These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2019


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in CA are the pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for . This is our fourth time ranking the worst small places to live in California.

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Most Americans have never been to California. However, as the people who live there know, California is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, California has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Golden State. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 330 of California’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in California where you’d never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in California for 2019:

  1. Oasis
  2. Weedpatch
  3. Mojave
  4. Woodville
  5. North Shore (Photos)
  6. Thermal (Photos)
  7. Plainview
  8. London
  9. Alpaugh
  10. Buttonwillow

So what is the worst small town to call home in California for 2019? According to the most recent census data, Oasis is the worst small town to live in California.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since California has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in California or the worst places to live in California.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in California, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in California for 2019

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there’s no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 330 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 3,240
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $14,300 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (64th worst)
More on Oasis:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 2,052
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $87,700 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (81st worst)
More on Weedpatch:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,222
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $103,300 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.1% (17th worst)
More on Mojave:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,770
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 20)
Median Home Value: $89,900 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (79th worst)
More on Woodville:  Data

North Shore, CA

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 3,349
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $123,200 (52nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.2% (12th worst)
More on North Shore:  Data | Photos

Thermal, CA

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 2,166
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $121,800 (49th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (100th worst)
More on Thermal:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,016
Rank Last Year:
Median Home Value: $86,000 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 31.0% (2nd worst)
More on Plainview:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,872
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $102,200 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.3% (26th worst)
More on London:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,080
Rank Last Year: 36 (Up 27)
Median Home Value: $77,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.1% (50th worst)
More on Alpaugh:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,517
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $119,100 (44th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (44th worst)
More on Buttonwillow:  Data

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In California

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Golden State with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in California, according to science:

  1. Loyola (Pop. 3,448)
  2. Emerald Lake Hills (Pop. 4,648)
  3. Belvedere (Pop. 2,156)

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In California

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Oasis 3,240 13.6% $14,300
2 Weedpatch 2,052 12.5% $87,700
3 Mojave 4,222 20.1% $103,300
4 Woodville 1,770 12.7% $89,900
5 North Shore 3,349 21.2% $123,200
6 Thermal 2,166 11.7% $121,800
7 Plainview 1,016 31.0% $86,000
8 London 1,872 18.3% $102,200
9 Alpaugh 1,080 15.1% $77,500
10 Buttonwillow 1,517 15.5% $119,100
11 Laton 1,921 12.9% $109,000
12 Searles Valley 1,592 21.7% $47,800
13 Big River 1,031 11.7% $78,500
14 Sky Valley 2,430 18.2% $124,600
15 Richgrove 2,923 29.4% $107,000
16 Strathmore 3,617 16.8% $102,100
17 Rancho Tehama Reserve 2,259 13.1% $92,100
18 Homestead Valley 2,987 15.4% $110,700
19 Covelo 1,223 14.4% $209,600
20 Pixley 4,008 10.7% $115,100
21 Del Rey 1,486 11.8% $191,200
22 Seeley 1,573 26.3% $131,300
23 Lake Isabella 4,287 13.2% $83,900
24 Cabazon 3,928 20.7% $127,300
25 Bodfish 1,593 20.7% $93,800
26 Tipton 3,152 15.5% $113,300
27 Riverdale Park 1,067 20.0% $197,000
28 Laytonville 1,254 27.6% $197,900
29 Weldon 2,185 10.4% $84,500
30 Terra Bella 3,110 21.0% $124,500
31 Home Garden 1,881 14.0% $108,100
32 San Joaquin 4,025 9.9% $120,000
33 Berry Creek 1,179 19.0% $183,400
34 Lost Hills 2,055 5.2% $112,000
35 Maricopa 1,127 16.2% $63,100
36 Lucerne 3,144 11.8% $103,800
37 Empire 4,177 15.0% $121,000
38 Ford City 4,388 11.7% $100,400
39 Gerber 1,280 9.0% $109,100
40 Matheny 1,221 11.8% $78,100
41 Santa Nella 1,976 18.2% $218,500
42 Ivanhoe 3,804 9.7% $106,300
43 Parklawn 1,340 24.3% $130,400
44 Needles 4,984 5.9% $85,500
45 Desert Edge 3,156 21.4% $37,200
46 Anza 3,284 19.3% $156,400
47 Portola 2,033 15.5% $153,000
48 South Oroville 3,062 14.0% $125,100
49 Planada 4,472 19.3% $119,300
50 Littlerock 1,998 11.1% $172,800
51 China Lake Acres 2,446 19.2% $75,500
52 Sheridan 1,337 8.9% $289,400
53 South Taft 1,417 18.7% $108,800
54 Bystrom 4,136 15.7% $130,000
55 Westmorland 2,382 13.0% $106,100
56 Airport 1,547 10.2% $158,200
57 French Camp 3,710 16.2% $234,400
58 Kennedy 3,468 14.9% $99,100
59 Vista Santa Rosa 3,318 17.5% $193,300
60 Lakeview 2,399 11.8% $262,300
61 Le Grand 1,637 14.8% $138,100
62 Goshen 3,561 11.2% $133,200
63 Knights Landing 1,028 17.3% $131,500
64 Riverdale 4,095 12.5% $159,100
65 Taft Mosswood 1,064 8.5% $161,200
66 Green Acres 2,776 16.8% $166,600
67 Fairmead 2,005 5.9% $274,000
68 Patterson Tract 2,320 11.1% $186,200
69 Winchester 2,721 16.0% $121,200
70 Frazier Park 2,440 11.9% $154,400
71 Burney 3,676 6.0% $143,300
72 Los Molinos 1,928 9.8% $117,000
73 Mayfair 4,953 12.1% $122,500
74 Rouse 2,044 9.2% $160,800
75 Mountain View Acres 3,869 16.4% $180,900
76 Biola 1,390 22.0% $144,100
77 Morongo Valley 3,231 10.1% $132,100
78 Cottonwood 3,268 9.1% $160,100
79 Highgrove 4,302 16.3% $274,300
80 Dunnigan 1,299 18.8% $128,300
81 Clearlake Oaks 2,275 16.2% $124,700
82 Lone Pine 1,767 5.7% $250,800
83 Parksdale 3,029 8.9% $169,600
84 Meadowbrook 2,656 12.5% $183,200
85 Shingletown 2,261 9.7% $175,000
86 Caruthers 2,984 12.2% $164,100
87 Warm Springs 1,417 7.7% $150,300
88 Heber 4,273 19.8% $156,600
89 Malaga 1,287 10.0% $117,200
90 Clearlake Riviera 3,616 10.6% $179,800
91 South Dos Palos 2,201 31.0% $125,500
92 Parkwood 2,334 10.6% $151,300
93 Weed 2,707 10.1% $125,000
94 Lewiston 1,368 8.3% $239,400
95 Kelseyville 3,647 14.9% $126,900
96 Lower Lake 1,443 8.1% $99,600
97 Armona 3,730 13.6% $125,100
98 Boron 2,406 5.9% $62,400
99 Kettleman City 1,574 9.5% $87,300
100 Campo 2,971 12.8% $210,900

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7 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2019

  1. Do your homework, I don’t know about the other towns but East Nicolaus is great, like John Cooper said, East Nicolaus Spartans took State Champ and you have obviously never been to Sammie’s, you can’t get a hold of them because their busy serving up delicious food, That town has more to offer than some big city, lights, noise, crime. You can keep your CEO Salary lifestyle. Spartans Proud!!!!

  2. What some people believe to be undesirable is actually quite desirable to others. Our small town, East Nicolaus, might seem unworthy of accolades to some who simply value other aspects of modern life. However, East Nic boasts high achieving schools with strong academics and athletic programs, recreation programs for local youth, a caring community, and access to all the amenities valued by the writer of the article in nearby metropolitan areas without having to live in the thick of all the hustle and bustle. We are happy. This is just simply not for you.

  3. Smith Corner isn’t actually a town. It’s a community inside the town of Shafter. Just like #19 Mexican Colony. Unfortunately back in the day Shafter was much more like a town in the south. Smith Corner was for the poor white folks and the Mexican Colony was where only Mexicans lived. We also have a “Cherokee Strip” where Native Americans lived at one time. These places were made to keep the poor and people who were not white out of town. We haven’t come very far since then. Ask any of the people who live in these communities and they will tell you SHAFTER.

  4. My nephew goes to school in Nicolaus and if my husband and I live in the area when our child starts school, he will also go to Nicolaus. I was born and raised in Wheatland and i’m hoping we stay in the area so my son will get to experience, not only the wonderful teachers but also excellent team spirit of Nicolaus. This is a poorly researched piece of writing.

  5. Your photo of Newell, near the Oregon California border, is not a photo of our Newell. We have no hwy 90, hwy 10, or an intersection, and no lines of trees on our only hwy 139.

  6. Yeah im gonna have to agree with most of these comments- referring to the inadequacy of your list of Cali’s worst small towns- based solely on one simple fact…..
    Where I live, and the surrounding communities near me, were NOT EVEN MENTIONED in the entire list lol. Because i know one thing for sure: Its absolutely NOT because we dont MAKE the list of the top 100 worst small towns! So i feel justified in assuming that our area was most likely just skipped over. Also, in East Nicholas’s defense- its probably considered one of the BETTER places to live around that area lol- (i know this because its close to home for me)… Try researching YUBA COUNTY (aka Marysville/Linda and Olivehurst) if you wanna find the #1 worst small town in California lol trust me youll be updating that list when you’re done 🙂

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