I live in and work out of Mendon MA. It is affordable with great schools and allows me to easily access all of the Towns between Worcester and Boston. Here are a list of towns with great access to both cities:
rt 146 towns: Douglas (cheapest) Uxbridge, Sutton, Millbury (ma pike and 146)
495 towns: Bellingham, franklin, milford, Mendon, Upton, Hopkinton
mass pike towns:
Grafton, westborough, southborough,
Northborough, Marlboro, Hudson, Boylston... more
When it comes to any safety/crime related issues, it's always best to contact the local authorities with all your questions, hear all there is to hear firsthand. If unfamiliar with the area(s) do revisit more than once and at different times of day, possibly chat with locals/neighbors. Real estate professionals are prohibited from steering, enticing a buyer to purchase/rent, or not, in specific neighborhoods.
Get a buyers agent to help you identify your needs. Make sure that buyers agent is exclusive to the buyside of the transaction and does not represent sellers ... This will guarantee your interests are protected and your needs are met.
Here is every property for sale in Worcester:
Here is a great website for school information: