People in Massachusetts often find that the world is their oyster and the possibilities are endless, not to mention that the rich culture is the cherry on top of the cake. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as it is properly known, is the most populous state in the New England area with a total population of 6.89 million.
For a state that happens to be the 7th smallest in the US, Massachusetts still manages to be one of the best places for education in the country. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are just two of the best. The state happens to have a flat income tax rate of 5% and a state-wide sales tax rate of 6.25%.
Thinking of moving to Massachusetts but not sure which city you should choose? Read about the largest cities in Massachusetts to have some base to make your decision.
Top 10 Largest Cities In Massachusetts
Boston needs no introduction. It is not only considered to be one of the best cities in the United States, but a major economic and cultural hub of the entire world. The city covers an area of 89.62 square miles (232.11 km2) and has a population of 692,600, as last estimated in 2019.
When it comes to the economy, Boston is one of the 30 most powerful in the world and is a true global city. The cost-of-living index of Boston is 162.4, which means that it is significantly higher than the national average of 100. The schools and colleges in the city are a major source of income. Boston is known for its innovation due to its academic scenario along with the easily accessible venture capital and the technology-based companies. While the government itself, with its federal agencies based in Boston, is a major source of revenue for the state, tourism and the related industries also bring in a lot of money.
Boston carries the reputation of being the ‘intellectual capital of the United States’. Its culture is derived from its roots in Native American and Yankee history. Plus there are plenty of bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues to choose from for a night off. Want to make plans for the weekend when you are not enjoying a music festival? The orchestra or the literary hotspots will come to your rescue.
- Median Home Value: $665,985
- Median Rent: $2,500
- Median Household Income: $71,115
Worcester is located right in the centre of Massachusetts which has earned it the nickname of the ‘Heart of Commonwealth’. The city is quite liberal and a majority of the residents are young professionals. The city has an area of 38.45 square miles (99.57 km2) and a population of 185,428 as of 2019.
The cost-of-living index of the city is 102.2, which means that it is pretty close to the national average of 100. Worcester often falls under the shadow of Boston, but it has its thriving economy to boast of. Education and healthcare are prominent players in the economy, plus biotechnology and technology sectors have prompted a huge growth in the average income of the state. Here’s a fun fact – the city has the largest concentration of gaming students in America. Worcester also houses many manufacturing and wire production industries along with a few power looms.
The city has a few ethnic communities like the Swedish, Italian, Irish, Polish and others. People often visit Worcester for its beautiful Cathedra and the Worcester Porcelain. It also goes to say that the city is second only to Boston in terms of its culture of arts. Some other points of interest are the flavoursome Worcestershire sauce and the country’s favourite cricket ground which happens to be here. Of course, the city comes with its fair share of restaurants, bars and its own nightlife for those times when you just want to let your hair loose.
- Median Home Value: $304,802
- Median Rent: $1,800
- Median Household Income: $48,139
Springfield is the kind of place every person has dreamed of living in at least once in their life. The beautiful Victorian architecture and the innovative spirit that the city is famous for will make you fall in love with it and make you stay as well. Springfield covers an area of 33.08 square miles (85.68 km2) and has a population of 153,606 as of 2019. The cost-of-living index of Springfield is 89.7, which is lower than the national average of 100.
Springfield’s geographical location plays an important role in its economy as its vicinity to both Boston and New York make it an ideal point of distribution. The economy of the city has been termed as ‘mature’, which essentially means that recessions won’t affect it to a great extent. The most prevalent industries here are- education and health, trade and transport, manufacturing, tourism and professional and business services.
For recreation, it is a given that no city in Massachusetts would lack restaurants, bars and hangout spots. Springfield has something more to flex though. There is New England’s largest amusement park – Six Flags New England, as well as the area’s most popular fair – The big E. The food scene in the city is one of the best in the country, thanks to the range of the cultures present here and the related businesses that have been around since generations. When it comes to music, Springfield caters to literally all genres, but classical music lovers will find a special love in the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
- Median Home Value: $204,101
- Median Rent: $1,000
- Median Household Income: $34,731
Best known for being the home of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge is quite liberal in its way of life and is one of the best places to live in the country. It covers an area of 7.10 square miles (18.38 km2) and is the fifth most populous city in Massachusetts with 118,927 residents as estimated in 2019. The cost-of-living index of Cambridge is 181.8, so it is quite higher than the national average of 100.
While Cambridge is known as a major centre of education, other driving forces of the economy are tourism, biotechnology and politics. While these universities are the biggest employers, companies like Analog Devices, Akamai, General Radio, Polaroid and others are a close second. Google, IBM Research, Microsoft, etc., have offices here. A strong student population has made sure that there are a number of independent businesses, think-tanks and non-profit organisations borne out of a sense of community. Some of them are ‘One Laptop per Child’, ‘Cultural Survival’, ‘National Bureau of Economic Research’ and many more.
Cambridge has a lot of public art, in colleges and outside, which lends a unique character to the city. There is also a lot of historic architecture, especially from the 17th century which combines effortlessly with the modern-day buildings largely built by MIT and Harvard. The beauty of this place makes it quite the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience to live here.
- Median Home Value: $901,227
- Median Rent: $2,500
- Median Household Income: $103,154
Read Also: 10 Best Cities For 20 Somethings
Lowell, the city that continues to be known as the ‘cradle of the industrial revolution’ due to its textile mills and factories, is a place of trendy dining, literary greats and local festivals. The city covers an area of 14.53 square miles (37.63 km2) and has a population of 110,997, as estimated in 2019. The cost-of-living index of Lowell is 112.5, so it is more expensive than the national average, but comparatively lower than other cities in Massachusetts.
Lowell is the birthplace of some famous writers and artists like Jack Kerouac and James McNeill Whistler, with the latter having a museum named after him. The ‘Whistler House Museum of Art’ is where you will find a lot of local art that has been preserved over time. Then the next best thing to do would be to go shopping at Mill No.5 which sells some of the most unique knick-knacks and collectibles. And the American Textile History Museum is unmissable for its representation of the city’s history.
If it is an adventure you are seeking, going kayaking at the Merrimack river is always an option. Then later, have a pint of beer at the Worthen house, a place where Edgar Allen Poe and Jack Kerouac themselves have come for drinks. Some places where those historical figures have not been to, but you should, are the Arthurs’s Diner for its famous sandwich, Elliot’s Hot dogs for its hot dog and franks, and the Ow Diner for its classic breakfast.
- Median Home Value: $350,185
- Median Rent: $1,500
- Median Household Income: $56,878
Here you have the ‘city of champions’, with Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler and a very successful Brockton High School Sports Program to its name. Montello and Campello are two villages in the city and they both have their individual post offices and commuter lines. The city spreads over an area of 21.52 square miles (55.73 km2) and has a population of 95,708 as of 2019. The cost-of-living index of Brockton is 117.6, making it more expensive than the country’s average of 100.
Brockton has its own baseball team – the Brockton Rox, which is distinctive in its own right. A true feather in the city’s cap is that it has been named one of the 100 best communities for young people due to the city’s dedicated efforts to invest in and improve the future of its youth. This involves an adherence to education, mentoring and volunteerism, which is a policy that has been very successful for the city. The city is also home to the Brockton Symphony Orchestra which comprises 65 musicians and performs five to six concerts every year.
- Median Home Value: $367,635
- Median Rent: $1,000
- Median Household Income: $58,469
7. New Bedford
New Bedford is very often called the ‘whaling city’ as it is one of the world’s most important whaling ports. It also happens to be one of the largest cities on the south-coast of Massachusetts, with an area of 24.1 square miles (62.5 km2) and a population of 95,363 as of 2019. The cost-of-living index of New Bedford is 100.4 which means that it is almost at par with the national average of 100.
New Bedford is often considered to be the meeting point of history and culture. Along with being a primary whaling port, other major industries in the city are that of petroleum refinery and textiles, which helped the city maintain its wealth when the whaling industry was on a decline in the mid-19th century. Tourism is another growing industry, and it is usually about New Bedford’s fairs and festivals like the Folk Festival, Whaling City Festival, Jazzfest and the Fourth of July.
Another claim to fame that New Bedford carries is that it is the hometown of Herman Melville – the author of Moby Dick, and a portion of the book is set in New Bedford. Also, the city’s history of famous musicians has given it a thriving arts and music scene that will have one coming back for more.
- Median Home Value: $306,329
- Median Rent: $1000
- Median Household Income: $46,321
Also See: 5 Best States To Live
The second and sixth president of the United States comes from Quincy, giving it the nickname of the ‘City of Presidents’. The city has an area of 26.91 square miles (69.69 km2) and a population of 94,470 as estimated in 2019. The cost-of-living index of Quincy stands at 143.9, a number significantly higher than the national average cost of living index of 100.
Historically, Quincy was a manufacturing and granite quarrying centre, but in recent years, the focus has shifted to financial services, insurance and healthcare. Boston Financial Data Services, Arbella Insurance, The Patriot Ledger and the Stop and Shop chain are headquartered here. Close behind are State Street Corporation, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston Scientific and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as other major employers in the city.
When it comes to relaxing, Quincy has its own distinctive mastery over it. You can walk on the Marina Bay in the northeast or go to the New Quincy Centre which is an expert culmination of history with the expectations for the future. The Hancock Cemetery, Thomas Crane Public Library and the Josiah Quincy House are some of the other attractions you can explore.
- Median Home Value: $544,698
- Median Rent: $2,000
- Median Household Income: $77,562
Lynn is the city that changes you as a person. If you ever leave Lynn, you would leave as a different person from when you entered the city. Lynn is part of Greater Boston’s primary circle and is famous for its historic architecture and open spaces. The city has an area of 13.53 square miles (35.03 km2).
Lynn is going through a stage of revitalization that has involved arts, culture and entertainment venues. It has bought out the city as a place of creative placemaking, prompting it to be named as one of the ‘Top 10 Places to Live In Greater Boston’.
The former ‘City of Sin’ has revamped itself into a place for the arts, architecture and its downtown cultural district. The Lynn Shore Reservation, Lynn Woods Reservation and the High Rock Tower Reservation are some of the popular local haunts. A few other points of interest would be the Diamond Historic District, Essex Coastal Scenic Byway and the Lynn Heritage State Park.
- Median Home Value: $437,853
- Median Rent: $2,000
- Median Household Income: $56,181
10. Fall River
Fall River was originally famous for leading the ‘textile manufacturing’ industry in the United States, and its effect can still be felt on the city’s culture despite having diversified since. Fall River has an area of 40.23 square miles (104.19 km2) and a population of 89,541 as estimated in 2019. The cost-of-living index of Fall River is 100.1, at par with the national average.
Major employers in the city are from retail trade, manufacturing, healthcare, accommodation and others services. Fall River is an exploration of Portuguese culture along with the textile mills of the previous century, the Battleship Cove, the World War II naval vessels – a collection that is the largest on earth – and the USS Massachusetts battleship. The city also hosts many ethnic festivals throughout the year which are worth a visit.
- Median Home Value: $314,682
- Median Rent: $1,000
- Median Household Income: $43,503
What Are The Four Largest Cities In Massachusetts?
From a population point of view, Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts. Worcester, Springfield and Cambridge follow it in that order.
Also Read: Moving To Massachusetts
Looking at the data, it can be understood that the cities are a mixed bag. While some of them are rather expensive, some are lower than the national average and some are at par with it. The choice of the city should be made in accordance with the employment opportunity, the relative cost-of-living and the lifestyle of the city. Such an objective decision making process can only yield good results, making sure that you enjoy your stay in the chosen city to the fullest.