With thousands of cities in America to choose from, moving to a new locale can be an exciting prospect. Yet there are just as many places that aren't great choices. Some have high rates of crime or poverty. Others suffer from stifled economies, a high cost of living, or a lack of cultural amenities and entertainment. Many of these cities fall to the bottom of the list across several categories and are ranked as the worst places to live in the U.S.
Residents here have a 1 in 41 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime, making it the most dangerous city to live in. Nearly 7% of its homes and businesses will be in 100-year flood plains within the next 30 years. The historic districts, restaurants, and pockets of southern hospitality may be big pluses in Memphis, but the crime and climate issues are a deterrent.
Out of 50 cities studied for problematic climate change, Houston landed at the very bottom of the list. The risk of tornadoes and hurricanes will continue to rise. The city's air quality is dismal, with only 41% of days classified as "good" in 2021. Yet, the local government hasn't done much to improve things. Houston also has extensive violent and property crime, which causes significant concerns for residents and local leaders alike.
The City by the Bay is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. The median income is higher here, but so are the costs for gasoline and utilities, which fall well above the national average. Job growth hovers just above 1%. Renters pay an average of $4,030 per month for a place to live. About 10% of the population lives below the poverty level. As for crime, the city experienced more than 50 murders and nearly 4,000 assaults in 2021.
What pushes Mendota to the top of the worst places to live list comes down to an array of issues. Around 38.5% of the population lives below the poverty level, one of the highest rates in the country. Unemployment is high, too. Public school test scores also fall far below the national level.
Anchorage has some of the costliest real estate in Alaska, so it's not the best place for first-time home buyers who are strapped for cash. Crime is also an issue. Statistics show that Anchorage is safer than only 5% of cities in the nation, making it one of the most dangerous places to live in the U.S. Property crimes and motor vehicle thefts make up the majority of crimes, but rates rivaled those of much larger American cities.
According to a 2021 study, New Jersey had an outbound percentage of 71%, which put it at the top of the list for the number of residents lost to other states. Penns Grove is a small New Jersey borough with big problems. Poverty rates are at 37.7%, average salaries are low, and unemployment rates are well above the national average. Despite its small population, residents have a 1:91 chance of experiencing a violent crime and a 1:24 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
Although the cost of living in Albuquerque is a bit below the national average, the property taxes here are the highest in the state. Home prices exceed the national average, but buyers get less for their hard-earned money. About 16% of residents live below the poverty level. The biggest problem in Albuquerque is crime. An uptick in murders in 2022 has led this city to come under serious scrutiny by the FBI.
The Big Apple may have a lot of amenities to offer, but it's also one of the country's most expensive places to live. The average rent is just over $3600 per month. While individual salaries may seem higher than those in other American cities, the increased cost of living takes bigger chunks out of paychecks. The percentage of residents living below the poverty level in NYC falls just below 16%.
While visitors flock here to hang out on the Gulf Coast beaches, few people want to set up housekeeping in Corpus Christi. Job growth is stagnant, and unemployment is high. One in every 113 people is likely to become a victim of murder, assault, or rape, with the downtown area being especially dangerous. Hurricanes and other dangerous weather events are an ongoing concern for this coastal city.
Small-town life doesn't necessarily translate to a safe place to live. Despite its population of fewer than 7000 people, Idabel has a crime index of 1, meaning it is less safe than 99% of other American cities. Murder, rape, and other violent crimes have experienced a significant increase in recent years, up by 146% over the national average. The 31.7% poverty level may be a factor.
With 26% of residents living below the poverty level, Bessemer has had struggles, including a lack of job growth. Its schools have a low 22% proficiency in reading and math, falling far behind the average proficiencies in schools around the state. Crime rates are high, and if you live here, you have a 1:38 chance of falling victim to a violent crime.
Milwaukee may have experienced robust growth throughout the 1950s, but since then, the Cream City's progress has dwindled to intermittent, small spurts. Lagging job growth may be the problem, but it's more likely to be the increasing rates of violent crime. Low proficiency in test scores in math and reading throughout the Milwaukee public school system are well below statewide numbers.
More than 2.8 million people call St. Louis their home, but when it comes to being safe, the city has developed major problems making it one of the worst places to live. Compared to the rest of the state, violent crime is a major issue here, with one of every 50 people likely to become victims of murder, rape, robbery, or assault. Property crimes are even more prevalent, with 57 crimes occurring per every 1000 residents.
Most people have heard about Flint's water crisis which started in 2014 and is expected to be resolved by the end of 2022. Today, high unemployment rates, costly utilities, a 37.3% poverty level, and some of the highest crime rates in the nation make it one of the worst places to live in the U.S.
Only 25% of the residents of Florida City own a home. Most people rent, paying around $1700 or more per month. Although unemployment is low, 31% of the residents live below the poverty level. On average, individuals earn just under $13,000 per year. In 2020, Florida City was rated the most dangerous city in Florida.
With a combination of high crime rates and low wages, Dayton is a city that ranks among the worst places to live in America. Once an innovative city with lucrative manufacturing jobs, its population peaked in 1960 and has steadily declined as those companies moved to less costly areas in the southern states. While the local governments are spending money to try and improve the quality of life there, it has a long way to go.
Motor City has seen some hard times, and it will be a long time before they're out of the woods. In 2013, the city filed for bankruptcy, and as a result, taxpayers have had to take on the fiscal burden, paying one of the highest property tax rates in the country. The population has dwindled, the economy is struggling, infrastructure needs major repairs, crime is rampant, and business growth is minimal.
The capital city of Arkansas has a crime problem. With record-high numbers of homicides and property crimes, officials are scrambling to deal with the issues. The number of offenses rivals much larger cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Memphis. The cost of living is reasonable, and employment numbers are close to the national average, but more than 15% of the city's population lives in poverty.
Although the Emerald City has historically been recognized as a great place to live, it's now becoming one of the worst. As Seattle's tech and music scene boomed, the cost of living, especially for housing, soared. The lack of affordable housing has led to a rapid rise in homelessness, with more than 5700 people living on the streets. Other issues accompany the homeless problem, including higher addiction rates and widespread mental health issues.
There's no argument that the Big Easy is full of vitality and uniqueness, but if you live here, you have a 1:74 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime and a 1:21 chance of dealing with a property crime. New Orleans is a dangerous place, with one of the highest murder rates in the country. Lots of young, single, upwardly mobile professionals find their way here, making the per capita income higher than most places in the state. But, 23% of the city's residents live below the poverty level.
This border town not only deals with crime but also with high unemployment rates. More than 27% of its residents live below the poverty level. While the cost of living and home prices are much lower here, good-paying jobs are hard to find. Because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Brownsville is also one of the most hurricane-vulnerable cities in the country. Noise pollution, due to the air traffic in and out of the local airport, is a major factor affecting the quality of life.
People may find it hard to picture any locale in Hawaii not being a paradise, but this small coastal town doesn't fit that image. Although it has some of the highest housing costs in the nation, yearly incomes for individuals are among the lowest in the state, averaging just under $23,000. High burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft rates occur here, with 1:29 people likely to become a target.
When a city faces high unemployment numbers, increased crime rates aren't usually far behind. Housing costs in Rockford are about 62% less than in other U.S. cities, but people aren't moving here. Maybe it's because this city has gained a reputation for being one of the most dangerous in the country.
A lack of high-paying jobs and a poverty rate that's 66% higher than the national average means it's hard to make a living here. Add in the extremely hot temperatures in the summer and a dwindling water supply, and you'll understand why Tucson is a less-than-ideal place to live. Daily gridlock on the city's one main freeway, along with 40-minute commute times, make it even less desirable.
Life in Jackson is tough, and one of the first things locals will tell you is to avoid going out at night. Jackson frequently makes the list as one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Crime rates here exceed both state and federal averages. The city's water treatment facility failed over the summer after years of neglect, leaving residents high and dry.
People in North Charleston — the most dangerous city in South Carolina — live with crime rates that are 195% higher than the national average. Median household incomes fall far below the national median. The wage disparity between men's and women's salaries is significant here and across the state. The average male's salary is $62,242, while females average $45,267.
Between 2019 and 2020, the population of Baltimore started to decline, and that trend continues. Although median household incomes have improved over the last decade, 20% of the population lives below the poverty level. Most of those who do are women between the ages of 25 and 34. Baltimore isn't a safe city, either. One out of every 61 residents here is at risk of becoming a victim of violent crime.
Gun violence and the opioid crisis are major contributors to the staggering crime rates in the City of Brotherly Love. In 2021, there were 2,326 shootings here. The number of homicides has steadily risen over the last eight years, doubling between 2013 and 2021.
The cost of living is high here, and individual income is 30% lower than the national average — that is, if you can find a job. Unemployment is around 33% higher than in the rest of the country. Although the crime rate has been steadily decreasing over the years, drug use, burglary, and car theft are the biggest problems.
This is a small town with 16,230 residents and little to no industry or businesses to provide a liveable wage. More than 28% of the people who reside here live below the poverty level, and incomes are much lower than the national average. Assaults are the most reported violent crime. And there are four active superfund sites here, land that has been contaminated by hazardous waste.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. The information on this Website is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute advice or our recommendation in any way. We attempt to ensure that the content is current and accurate but we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should carry out your own research and/or seek your own advice before acting or relying on any of the information on this Website.