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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 375 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:
So what is the worst small town to call home in California for 2022? 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.
The 10 Worst Small Towns In California For 2022
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $28,100 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (20th worst)
More on Oasis: Data
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $112,300 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.9% (13th worst)
More on Weedpatch: Data
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $125,500 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.0% (35th worst)
More on Woodville: Data
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $130,500 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 37.1% (2nd worst)
More on Poplar-Cotton Center: Data
Rank Last Year: 28 (Up 21)
Median Home Value: $243,600 (114th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.4% (4worst)
More on Covelo: Data
Rank Last Year: 32 (Up 24)
Median Home Value: $90,900 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.8% (17th worst)
More on Bodfish: Data
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $118,400 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (73rd worst)
More on Mojave: Data
Rank Last Year: 26 (Up 16)
Median Home Value: $113,400 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (2worst)
More on Gerber: 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 2022
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 2016-2020 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 - 375 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:
- Belvedere (Pop. 2,246)
- Castle Hill (Pop. 1,164)
- Emerald Lake Hills (Pop. 4,893)
For more California reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In California
|22||Rancho Tehama Reserve||1,750|
|37||Vista Santa Rosa||2,072|
|58||Mountain View Acres||3,698|
|63||China Lake Acres||2,450|
|64||South Dos Palos||1,167|
|73||Lake Don Pedro||1,465|