2015 Safest Places in Massachusetts

When deciding where to live, safety is a top priority. Our team has analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safety of cities and towns in Massachusetts. These 237 ranged in a crime score from 71 to 3,742, with an average of 809. Narrowing it down to the five safest places to live, we found that four fit into our midsize city category, with populations between 10,000 and 20,000, and that all five are towns located with 35 miles of Boston.

Speaking of the state capital, Boston came in 229th place, according to our crime score metric, which adjusted for population size and was based on the amount of violent and property-related crimes per 100,000 people (more on our methodology below). For more insight, take a look at the report:

5 Safest Places in Massachusetts

These cities have an average crime score of 92, 88 percent lower than their typical peer in Massachusetts. With some of the state’s lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state. 

1. Groveland, MA

Groveland, least populous town among the top five, comes out as the state’s safest. It reported 18 crimes (one robbery and 17 property-related charges) to the FBI in 2013, dropping its crime score 79 percent from a decade ago. With nine full-time police officers. Groveland is almost entirely residential these days, with more than 2,100 homes along the Merrimac River.

Factor Value
Population 6,917
Crime Score 71

2. Norfolk, MA

Another town next to a river – the Charles, this time – Norfolk landed at No. 2 on the list. It was settled way back in 1669 and incorporated in 1870 but traces its roots back even further. Current residents have a median household income of $115,477, or 77 percent higher than a given city in the state. Their median home value of $599,912 is also 85 percent higher than average. On the crime front, Norfolk has four prisons of varying security levels.

Factor Value
Population 11,663
Crime Score 72

3. Sharon, MA

In the same county as Norfolk, which is also named Norfolk County, Sharon comes in third thanks to dropping its violent crime total from 16 to 1 over the last 10 years. Of the top five, it’s the closest to Boston, with an express train into the state’s most populous city, and it borders Foxborough, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots The commuter town also boasts one of the nation’s best high schools.

Factor Value
Population 17,935
Crime Score 102

4. Duxbury, MA

Despite reporting two aggravated assaults for 2013 – two more than three of our top-five cities – Duxbury placed fourth. We don’t have data for the how the city fared in 2003, but the residents here have been in good hands with their 55-employee police department, which opened in 1931 with its then police chief patrolling neighborhoods on his motorcycle. Known for its cranberries and oysters, the former shipbuilding town has come a long way in its long history.  

Factor Value
Population 15,244
Crime Score 105

5. Sudbury, MA

Incorporated in the mid-17th century like Duxbury, Sudbury, the most populous city among the top five, recorded the most property crimes (94) of the five. Its residents earn a median household income of more $160,311, or 146 percent more than their average peer in Massachusetts. Also, their median home value, $683,631, is 111 percent higher than the norm. Sudbury was the home of many universally-known historical figures, including Henry Ford and Babe Ruth. 

Factor Value
Population 18,312
Crime Score 109

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 5,000 and 10,000, midsize cities with populations between 10,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:

Full List of Places in Massachusetts

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Massachusetts” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the table and see where your hometown ranks.

Rank City Population Violent Crime per 100k Property Crime per 100k Crime Score
1 Groveland 6,917 14 246  71
2 Norfolk 11,663 0 352  72
3 Sharon 17,935 6 424  102
4 Duxbury 15,244 13 387  105
5 Sudbury 18,312 0 513  109
6 Wayland 13,411 37 313  133
7 Southborough 9,908 20 585  153
8 Weston 11,893 25 547  157
9 Hopkinton 15,689 19 593  160
10 Franklin 32,633 21 524  161
11 Stow 6,949 58 345  167
12 Rockport 7,116 84 112  167
13 Boxford 8,145 49 417  168
14 Dover 5,778 35 623  176
15 Norton 19,414 41 464  179
16 Hamilton 8,122 37 616  186
17 Bedford 13,947 43 531  190
18 Medway 12,929 8 859  191
19 Clinton 13,721 73 292  196
20 Holden 17,775 45 540  201
21 Shrewsbury 36,315 17 741  204
22 Georgetown 8,457 35 757  210
23 Harvard 6,548 61 565  213
24 Westford 23,196 60 522  232
25 Reading 25,398 39 724  237
26 Acton 22,871 35 778  238
27 Rowley 6,015 100 399  245
28 Lynnfield 11,900 17 1118  259
29 Southampton 5,976 67 770  259
30 Wellesley 29,053 52 695  260
31 Lincoln 6,563 91 564  264
32 Lexington 32,632 52 711  266
33 Rochester 5,367 56 932  268
34 Medfield 12,309 97 471  275
35 Winchester 22,082 45 879  279
36 Groton 11,164 72 770  287
37 Holliston 14,199 99 528  295
38 Hampden 5,161 58 1066  295
39 Sutton 9,137 44 1160  308
40 Upton 7,690 91 780  311
41 Westborough 18,563 75 803  315
42 Stoneham 21,763 51 997  316
43 Ipswich 13,699 73 891  320
44 Dighton 7,194 139 417  322
45 Dalton 6,725 74 1026  324
46 Andover 34,529 58 909  325
47 Mendon 5,902 85 966  326
48 North Attleboro 28,913 7 1404  327
49 North Reading 15,406 78 870  329
50 Marblehead 20,209 84 787  332
51 Hanover 14,275 14 1478  333
52 Douglas 8,628 116 672  338
53 Ashburnham 6,166 81 1054  338
54 Boxborough 5,151 155 466  345
55 Cohasset 8,450 107 817  349
56 Plainville 8,512 23 1598  355
57 Melrose 27,648 76 948  362
58 Shirley 7,649 144 575  363
59 Middleton 9,394 117 798  368
60 Berkley 6,543 138 688  368
61 Mattapoisett 6,149 98 1073  370
62 Concord 19,437 87 947  371
63 Walpole 24,771 44 1296  372
64 Littleton 9,219 98 998  373
65 Longmeadow 15,844 88 985  373
66 Grafton 18,182 121 665  374
67 Lancaster 7,943 101 1007  374
68 Halifax 7,574 106 1017  382
69 West Boylston 7,821 64 1394  383
70 Hudson 19,659 81 1063  385
71 Manchester-by-the-Sea 5,255 171 533  385
72 Townsend 9,213 76 1270  387
73 Belmont 25,421 94 948  395
74 Brewster 9,825 71 1344  396
75 Southwick 9,597 83 1271  402
76 Westwood 14,850 135 747  409
77 Scituate 18,230 132 741  411
78 Maynard 10,393 125 953  417
79 Newton 86,867 85 929  418
80 Norwood 28,906 62 1335  422
81 Easthampton 15,997 119 994  434
82 Norwell 10,622 113 1149  436
83 Gloucester 29,383 75 1303  442
84 North Andover 28,667 35 1671  443
85 Sterling 7,895 152 912  444
86 Chelmsford 34,862 63 1400  447
87 Rehoboth 11,809 110 1211  448
88 Merrimac 6,590 167 850  449
89 Ashland 17,162 105 1200  454
90 Tyngsboro 12,183 131 1059  457
91 Bolton 5,060 178 870  458
92 Granby 6,297 143 1191  471
93 Milton 27,269 77 1434  472
94 Acushnet 10,362 183 714  474
95 Northborough 14,878 121 1223  482
96 Wilmington 23,187 125 1091  484
97 Charlton 13,195 167 856  486
98 Billerica 41,926 114 1116  495
99 Dracut 30,533 66 1618  496
100 Agawam 28,659 143 942  497
101 Hanson 10,342 184 832  499
102 Belchertown 14,744 142 1133  503
103 Lakeville 10,939 91 1673  503
104 Easton 23,420 141 1050  507
105 Hingham 22,687 75 1684  514
106 Lee 5,883 119 1666  516
107 Blackstone 9,094 187 924  516
108 Arlington 44,098 125 1170  533
109 Pembroke 18,040 183 881  538
110 Deerfield 5,120 137 1680  540
111 Newburyport 17,773 174 996  544
112 Uxbridge 13,629 154 1291  553
113 Pepperell 11,920 185 1057  555
114 Wilbraham 14,375 118 1635  561
115 Sandwich 20,713 150 1250  561
116 Dedham 25,094 60 2064  573
117 Natick 34,085 106 1596  578
118 Brookline 59,382 143 1138  579
119 Amherst 39,127 179 938  585
120 Westport 15,735 172 1258  589
121 Kingston 12,791 156 1493  595
122 Somerset 18,340 153 1434  599
123 Wrentham 11,195 71 2340  603
124 Ayer 7,788 154 1759  612
125 Marshfield 25,581 211 895  616
126 Ludlow 21,214 151 1508  620
127 Watertown 33,254 159 1386  637
128 Wakefield 25,838 190 1211  644
129 Rutland 8,272 302 629  656
130 Leicester 11,183 116 2236  664
131 Templeton 8,083 272 1002  674
132 Oxford 13,828 195 1533  681
133 Chatham 6,162 179 1996  683
134 Burlington 25,435 130 1970  692
135 Dudley 11,619 293 775  694
136 Hopedale 5,952 302 958  694
137 Canton 22,100 267 851  707
138 East Bridgewater 14,044 221 1424  708
139 Westminster 7,377 122 2562  708
140 Freetown 8,996 233 1523  716
141 Mansfield 23,552 200 1495  720
142 East Longmeadow 15,946 176 1863  724
143 Spencer 11,801 246 1364  728
144 Orleans 5,892 153 2512  733
145 South Hadley 17,794 214 1551  739
146 Lunenburg 11,149 197 1884  740
147 Swampscott 13,995 186 1901  741
148 Bellingham 16,619 211 1751  770
149 Beverly 40,592 217 1414  776
150 Woburn 39,284 211 1479  776
151 Harwich 12,299 195 2041  776
152 Monson 8,716 310 1159  778
153 Amesbury 16,655 252 1435  782
154 Medford 57,428 195 1564  790
155 Adams 8,352 251 1880  812
156 Milford 28,312 205 1844  821
157 Northbridge 16,026 237 1922  853
158 Waltham 62,446 226 1525  853
159 Swansea 16,099 211 2174  857
160 Winthrop 18,131 320 1164  861
161 Williamstown 7,682 182 2812  865
162 Carver 11,552 303 1601  879
163 Framingham 70,753 243 1449  882
164 Westfield 41,493 248 1593  883
165 Dartmouth 34,562 142 2645  890
166 Palmer 12,155 313 1728  928
167 Sturbridge 9,399 319 1862  940
168 Peabody 52,178 220 2033  947
169 Braintree 36,496 227 2113  948
170 Abington 16,121 298 1842  952
171 Seekonk 14,102 234 2489  953
172 Millbury 13,355 285 2059  954
173 Raynham 13,580 191 2909  956
174 West Bridgewater 6,966 330 2038  962
175 Orange 7,818 320 2123  974
176 Barre 5,453 477 972  984
177 Holbrook 10,959 356 1670  984
178 Whitman 14,682 361 1478  985
179 Stoughton 28,186 284 1887  989
180 Danvers 27,263 187 2791  992
181 Middleboro 23,547 297 1881  995
182 Methuen 48,363 219 2330  1,007
183 Attleboro 44,034 245 2139  1,009
184 Hull 10,331 407 1365  1,009
185 Plymouth 57,893 318 1392  1,013
186 Mashpee 14,041 320 2023  1,017
187 Somerville 77,768 246 1961  1,021
188 Great Barrington 6,972 430 1779  1,086
189 Weymouth 55,432 352 1414  1,087
190 Malden 60,816 337 1554  1,097
191 Athol 11,668 454 1320  1,099
192 Saugus 27,628 290 2345  1,100
193 Taunton 56,264 371 1710  1,199
194 Auburn 16,361 287 3239  1,227
195 Fairhaven 15,951 401 2282  1,238
196 Pittsfield 43,992 252 3073  1,240
197 Ware 9,856 426 2415  1,248
198 Marlborough 39,531 395 1912  1,257
199 Winchendon 10,551 474 2057  1,272
200 Warren 5,158 640 1163  1,285
201 Falmouth 31,592 323 2846  1,294
202 Quincy 93,490 386 1762  1,301
203 Salem 42,468 301 2915  1,301
204 Tewksbury 29,953 471 1676  1,324
205 Salisbury 8,490 530 2097  1,349
206 Nantucket 10,378 395 3180  1,352
207 Bourne 19,875 458 2340  1,389
208 Randolph 33,583 524 1596  1,428
209 Southbridge 16,870 486 2413  1,434
210 Cambridge 107,282 336 2710  1,442
211 Montague 8,418 535 2637  1,463
212 Everett 42,966 470 2090  1,464
213 Gardner 20,341 457 2807  1,491
214 Northampton 28,581 455 2799  1,536
215 Chicopee 55,566 490 2813  1,714
216 Revere 53,777 589 2159  1,765
217 Dennis 14,173 564 3563  1,793
218 Webster 16,871 723 2525  1,909
219 Leominster 41,175 639 2999  2,019
220 Barnstable 44,837 674 2656  2,029
221 Haverhill 62,249 665 2599  2,058
222 Lowell 109,449 571 3087  2,073
223 West Springfield 28,647 569 4611  2,169
224 Fitchburg 40,521 758 2616  2,174
225 Wareham 22,567 722 3572  2,192
226 Yarmouth 23,736 851 2814  2,291
227 Lynn 91,769 887 2613  2,629
228 North Adams 13,516 984 4328  2,723
229 Boston 643,799 782 2773  2,849
230 Lawrence 77,812 997 2921  2,909
231 Fall River 89,220 1058 2650  3,013
232 Worcester 183,454 954 3401  3,155
233 Chelsea 37,454 1223 3295  3,271
234 New Bedford 95,156 1092 3612  3,346
235 Brockton 94,448 1230 3376  3,594
236 Holyoke 40,215 1042 6624  3,684
237 Springfield 153,586 1089 4631  3,742

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2013 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 3,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores. 

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