The 10 Worst Boston Suburbs For 2021


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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Boston.

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..

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 2021:

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

What's the worst suburb of Boston? Lawrence ranks as the worst suburb of Boston for 2021 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 2021

Lawrence, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 79,942
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,613 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (highest)
Median Home Value: $271,100 (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 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.

Brockton, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 95,594
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $58,469 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $264,800 (3rd lowest)
More on Brockton:  Data | Photos

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

This city is 17.2 miles to Boston. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $58,469 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.

Lowell, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 111,306
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $56,878 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $269,800 (4th lowest)
More on Lowell:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Boston suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Lowell 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.

Lynn, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 93,743
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $56,181 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $323,100 (7th lowest)
More on Lynn:  Data | Photos

If you live in Lynn, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 3rd lowest Boston suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Boston. Remember, we looked at 24 cities for this study.

Lynn is about 10.3 miles to downtown.

5. Southfield

Southfield Location In Michigan

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 73,174
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $55,705 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $155,700 (lowest)
More on Southfield:

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

All snarkiness aside, Southfield has the lowest home values in the metro Boston area, where the median price is $155,700. To put that into perspective, in Newton, the median income is $151,068, which is the best in the area.

Southfield has an unemployment rate of 6.9% which ranks 3rd worst.

Chelsea, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 39,992
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $56,802 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $350,800 (9th lowest)
More on Chelsea:  Data | Photos

Chelsea has 39,992 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 18.116968531822323%.

Taunton, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 57,124
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $62,865 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $271,800 (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 4th most out of work residents in the Boston metro area (6.49%).

Revere, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 53,692
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $62,568 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $373,800 (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 7th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 7th highest unemployment rate (5.39%) in the entire Boston metro area.

Homes only cost $373,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Boston standards.

Everett, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 46,118
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $65,528 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $405,800 (14th 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 5.24% of residents are out of work.

Malden, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 60,984
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $65,975 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $401,900 (13th lowest)
More on Malden:  Data | Photos

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

Located 7.0 miles outside the city, Maldens is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 10th highest unemployment rate (5.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Boston for 2021

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 2015-2019, 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 2021

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.

  • Newton
  • Melrose
  • Cambridge

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Boston Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Lawrence 79,942 $44,613 $271,100
2 Brockton 95,594 $58,469 $264,800
3 Lowell 111,306 $56,878 $269,800
4 Lynn 93,743 $56,181 $323,100
5 Southfield 73,174 $55,705 $155,700
6 Chelsea 39,992 $56,802 $350,800
7 Taunton 57,124 $62,865 $271,800
8 Revere 53,692 $62,568 $373,800
9 Everett 46,118 $65,528 $405,800
10 Malden 60,984 $65,975 $401,900
11 Gloucester 30,162 $72,574 $425,400
12 Salem 43,252 $68,808 $367,200
13 Marlborough 39,736 $80,943 $348,500
14 Quincy 94,207 $77,562 $428,600
15 Watertown 4,408 $83,542 $208,300
16 Peabody 52,906 $73,217 $387,400
17 Waltham 62,777 $95,964 $536,500
18 Beverly 41,885 $80,586 $437,300
19 Somerville 80,906 $97,328 $664,700
20 Woburn 40,304 $91,022 $453,900
21 Medford 57,637 $96,455 $500,800
22 Cambridge 116,632 $103,154 $768,300
23 Melrose 28,113 $106,955 $570,300
24 Newton 88,593 $151,068 $914,700

How Is Your Town In ?