Moving across state lines to start a family can be challenging. But if you’ve chosen Massachusetts for putting down roots, you’ve won the hardest part of the battle. This historically rich, academically prestigious and generally progressive New England state counts among the most family-friendly in America.
In WalletHub’s analysis of the Best & Worst States to Raise a Family, Massachusetts ranked No. 6 overall and earned particularly high marks in four out of five categories, including “family fun,” “health and safety,” “education and child care,” and “affordability.” But even in “socio-economics,” the final category, it outranked 28 states. Education and technology are unsurprisingly Massachusetts’ biggest industries, considering the state is the No. 1 most educated and third most innovative. Parents with high family standards therefore have little to sacrifice — and much to gain — by relocating to the Bay State.
As in any other state, however, certain cities excel more than others and offer better perks to parents with young children. That being the case, WalletHub’s data team compared 86 cities in Massachusetts based on 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from median family income to school-system quality to housing affordability. Read on for our findings, methodology and expert insight on certain family matters from a panel of researchers.
Best Places to Live in Massachusetts for Families
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|2||Franklin Town, MA||77.23||32||2||2||5|
|21||Braintree Town, MA||63.39||58||36||22||18|
|22||Easthampton Town, MA||62.92||73||12||30||30|
|26||Watertown Town, MA||62.25||62||28||46||16|
|31||Amherst Center, MA||60.90||19||13||23||62|
|33||Greenfield Town, MA||60.49||16||57||19||56|
|34||Weymouth Town, MA||60.07||77||33||31||37|
|39||Agawam Town, MA||59.00||60||41||21||53|
|41||Methuen Town, MA||57.79||36||40||45||54|
|43||Amesbury Town, MA||57.44||53||59||34||47|
|58||Barnstable Town, MA||51.84||46||70||65||52|
|59||West Springfield Town, MA||51.83||27||78||51||59|
|60||Palmer Town, MA||51.35||82||43||58||66|
|65||South Yarmouth, MA||49.84||83||75||72||23|
|66||Southbridge Town, MA||49.06||44||56||56||76|
|69||Winthrop Town, MA||47.98||78||48||81||46|
|72||North Adams, MA||46.78||42||74||50||79|
|79||New Bedford, MA||39.75||26||81||74||82|
|81||Fall River, MA||37.81||24||82||79||80|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective Massachusetts cities on a family’s shortlist. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Massachusetts?
- How can local officials in Massachusetts make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Massachusetts, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Massachusetts cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared 86 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
We then calculated the total score for each city based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to construct our final ranking.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 17.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
Socioeconomics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.