Most Americans have never been to small town California. However, as the Californian who live there know, small town California is an awesome place to call home.
But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, California has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Golden State. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.
After analyzing more than 377 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 2023:
- Homestead Valley
- South Taft
- Poplar-Cotton Center
- North Shore
So what is the worst small town to call home in California for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Oasis is the worst small town to live in California.
While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Oasis home. Everyone
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.
The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2023
Median Home Value: $42,700 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.3% (40th worst)
Median Home Value: $119,300 (2worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.2% (10th worst)
Median Home Value: $114,300 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.9% (9th worst)
Median Home Value: $147,300 (33rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.2% (22nd worst)
5. Homestead Valley
Median Home Value: $160,600 (48th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.2% (26th worst)
Median Home Value: $143,500 (3worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (108th worst)
Median Home Value: $124,500 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (94th worst)
8. South Taft
Median Home Value: $98,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.1% (34th worst)
9. Poplar-Cotton Center
Median Home Value: $130,000 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 31.0% (4th worst)
10. North Shore
Median Home Value: $150,900 (37th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.0% (42nd worst)
Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in California is lousy or not?
To rank the worst small towns to live in California, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. Assuming that people like low crime, solid education, things to do, and a stable economy isn’t a stretch.
We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.
- 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 many – 377 to be exact.
We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets them from the cities. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.
We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in California.
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:
- Del Mar (Pop. 4,008)
- Belvedere (Pop. 2,309)
- Loyola (Pop. 3,564)
For more California reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In California
|23||Rancho Tehama Reserve||1,700|
|54||China Lake Acres||2,441|
|74||Mountain View Acres||3,337|
|83||Pine Mountain Club||2,124|
|85||Lake Don Pedro||1,419|
|86||South Dos Palos||1,003|
|89||San Miguel Cdp (San Luis Obispo County)||2,837|
|93||Vista Santa Rosa||1,723|