
- Woburn (Pop. 39,220)
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Massachusetts
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Massachusetts
- These Are The 10 Worst Cities For Dating In Massachusetts
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Massachusetts