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 Newton 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 2019:
- Lawrence (Photos)
- Lowell (Photos)
- Brockton (Photos)
- Lynn (Photos)
- Chelsea (Photos)
- Taunton (Photos)
- Everett (Photos)
- Revere (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Boston that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
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:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Massachusetts
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Massachusetts
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Boston for 2019
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 2013-2017, 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.
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.
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 4th 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.
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 $48,581 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.
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.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $52,470 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $124,300 (1st lowest)
More on Southfield:
If you live in Southfield, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 5th 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 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 $279,400. To put that into perspective, in Newton, the median income is $133,853, which is the best in the area.
Lynn has an unemployment rate of 6.3% which ranks 8th worst.
Chelsea has 39,272 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 19.5%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $63,688 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $176,700 (2nd lowest)
More on Watertown:
Ah, Watertown. 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 (6.6%).
Taunton is a city about 29.8 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. Taunton has the 19th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 10th highest unemployment rate (6.1%) in the entire Boston metro area.
Homes only cost $246,500 for a reason. That’s cheap for Boston standards.
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 7.2% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Boston suburbs to call home is Revere.
Located 6.3 miles outside the city, Reveres is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 7th highest unemployment rate (6.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Boston where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
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. Newton takes the cake as the best place to live around Boston.
For more Massachusetts reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Massachusetts
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Massachusetts
- 10 Safest Places In Massachusetts
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Massachusetts
Detailed List Of The Worst Boston Suburbs