These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2018


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

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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 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:

  1. Mesa Verde
  2. Allensworth
  3. Hornbrook
  4. Fort Bidwell
  5. Dos Palos Y
  6. Niland
  7. Seville
  8. Plainview
  9. Klamath
  10. Traver

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.

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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.

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1. Mesa Verde


Population: 715
Median Income: $28,696
Median Home Value: $60,000

2. Allensworth


Population: 561
Median Income: $29,091
Median Home Value: $82,300

3. Hornbrook


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

6. Niland


Population: 868
Median Income: $18,553
Median Home Value: $58,700

7. Seville


Population: 586
Median Income: $23,000
Median Home Value: $83,000

8. Plainview


Population: 906
Median Income: $22,083
Median Home Value: $86,700

9. Klamath


Population: 881
Median Income: $32,625
Median Home Value: $97,500

10. Traver


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.

  1. Best: Acalanes Ridge
  2. 2nd Best: Diablo
  3. 3rd Best: Alto

For more reading, check out:

  • These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In California
  • These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In California
  • These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In California
  • Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In California

    City Rank Population Home Price
    Mesa Verde 1 715 $60,000
    Allensworth 2 561 $82,300
    Hornbrook 3 210 $125,000
    Fort Bidwell 4 242 $166,100
    Dos Palos Y 5 206 $166,500
    Niland 6 868 $58,700
    Seville 7 586 $83,000
    Plainview 8 906 $86,700
    Klamath 9 881 $97,500
    Traver 10 747 $99,000
    Cantua Creek 11 434 $122,800
    Happy Camp 12 874 $119,100
    Whitewater 13 821 $109,200
    Bieber 14 126 $86,500
    Rail Road Flat 15 265 $237,500
    Hat Creek 16 248 $215,800
    Mexican Colony 17 368 $93,900
    West Goshen 18 580 $157,400
    Mad River 19 425 $243,200
    Ballico 20 318 $123,200
    Yankee Hill 21 317 $147,400
    Mckittrick 22 121 $46,700
    Dorris 23 862 $103,200
    Orick 24 280 $146,400
    Crows Landing 25 255 $112,500
    Ducor 26 741 $93,000
    Fuller Acres 27 853 $142,500
    Tooleville 28 470 $53,600
    Taft Mosswood 29 936 $99,700
    Moskowite Corner 30 198 $31,600
    Robbins 31 322 $171,500
    Tupman 32 216 $63,000
    Elk Creek 33 160 $155,000
    Flournoy 34 179 $425,000
    Cromberg 35 116 $205,400
    Winterhaven 36 212 $74,200
    Baker 37 711 $21,100
    Monson 38 294 $181,900
    French Gulch 39 492 $73,300
    Lindcove 40 515 $208,300
    Edmundson Acres 41 333 $92,800
    West Park 42 764 $130,400
    North Edwards 43 823 $48,300
    Cedarville 44 300 $178,100
    Grenada 45 432 $137,500
    Thornton 46 968 $223,300
    San Lucas 47 362 $154,200
    Grizzly Flats 48 846 $166,900
    East Orosi 49 785 $155,000
    Dustin Acres 50 640 $113,300
    Round Mountain 51 134 $153,400
    Aguanga 52 673 $236,700
    Keene 53 377 $194,500
    Valley Acres 54 456 $112,500
    Lodoga 55 191 $106,700
    Hopland 56 855 $300,000
    Desert Center 57 189 $109,400
    Lockwood 58 443 $250,000
    Walker 59 780 $226,700
    Bombay Beach 60 317 $44,500
    New Cuyama 61 551 $91,300
    Stonyford 62 306 $233,300
    Trinity Center 63 210 $305,300
    East Nicolaus 64 207 $254,200
    Cressey 65 331 $211,900
    Mountain Mesa 66 886 $144,700
    Concow 67 679 $198,900
    Fort Jones 68 816 $157,000
    Buena Vista 69 360 $57,800
    Isleton 70 787 $225,800
    Cherokee Strip 71 164 $115,600
    Bridgeport 72 890 $212,500
    Jacumba 73 144 $126,400
    West Point 74 669 $181,900
    Spaulding 75 187 $189,300
    Vernon 76 101 $1,571,400
    Doyle 77 522 $159,800
    Boonville 78 860 $333,800
    Meridian 79 403 $226,800
    Lakehead 80 627 $208,300
    Derby Acres 81 338 $105,000
    Valley Home 82 266 $357,100
    Artois 83 322 $232,400
    Mountain Gate 84 928 $122,200
    Loleta 85 624 $228,600
    Douglas City 86 595 $228,100
    Vina 87 179 $139,800
    Smith Corner 88 744 $155,600
    Monmouth 89 155 $157,100
    Garberville 90 992 $340,500
    June Lake 91 631 $235,300
    Madison 92 609 $180,400
    East Shore 93 240 $258,300
    Point Arena 94 455 $363,600
    Patton Village 95 474 $61,300
    Burnt Ranch 96 343 $260,000
    Sisquoc 97 264 $175,000
    Manchester 98 177 $348,100
    Randsburg 99 156 $52,300
    Upper Lake 100 776 $183,000

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    7 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2018

    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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