Worst Small Towns In California For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth 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 337 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 2020:

  1. Oasis
  2. North Shore (Photos)
  3. Thermal (Photos)
  4. Mojave
  5. Weedpatch
  6. Pixley
  7. Alpaugh
  8. Woodville
  9. Teviston
  10. Weldon

So what is the worst small town to call home in california for 2020? 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.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2020

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 3,020
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $15,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (69th worst)
More on Oasis:  Data

North Shore, CA

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,892
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $132,800 (55th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.7% (14th worst)
More on North Shore:  Data | Photos

Thermal, CA

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 1,359
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $119,300 (38th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (52nd worst)
More on Thermal:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,230
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $98,300 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.7% (13th worst)
More on Mojave:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,238
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $98,800 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (89th worst)
More on Weedpatch:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,796
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 14)
Median Home Value: $123,100 (44th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.7% (28th worst)
More on Pixley:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,074
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $77,100 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.8% (18th worst)
More on Alpaugh:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,852
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $103,000 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (65th worst)
More on Woodville:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,027
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $151,300 (75th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.4% (21st worst)
More on Teviston:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,181
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 19)
Median Home Value: $91,300 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (56th worst)
More on Weldon:  Data

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 2020

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 2014-2018 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 - 337 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.

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. Emerald Lake Hills (Pop. 4,594)
  2. Belvedere (Pop. 2,098)
  3. San Miguel CDP (Contra Costa County) (Pop. 2,993)

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In California

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Oasis 3,020 13.2% $15,400
2 North Shore 2,892 21.7% $132,800
3 Thermal 1,359 14.8% $119,300
4 Mojave 4,230 22.7% $98,300
5 Weedpatch 2,238 11.3% $98,800
6 Pixley 3,796 17.7% $123,100
7 Alpaugh 1,074 20.8% $77,100
8 Woodville 1,852 13.6% $103,000
9 Teviston 1,027 20.4% $151,300
10 Weldon 2,181 14.2% $91,300
11 Poplar-Cotton Center 2,436 30.0% $112,500
12 Buttonwillow 1,591 10.8% $120,100
13 Big River 1,145 13.3% $89,200
14 Homestead Valley 2,723 17.7% $121,800
15 Laton 2,166 11.2% $121,000
16 Strathmore 2,915 18.7% $88,200
17 Tipton 3,218 17.0% $115,600
18 Searles Valley 1,646 15.7% $57,800
19 Seeley 1,699 31.5% $138,600
20 Berry Creek 1,241 18.8% $166,000
21 Del Rey 1,498 11.9% $176,100
22 Richgrove 2,611 34.3% $108,500
23 London 1,854 13.9% $115,500
24 Sky Valley 2,430 20.5% $144,800
25 Riverdale Park 1,301 19.8% $207,700
26 Covelo 1,165 11.2% $221,100
27 Rancho Tehama Reserve 1,922 14.7% $86,600
28 Goshen 3,316 9.6% $132,700
29 San Joaquin 4,021 15.0% $153,800
30 Maricopa 1,175 13.9% $68,200
31 Littlerock 1,766 14.2% $222,300
32 West Park 1,035 30.0% $146,900
33 Needles 4,962 6.1% $86,500
34 Lost Hills 1,943 3.8% $119,300
35 Terra Bella 3,304 23.5% $154,700
36 Bodfish 1,384 11.1% $98,300
37 Airport 1,222 26.0% $168,000
38 Home Garden 1,643 13.6% $102,700
39 Bertsch-Oceanview 2,042 20.0% $130,400
40 Gerber 1,259 8.6% $111,300
41 Ford City 4,365 11.5% $126,200
42 Fairmead 1,876 4.9% $188,400
43 Matheny 1,134 8.6% $88,900
44 Anza 3,151 20.6% $163,500
45 Lower Lake 1,595 8.9% $81,800
46 Laytonville 1,175 21.6% $315,900
47 Desert Edge 3,343 15.0% $41,600
48 Vista Santa Rosa 2,967 16.7% $223,800
49 Westmorland 2,643 13.1% $110,800
50 Bystrom 4,099 11.0% $150,900
51 China Lake Acres 1,947 8.8% $128,500
52 Ivanhoe 4,198 10.5% $130,400
53 South Dos Palos 1,682 25.0% $105,400
54 Planada 4,418 15.8% $132,100
55 Calwa 1,974 16.9% $115,000
56 Green Acres 2,542 17.7% $190,100
57 Grayson 1,224 16.8% $223,300
58 Frazier Park 2,570 11.1% $154,700
59 Lake Isabella 3,454 14.2% $95,000
60 French Camp 3,857 9.3% $244,800
61 Parklawn 1,082 15.8% $140,500
62 Lakeview 2,566 9.2% $305,600
63 South Taft 1,526 23.3% $103,500
64 Burney 3,807 6.5% $146,100
65 Warm Springs 1,903 11.4% $168,300
66 Le Grand 1,726 16.4% $150,900
67 Greenville 1,108 14.1% $116,700
68 Biola 1,451 26.2% $145,500
69 Cabazon 3,367 7.2% $153,500
70 Campo 3,482 10.7% $256,200
71 Weed 2,677 10.0% $125,400
72 Los Molinos 1,845 9.1% $136,300
73 Boron 2,312 6.7% $64,700
74 Kennedy 3,665 13.8% $151,800
75 Lewiston 1,340 8.4% $275,800
76 Thornton 1,038 15.5% $308,800
77 Bethel Island 2,010 4.6% $122,300
78 Lone Pine 1,837 5.6% $250,000
79 Romoland 2,227 8.3% $314,200
80 Stallion Springs 3,625 16.6% $270,300
81 Easton 2,206 9.9% $175,000
82 Malaga 1,337 9.1% $140,600
83 Caruthers 2,773 9.1% $169,600
84 Mountain View Acres 4,260 14.1% $196,400
85 Empire 3,667 7.2% $141,400
86 Mountain Mesa 1,236 9.1% $139,700
87 Rouse 2,420 7.2% $165,200
88 Chualar 1,442 6.0% $261,800
89 Greenfield 3,534 9.0% $153,400
90 Riverdale 3,625 4.1% $159,400
91 Morongo Valley 3,262 8.1% $134,400
92 South Oroville 3,181 8.4% $140,400
93 Buckhorn 2,246 16.9% $239,300
94 Garberville 1,126 0.0% $361,600
95 Lake Don Pedro 1,030 9.6% $220,400
96 Alturas 2,577 9.1% $90,000
97 Shingletown 2,272 8.2% $189,900
98 Monte Rio 1,156 19.9% $415,300
99 Lucerne 2,956 5.4% $119,000
100 Heber 4,686 15.7% $165,700

How Is The Area In ?

7 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In California, 2020

  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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