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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.

Memphis, TN

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.7% (National median 3.7% )
  • Median household income: $41,864 (National median $64,994)
  • Walk Score ranking: 35 (car dependent)

view of downtown Memphis, TN, from South Main Street along the trolley tracks Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

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Houston, TX

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.2%
  • Median household income: $53,600
  • Walk Score ranking: 47 (car dependent)

time lapse photography of a houston freeway Photo by Manuel Velasquez on Unsplash

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San Francisco, CA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Median household income: $119,136
  • Walk Score ranking: 89 (very walkable)

Sunrise over San Francisco, photographed from Twin Peaks Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

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Mendota, CA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Median household income: $36,376
  • Walk Score ranking: 75 (very walkable)

Mendota. California. USA on a map

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Anchorage, AK

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Median household income: $84,813
  • Walk Score ranking: 31 (car dependent)

The view of 4th Avenue the the main commercial venue in Anchorage. Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

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Penns Grove, NJ

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • Median household income: $32,361
  • Walk Score ranking: 64 (somewhat walkable)

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Albuquerque, NM

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.8%
  • Median household income: $53,936
  • Walk Score ranking: 43 (car dependent)

A hot air balloon floats over the skyscrapers of downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. Daniel A. Leifheit / Getty Images

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New York City, NY

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%.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%
  • Median household income: $89,812
  • Walk Score ranking: 88 (very walkable)

Pre-pandemic New York. Around 50th street. Photo by Andy Henderson on Unsplash

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Corpus Christi, TX

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median household income: $57,387
  • Walk Score ranking: 40 (car dependent)

Corpus Christi downtown skyline along the banks of the Gulf of Mexico. Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. Corpus Christi is the largest coastal city in Texas. Corpus Christi is known for its spacious beaches, waterfront beauty and great fishing DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

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Idabel, OK

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Median household income: $29,175
  • Walk Score ranking: 44 (car dependent)

abandoned shop in Idabel, OK MRoald / Shutterstock.com

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Bessemer, AL

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.2%
  • Median household income: $30,284
  • Walk Score ranking: 26 (car dependent)

Bessemer. Alabama

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Milwaukee, WI

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Median household income: $43,125
  • Walk Score ranking: 62 (somewhat walkable)

The Fox Bay Theatre in Whitefish Bay, WI. The theatre is amongst many other small businesses in the city of Milwaukee that were forced to close their doors due to Covid-19. The board says "Now showing Raiders of the Last 2Ply and World War C" in reference to the pandemic. Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

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St. Louis, MO

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.1%
  • Median household income: $45,782
  • Walk Score ranking: 66 (somewhat walkable)

Decayed house in St. Louis Photo by Jessica Christian on Unsplash

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Flint, MI

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 10.8%
  • Median household income: $30,383
  • Walk Score ranking: 44 (car dependent)

Dilated home in flint, mi Photo by Brandon Crawford on Unsplash

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Florida City, FL

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%
  • Median household income: $37,556
  • Walk Score ranking: 67 (somewhat walkable)

Aerial photo Downtown Homestead Florida Krome Avenue felixmizioznikov / Getty Images

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Dayton, OH

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.4% (National median 3.7% )
  • Median household income: $57,318 (National median $64,994)
  • Walk Score ranking: 45 (car dependent)

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Detroit, MI

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 7.9%
  • Median household income: $32,498
  • Walk Score ranking: 51 (somewhat walkable in safer areas)

Dayton Ohio skyline taken from Woodland Cemetery in September, 2020 Photo by Michael Bowman on Unsplash

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Little Rock, AR

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%
  • Median household income: $53,620
  • Walk Score ranking: 33 (car dependent)

downtown Little Rock, Arkansas Photo by Brandon Johnson on Unsplash

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Seattle, WA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • Median household income: $97,185
  • Walk Score ranking: 74 (very walkable)

man on a bicyle in seattle Photo by Maria Benitez on Unsplash

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New Orleans, LA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%
  • Median household income: $43,258
  • Walk Score ranking: 58 (somewhat walkable)

parked cars near a train track in new orleans Photo by Kvnga on Unsplash

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Brownsville, TX

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%
  • Median household income: $40,924
  • Walk Score ranking: 35 (car dependent)

Brownsvile. Texas. USA

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Waianae, HI

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%
  • Median household income: $67,466
  • Walk Score ranking: 69 (somewhat walkable)

aerial view of a beach Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

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Rockford, IL

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 8.1%
  • Median household income: $44,771
  • Walk Score ranking: 41 (car dependent)

The historic Midway Theatre in town Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

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Tucson, AZ

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%
  • Median household income: $45,227
  • Walk Score ranking: 43 (car dependent)

Traffic to Tucson downtown. peeterv / Getty Images

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Jackson, MS

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%
  • Median household income: $40,064
  • Walk Score ranking: 43 (car dependent)

Jackson, MS Skyline with flooding Pearl River in the foreground in August 2022 CRobertson / Getty Images

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North Charleston, SC

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
  • Median household income: $47,201
  • Walk Score ranking: 26 (car dependent)

View of Interstate 526 Bridge in North Charleston, South Carolina USA. brookebecker / Getty Images

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Baltimore, MD

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Median household income: $52,164
  • Walk Score ranking: 64 (somewhat walkable)

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Philadelphia, PA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 6.4%
  • Median household income: $52,164
  • Walk Score ranking: 75 (very walkable)

 Curtis Bay, Baltimore, United States Photo by Baron Cole on Unsplash

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North Las Vegas, NV

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 6.7%
  • Median household income: $60,972
  • Walk Score ranking: 34 (car dependent)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 05: People gather in the carnival section of the Great Las Vegas Taco Festival, where Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak spoke earlier in the day, on November 05, 2022 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Several races in the swing state of Nevada, including the Gubernatorial and Senate race, are close on the final weekend before midterms Election Day. Mario Tama / Getty Images

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Americus, GA

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.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Median household income: $33,405
  • Walk Score ranking: 27 (car dependent)

Americus, Georgia davidwilson1949 / Flickr

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