Most Americans have never been to Ohio. However, as the people who live there know, Ohio is an awesome state. Particularly if you simply have to make the midwest your home.
But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Ohio has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Buckeye State. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is all using data.
After analyzing more than 358 of Ohio’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Ohio where you’d never want to live:
- Belle Valley
- New Bloomington
- Valley Hi
- Milton Center
Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Ohio has its stuff figured out.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how the 100 worst small towns fared overall. These places are so small, you may not have heard of any of them. But trust us, they exist.
How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Ohio, 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 – 358 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.
Welcome to Cecil, Ohio, population 172. Located about halfway between Fort Wayne, Indiana and Toledo along Route 24, Cecil is the absolute worst small town you could live in Ohio.
Just what makes Cecil such a crummy place to call home? For one, boredom. This is the 4th least densely populated place in Ohio, a state that can be pretty boring regardless. Crime is the 10th worst of all small towns we measured, and more than 1 in 3 residents never completed high school.
Trust us, you would never ever want to live here.
How does bringing in about $22,000 a year sound to you? If you lived in little ole’ Macksburg, that’s about what your entire family would earn in an entire year. Even in the sticks in backwoods Ohio, that doesn’t go very far at all.
Almost half of the residents here don’t have a high school diploma, and crime is the 4th worst of all small cities in the state.
At least homes are only $29,000 each. When a McDonald’s try cook can afford a home, you know this is a place where there is simply no demand.
To get there, take I-77 to West Virginia and stop at the last exit. They’d probably be glad to see you.
Did a tornado hit Belmore in the last few years? Google image searches reveal a pretty rundown place. Besides the whole ‘exterior’ problem on the surface, this is one of the most dangerous little places you could call home in Ohio. If you lived here, you’d have a 1 in 22 chance of being the victim of a crime every year.
There isn’t a ‘dumber’ place in Ohio, either. More than half the population never finished high school.
Belmore is way, way out there, along Route 65 between the boom towns of Deshler (Pop. 1,801) and Leipsic (Pop. 2,045).
4. Belle Valley
Along I-77 in southern Ohio is little Belle Valley, which actually has lots to do, compared to the cities listed above. If you lived here, these would be your options for ‘fun:’
You could go to church, hang out at the Sunoco gas station, chill out at the post office, get your nails done at the Villager Beauty Supply or chat it up with Marianne down at Marianne’s Food Station.
Hopefully, Marianne is hiring. If you lived here, you’d most likely need a job since 14% of the town is out of work and 4 in 10 are high school dropouts.
5. New Bloomington
Now that’s a boom town! New Bloomington has a lot going for it, population wise. If you lived here, at least there would be about 400 other people to mingle with.
On the down side, could you trust them? Crime is the 7th highest for every small town in the state. You’d certainly live below the poverty line, and once you got bored with eating at Evan’s Sports Bar, you’d have to make the trek all the way to Marion for a decent meal.
If you’ve been to Marion, you’d know that wouldn’t necessarily be a rip roarin’ good time.
6. Valley Hi
Where is the most dangerous small town with the cheapest homes in Ohio? Welcome to Valley Hi. You can actually buy a home here for about $13,000. That’s the median price; there are certainly homes here that sell for lower than $10,000.
If you’re a young couple, and don’t mind the 90-minute schelp into Columbus every day, then there are probably many home owners in Valley Hi who would like to speak with you. Heck, you could probably trade your car in for a home.
Bonus if you like to ski.
Trimble is another one of those southern Ohio cities that might as well be West Virginia. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with West Virginia or anything. We’re just saying…
You’d have about a 1 in 23 chance of being victimized by a crime every year here, and for entertainment, you’d have your choices from Go Go Burrito, Kasler’s Country Kitchen and the Brickyard Drive Thru, which is actually a beer store without a website.
You’d better save up for beer money to keep the boredom blues away; the average family brings in about $26,000 a year here.
Rogers, Ohio is the smallest city on this list, and for some reason, the homes here are the most expensive. If spending $75,000 on a home a short drive from Pennsylvania sounds appealing, then this place is for you!
But buyer beware: 4 in 10 residents never finished high school, and crime is the 20th worst in the state.
Irondale is a bargain hunter’s dream. Of all the small Ohio towns on this list, it’s the place with the lowest income to home price ratio. Meaning you could pay off your home in about a year’s salary.
Only thing is, you’d have two choices for work – make a drive into nearby Wellsville to try your hand at running the register at either Family Dollar or the Kwik King, or you could save on gas and probably get a job online filling out surveys. That is, if the internet even stretches all this way out in no man’s land.
10. Milton Center
We end our tour of the small towns in Ohio you wouldn’t want to ever (ever) live in little Milton Center, a speck of a place exactly 22 minutes west of Bowling Green.
While the low wages, high crime and dim-witted population might be enough to make an Ohioan go cuckoo, at least you’d have comfort knowing right down the road is Bowling Green.
Now, that’s a place worth moving to. Right?
There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In Ohio
If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Buckeye 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 Ohio, according to science.
2nd Best: Marble Cliff
3rd Best: Sherwood
For more Ohio reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Happiest Cities In Ohio
- 25 Emojis That Perfectly Explain Ohio
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Ohio
Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Ohio