These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Massachusetts For 2018

We used science and data to determine which cities in MA are really ghetto.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of the largest cities in Massachusetts are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state, and then put out a list.

After analyzing the largest cities here, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places to live in Massachusetts:

  1. Lawrence (Photos)
  2. Springfield (Photos)
  3. Chelsea (Photos)
  4. New Bedford (Photos)
  5. Brockton (Photos)
  6. Holyoke (Photos)
  7. Lynn (Photos)
  8. Lowell (Photos)
  9. Fall River (Photos)
  10. Worcester (Photos)
  11. 13th: Boston

In case you’re wondering, Sudbury is the least ghetto city of all we measured.

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:


What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in Massachusetts, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of cities with populations over 5,000 based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with 223 cities in Massachusetts to measure.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime
  • Twitter mentions of #ghetto

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

For geo-located Tweets, we measured all mentions coming from a city with #ghetto


1. Lawrence

Source: wikipedia

Income: Lowest in MD
Drop out rate: 38%
Crime: 10th worst

When you look at the unbiased data, Lawrence, right up near the New Hampshire state line, is the most ghetto area of Massachusetts. Here’s why.

The residents of Lawrence are the poorest in the state. Families average about $31,000 a year here, which isn’t too far away from what the government says is the poverty line.

Almost 4 in 10 residents doesn’t have a high school diploma here, which is the 2nd lowest in the state.

And crime is really bad in Lawrence. You have a 1 in 100 chance of being raped, attacked or killed for every year you spend within the city limits here.

2. Springfield

Source: wikipedia

Income: $35,163
Drop out rate: 30%
Crime: 2nd worst

According to the data, Springfield, Mass. is ghetto. Is that a surprise? Probably not.

Residents are the 7th poorest in the state and 3 in 10 never finished high school. That’s a long term problem that Springfield is going to have to contend with for years down the road.

Crime is just about as bad in Springfield than anywhere else in the state. Only one other city (Holyoke, lower on the list) is more dangerous. In Springfield, there were 22 murders in 2013, and you have a 1 in 21 chance of being victimized by a robbery, property theft or arson.

3. Chelsea

Source: wikipedia

Income: $43,919
Drop out rate: 41%
Crime: 3rd worst

A whopping 4 in 10 people in Chelsea is walking around without even a high school diploma. That’s not only the highest in MA, that’s one of the highest rates in the entire northeast.

Because of that, people here are really poor, and crime is horrible. There were 5 murders, and over 200 robberies here in 2013 alone.

There were a lot of Twitter mentions about how ghetto Chelsea is. Example:

“My brother thinks he’s leaving to rhode island. no kid you’re staying here in ghetto ass chelsea.”

4. New Bedford

Source: wikipedia

Income: $36,789
Crime: 4th worst
Dropout rate: 37%

This entire general area (New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton) all make up a pretty ghetto little triangle when you look at the data.

New Bedford’s Wikipedia entry has its own section devoted to crime, and even a section devoted to the number of housing projects here. Now, you can learn about the 30 unsolved murders in New Bedford since 2000. Most of those stem from the ongoing feuds between the United Front and Monte Park neighborhoods.

Meaning the projects.

5. Brockton

Source: wikipedia

Income: $49,484
Drop out rate: 25%
Crime: 8th worst

Such is the sad state of the Massachusetts ghetto when a 25% dropout rate is considered ‘good.’ So at least in Brockton, the kids are (sort of) attending class on a regular basis.

For perspective, in Upton, Massachusetts, the dropout rate is about 4.5%.

Twitter had lots and lots to say about how ghetto Brockton is:

“winner winner chicken dinner to the most ghetto town in the state. Brockton.”

“Yes, I live in Brockton. But sorry to disappoint you I’m not ‘ghetto’ or don’t act like a typical Brockton girl”

6. Holyoke

Source: wikipedia

Income: $34,961
Drop out rate: 31%
Crime: Worst in MA

Things are very bad in Holyoke, crime wise, and not getting any better. The danger level has been ticking up since 2011, and now, for every year you spend within Holyoke city limits, you have a 1 in 15 chance of being the victim of a property crime or arson.

You also have a 1 in 100 chance of being attacked, raped or killed every year you live here. Just wow.

7. Lynn

Source: wikipedia

Income: $43,128
Dropout rate: 25%
Discount shopping: Top 20% in MA

This Essex County city is just north of Boston. Here, residents are relatively poor and uneducated.

There are a far higher than average number of discount shopping places per person in the Lynn area. Sociologists have indicated that convenience, drug stores and discount outlets are a staple of inner city life.

8. Lowell

Source: wikipedia

Income: $51,714
Drop out rate: 27%
Crime: 7th worst

This Middlesex County city is pretty ghetto overall, when you look at the numbers. 38% of the population that’s either below 18 or over 65 lives at or below the poverty line.

While Lowell’s crime rate has dropped tremendously since the 1990s, it’s still the 7th worst in MA. One in every 1,126 residents was victimized by a property crime in 2013.

Lowell has been notorious over the years for being a place for drug trafficking and gang activity.

9. Fall River

Source: wikipedia

Income: $34,595
Drop out rate: 36%
Crime: 5th worst

Fall River has lots of issues to contend with. It would be hard to find a place in MA that’s more dangerous, broke and uneducated.

Many Fall River residents used Twitter to vent their frustrations on how ghetto Fall River truly is. Many people complained that the McDonalds, gas stations, Walmart and more are ‘ghetto’ or frequented by ‘ghetto people.’

Tweets like this: “Fall River gets more ghetto everyday.”

10. Worcester

Source: wikipedia

Income: $45,679
Drop out rate: 19%
Crime: 9th worst

Outside of the raw numbers, we looked at internet forums to see what people’s thoughts were of Worcester. Most agreed that there are some really bad parts, and some decent areas as well.

There were 9 murders here in 2013. For a city of more than 180,000 people, that’s not outright horrible, but certainly not safe, either. A 6.8% unemployment rate and $177,000 homes are both signs that there are some major issues to contend with here.

Twitter said: “idk what’s worse, the ghetto people in Worcester Walmart or the hicks in Leicester Walmart…this is why I go to Target”

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in Massachusetts where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Boston came in 13th. Its income levels are $53,126, dropout rate is 18% and crime is the 11th worst in the state. There are obviously lots of discount shopping locations here, too.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in MA: Sudbury, Weston, Norfolk, Southborough, Concord.

We also wrote about the 10 Drunkest Cities in Massachusetts if you didn’t happen to see it.

Desktop users, below is a chart of the top 100 most ghetto cities in MA, along with their crime numbers.

City Crime Score Rank
lawrence 164.6 1
springfield 175.2 2
chelsea 150.4 3
new bedford 161.7 4
brockton 146 5
holyoke 110.1 6
lynn 109.8 7
lowell 190.6 8
fall river 190.3 9
worcester 178.7 10
everett 136.4 11
revere 123.1 12
boston 155.6 13
fitchburg 140.1 14
wareham 115.4 14
webster 116.4 16
southbridge town 63 17
chicopee 126.3 18
malden 115.6 19
north adams 198.9 20
leominster 117.6 21
pittsfield 160.3 22
gardner 112.2 23
north amherst 81.1 24
west springfield town 116.3 24
quincy 169.1 26
haverhill 134.2 26
athol 130.3 26
salem 118.8 26
randolph 127.2 30
amherst center 162.8 31
greenfield town 104.8 32
taunton 143.5 33
somerville 112 34
adams 134.3 35
holbrook 123.4 36
montague 168 37
northampton 105.7 38
bridgewater 172.5 39
ware 112 40
west yarmouth 124 41
attleboro 116 42
methuen town 74.9 43
middleborough center 154.3 43
spencer 138.4 43
fairhaven 117.3 46
framingham 88.4 46
marlborough 126.8 48
barnstable town 168.1 48
cambridge 191.2 50
milford 100.2 51
plymouth 149.9 52
waltham 198.9 53
westfield 106.4 53
bliss corner 148.4 55
palmer town 177.5 56
whitinsville 93.9 57
peabody 106.8 58
weymouth town 152.8 59
middleborough 69.3 60
nantucket 115.8 61
medford 156.3 62
clinton 104.6 63
east falmouth 149.7 64
foxborough 62.9 64
south yarmouth 105.9 66
saugus 135.6 67
woburn 94.2 68
kingston 80.3 69
winthrop town 170.8 70
easthampton town 100.6 70
smith mills 101.7 72
beverly 122.2 73
hudson 50.6 74
gloucester 50.9 75
yarmouth 136.5 76
mashpee 115.7 77
somerset 154.1 78
abington 85.9 78
burlington 97.5 80
hull 166.3 81
oxford 61.1 81
braintree town 53.4 83
danvers 113.6 83
harwich 71.8 83
stoneham 60.3 83
dedham 79.5 87
rockland 112.4 88
watertown town 92.7 89
auburn 80.8 90
dalton 48.6 91
norwood 166.7 92
deerfield 89.5 93
deerfield 77.5 94
agawam town 68.7 94
mansfield center 49.4 96
maynard 146.4 96
amherst 68.1 98
hadley 88.6 99
arlington 60.7 100

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.