These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2018

We used science and data to determine which cities in the Bay State are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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:

  1. Springfield (Photos)
  2. North Adams (Photos)
  3. Holyoke (Photos)
  4. New Bedford (Photos)
  5. Fall River (Photos)
  6. Brockton (Photos)
  7. Fitchburg (Photos)
  8. Lawrence (Photos)
  9. Chelsea (Photos)
  10. 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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

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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

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 13,300 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.

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1. Springfield

Springfield, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 153,991
Rank 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

North Adams, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,326
Rank 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.

3. Holyoke

Holyoke, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 40,280
Rank 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

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 94,988
Rank 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

Fall River, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 88,902
Rank 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.

6. Brockton

Brockton, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 94,813
Rank 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?

7. Fitchburg

Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 40,441
Rank 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.

8. Lawrence

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 79,337
Rank 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.

9. Chelsea

Chelsea, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 38,244
Rank 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%.

10. Worcester

Worcester, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 183,677
Rank 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:

  1. Newton (Pop. 88,317)
  2. Melrose (Pop. 27,787)
  3. Woburn (Pop. 39,220)

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Massachusetts

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Springfield 1 1 153,991 12.4% $146,400
North Adams 2 8 13,326 11.1% $149,400
Holyoke 3 2 40,280 10.7% $188,600
New Bedford 4 5 94,988 10.3% $204,100
Fall River 5 3 88,902 12.3% $227,900
Brockton 6 5 94,813 10.7% $226,800
Fitchburg 7 9 40,441 10.7% $180,200
Lawrence 8 4 79,337 13.8% $229,500
Chelsea 9 7 38,244 7.5% $280,900
Worcester 10 10 183,677 8.8% $206,500
Gardner 11 12 20,334 7.4% $173,200
Lynn 12 11 92,074 7.8% $263,700
Pittsfield 13 15 43,632 9.9% $170,900
Lowell 14 14 109,871 9.6% $234,100
Revere 15 17 53,165 8.1% $320,400
Chicopee 16 18 56,100 8.4% $173,800
Leominster 17 13 41,304 6.7% $227,200
Everett 18 16 44,636 7.2% $337,800
Boston 19 21 658,279 8.0% $423,200
Taunton 20 19 56,504 7.4% $236,700
Haverhill 21 22 62,340 7.5% $264,500
Malden 22 20 60,732 7.6% $339,000
Salem 23 23 42,804 6.7% $317,400
Attleboro 24 24 44,121 7.5% $271,000
Quincy 25 25 93,349 6.8% $366,500
Northampton 26 26 28,534 6.6% $313,200
Westfield 27 28 41,486 8.1% $222,200
Marlborough 28 27 39,545 4.6% $316,500
Somerville 29 30 79,507 5.1% $512,500
Peabody 30 31 52,235 5.5% $345,500
Gloucester 31 29 29,546 6.6% $370,900
Medford 32 32 57,180 5.5% $421,200
Cambridge 33 37 108,757 5.4% $629,700
Beverly 34 35 40,967 5.7% $378,100
Waltham 35 33 62,699 5.3% $434,500
Newburyport 36 36 17,837 6.3% $461,900
Woburn 37 34 39,220 5.4% $374,300
Melrose 38 38 27,787 4.3% $437,100
Newton 39 39 88,317 4.4% $788,500

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56 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Massachusetts For 2018

  1. Thanks for the clarification that this is “opinion.” You know what they say about opinion, don’t you?

  2. Ware is not just outside of Springfield. A quick check of Google maps will show that that statement is incorrect. If they can’t get location correct, how much else is wrong?

  3. Wow, So North Adams only has 2 dunkin’ donuts huh? Did you forget about MoCA mass (The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Massachusetts) or The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts? Your list could have used a bit more research and a bit less of judgmental tone. Maybe research would have shown you that the economic down turn occurred in North Adams because of the hospital being closed because of mismanagement and that put many the residents out of work. It would have also shown you the revitalization effort happening here and what a close knit community it is. You would have seen a place that puts focus on programs designed to give our children a great start in life, preserve our environment, realizes and celebrates the importance of the arts as well as our area’s history. In short, before you bash a place you clipped a pic of off Wikipedia and spent 5 minutes reading about why not visit it, talk to its citizens, go to a community meeting, you know… the things that writers used to do before putting out a piece.

  4. I am so tired of these kinds of internet click baiting lists. They never provide context and almost always miss out on everything else that attracts interested people to live in cities like these. This article is particularly atrocious because it claims to use “science” and “data” (seemingly objective criteria) to prove whether a town is “bad” or “lousy” (totally subjective conclusions). What an amateur this writer is. Or better yet, manipulative and undeserving of even a share on Facebook.

  5. These kinds of lists are ridiculous! I’m not even from North Adams, however I’ve visited there a few times and found it to be such a quaint, little town. I loved the history of the area, the churches, the library, and the museum. I thought it seemed like a great place to live!

  6. Can’t believe Chelsea didn’t make the list something has to be wrong ! I’m from Chelsea andoproud of it but Chelsea with its crime almost top in the country its a real dive . junkies roaming all over drugs hookers you name it . we get the worst from central America its just terrible . Think they don’t want Chelsea on the list because they want to keep the rent high 1200 1300 for one bedroom. Why because its convenience to boston via the 111 bus and Tobin bridge. Give me a break ! You guys slept on putting Chelsea on the worst list

  7. @Jeff Jason ll
    I made my comment based on my opinion. I do not expect people to agree. There is always statistical data , probability ect. I do not agree with your statement people whom have more money and needs are met are less likely to commit a criminal act. Everyone is capable and vulnerable to criminal acts . Money doesnt stop that.

  8. Who is the retard (yes i said it. and i dont mean the handi-capable) who choose the pics of an side alley off of the back side of main street buildings? Google Gardner Ma, click on images and scroll repeatedly for 20 min. and you still wont find the image depicted. you went out of your way to choose images to fit the poor rankings. and not just a generic pic. nextr time dont tell an intern to”find the least inspiring pics to reinforce your incomplete list) My hometown, Winchendon doesnt even appear. According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are 312 towns and 39 cities spread across 14 counties within the state of Massachusetts. why is you list so incompitant? ….oooops incomplete. ( I apologigize to the retards for insulting you, by lumping roadsnacks in with you fine people.)

    1. yes you are!!!! born and raised in wareham and spent most of my growing up in good ol new beige!!! def can say im better for it also

  9. okay let me think 5 parks 2 colleges 2-3 beaches in area’ a very cultural enriched area. Plenty of restaurants events music

  10. Hahahaha, you tool, i would rather live in New Bedford or Fall River any day.

    Oh and by the way New Bedford has 8% unemployment, yeah I know 92% employment sucks. What also sucks, You being the typical outsider, is that our minorities are’nt used for target practice by your fine southern police officers.

    1. “…our minorities are’nt used for target practice by your fine southern police officers.” South. You mean Baltimore, NYC, and suburban St. Louis? Check your geography (and stereotypes), those cities aren’t in the South, unless you just mean south of you…

  11. What is notable about many of these places? Lack of rail access. The presence of train service has the power to lift a community economically and in terms of its property values. That is probably why Lawrence (which has plenty of challenges) isn’t worse off enough to make the list (like New Bedford and Fall River – which are seeking rail service). Brockton is on the list and has rail service, but I remember what it was like *before* the train arrived — it has come a long way (up) even if it is still towards the bottom.

  12. I live in Southbridge and while there are parts that aren’t as nice there (EVERY town has a part that is less than a Kodak moment) are very nice parts which are affordable and beautiful! My daughter goes to a private school in Southbridge and she’s probably getting a better education in a public school from “the nicer” towns. Way to degrade people whom are not from towns like Lexington.

    1. Totally agree!! My 22 yr old son got his first Apt. there, because he couldn’t afford to live in Westborough where he works or Natick where our family is from. He wanted to save his money and be on his own!
      Fast-Foreward one year later and he saved enough money to get an Apt. in Westborough so his commute will be 5 min instead of 45min and can be closer to us.
      We will Forever be Grateful to Southbridge! Great town that helped my son save his $$, learn to live on his own and he had a really nice large 2 bedroom overlooking a lake!
      Every town has a few sections that aren’t the greatest, including Wellesley..(Barton Rd.)

  13. A lot of these places are truly not as bad as they’re written to be. I grew up in Fitchburg. Granted a lot of it is a dump, but it also has beautiful homes in the backroads, apple orchards, and it’s just simply not that bad.

  14. Your facts are in fact, not facts. Please do your homework before you publish information that this totally inaccurate about these towns. I live in Ware and moved from a much more affluent community 2 years ago. First off, you data is incorrect. The town of Ware has 10, 000 residents most of which have lived here their entire lives. Average household income is $51,000 . Ware has a vibrant business community and still embraces community as a virtue. I know all my neighbors. Every one of them! They are some of the most wonderful, hard working, honest people I know. I was in the Navy and lived many different places. Never have I found a stronger sense of commitment, community, and friendliness anyWare! So if you care about community, Ware is the town for you. – Bill Cooper – Selectman

  15. Where is Sturbridge? It isn’t on any list. Not even the complete lists. Wonder how many other towns are missing.

  16. Hey Nick James, F^%$#@#%^ and your numbers. Your metrics don’t measure the heart of the people in this town. I will take a real blue collar guy from the burg over a DB from Concord or Wayland. I have worked in those wealthy towns and they are filled with some pretty pretentious folk who really think they are better than everyone else because they have a couple of extra pennies. The burg and these other towns are seeing hard times, but in the last 15 years, it has produced some of the greatest characters and genuinely good people that I have ever known. People that do not get up in the world on the backs of other, they get up by helping others around them and leaning on each other . They give when they have little to give and feel badly they cannot do more. Where is your metric to measure the true worth of a town, not its infrastructure. Why don’t you crunch that for a while and write an article that gives us something worth reading about.

  17. You are an uneducated idiot… I agree with the others as to you going out of your way to pick the worst photos to post.. You posted a picture of New Bedford and if you were to take one step back before snapping that photo , you would expose a beautiful beautiful landmark , which now houses the Cork Wine and Tapas! We have many tourists who come to visit on a daily basis year around to have beautiful scenic lunch outside of the waterfront restaurants.. I am an accomplished stylist, salon owner , member of a celebrity stylist team, worked on movie sets and travel as an educator and have seen many places.. Yet I chose my city as the oasis for my beautiful salon ,
    L’ atelier boutique salon on N Water street , which by the way is located just north of that union street photo you posted .. Google it and see how beautiful my salon and the surrounding area is !! The Black whale restaurant DNB Burger just below me (in the same building) was just featured on the Phantom gourmet, As well as Tia Maria’s European cafĂ©..
    New Bedford may be the home to the new waterfront casino on the former NStar property.. Not to mention the Summer music series every Friday on the waterfront just beside the Martha’s Vineyard ferry .. There are so many venues I can’t even list them all!!! Ultimately .. Life is what YOU make it.. And so is YOUR city ! Good and Bad .. I’ll take my city any day ! A matter of fact, I wouldn’t choose any other place for my creative oasis .. EVERY city has a pit.. They also have beautiful areas rich in history with wonderful people who cherish where they were born and raised.. They also are the main contributors towards the revival of a new era of history in the making !
    If you did your research you would know of all the up-and-coming’s in all of these areas with the restoration of historic buildings and wonderful condos and lofts..The art community and the music community and people from around the world are coming to live and experience a little bit of the culture in places that maybe were once run down but have come so far !!!
    This article here as well as its opinion is so out-dated and so biased and such a cry for attention!!! You are a pessimist driving on negativity.. I refuse to let you send that energy this way so I will put you in your place and be done with you..
    You have surely accomplished one thing though … And that is hitting the nerve of those who you intended to hit nerves with.. Job well done !!! Bravo !

  18. Neither the towns of Hopkinton or Westborough are on this list. How can you trust an article like this if they can’t event get basic town data correct?

  19. Why isn’t Springfield and Lawrence on here? They are by far the worst in Massachusetts. And alot of the “facts” written about some of these towns are not correct.

    1. Lawrence

      A city in Mass. If Lowell Ma is the “armpit of America” Lawrence is the Taint. With it’s population, it can tend to get a little stabby. Once a booming mill city along the Merrimac River, It’s population’s main income is welfare and drugs, although there is a thriving Barber Shop/Auto Accessory market. Exorbitant sums of government grant money used to build an enormous new High School, it has been historically unaccredited, and has 2,000 freshmen, 1,500 sophomores, 12 juniors and a graduating class of 2.

      Care should be taken by the outsider when driving through Lawrence, as everyone from the smallest barely clothed children all the way up to the belligerent drunken day laborer, and everyone in between enjoys jumping into traffic without looking, double and triple parking(they think it’s legal if the hazards are on), and opening doors into your moving vehicle.

      All in all the city government is corrupt, it’s school system broken, and it’s residents the result. Rent is cheap, Restaurants ESL, police incompetent, drugs available, and stabbings plentiful.

      On Broadway st. in Lawrence, you can get a haircut at 23 different barber shops, a car stereo at 18 separate locations, Crack, weed, heroin, Dunkin’ Donuts, a handgun, El Tipico, prostitutes, stabbed and arrested,… All on a half mile stretch of poorly maintained road.

  20. I think you are all missing the point. Whether you live in a high or low rated town, at least we all live in America. I’d rather live in Anytown, USA than live with some of the atrocities we see on TV every night that other nations have to deal with everyday. Sure, we have issues that need solving but at least we know we are free.

  21. I’ll just say that the inclusion of North Adams is flawed on a number of levels that I’m thinking you wouldn’t actually understand.

  22. I was born & grew up in Whitten ton area &Fremont St. In Taunton,Mass.I Love &miss my Family &Friend’s. You know when you join the U.S.Army or any Branch you have Brothers from all Over thee U.S. from different States an Cities even Some Came outta Jail to Serve their Country we hen other’s wouldn’t realizing they would Die or could Die. A lot of US come from different States,Colors, Creed an Backgrounds but to get through””Basic Training”” You learn a lot about each other an you Learn to Respect each other because when your getting [email protected] R.P.G.comes @you or IEDA go Off..””You Think they care where your from??””.You better just better Learn to have each other’s back..What Happened to America an Americans We need to learn to All Just get Along this is Why Our Nation is so,so,so,Messed Up Now!!..Next Time Yes Next Time Anyone wants to Complain I have a List from Basic Training to now #176 Soldiers I personally knew who got Killed in War they Don’t get to complain or see their kid’s or hold their kids anymore or have a Labor Day,Halloween,Thanksgiving,or Christmas or New Year’s Eve Celebration anymore..You know these Brothers & Sister’s of mine I’ve Now Lost even W.W.I,W.W.II,Korea,Vietnam,Grenander,DesertStorm,DesertShield,Iraq,OIF,OEF,OND,&Afghanistan Veteran’s Of Mine plus my Walter Reed Brother’s & Sister’s An Easy 380++died for Our Country an we were All Proud where we Came From an it’s Ashame..We All just can’t “”Get Along!””.Life’s 2 Short not too get along…Just Imagine”””When Bullets are being shot @you you think they say oh don’t shoot him or her because of Where your From you better think again..””We Have No Choice & I wouldn’t want it any other way knowing they have my front or back 12Oclock or 6 or 9 or 3 that’s “””Realism”””

  23. These lists really should be made by someone who is actually from mass. N.Adams? Gardner? Athol? Give me a break lol, those are all small town suburbs. Not ritzy, but far from ghetto.You wanna talk worst places in mass? Try Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Chelsea etc.

  24. So…according to this list, there are 61 towns in Massachusetts that aren’t as nice as Chelsea. Got it.

  25. I have lived in Athol for the past 37 years, purchasing a home here in 1979, raising a family here, and participating fully in this warm and caring community, and I strongly take issue with this ill-conceived, mean-spirited, misguided, and seriously flawed ranking of the “ten worst places to live in Massachusetts” as produced by and currently making the rounds on facebook. Now, I am confident that residents of many of the other nine communities on the list might very be able to make strong cases as to the benefits or joys of living in their own towns or cities, but I will focus on the town with which I have personal experience: the town of Athol.

    There are surely those who have known the town for a longer period of time than I have—who were born here—but my experience in Athol gives me a unique and unbiased perspective. I came to Central Massachusetts from Haverhill, Mass. after graduating from Bates College in Maine with a teaching degree and a strong desire to do my part in making a difference in people’s lives. I have taught in Gardner, Winchendon, Harvard, and Athol. I have known communities that are recognized as affluent, as well as those that have had challenges or struggles. Here in Athol I have served as teacher, elementary principal, school committee member, a selectboard member, and a town meeting representative. I have been a member of the Rotary, the Lions Club, the YMCA, the AARP, the Public Library, the local access television station, the community theater group, the area photography club, and my local synagogue. In short, I feel that I know the town and the community of Athol both fully and intimately.

    Athol is a community that is so much different than the stereotypes which some outsiders perpetuate. It is a town which is experiencing a renaissance—a rebirth—which some people, outside our community, have yet to recognize. Athol has an appeal which is based on several factors: the beauty that nature has bestowed on it, its combination of beautiful classic and new public buildings, a variety of health care venues, large and small businesses, an educational system which continues to make great strides in both facilities and instruction within the classroom, a respect for culture and the arts which manifests itself in productions within Athol and throughout the immediate area, a local government which is professional and collegial in both tone and practice and which is fully responsive to the needs of its citizens, and most of all—perhaps—a community full of people who are kind and caring—who reach out on a daily basis to help their neighbors, who routinely volunteer thousands of hours to help Athol to be the very best town it can be for its residents, its families, and its children.

    Nature has been especially kind to the Athol area. The Millers River, the Bearsden Conservation area, the Skyfields Aboretum, Sportman’s Pond, Lake Ellis, Silver Lake, Lake Rohunta are just a few of the areas that provide beauty, serenity, and recreational opportunities, which (depending on the particular site) may include camping, swimming, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, tennis, and team sports. The Allen Rich Environmental Park, the new Millers River Park and Watershed Park, Cass Meadow, Fish Park, Silver Lake Park all offer opportunities for hiking, photography, and recreation. In fact, Athol has an entire Parks and Greenway Network supplemented with maps, kiosks, and videos accessible by the cell phone in your pocket. The extraordinary Quabbin Reservoir is right down the road and offers additional fishing, boating, hiking, and photography opportunities. The Millers River Environmental Center, the Athol Bird and Nature Club, and the New England Equestrian Center all make their homes here in Athol.

    Athol offers a wonderful blend of older, preserved buildings and new modern buildings. The gorgeous new Athol Public Library wisely maintained its classic 1915 Carnegie heritage in the front of the building while adding on a brand new multi-million dollar addition in 2014 which is not only absolutely beautiful and very people-friendly, but is also one of the first of its kind to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. The Athol Historical Society displays the fascinating history of our town in a lovely, newly renovated historic building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Athol Town Hall is housed in an historic building whose beautiful interior provides for not only regular government business, but also occasional concerts and plays. In recent years, Athol has built a new police station and a new fire station. The YMCA, a focal point for families and children in the area, has recently undergone renovations which make it even more accessible and vital to our community.

    Just this week the brand-new, state-of-the-art Athol Community Elementary School held its open house for the community as it gets ready to open its doors to all elementary school aged children in Athol. The beautiful new school was supported by a record number of Athol citizens who turned out to vote in favor of it three years ago, and now it is a reality. It joins the Athol-Royalston Middle School as new buildings that are designed to facilitate the education of all our students. Even as the two beautiful buildings provide quality educational spaces—and technology–for all our students, even as the high school continues to work to improve its facilities by renovating important academic and athletic areas, it is important to note that the school system is working extremely hard to improve instruction within the classroom. New administrators with advanced educational training and strong people skills work hand in hand with caring and dedicated teachers to implement best practices in the classroom at the same time as they work to improve test scores. In addition, the outreach to and involvement of the community is an important focus in the District.

    Some of our town’s newest buildings are part of the North Quabbin Commons which just opened last year. We have a new Market Basket, Marshall’s, Shoe Dept., and Maurice’s with a Starbuck’s and a bank opening this fall; and restaurants, a movie theater, and a hotel planned for the future. These buildings join other industries in town, including (but not limited to) the L.S. Starrett Company which is nationally and internationally known for its precision measuring tools, Whipps Inc., Adams Farm, Hannaford Supermarkets, Girardi Distributers, Pexco (extrusion), Niagara Cutter LLC, and other businesses—both large and small—including Castine Moving and Storage, Haley’s Antiques and Publishing, Joseph A. Mallet and Sons Excavating, Piragis Boats and Motors, Athol Rental Center, Dale’s Auto Body, Highland Press, and a good number of financial advisors or business services, realtors, contractors and carpenters, plumbing and heating/cooling specialists, law offices, landscapers and florists, hardware stores and lumber suppliers, and such restaurants as Bon Appetit, The Atholl House, Old Time New England Seafood, the Tea Garden, Athol House of Pizza Restaurant, the Village Grille and Restaurant, Soup on the Fly, just to name a few.

    Athol’s citizens have a number of health care options to serve its citizens—from infants through the elderly: the Athol Hospital, the North Quabbin Family Physicians, Quabbin Valley Health Care, Applewood, Clinical and Support Options, as well as a good number of other family physicians, specialists, and dentists.

    Activities in Athol range from competitive athletic events like basketball, baseball, soccer, football, track and field, and wrestling which are sponsored by the Schools, YMCA, Little League, or Pop Warner to such activities as yoga, gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, music, and theater. Those interested in music might enjoy the annual Tool Town Live or may choose to become involved in an area community band or Quabbin Valley Pro Musica. In addition to local school music and theater productions, Atholites often head to the nearby 1794 Meetinghouse or Theatre at the Mount for quality presentations. Of course there are also such annual events as the Athol to Orange River Rat Race and Parade, the Big Cheese 5K Road Race, and the North Quabbin Fall Festival. Community members also enjoy giving their time and energy to helping out in our community and extending a charitable helping hand world-wide in a very large number of local organizations, including Rotary, Lions, Elks, Masons, Eagles, Scouting organizations, the Community Partnership for Children, the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, the North Quabbin Community Coalition, United Way, Literacy Volunteers, Salvation Army, American Legion, the VFW, North Quabbin Patch, The United Arc/GAAAFSN, Athol Council of Aging, through churches and synagogues, and through many other organizations.

    Our town’s residents and families are known throughout the area for being warm and friendly. Sure, they use their computers to stay in touch remotely via facebook and twitter, but they have never ever lost the personal touch of visiting each other door to door in their neighborhoods and offering to lend a hand in clearing the snow off driveways and roofs, raking the leaves, or looking in on the sick. They greet each other warmly at town and school events, and they cheer and applaud loudly not only their own children but also for their neighbors’ children at sporting events, at plays, and at concerts. They support each other fully at times of joy, and are there to comfort one another at times of sorrow. They always have a good word, a firm handshake, a warm smile, or a caring hug whenever the occasion calls for it. They are good, kind, decent people—generous to a fault, and doing their very best to raise their families to be well-educated and caring citizens who will make a contribution to make our community and the world the best possible places in which to live.

    And so,, your feature on the “ten worst places to live in Massachusetts” was—as I noted earlier–quite seriously flawed. I am not sure of the research that you may or may not have done, but somehow you failed to discover all the beauty, all the goodness, in this town. You failed to see the resurgence in education, and industry. You either ignored or neglected to find out about all our new, beautiful buildings. Did you interview a wide variety of people here to find out what are the joys or benefits of living in our town? Did you talk to the folks at the Athol Daily News or at AOTV to seek out their thoughts? Did you travel to the neighborhoods to seek out the people—the families and the children—to see their friendliness, their warmth, their patriotism, their optimism in person? Had you done so, I am confident that you not only would never have chosen to place us on your shameful list, but—instead–you would likely have added us to some future list of “Up and Coming Places to Live in Massachusetts” or “Ten Towns That Are Undergoing a Revival.” I hope that in the future, you spend your time acknowledging and giving credit to towns and cities like Athol who are working hard and making tremendous strides as they experience a rebirth or revitalization. Please go beyond the stereotypes and the old news, and find the good in Athol and in other towns you denigrate. Use your video and media skills to uplift others, instead of tearing them down.

    Athol is home to me and to those I love; it is people who treat one another as family, it is glorious, fiery sunsets and stars that still shine brilliantly in ebony skies. Athol is the gifts of nature intertwined in a unique way with industry and technology and government and people—all the things that go into making a town special. That’s the Athol that people here know and love, and it is the Athol you would know, as well, if you care to dig deeply into its life, its culture, and its soul.

    1. I’ve lived in athol and thought it was disgusting and filled with perverts. I’d still choose it over living in Lowell again though. No idea why athol is on here when you can’t even walk down the street in Lowell without some bizarre issue arising.

  26. I disagree with this. Springfield should be on this list. Drugs,crime filthy polluted city with the worst air quality in the state. Plus everybody drives at double the speed limit. There is a big heroin bust almost every other day.

  27. I grew up just outside FallRiver in the 60’s/70’s . It was a pit then and still is. High crime, run down apts, and no opportunity. I moved to the Dallas TX area in the 90’s. OMG what an improvement in everything. Yea, I know the Mass sterotypes of Texans but take a look around…. Really.. what’s so good about living there? Take a video of the place for nostalgia and move out….

  28. How Holyoke and Springfield are not on this list is crazy. Those 2 cities are the absolute worst places to live you could not pay me to live there. The schools are the worst the crime is out of control and it looks dirty and lets not forget about the drugs. I would rather have less things to do and my family be safe then live in either of those 2 cities and have more to do as you state being one of the ways you rated this. I lived in Ware for 9 years saw no crime (but a dirt bag from Holyoke robbed us here in South Hadley smashed a window to our place before xmas, and we were only living next to Holyjoke for 6 months and got robbed) and there was plenty of wonderful outdoor things we could do if we did not hang out in our own yard there were some very beautiful parks close by. The town offers various nice outdoor events for the family concerts, parades a yearly fair that has games and rides, and 4th of July fireworks with a rock band bouncy houses and various other things to do before the fireworks show. They really care about residents and will generously help families that are having a tough time. Ware does not belong on this list at all. The only things that could make it difficult to live there is you need to travel for things like Doctors that are specialists while there is a hospital its a small one. Jobs, for a good paying job you will most likely be working out of town most jobs offered in town are minimum wage, and of course you need a good car public transportation is minimal with a small pvta bus/van that runs only a little bit and most homes a bit of a distance from shopping not to mention there are very few bus stops so you definitely wont be taking it to work out of town. But despite that its far from the worst town to live in I hated something that wasn’t the towns fault and thats national grid having the highest electric rates in the entire state. Try to get more accurate though with your lists I noticed a huge mistake you made with most white trash cities in MA. You put Holyoke at the top of that list claiming that the city is mostly white like 80% or something like that. you could not be more wrong with that one. Holyoke is mostly Hispanic if you were to drive through holyoke thats what you would see, numerous bodegas some kind of Spanish convenience store. If you were to move there you would want to learn Spanish. The residents nicknamed it little Puerto Rico, if it was mostly white then it would not have gotten that nickname. There are Puerto Rico flags all over that city and Spanish music can be heard playing all over when you drive through the city (I dont ever hear anything in English). Take a drive through that city and you will see there really isn’t that many white people living there. So it definitely can not be the most white trash city in MA.

  29. the list should be based on crime unemployment as per population within Massachusetts.

    New Bedford
    East Boston

    these cities are as far as city town cleanliness drugs, violent crimes, armed unarmed robberies, unemployment, poor education, etc. rank highest also jn the nation not just the state of MA.

    1. totally agree with worcester . i moved here from africa 7 years ago and i still think its a shit hole . it cant even compare to where i lived in Africa

  30. totally agree with worcester . i moved here from africa 7 years ago and i still think its a shit hole . it cant even compare to where i lived in Africa

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