The 10 Worst Places to Live in the U.S.

The United States is full of vibrant cities and quaint little towns that offer all the comforts that one could ever need. On the other hand, there are a few places that are, to be nice, less desirable. That said, contrary to the popular location, location, location rule of real estate, below is a list of the 10 worst places to live in the United States.

1.  Cleveland, OH:
Pretty much every list of “worst places to live in the United States” will begin in one of two ways – for today, we’ll start with Cleveland, OH (but you can see option two below). Yes, commonly referred to as The Mistake by the Lake, Cleveland offers very little argument for the positive column. Between scorching unemployment, vicious winters that cause annual temperatures to average only 50 degrees, a net migration out of the metro area of 71,000 over the past five years and having seven-times more robberies (794.8 per 100,000 people) than any other city, this is not the kind of place you’d want to call home!

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2.  Detroit, MI:
As promised, any list of “worst places to live in the United States” will rank Cleveland, OH and Detroit, MI as the interchangeable first and second worst. What could be so bad about Detroit?

Well, for starters, when the murder rate is a full ten-times the national average (48.2 per 100,000 people) and there are 1,220 violent crimes per 100,000 people, you’re not off to a good start. Secondly, the economy is absolutely abysmal; the unemployment rate is 34% higher than the national average, over 26% of residents live in poverty and house prices have plummeted 54% over the past few years, leaving thousands of homes available for less than $10,000 and leaving Detroit with one of the worst real estate markets in the entire nation.


3.  Oklahoma City, OK:
When you think of Oklahoma City, what else, besides the recently successful Oklahoma City Thunder comes to mind? Well, in addition to the sprawling flatlands of nothingness, how about the tidbit that OKC is the unhealthiest city in the entire United States? Yes, offering half as many baseball diamonds, recreation centers and dog parks as other major cities, the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual fitness index concluded that OKC scored a 24.3 on a scale of 100 – maybe that’s why the obesity rate is 30.2% (four points above the national average). All that said, a happy city is an active city and since OKC is unanimously the most sluggish of them all, it’s not a premiere place to live.


4.  Canton, OH:
Representing Ohio yet again, Canton can hang its hat on the fact that it’s the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and, really, nothing more. Sharing the same bitter winters as Cleveland (just 60 miles south) and boasting the fact that only 18% of the adult population has a college degree, Canton just can’t seem to find a point of pride, enough to maintain its residents. In fact, believe it or not, Canton has seen a negative net migration in each of the past 15 years, including a total population decline of 9.7% in 2010 alone – proof that the residents themselves won’t even endorse Canton as a proper place to live.


5.  Memphis, TN:
Simply put, Memphis, TN finds itself on the list due to staggering crime and corruption. Yes, Forbes lists Memphis as the third most miserable city, as it pertains to corruption by city officials. Believe it or not, over the last decade, nearly one public official per month has been charged with public corruption!

Regarding its notorious reputation for crime, accounting for 1,584 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 61 forcible rapes per 100,000 people (three-times the national average), the FBI ranks Memphis as the second-worst city for violent crimes. In fact, according to NeighborhoodScout, your chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Memphis is an astonishing one in 10.


6.  Stockton, CA:
Standing as the poster child for the United States’ economic depression, Stockton, CA has been steadily stumbling since 2007, as most residents are both under-worked and under-paid. With unemployment hovering between a dismal14-17%, those that are fortunate enough to be working average an income of only $19,410 (26.8% lower than the national norm). As a result, the housing market is one of the worst in the nation.

Further, Stockton is far from safe. With only 2.2 police per 1,000 residents (21% less than the national average), the city not-so-proudly boasts four-times more robberies than the national average, 1,408 violent crimes per 100,000 people and, ultimately, an overall crime index that is 119% higher than the national average. Not the type of numbers that have you thinking, home sweet home.


7.  Miami, FL:
If the sunny weather and sandy white beaches have you believing that Miami is a wonderful place to buy your next home, heed this public service announcement. In addition to the wretched traffic and superficial lifestyle that plagues this ultra-urban culture, the crime rate and housing market in Miami are both bottom of the barrel.

Much like Stockton, Miami also experiences four-times more robberies than the national average (494.4 per 100,000 people), as well as, an alarming 1,198 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Regarding home ownership, nearly 400,000 properties in the Miami metropolitan area have entered the foreclosure process since 2008 and roughly 47% of homeowners are sitting on upside-down mortgages. The not so surprising result; housing prices, on average, are down a full 50%.


8.  Flint, MI:
Speaking of struggling housing markets, the city of Flint willingly destroyed over 775 abandoned homes in 2011 in an attempt to manipulate the market – with a population of just over 100,000 people, that’s a substantial market adjustment. It didn’t work. In fact, things in Flint were so bad that the state of Michigan officially appointed an emergency manager in 2012 to oversee Flint’s city budget and operations. Of course, as bad as the housing market might be, worse yet, Yahoo Finance reports that the crime rate in Flint is the absolute worst in the nation – a whopping 2,337 violent crimes (that’s doubles Detroit) and 83 rapes per 100,000 people. Not the kind of place to raise a family!


9.  Yuma, AZ:
Averaging 107 degrees in July and not much cooler in every other month of the year, living in Yuma, AZ is not for the faint at heart. Registering virtually zero precipitation across the year, the weather is reason enough to call Yuma one of the worst places to live in the U.S. – but it gets worse. If you really want a reason to avoid Yuma, even on a 70 degree winter day, aside from the Wild West crime rate, just look at the rate of unemployment. Yes, posting the absolute worst unemployment rate in the entire nation, the Yuma, AZ metropolitan statistical area had 27.3% unemployment rate in 2012 – the worst in the land!


10.  Anchorage, AK:
It’s no surprise that living on the beach in Hawaii or Los Angeles will cost you a pretty penny; however, you at least get the enjoyment of sand and sunshine. On the other side of the spectrum, would you be willing to pay extremely high housing prices to live in the frigid cold? Well, in Anchorage, AK, that’s exactly what you get.

Yes, Anchorage temperatures regularly dip into the negative, snowfall averages approximately 70 inches across the winter months and, oh, Alaskan Polar Nights causes it to be dark 24 hours a day. Taking this into account and considering the fact that the cost of living is 23% higher than the national average and the cost of groceries is 28% higher than the national norm, it all adds up to Anchorage not being one of the most desirable places to live, in the U.S. or anywhere else.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the worst places to live in the United States. Of course, if you happen to live in one of these places, we never mean to offend, only to explain why you might not be fully satisfied with your location of choice.

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JJ | April 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

In my opinion, Virginia Beach, Virginia has to be overall one of the worst Cities to live in!
1) Traffic is none stop throughout the city! The roads are in poor condition, with pot holes, temp road repairs, debris in the roads, faded marking on roadway!
2) Driving habits are terrible! Drivers refuse to use blinkers, use cells phones, cut other drivers off, etc!
3) Land marks are neglected! Statues not repaired, many lights are inoperable or broke, parks are dirty, etc!
4) Nights in the city, way tooooo many shootings! crime has gone up tremendously!
5) Unemployment to high!

Thank you for the opportunity to live in Virginia Beach. It is time for me to move out to a better place.

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steve harper | March 17, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I wonder why Charleston W.Va isn’t on here , I am sure if anyone has spent any time in this crap hole , they would agree with me , I think everyone there has some form of cancer.

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