Worst Small Towns In Tennessee For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in TN 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 Tennessee.

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Most Americans have never been to Tennessee. However, as the people who live there know, Tennessee is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Tennessee has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Volunteer State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 171 of Tennessee's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Tennessee where you'd never want to live:

So what is the worst small town to call home in tennessee for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Jellico is the worst small town to live in Tennessee.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Tennessee 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 Tennessee or the worst places to live in Tennessee.

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 Tennessee For 2020

Jellico, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,289
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $83,000 (33rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (43rd worst)
More on Jellico:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,682
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $65,300 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 25.5% (2nd worst)
More on East Cleveland:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 1,008
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $83,500 (36th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (13th worst)
More on Winfield:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,037
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $68,500 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (45th worst)
More on Altamont:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,010
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $69,100 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (12th worst)
More on Jamestown:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 1,614
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $79,500 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.9% (9th worst)
More on Spencer:  Data

Tiptonville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,359
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $72,700 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.7% (8th worst)
More on Tiptonville:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,388
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $77,500 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (29th worst)
More on Gruetli-Laager:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,516
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $92,300 (55th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (95th worst)
More on Red Boiling Springs:  Data

Oneida, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 3,706
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $107,800 (81st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (17th worst)
More on Oneida:  Data | Photos

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Tennessee, 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 Tennessee 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 - 171 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 Tennessee

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Volunteer 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 Tennessee, according to science:

  1. Oak Hill (Pop. 4,634)
  2. Belle Meade (Pop. 2,401)
  3. Lookout Mountain (Pop. 1,992)

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Tennessee

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Jellico 2,289 9.9% $83,000
2 East Cleveland 1,682 25.5% $65,300
3 Winfield 1,008 14.8% $83,500
4 Altamont 1,037 9.7% $68,500
5 Jamestown 2,010 14.9% $69,100
6 Spencer 1,614 15.9% $79,500
7 Tiptonville 4,359 17.7% $72,700
8 Gruetli-Laager 2,388 11.3% $77,500
9 Red Boiling Springs 1,516 6.2% $92,300
10 Oneida 3,706 14.0% $107,800
11 Ridgely 1,828 12.5% $67,800
12 Fincastle 1,276 13.4% $71,500
13 Roan Mountain 1,276 10.7% $111,200
14 Sneedville 1,285 11.1% $76,200
15 Byrd 1,036 9.1% $79,500
16 Rutherford 1,146 11.8% $66,600
17 Parsons 2,263 18.0% $91,100
18 Whiteville 4,526 9.9% $67,100
19 Maynardville 2,724 10.6% $99,900
20 Adamsville 2,192 13.6% $82,700
21 Helenwood 1,008 20.3% $100,800
22 South Pittsburg 3,045 10.0% $92,200
23 Somerville 3,139 15.6% $166,800
24 Huntsville 1,419 5.8% $108,900
25 Mount Pleasant 4,810 14.7% $110,600
26 Lake City 2,148 9.8% $71,400
27 Selmer 4,422 22.4% $109,100
28 Whitwell 1,897 6.2% $86,300
29 Niota 1,018 6.5% $90,300
30 Central 2,350 6.9% $131,600
31 Dodson Branch 1,260 19.1% $91,300
32 Midtown 1,437 12.2% $82,700
33 Englewood 1,592 13.2% $84,300
34 Decaturville 1,007 14.5% $72,900
35 Sharon 1,023 12.0% $64,000
36 Cowan 1,475 7.1% $77,200
37 Clifton 2,684 10.5% $116,300
38 Celina 1,803 5.5% $105,700
39 Mason 1,123 28.8% $84,400
40 Lobelville 1,025 3.8% $77,900
41 Tazewell 2,312 8.6% $100,400
42 Waynesboro 2,552 8.7% $82,300
43 Pikeville 2,251 21.4% $104,600
44 Smithville 4,699 13.1% $129,700
45 Plainview 1,803 8.5% $116,400
46 Graysville 1,726 5.0% $64,400
47 Obion 1,300 14.0% $69,900
48 Bradford 1,150 13.5% $69,900
49 Sparta 4,940 11.0% $93,200
50 Erin 1,315 4.3% $77,900
51 Ardmore 1,293 9.6% $130,000
52 Monterey 2,845 3.4% $114,900
53 White Pine 2,135 10.0% $113,600
54 Bean Station 3,089 7.8% $101,300
55 Greenfield 2,357 7.5% $73,800
56 Gleason 1,462 8.4% $66,300
57 Alamo 2,241 10.1% $100,200
58 Livingston 4,024 7.7% $109,500
59 Rutledge 1,565 2.1% $85,400
60 Wildwood Lake 3,400 3.6% $135,700
61 Tracy City 1,556 5.0% $98,800
62 Baxter 1,536 7.2% $117,400
63 Troy 1,644 5.8% $84,700
64 Crump 1,371 3.6% $88,100
65 Benton 1,584 6.8% $101,600
66 Spring City 2,094 2.6% $95,000
67 Bruceton 1,318 10.9% $68,100
68 South Fulton 2,449 7.5% $71,200
69 Trenton 4,091 8.2% $92,000
70 Charlotte 1,674 10.6% $116,800
71 Dresden 2,957 6.2% $87,500
72 Halls 2,231 3.7% $70,400
73 Madisonville 4,903 10.0% $130,200
74 White Bluff 3,449 8.1% $134,900
75 Collinwood 1,006 8.8% $83,100
76 Woodbury 2,735 8.5% $137,200
77 Monteagle 1,957 5.0% $145,600
78 Huntingdon 3,845 1.8% $100,100
79 Mountain City 2,349 4.5% $110,800
80 Decatur 1,557 8.2% $115,800
81 Coalfield 2,385 7.8% $125,500
82 Dyer 2,446 8.0% $67,200
83 Caryville 2,653 7.9% $139,900
84 Camden 3,549 5.3% $98,600
85 Eastview 1,007 4.8% $84,200
86 Centerville 3,555 7.0% $131,300
87 Mascot 2,361 9.0% $118,300
88 Decherd 3,151 2.7% $88,800
89 Hohenwald 3,657 3.6% $83,100
90 Westmoreland 2,603 5.2% $119,500
91 New Tazewell 2,744 1.4% $124,600
92 Gatlinburg 4,150 6.7% $186,500
93 Waverly 4,069 6.8% $95,800
94 Sale Creek 2,872 5.4% $138,600
95 Unionville 2,063 1.9% $136,000
96 Lone Oak 1,125 0.7% $169,000
97 Dover 2,150 13.4% $147,300
98 Mosheim 2,398 6.6% $103,400
99 Gordonsville 1,703 7.1% $145,600
100 Newbern 3,327 6.1% $90,800

How Is The Area In ?

9 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Tennessee, 2020

  1. I am just a little curious as to why three out of the ten towns listed were all out of the county. Another interesting addition to the article was the list titled “Ranking of the 100 worst small towns in Tennessee”. when the article did not claim to have analyzed more than a total of 110 towns. I personally lived in Grundy County for 5 years as a teenager, in Palmer. I graduated, as did most of our class of 2008. Someone once told me that there are a lot of bad, mean people in Grundy County but just leave them alone and mind your own business. However that person also told me that in the very same county lies some of the very best, sweetest and kindest people that you will find anywhere. They were right. When there are hardships, everyone bands together, takes up money, and helps out. There are also a lot of wonderful teachers and programs for students that encourage community service and positive lifestyles. Just remember that in any county there is good and bad, you have to choose what you embrace.

  2. Whoever wrote this, there’s a valuable lesson in this for you. There’s a big difference between what paper says and what an actual environment is like. Besides pushing a pen and mouse to gather info and data on locations, visit them and EXPERIENCE the very thing you wish to trash talk.

  3. Did you half wit journalist even actually visit any of these towns. If you drive an hour from Palmer you are about 50 minutes past where Mary’s kitchen was at. I would say with about 10 minutes of real research a person could find out a lot better info on all of these towns. When did you visit Palmer, Coalmont, or Beersheba Mr Tapman. Or are you just a big city internet troll with nothing to do?

  4. What a load of crap. You choose a lot of factor which you think is bad but the residents prefer.

    Many of these small communities are farm communities so you have some good hard working neighbors.

    Lower cost housing means you can get more house for your dollar in these communities.

    A number of these town are filled with retirees who left the city to return to small town living. After 55 years of living and working in Memphis my dad chose to return to Milledgeville to retire. So did four of his siblings. All returned to their family homestead area to spend their latter years.

    Most of the crime was due to a small portion of youth which had drug issues and many of them did not originally live in this area.

    We still keep my late father’s property and home in Milledgeville and gather there twice a year. And nothing has turned up missing in all this time except for when he was visited by people he knew from Memphis.

    Problem is you look at things through the eyes of urban-ites. You have no concept of what country living is about.

  5. I’m from Johnson City & know our states history pretty good, but what & where’s “Mary’s Kitchen” (i.e. c 1st comment above)?

    1. Mary’s kitchen has not been open in years so I don’t know when these people done their study of these cites. I personally wouldn’t trade Coalmont for any big city.

  6. I am from Coalmont some of the best people live here they are true neighbors loving carding willing to help people I feel sorry for people that live in city’s and don’t know there next door neighbor get sick or have a member of your family die its amazing at the pouring out of love they share .

  7. According to your so called scientific article, and I use that term very loosely, I live between 3 of the most dangerous and destitute towns in TN although I have my Masters Degree and earn a 6 figure income. I live between Guys, Ramer, and Eastview, oh, I’m sure you actually know these towns and visited them before you wrote this garbage you call an article! Before you pass judgement on any other person living in another city, county or state, I invite you to actually visit the area! I believe that you will discover you are so very wrong! Your article blast people that are warm, kind and God fearing. These people would bend over backwards to help their neighbors and strangers alike regardless of color, political views or religious affiliation! Your article is nothing but garbage and a slap in the face to those that choose to live in rule areas. You sir or madam need to go back to school and learn another profession, because your career opportunities are very limited in journalism given the lack of talent on your part.

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