See Forbes Magazine’s recent list of the 20 most miserable cities in the US. Lowell didn’t make this list. California looks bad here. Number one on the list is Stockton, Calif., where I lived for about six months in 1967 when my father was working as a wool grader for Cal Wool, a huge co-op of sheep growers. He had learned the trade in mills in Lowell and Chelmsford. A lot of our Cambodian-American neighbors in Lowell have relatives in Stockton, which has a large Asian population.
There are many ways to gauge misery. We consider 10 factors, including unemployment, crime and taxes, and a few that are less serious, but still elevate people’s blood pressure, like the weather, commute times and how the local sports team is doing. To account for the misery caused by the housing bust we tweaked the methodology for this year’s list and considered foreclosure rates and the change in home prices over the past three years.