This ‘10 Worst Places to Live in Mass.’ Ranking Is Just Silly

Is New Bedford really that bad?

Travel blog RoadSnacks published its list of the 10 worst places to live in Massachusetts, and boy, do we have some problems with it.

After “analyzing” the 224 most populous cities and towns in Massachusetts using “science,” RoadSnacks produced the following ranking, taking into account factors like population density, unemployment rates, adjusted median income, home cost, and crime rates:

  1. New Bedford
  2. Fall River
  3. Gardner
  4. North Adams
  5. Fitchburg
  6. Ware
  7. Brockton
  8. Taunton
  9. Southbridge
  10. Athol

Right out of the gate, the list is problematic, starting with its criteria. For example, the smaller a municipality’s population density, the worse it is ranked. There are plenty of beautiful places, both in the Bay State and beyond, with few people around. In fact, it can be argued that they’re beautiful because there are so few people around. Besides, these metrics fail to take into account government corruption, school systems, public spaces, access to food, the arts, and other factors that determine quality of life.

But perhaps what the list lacks in, say, cogent use of data, it makes up for in astute observations:

  • “If you live in New Bedford, you can brag to your buddies at the bah [sic] that you have it rough, and they should buy you a bucket of Sam Adams.”
  • “Between New Bedford and Fall River, there were 173 reported rapes last year. Just wow.”
  • “Residents in Gardner have a 1 in 38 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Which means lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and Tom Brady jerseys.”
  • “If you want cheap housing, move to North Adams. If you want high crime, no jobs and meager salaries, move to North Adams.”
  • “On a positive note, the 11,000 people who live [in Athol] have two Dunkies all to themselves.”
  • “The population has dropped here more than 6%, and the cost of living for some reason is a lot higher than it should be. Which means you’re overpaying to live in…Ware.”

Perhaps not. Surprisingly, Lawrence—”The City of the Damned“—doesn’t not crack the top 10, and instead resides at No. 15, despite Boston magazine deeming it “the most godforsaken place in Massachusetts” back in March 2012.