The worst cities in the U.S. have one or all of these elements in common—a sputtering economy, startling poverty, a high crime rate, health crises, bad weather, and a lack of art and culture and public parks. Bleak! But there's something to appreciate everywhere you go in the country; a spirit that oft-collected data doesn't always reflect. It's important to remember that as you make your way through this catalog of misfortune.

Yazoo City, Mississippi

Economic conditions in Yazoo City make it among the more trying places to live in America. A poverty rate of about 42.6% stems largely from the high unemployment rate of approximately 20.7%, which is over three times worse than the national rate. The federal prison accounts for most of the industry in this town. In addition, there's a shortage of green spaces and a high tornado risk. Given the town's state, the slowly shrinking population makes total sense.

Downtown Yazoo, MS josepha / Flickr


Fair Oaks, Georgia

Just half an hour away from Atlanta, Fair Oaks has a dearth of fresh produce, and most residents don't have easy access to a grocery store. Locals struggle with poverty, which is only made worse by an above-average cost of living. The median household income was $46,699 in 2020. Unfortunately, this town offers the worst quality of life in the Peach State.

Larry Felton Johnson, Cobb County Courier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Rockford, Illinois

Although Rockford has some notable cultural venues and parks, this Rust Belt city has a dark side. Rockford also goes by Forest City, a peaceful-sounding name for one of the more dangerous metros in the Midwest—36 people were murdered there in 2020, and property crimes are not unusual. Furthermore, around 20% of the population struggles to make ends meet. Winter weather is terrible, and the public schools are bad. Having said all that, Rockford has potential and shouldn't be dismissed as a place to live.

Alexbaumgarner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Fresno, California

Fresno is agricultural, but unemployment and poverty levels are significant, most of the town's residents lack a college degree to break the cycle, and 22 homicides occurred in 2021. There's also the fact that Fresno has a high rate of asthma-related deaths. Wildfires have exacerbated existing air pollution, so if you're sensitive to air quality, you'll want to steer clear of this city.

 Van Ness Avenue Entrance to Downtown Fresno, California, USA. "The Best Little City in the U.S.A."


Shreveport, Louisiana

This is Sookie Stackhouse vampire territory. And for some residents, it can feel like the town is the biggest energy vampire of them all. Shreveport is unsafe and the opposite of picturesque. It's humid, which makes it difficult to walk or bike, and virtually impossible to go carless if you've got your heart set on living more sustainably. The commuting systems are flawed, and there aren't many job opportunities. On the upside, the hospital system is good, and there's a degree of Southern hospitality.

A church in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana against a clear sky


Manchester, Kentucky

Life is tough in pockets of eastern Kentucky. Residents of the Appalachian town of Manchester have a shorter life expectancy than the average American, and rural poverty intertwines with obesity and drug addiction. This region has year-round air pollution from soot, unpaved roads, vehicles, construction sites, and power plants which is more bad news to add to the pile. And in Clay County, 11.7% of residents are on disability, and just 7.4% have a bachelor's degree.


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga is a poorly run city, all things considered. The ratio between the city's budget and residents' quality of life leaves much to be desired. There are about 1,070 violent crimes per 100,000 local citizens, the public school system is flailing, and income inequality is a major issue. Summers are hot, and winters are grey, but, on the plus side, there are loads of recreational opportunities indoors and outdoors. Good luck if you have allergies, though.

Chattanooga Tennessee Downtown Riverfront Aerial


Poinciana, Florida

One of the biggest problems with Poinciana, a town close to Kissimmee, is how boring it is. There's a noticeable lack of community amenities such as gyms, cultural venues, eateries, and nightlife. And the daily commute is almost 20 minutes longer than the national average, so if you don't have a decent podcast or album to listen to or hate contending with traffic, your everyday routine will feel unnecessarily frustrating. The average household income in 2022 is $59,268, and poverty affects 13% of residents.

Vineyard Perspective / Shutterstock.com


Golden Valley, Arizona

Golden Valley in Mohave County is the worst place to reside in the Grand Canyon state. The poverty rate is pretty high at 24.1%, and the town looks rather neglected. There's been a distinct population decline over the last five years, and for those who've stuck around, life in low-access areas means that simply getting the groceries is arduous.

Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com


Dayton, Ohio

Dayton has a worrying opioid overdose death rate, and the city is one of the worst places in the Buckeye State to raise a family. In 2019, there were 1,538 burglaries, and Trotwood, Northridge, Walnut Hills, and Linden Height were some of the most dangerous neighborhoods. But the city is relatively diverse and has excellent green spaces.

The streets and buildings of Dayton Ohio only have a few travelers early Sunday morning


Flint, Michigan

Everyone knows about Flint's woes. The town's name has become synonymous with water and public health crisis' and government failure. Houses are affordable, but high poverty and crime rates should give you pause.

Linda Parton / Shutterstock.com


Farmington, New Mexico

Farmington is a gateway to many recreational opportunities. But if you're not a lover of the great outdoors, you'll struggle to see the charm when poverty, crime, and joblessness are so apparent.

Camerafiend, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Many households in Coatesville live on a collective income of $10,000 per annum—it's mindboggling. Only 38% of people own their homes compared to the 63.8% national rate. And practically no one is choosing to move to Coatesville.

Hshuvaeva, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Las Cruces, New Mexico

Out of every 24 residents, one is a property or violent crime victim in Las Cruces. Felonies aside, the covid-19 pandemic took a real toll on the city, and the healthcare system needs a boost. If you head downtown, you'll see a lot of homeless folks too, which is heartbreaking. But it's not all doom and gloom. There's little traffic congestion; the mountainous scenery is top tier, and the weather's great.

Ron Reiring, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


La Homa, Texas

La Homa in McAllen is one of the poorest towns in the country, with a 38.5% poverty rate. Homes are worth as little as $66,400, the median household income is $30,563, and a weak job market has led to a 14.5% population decline. Recent stats indicate 2,042 cases of theft per 100,000 residents.

William L. Farr, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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