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Massachusetts’ Best Communities 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012


What makes a community great?

We all have reasons we love (or are frustrated with), the places we live. From schools and housing to taxes and crime rates, from cultural to recreational hotspots, our communities create places for us to live, work, raise families, and play. Everyone might think theirs is the best, and while we don't want to insult hometown pride, GoLocalWorcester has the answer.

For the first time ever, we’ve analyzed all 351 communities in Massachusetts and ranked them.  What really is the best community in Central Mass? What is the best community in the Commonwealth? Who gets the blue ribbon?

New in 2012: An entire week devoted to Best Communities 2012

GoLocalWorcester devotes the entire week to looking at the cities and towns in Central Mass. Starting today, we reveal the rankings, starting from the bottom of the list at #72. Every day we'll reveal more communities, moving up the list toward the Top 10, which will appear on Friday. What day will your town make the list? And at what ranking? Which towns ranked lower than yours? Which ones higher? We'll have more towns every day, all week, plus a major chart on Friday comparing all 72 communities, plus a chart ranking the top 10 statewide. Don't miss a day of it. 

How GoLocalWorcester ranked Massachusetts’ communities

To translate a feeling into a reality, we went - where else? - to the data. With assessments created nationally by leading media sources like Kiplinger's and Money Magazine, we created our own set of criteria for what makes a community great. Our researchers spent hours poring over measures from public sources that help define a great place to live. We gathered and assessed housing prices, tax rates, median household incomes, crime statistics, and school performance on standardized tests in elementary, middle, and high schools. We counted places to go out and have fun, from bars and museums, to theaters and golf courses. We even counted libraries. From there, we created (with guidance from national sources), a formula that combined, weighed, and averaged, our mountains of data. For the details on this process, go here. What emerged was a set of snapshots of our communities - in education, housing, safety, affordability, and culture... and of course, what community combined everything into the best overall package.

What the rankings mean... to you

This is Worcester County, remember, and we're expecting to hear from you. How do you feel about your town's ranking? What do the measures we use tell you about your community? Join the conversation about MA's Best Communities here in comments, on your town's profile, and on Facebook, here. Share the piece, talk to your friends and neighbors, and enjoy the biggest backyard conversation Massachusetts has ever seen.

Research by Scott O'Leary, Meia Geddes, Frankie Dobbs, Hannah Strom-Weber and Jake Costello


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