Worst Boston Suburbs For 2020

We used science and data to determine which Boston suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around Boston.

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Boston.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Boston 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Boston area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Boston proper, although Melrose certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Boston are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

We examined the 24 biggest suburbs of Boston to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in massachusetts lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Boston in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Boston for 2020:

  1. Lawrence (Photos)
  2. Lowell (Photos)
  3. Brockton (Photos)
  4. Southfield
  5. Lynn (Photos)
  6. Chelsea (Photos)
  7. Taunton (Photos)
  8. Revere (Photos)
  9. Everett (Photos)
  10. Gloucester (Photos)

What's the worst suburb of Boston? Lawrence ranks as the worst suburb of Boston for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Boston that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in massachusetts check out the best places in massachusetts overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Boston too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Boston Suburbs To Live For 2020

Lawrence, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 79,841
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,583 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $255,800 (5th lowest)
More on Lawrence:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Lawrence, the absolute worst place to live around Boston according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Lawrence beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Boston area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 5th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Lawrence.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Lowell, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 111,249
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $51,987 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $251,300 (4th lowest)
More on Lowell:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Lowell. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 26.2 miles to Boston. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $51,987 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Brockton, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 95,426
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $55,140 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $245,300 (3rd lowest)
More on Brockton:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Boston suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Brockton on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Boston suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

4. Southfield

Southfield Location In Michigan

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 73,392
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $54,428 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $146,200 (1st lowest)
More on Southfield:

If you live in Southfield, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Boston suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Boston. Remember, we looked at 24 cities for this study.

Southfield is about 13.4 miles to downtown.

Lynn, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 93,617
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $54,598 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $295,100 (7th lowest)
More on Lynn:  Data | Photos

Lynn has the distinction of being a Boston suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Lynn has the 7th lowest home values in the metro Boston area, where the median price is $295,100. To put that into perspective, in Melrose, the median income is $139,696, which is the best in the area.

Lynn has an unemployment rate of 6.07% which ranks 5th worst.

Chelsea, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 39,852
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $53,280 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $323,400 (8th lowest)
More on Chelsea:  Data | Photos

Chelsea has 39,852 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 18.761564393075307%.

Taunton, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 56,963
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $62,185 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $260,700 (6th lowest)
More on Taunton:  Data | Photos

Ah, Taunton. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Boston.

It's the place with the 6th most out of work residents in the Boston metro area (5.98%).

Revere, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 53,966
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $55,020 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $354,700 (11th lowest)
More on Revere:  Data | Photos

Revere is a city about 6.3 miles from Boston, but Boston probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Revere has the 6th most uninsured people, 6th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (5.77%) in the entire Boston metro area.

Homes only cost $354,700 for a reason. That's cheap for Boston standards.

Everett, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 45,856
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $60,482 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $381,300 (13th lowest)
More on Everett:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Boston, then Everett might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Boston suburb.

About 5.55% of residents are out of work.

Gloucester, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,049
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Income: $65,377 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $395,800 (15th lowest)
More on Gloucester:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Boston suburbs to call home is Gloucester.

Located 26.6 miles outside the city, Gloucesters is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 7th highest unemployment rate (5.93%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Boston for 2020

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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2014-2018, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Boston.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 4,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 24 suburbs to evaluate around Boston.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 24 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Boston." We're lookin' at you, Lawrence. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Boston where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Boston with Lawrence casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Boston aren't all bad. Melrose takes the cake as the best place to live around Boston.

  • Melrose
  • Newton
  • Cambridge

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Boston Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Lawrence 79,841 $41,583 $255,800
2 Lowell 111,249 $51,987 $251,300
3 Brockton 95,426 $55,140 $245,300
4 Southfield 73,392 $54,428 $146,200
5 Lynn 93,617 $54,598 $295,100
6 Chelsea 39,852 $53,280 $323,400
7 Taunton 56,963 $62,185 $260,700
8 Revere 53,966 $55,020 $354,700
9 Everett 45,856 $60,482 $381,300
10 Gloucester 30,049 $65,377 $395,800
11 Malden 61,094 $64,178 $382,200
12 Marlborough 39,776 $79,228 $333,600
13 Watertown 4,372 $82,130 $194,900
14 Quincy 94,121 $74,180 $410,400
15 Salem 43,302 $65,565 $347,200
16 Peabody 52,865 $68,387 $372,300
17 Waltham 62,979 $85,677 $497,100
18 Beverly 41,731 $79,483 $411,700
19 Medford 57,771 $92,363 $464,400
20 Somerville 80,434 $91,168 $616,100
21 Woburn 40,298 $88,745 $421,200
22 Cambridge 115,665 $95,404 $719,300
23 Newton 88,660 $139,696 $886,100
24 Melrose 28,116 $103,743 $508,700

How Is Your Town In ?

22 thoughts on “Worst Boston Suburbs, 2020

  1. Dude this is total Bullcrap, how can you have a town like Stoneham in this list. Interestingly enough Stoneham is on the top 10 best suburbs to live in Boston so where are you getting your information? Stop posting fake shit! Do more research buddy.

  2. Stoneham #2 what???? You have to be kidding me it’s so dull here its not even funny I think these numbers are all wrong lol…

  3. This might be the most classist piece of click-bait garbage I’ve ever read. I hope your advertisers pay you well to write this. “Low median income” = a criteria for “the worst”? Really? This is absurd.

  4. OMG! Peabody is so much better than it was in the 50s! My hometown is so much better now, I would move back if I had he chance! The Shopping Center is great! Has plenty of jobs. Home of my ancestors. I will stick up for it.

    Beverly is a lovely North Shore city with much history, a lively downtown, good restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

    Stoneham is close to where I live now , close enough to grocery shop, go out to lunch, utilize the many services, (ex. my tailor, shop at Redstone).

    Revere- the beach area has changed! Nice condos!

    Don’t visit the other towns much but I think you should re-think what you have said about the North Shore, Middlesex/Essex county area. It is home! Beloved by many!

  5. Really Beverly densely populated at 2450 per square mile. Unemployment below state average, crime rate is ACTUALLY the lowest on the list, household income over $70k. This article CLEARLY has no credibility as their “facts” are anything but.

  6. Worst suburbs to live for whom? Rich white families with children? Lower medium income could point to a younger, more diverse population so I’m not sure how they chose that as a criteria for being undesirable. And Marblehead is the second best Boston suburb? 45+ minutes from Boston, with only one way in and one way out, with nothing but boutiques selling disposable income funded boredom, and rich middle aged white folks walking their dogs.

  7. Sam you are what we call a hipster douche who’s parents made hin wear a helmet wheb he rode his bike. Get cancer and die a slow painful death.

  8. Beverly is small town USA! As a visitor I am impressed by the beautiful architecture of the public buildings.The town parks with their gazebos and views of the bay are lovely. The homes,many built by ship captains, are quaint and charming.Lots of good restaurants; like the Depot Inn which is actually in a train station that still serves the public. How cool to eat dinner and have the train wiz by. Great place to raise a family and live!

  9. Beverly’s unemployment rate is 3.8% (state rate is 5.4); household income is $72, 654 (did you use per CAPITA income which IS $35,432? Because we don’t make children/disabled/elderly work in Beverly); crime rate is way off-could only find a chart comparing it to MA as a whole and it’s in the “well below average”; what else? Population density? Was that supposed to be a good or bad thing if it’s high? Boston as a major urban area (>1,000,000) is ranked 38th (very low) so if the fire you gave is the same as Boston (can’t be) than you aren’t using data correctly. We do have 2 colleges so maybe that makes your figure high (but that means FUN, right?). But this is all a joke, right? RIGHT?

  10. This list reads like it was made by a child born somewhere FAR away from the Boston area.
    Zero indication that the “writer” has any idea about the area.

  11. I have lived in the area for almost 20 years and I have to say this article has zero credibility.
    Peabody offers the largest number of AP classes in the area, two working farms owned by the city, several bike paths, a golf course owned by the city and a thriving mall.
    Peabody is an an accepting city toward many which explains why the income level is skewed to the lower levels. Don’t be fooled though. Many wealthy people live in the city.

  12. This is wrong. Massachusetts doesn’t have any WORSE or WORSEST places. We’re a beautiful state. Your article sucks.

  13. This is total bull*hit–& I’d luv to know where the author got his stats??? Give me a break+-that Beverly, Peabody & Dtoneham are on the list! I totally concur with what another person commented re the author must’ve factored students in his stats from the 2 colleges located in Beverly! Additionally, I Gail to learn from this article that Peabody has such a high unemployment rate–(& don’t believe the employees from the Mall have been factored in)! Givee a brea!!! 😉

    1. Give me a break! This article is a bunch of total B.S.! The author should have gotten his facts straight before writing it! That’s a bunch of bull re Beverly, which has so much to offer–& is one of the nicest places in the area to reside! The college students housed in 2 different colleges located there must’ve been factored into their unemployment rate! To boot, the unemployment rate in Peabody is clearly doubtful it’s so high, as the mall employs many of its residents! I also think the author is in denial re the stats on Stoneham!

  14. Are you serious? This is like the fake media everywhere! I grew up in Beverly and my 80 something year old parents still live there happily in the same home my siblings and I grew up in. I see that you comment on the unemployment rate. Every stop to think of why that might be the reason? Like people in treatment at Beverly Hospital needing to live locally? How about because some of the older large homes are no longer affordable as single family so are now more reasonable rentals thsg the unemployed can afford? Maybe people from surrounding places have come to Beverly for more affordable places to live? Maybe because Beverly is surrounded by the ocean and there is not that much in the way of larger companies where people can get jobs? Did you bother to check if there is a substantial parental stay at home with children population?
    Should you stick to snacks maybe?

  15. First of all, there is no suburb of Boston called Southfield. You just took a section of Rockland and decided to call it Southfield.

    Second of all, while Rockland isn’t Lynnfield or Wellesley, it’s not Lawrence or Brockton either. Watertown is even better than Rockland.

    Third of all, you can’t talk about Lawrence without mentioning the crime rate.

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