While Boston is generally safer than most cities of its size, it’s not without its challenges. Despite its rich history and cultural diversity, the city, unfortunately, falls within the top six cities for hate crimes in the United States and is also considered one of the most dangerous cities in the state of Massachusetts.
These incidents occur across various neighborhoods, casting a shadow over Boston’s otherwise shining image. Given the higher incidence of hate crimes, it’s crucial to exercise caution while navigating the city, particularly if you belong to a minority group or are unfamiliar with the area’s local atmosphere.
It’s always a good idea to travel in groups after dark and stay updated with local crime reports. However, don’t let these issues deter you from experiencing the charm of Boston.
It’s far from being a city to avoid! If you’re considering relocating to Boston and are seeking affordable housing options, it’s still advisable to steer clear of certain neighborhoods.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of areas that might not be the best choice for your new home. So, before you sign that lease, take a moment to review our guide to the less desirable parts of town.
10 Cruddiest Hoods
|Back Bay-Beacon Hill
Central, despite being the heart of Boston with a population of approximately 33,000, is, unfortunately, the city’s most perilous neighborhood. The violent crime rate here is a staggering 321% above the national average.
However, Central is not without its attractions, boasting numerous museums, arenas, and historical landmarks, all thanks to its prime location within Boston proper.
- Violent Crime: 1,597
- Property Crime: 4,610
Contrary to the movie that bears the same name, most people wouldn’t want to spend a night at this particular Roxbury. Why?
Because it’s legitimately one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Boston as well as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the surrounding area. The Roxbury violent crime rate is approximately twice the typical rate of Boston, and 232 percent higher than the national average.
So, it’s safe to say that this is one of the very few places in Boston that you can and should watch out for.
- Violent Crime: 1,264
- Property Crime: 3,505
South End, home to 34,304 residents, is another neighborhood in Boston with a high crime rate, 169% higher than the state average. While violent crimes are not as prevalent, property crimes are quite common.
Residents are often advised against leaving personal items in their vehicles due to frequent break-ins. Despite its crime rate, the average home price in South End is a hefty $568,400.
- Violent Crime: 940
- Property crime: 2,896
With its proximity to a bunch of colleges and its lower rents, it’s easy to see why North Dorchester would be attractive to people new to Boston. However, you might want to rethink your decision to move to North Dorchester if you can.
Though Boston itself is considered to be a relatively safe place to live, this is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Boston. The issues with North Dorchester are manifold.
Unlike many of the other parts featured on this list, North Dorchester’s crime is above the national average on all counts. Worse, the crime rate is increasing, especially when it comes to property crime.
- Violent Crime: 738
- Property Crime: 2,937
South Dorchester, another high-crime neighborhood in Boston, has a total crime rate of 3,295 per 100,000 residents, 142% higher than the state average. While most crimes are property-related, violent crimes such as assaults and robberies do occur.
Visitors and residents are advised to stay vigilant and exercise common sense when in South Dorchester.
- Violent Crime: 840
- Property Crime: 2,601
What’s going on with you, Mattapan? Why do you have a violent crime rate that’s over 130 percent above the national average?
In a city like Boston, hearing about high rates of violent crime is something that is rather rare. No wonder many Bostonites avoid Mattapan at night.
At one point, Mattapan was a section of the Dorchesters prior to being incorporated into Boston. Nowadays, they seem to share the same crime rate, though Mattapan tends to be the part with more public housing and small residential buildings.
- Violent Crime: 901
- Property Crime: 2,489
Back Bay-Beacon Hill
Back Bay, a historic waterfront neighborhood famous for its Victorian brownstone houses, has a crime rate 141% higher than the state average. Most crimes are property-related, including car break-ins and petty theft.
Despite this, Back Bay is a relatively affluent community with a median income of $61,578 and a median home price of $352,652.
- Violent Crime: 584
- Property Crime: 3,434
South Boston, while more livable than some other areas, still experiences minor property and violent crimes. This relatively affluent neighborhood offers access to ports, downtown, and entertainment options.
Residents are advised to be cautious of car theft and petty crime. The neighborhood’s criminal element is gradually being pushed out due to increasing rent and home prices.
- Violent Crime: 489
- Property Crime: 1,522
Located just 7.9 miles south of Downtown, Hyde Park is another high-crime neighborhood in Boston. Although its violent crime rate is 20% higher than the national average, it is considered relatively safe in terms of violent crime.
Most crimes in Hyde Park are property-related, such as theft and burglaries, but assaults do occur. Despite this, Hyde Park remains attractive to many, with a median home price of $324,484.
- Violent Crime: 456
- Property Crime: 1,389
Jamaica Plain, with a population of 45,158, has a crime rate 36% higher than the Massachusetts average. This neighborhood has seen significant revitalization in recent years, with many older homes being renovated.
The violent crime rate here primarily consists of assaults, with thefts and burglaries happening sporadically.
- Violent Crime: 452
- Property Crime: 1,492
Top 5 Safe Places In Boston
Fenway-Kenmore: A Safe Haven Amidst the Hustle
Home to 38,320 residents, Fenway-Kenmore boasts impressive livability scores and a crime rate lower than most of Boston and Massachusetts. The neighborhood is famous for the Red Sox and the legendary Fenway Park.
While the nightlife, restaurants, and pubs are vibrant, they can occasionally become hotspots for crimes related to excessive partying. It’s advisable to avoid late-night strolls and to stick to group outings.
North End: Boston’s Little Italy
North End, one of Boston’s oldest residential areas, is densely populated with 10,131 residents and often bustling with tourists. Known as Boston’s Little Italy, it has the lowest reported crime incidents.
However, there were a few more cases of sexual assault on women in the early 2000s than usual, marking a rare dark spot in the neighborhood’s history.
West Roxbury: Comfort and Safety Combined
West Roxbury, home to 32,855 people, is a remarkably comfortable neighborhood with excellent safety records. In 2018, the FBI reported 914 crimes per 100,000 population, including 202 violent crimes and 712 property crimes.
The likelihood of becoming a crime victim in this area is low to none (1 in 110).
Roslindale: A Neighborhood of Tranquility
Roslindale, with its 36,129 residents, is a neighborhood with an exceptional livability rating and a crime rate 47% lower than both the national and Boston averages. With 345 violent crimes and 1,062 property crimes per 100,000 residents, Roslindale is safer than 78% of cities in Massachusetts.
The chance of becoming a crime victim in this neighborhood is 1 in 72.
Allston-Brighton: The Artistic Safe Spot
Allston-Brighton, known for its music venues like Great Scott and its artistic vibe, has a low crime rate compared to both Boston and the national average. The neighborhood is popular among students due to its proximity to colleges, which contributes to a consistent property crime rate.
House and car break-ins are the most common crimes in this area.
What factors contribute to a neighborhood being considered ‘worst’?
Several factors can contribute to a neighborhood being considered ‘worst’. These can include high crime rates, poor housing conditions, lack of access to essential services like healthcare and education, high unemployment rates, and low-income levels.
How is the crime rate in a neighborhood calculated?
The crime rate in a neighborhood is typically calculated based on the number of reported crimes per 100,000 residents. This can include both violent crimes (like murder, rape, robbery, and assault) and property crimes (like burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft).
How can I find out about the crime rate in a specific Boston neighborhood?
Websites like AreaVibes and NeighborhoodScout provide crime data for specific neighborhoods. You can also check with the Boston Police Department for the most recent crime statistics.
Are crime rates the only factor to consider when evaluating a neighborhood?
While crime rates are an important factor, they are not the only thing to consider. The quality of schools, availability of amenities, housing affordability, and community engagement are also important.
How can neighborhoods improve their conditions?
Improvement can come through a variety of avenues, including increased police presence, community engagement, investment in local businesses, and improvements in housing.
Does living in a ‘worst’ neighborhood mean I will be a victim of crime?
Not necessarily. While living in a neighborhood with a high crime rate can increase your risk, many residents never experience crime personally. It’s always important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
What is being done to improve the worst neighborhoods in Boston?
Various initiatives are often in place to improve conditions in struggling neighborhoods. This can include community policing efforts, investment in local schools, and programs to support local businesses.
In conclusion, while Boston is a city of rich history and cultural diversity, it’s not without its challenges. It’s important to be aware of the crime rates in different neighborhoods, especially if you’re planning to move to the city or visit.
However, it’s also crucial to remember that every neighborhood has its strengths and community assets. Boston is a vibrant city with a lot to offer, and with the right precautions, it can be a wonderful place to live or visit. Stay safe, stay informed, and enjoy all the charm that Boston has to offer.