The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2020


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in Massachusetts.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Massachusetts is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Massachusetts are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Massachusetts for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2020

  1. Waltham, MA (Photos | Homes)
  2. Wellesley, MA (Photos | Homes)
  3. Boston, MA (Photos | Homes)
  4. Cambridge, MA (Photos | Homes)
  5. Longmeadow, MA (Photos | Homes)
  6. Bridgewater, MA (Photos | Homes)
  7. Brookline, MA (Photos | Homes)
  8. Northampton, MA (Photos | Homes)
  9. Needham, MA (Photos | Homes)
  10. Lowell, MA (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Waltham, Wellesley and Boston - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Waltham ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on Massachusetts check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2020

Waltham, MA
Overall SnackAbility
9
/10

Population: 62,979
% Undergrad Pop.: 12.1% (4th best)
Median Rent: $1,584 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 430.4% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Waltham: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Waltham is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, and was an early center for the labor movement as well as a major contributor to the American Industrial Revolution. The original home of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the city was a prototype for 19th century industrial city planning, spawning what became known as the Waltham-Lowell system of labor and production. The city is now a center for research and higher education, home to Brandeis University and Bentley University. The population was 60,636 at the census in 2010.

Colleges: Bentley University, Brandeis University

Wellesley, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 29,201
% Undergrad Pop.: 13.8% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $1,796 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 531.2% (12th best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Wellesley: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Wellesley is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Wellesley is part of Greater Boston. The population was 27,982 at the time of the 2010 census. Wellesley has the 3rd highest median household and family incomes in all of Massachusetts. It is best known as the home of Wellesley College, Babson College, and a campus of Massachusetts Bay Community College.

Colleges: Wellesley College, Babson College

Boston, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 679,413
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.7% (5th best)
Median Rent: $1,539 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 723.2% (20th best)
Crime Rank: 18th best
More on Boston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Boston BOSS-tn) is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. It is also the seat of Suffolk County, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city proper covers 48 square miles with an estimated population of 673,184 in 2016, making it the largest city in the New England region of the northeastern United States. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area home to a census-estimated 4.8million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area, this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

Colleges: Northeastern University, Boston University, University of Massachusetts-Boston

Cambridge, MA
Overall SnackAbility
9
/10

Population: 115,665
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.1% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $2,071 (21st best)
Unemployment Rate: 444.4% (10th best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Cambridge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Boston metropolitan area.

Colleges: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lesley University

Longmeadow, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 15,830
% Undergrad Pop.: 4.8% (13th best)
Median Rent: $1,367 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 341.0% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 7th best
More on Longmeadow: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Longmeadow is a town in Hampden County, Massachusetts, in the United States. The population was 15,784 at the 2010 census.

Colleges: Bay Path University

Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 9,255
% Undergrad Pop.: 76.5% (1st best)
Median Rent: $1,454 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 885.0% (21st best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Bridgewater: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Colleges: Bridgewater State University

Brookline, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 59,234
% Undergrad Pop.: 4.7% (14th best)
Median Rent: $2,194 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 314.2% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Brookline: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, in the United States, and is a part of Greater Boston. Brookline borders six of Boston's neighborhoods: Brighton, Allston, Fenway-Kenmore, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury. The city of Newton lies to the west of Brookline.

Colleges: Newbury College, The New England Institute of Art, Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

Northampton, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 28,568
% Undergrad Pop.: 9.2% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,098 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 585.4% (15th best)
Crime Rank: 17th best
More on Northampton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The city of Northampton ) is the county seat of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of Northampton was 28,549.

Colleges: Smith College, Marinello School of Beauty-Northampton

Needham, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 30,735
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.0% (20th best)
Median Rent: $1,473 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 466.5% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Needham: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Needham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. A suburb of Boston, its population was 28,886 at the 2010 census. It is home to the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, an engineering school.

Colleges: Franklin W Olin College of Engineering

Lowell, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 111,249
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.6% (10th best)
Median Rent: $1,111 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 708.4% (18th best)
Crime Rank: 16th best
More on Lowell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lowell is a city in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Located in Middlesex County, Lowell was a county seat until Massachusetts disbanded county government in 1999. With an estimated population of 109,945 in 2014, it is the fourth-largest city in Massachusetts, and the second-largest in the Boston metropolitan statistical area. The city is also part of a smaller Massachusetts statistical area called Greater Lowell, as well as New England's Merrimack Valley region.

Colleges: University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell Academy Hairstyling Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute-Lowell

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Massachusetts?

To crunch our data on Massachusetts's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 19 places in Massachusetts with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Massachusetts For 2020".

And it looks like Waltham placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Massachusetts, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

19 Best College Towns In Massachusetts

Rank City Population
1 Waltham, MA 62979
2 Wellesley, MA 29201
3 Boston, MA 679413
4 Cambridge, MA 115665
5 Longmeadow, MA 15830
6 Bridgewater, MA 9255
7 Brookline, MA 59234
8 Northampton, MA 28568
9 Needham, MA 30735
10 Lowell, MA 111249
11 Worcester, MA 185195
12 Milton, MA 27568
13 Haverhill, MA 63280
14 Medford, MA 57771
15 Chicopee, MA 55661
16 Newton, MA 88660
17 Quincy, MA 94121
18 Springfield, MA 154596
19 North Adams, MA 13089

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?