The last time we visited Massachusetts, we had some real strong feedback. You guys are really passionate about your communities up there. Good for you. A strong sense of pride in where you live is a great thing. Hearing about the worst places to live in your state must have struck a real chord.
Today will be a lot less negative. We’re going to talk about sunshine and rainbows. The great places in Massachusetts. The kind of cities anyone would want to live in. And once again, we’re going to use science to do it.
So you can let your guard down.
After analyzing the 224 most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 best places in Massachusetts:
I know what you’re probably thinking. If you live in one of these cities, you agree with the reasoning, and if your ‘wonderful’ city isn’t on this list, you think we’re nuts. Well, buckle up and read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. It will make sense. I promise.
How do you decide if a place is awesome or not?
In order to rank the best places to live in Massachusetts, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The higher the better. Meaning there’s lots to do.)
- Lowest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Education (High expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
- Low Crime
- Highest Cost of Homes in the area
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities, from best to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart. And if you’re wondering where Boston fared, it was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Larger cities typically do trend that direction when we run this data.
The worst city in Massachusetts? That’d be New Bedford. More on that later.
An additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. We simply did a calculation to determine the chances a person has of being the victim of a crime, based on number of violent crimes and property crimes per capita.
Median income: $176,875
Crime: 9th lowest in the state
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Average home cost: $1.2 million
Let’s just put this to rest right now. No matter how passionate you are about where you live in Massachusetts, the town of Weston is by far the best place to live. At least according to science.
The residents of Weston are the wealthiest, most employed, and just about safest of anyone in the state. Plus, their kids go to some of the best-funded schools. The get the benefits of living in the Boston area without having to rub elbows with the Massholes.
You know what they say: Money doesn’t buy happiness. Yes it does. And it also buys safety and peace of mind.
If you live here, you probably won’t brag about this ranking. So secretly already knew.
Education: 20th best in terms of student support
Household income: $131,507
Unemployment rate: 3.8%
We’re going to see a pattern here, so if you want to skim, we understand. The Town of Concord is a wealthy Boston suburb with great schools and low crime.
The difference: Concord residents are far less wealthy than those in Weston. Instead of a boatload of money, people in Concord make only piles of money.
Unemployment rate: 3.8%
Median household income: $124,702
Crime: 2nd lowest in the state
Seems like the further away you get from Boston, the safer it gets. At least that’s the case with the Town of Wayland. There’s only one other city in the state that’s statistically safer. Anyone want to guess?
It’s Pinehurst, a tiny blip of 7,000 people that isn’t even considered a city. It’s a village south of Lowell.
In any event, consider yourself lucky if you live in Wayland, where there were only five violent crimes in all of 2013. They were all aggravated assaults. Probably some jokers upset about the loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Nothing personal.
Household income: $138,095
Average home cost: $748,700
Unemployment rate: 3.5%
The Town of Lexington has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in Massachusetts. The population growth here has been 8% over the last 15 years, meaning a lot of people want to live here. If they can afford it; the cost of living in Lexington is 128% higher than the national average. That seems to be pretty standard in these Boston suburbs.
Average home values: $564,100
Unemployment rate: 4%
Median household income: $104,623
The town of Bedford has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, and some of the most successful residents. Scientifically, it’s one of the best places to live in the state, and quite, frankly, the entire country.
Unemployment rate: 3.9%
Education: 10th best in the state for student support
Median household value: $888,300
The town of Lincoln is the smallest of the Boston suburbs to top our list. It can make a case that it has the smartest students (or at least the most nurtured students). Its education is ranked 10th best in terms of student support, and the student-teacher ratio is second best in Massachusetts.
There are 9.9 students per teacher in Lincoln schools. Talk about some real attention.
Unemployment rate: 3.5%
Average home price: $994,200
Median household income: $155,000
If you don’t have a job in the Town of Wellesley, you’re most likely not trying very hard. The unemployment rate here is almost as low as you can get. In fact, there are probably enough butler and landscaping jobs available here to put every single unemployed resident to work.
That’s actually not a bad idea.
Median household income: $164,337
Average home cost: 654,600
Crime: 5th lowest in the state
The only crimes happening in Sudbury are when people make off with the china or silverware during fancy get togethers. Or, perhaps when a trust fund kid takes his dad’s boat out without permission and wrecks it at Martha’s Vineyard.
Median household income: $105,090
Unemployment rate: 3.8%
Average household cost: $529.000
The only real difference between Marblehead and the cities above is that Bedford residents make less money and the crime is slightly higher. In fact, of all of the cities at the top of this list, Marblehead is statistically the most dangerous.
But who are we kidding here? It’s still really safe in Marblehead.
Median income: $123,942
Home cost: $450,500
Crime: 7th lowest in Massachusetts
Sharon is a really awesome place to live when you look at the numbers. The crime is extremely low across the board.
There You Have It
This is the first state that we’ve analyzed in which all top 10 ‘best’ cities are essentially a suburb of a major city, and whose numbers are so identical. Let’s be honest here. The only real way the residents of these cities can argue about who has it better off is by comparing whose kids have better tutors and which family has closer seats at the Sox game.
If you’re analyzing places in Massachusetts with the best economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Click here to access the full data file for all of the cities.At the top you can choose between worst and best scientific data in Massachusetts.
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Massachusetts, according to science.
- New Bedford (Pop. 94,952)
- Fall River (Pop. 89,049)
- Gardner (Pop. 20,250)
- North Adams (Pop. 13,725)
- Fitchburg (40,314)