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 255 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:
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.
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 crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 255 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.
1. Mesa Verde
Population: 715 Median Income: $28,696
Median Home Value: $60,000
Population: 561 Median Income: $29,091
Median Home Value: $82,300
Population: 210 Median Income: $21,736
Median Home Value: $125,000
4. Fort Bidwell
Population: 242 Median Income: $22,262
Median Home Value: $166,100
5. Dos Palos Y
Population: 206 Median Income: $16,656
Median Home Value: $166,500
Population: 868 Median Income: $18,553
Median Home Value: $58,700
Population: 586 Median Income: $23,000
Median Home Value: $83,000
Population: 906 Median Income: $22,083
Median Home Value: $86,700
Population: 881 Median Income: $32,625
Median Home Value: $97,500
Population: 747 Median Income: $31,094
Median Home Value: $99,000
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.
- Best: Acalanes Ridge
- 2nd Best: Diablo
- 3rd Best: Alto
For more reading, check out: