10 Small Towns In Texas Where You’d Never Want To Live


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in TX are the pits.

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

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

After analyzing more than 370 of Texas’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Texas where you’d never want to live:

  1. North Cleveland
  2. Paint Rock
  3. Cuney
  4. O’Brien
  5. Goodlow
  6. Roaring Springs
  7. Springlake
  8. Seven Oaks
  9. Rochester
  10. Buckholts

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Texas 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.

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

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Texas, 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 – 370 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.

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1. North Cleveland

North Cleveland, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 238

We begin our tour of small town Texas cities that you wouldn’t want to live with North Cleveland, a teeny speck of a place that north of…Cleveland, TX. What makes this place so bad?

First off, around 17% of the population is out of work, which is the highest rate in all of Texas. So if you lived here, there’s a decent chance you’d be broke and out of work, too. Plus, crime is in the top 15%, and homes cost about $37,000 each.

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Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s simply no demand to live in North Cleveland, TX.

2. Paint Rock

Paint Rock, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 263

While North Cleveland is relatively close to some sort of city life, Paint Rock is way out in no man’s land along Route 83 about an hour east of San Angelo.

Here, you’ll find a population that’s very uneducated – 4 in 10 people never completed high school. Which means there wouldn’t be many stimulating conversations to help take away the sheer boredom you’d experience if you made this place your home.

3. Cuney

Cuney, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 170

There’s absolutely nothing to do in puny Cuney, TX. Here’s what you’d have to choose from for ‘fun’:

  • Fat Dog Liquor Store
  • Arun Rise Liquor
  • T’s Discount Liquor Store

Plus, there’s an actual Cuney Police Department. Does living in a town that only has three liquor stores and a police station sound exciting?

This is the third poorest place in Texas, where households bring in about $18,000 a year. If you lived here, not only might you be drunk all day, you’d be very broke, too.

4. O’Brien

O

Source: Google Maps

Population: 138

If you thought the cities above were isolated, O’Brien takes the cake. This teeny tiny town is somewhere north of Abliene, but too far from Abilene to really even give directions. Don’t get us wrong; we’re not knocking small town Texas by any stretch.

But the data indicates this place is crummy: Houses cost $25,000 each, nearly half the population is a high school dropout, and you’d have a 1 in 22 chance of being victimized by a crime for every year you lived here.

5. Goodlow

Goodlow, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 193

Goodlow is a good place for investing in a home since they only cost about $21,000 each. For a million bucks, you could probably buy the whole town. But buyer beware: This is the 17th most dangerous place we measured, and we looked at more than 350 small towns in Texas.

On the bright side, only 4% of the community is out of work, but if you lived here, you’d likely be a farmer. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

6. Roaring Springs

Roaring Springs, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 277

Tiny Roaring Springs isn’t necessarily a rip roarin’ good time, but at least there’s a few amenities such as a jeweler, lumber store and cafe. The problem is, it doesn’t look like anyone ever goes downtown, does it? I mean the place looks like a ghost town.

You’d think lots of people here would be out of the house, since 13% are out of work. Maybe their $32,000 annual salaries necessitate staying home and watching the boob tube all day.

To get here, you’d drive about an hour northeast from Lubbock.

7. Springlake

Springlake, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 163

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Not too far away from Roaring Springs is the teeny little farming community of Springlake. If cotton farming is your thing, it wouldn’t be so bad. Plus, there’s four churches in town, meanin’ you might consider yourself blessed to live here, despite being broke.

Unfortunately, it sounds like half the population isn’t paying much attention on Sunday mornings. Crime is in the top 3% for all small towns here.

8. Seven Oaks

Seven Oaks, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 200

The photo above just about sums up Seven Oaks. Besides a motel, gas station and barbecue joint (with admittedly great reviews), you’d find nothing else for miles.

Crime is in the top 10%, and a majority of the 200 people who live here are in poverty.

9. Rochester

Rochester, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 244

The photo above shows you what you’d get if you lived in Rochester. There’s actually a City Hall here, and it looks like the mayor is parked outside. What the mayor of Rochester, Texas does all day long is anyone’s guess, but if you wanted to run for mayor, they might just take you seriously.

Why? Crime is the 2nd worst of any small town in the entire state. You’d have a 1 in 21 chance of being a victim yourself if you spent a year in Rochester.

As mayor, you could also attempt to raise home prices from $20,000 each.

10. Buckholts

Buckholts, Texas

Source: Google Maps

Population: 514

We complete our journey of small Texas towns that you’d never want to live in yourself with Buckholts, a blip on the map along Route 190.

The good news? Living in Buckholts means you’re smack dab between Waco, Austin and College Station. So, for a coupla’ gallons of gas, you would have more entertainment at your disposal than you could handle.

The bad news? Your entire family would bring in about $16,000 a year, and you’d be the poorest family in the entire state.

Maybe Waco can wait.

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In Texas

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Lone Star 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 Texas, according to science.

Best: Tiki Island
2nd Best: Bishop Hills
3rd Best: Hilshire Village
For more Texas reading, check out:

Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Texas

City Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
North Cleveland 1 238 $44,583 $37,200
Paint Rock 2 263 $33,611 $37,500
Cuney 3 170 $18,750 $43,000
O’Brien 4 138 $37,500 $25,600
Goodlow 5 193 $25,543 $21,700
Roaring Springs 6 277 $32,308 $29,400
Springlake 7 163 $29,524 $34,600
Seven Oaks 8 200 $26,458 $34,900
Rochester 9 244 $25,000 $20,600
Buckholts 10 514 $16,964 $45,400
Log Cabin 11 789 $25,179 $29,800
Goree 12 201 $31,406 $32,900
Mingus 13 304 $18,500 $55,300
Moore Station 14 254 $36,202 $51,900
Hawk Cove 15 460 $25,625 $38,200
Browndell 16 296 $28,250 $23,000
Barstow 17 416 $27,788 $24,700
Dell City 18 353 $28,929 $40,900
Carbon 19 272 $33,333 $40,600
Avinger 20 507 $29,861 $50,900
Christine 21 349 $48,750 $35,000
Melvin 22 192 $37,000 $26,300
Cool 23 154 $36,875 $39,600
Trinidad 24 654 $39,063 $54,000
Benjamin 25 371 $31,250 $38,900
Milano 26 572 $27,400 $60,000
Richland 27 356 $40,156 $47,800
Dickens 28 217 $28,182 $57,500
Grandfalls 29 376 $35,000 $26,900
Loraine 30 669 $26,848 $26,000
Indian Lake 31 854 $26,042 $45,900
Toco 32 79 $24,688 $46,100
Annona 33 289 $26,313 $46,500
Morgan 34 634 $32,604 $46,800
Joaquin 35 747 $19,762 $62,800
Megargel 36 297 $40,104 $32,700
Lueders 37 315 $27,500 $38,300
Easton 38 669 $22,847 $52,900
Marquez 39 238 $26,250 $67,000
Austwell 40 140 $31,964 $59,100
Garrett 41 754 $33,125 $69,600
Zavalla 42 649 $34,286 $48,000
Streetman 43 233 $20,000 $63,600
Wickett 44 411 $33,750 $24,500
Talco 45 799 $33,953 $31,000
Carl’s Corner 46 333 $46,875 $88,000
Amherst 47 854 $36,250 $36,100
Newcastle 48 485 $28,947 $35,000
Malone 49 201 $38,000 $43,500
Walnut Springs 50 760 $32,344 $68,500
Penelope 51 270 $41,250 $44,600
Gorman 52 723 $24,205 $46,700
Detroit 53 831 $29,250 $43,400
La Ward 54 235 $32,308 $43,100
Nordheim 55 487 $36,397 $46,000
Wilson 56 543 $34,083 $42,500
Frost 57 712 $28,750 $49,800
Reklaw 58 376 $36,458 $69,700
Balmorhea 59 694 $27,857 $25,600
Crowell 60 941 $23,750 $28,800
Miller’s Cove 61 139 $24,615 $10,500
Mertens 62 89 $24,444 $56,500
Powell 63 114 $29,821 $93,000
San Perlita 64 690 $20,417 $35,100
Richland Springs 65 455 $43,125 $32,900
Winfield 66 604 $34,417 $53,500
Texline 67 553 $46,250 $28,600
Big Wells 68 624 $34,464 $33,600
Milford 69 636 $30,703 $75,300
Dawson 70 824 $30,588 $58,400
Fruitvale 71 680 $33,125 $81,800
Novice 72 149 $33,438 $34,800
Coolidge 73 642 $24,605 $53,300
Latexo 74 668 $30,750 $55,000
Point 75 920 $36,667 $72,100
Rule 76 670 $34,464 $31,300
Aspermont 77 896 $43,214 $45,500
Trenton 78 745 $33,688 $70,700
Barry 79 282 $48,750 $45,000
Petronila 80 125 $48,750 $30,800
Devers 81 535 $43,393 $76,700
Ladonia 82 586 $25,417 $57,100
Dodson 83 175 $58,558 $14,900
Quitaque 84 344 $28,250 $39,100
Leary 85 782 $35,500 $44,500
Meadow 86 612 $46,250 $44,300
Kenefick 87 676 $28,056 $62,800
Kosse 88 453 $31,875 $62,600
Daisetta 89 866 $40,833 $66,800
Sadler 90 261 $33,958 $59,000
Weinert 91 266 $37,750 $25,800
Payne Springs 92 890 $32,188 $83,800
Gustine 93 435 $29,107 $65,600
Earth 94 877 $27,500 $41,600
Angus 95 394 $35,750 $65,000
Lone Oak 96 730 $38,993 $59,700
Gholson 97 981 $37,438 $78,500
Cranfills Gap 98 243 $33,438 $45,000
Iredell 99 329 $38,750 $46,000
Lometa 100 728 $24,000 $70,400
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14 thoughts on “10 Small Towns In Texas Where You’d Never Want To Live

  1. I’M SORRY, BUT I LIVED AND TAUGHT IN ROCHESTER FOR MANY YEARS. IT IS A SMALL TOWN BUT A FRIENDLY TOWN. EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE AND THEY HELP EACH OTHER. YOUR PICTURE IS AN UNFAIR VIEW OF THE CITY. THEY HAVE A POST OFFICE, A GREAT LITTLE CAFE, A LENDING LIBRARY, A VETERANS PARK IN THE CENTER OF TOWN, THEY RENOVATED SOME EMPTY BUILDINGS AND MADE A ROCHESTER MUSEUM. I DONT CARE WHERE YOU PUT IT ON THE LIST–THIS LITTLE TOWN ISN’T GOING TO DIE. THEY HAVE PRIDE AND ARE THE FRIENDLIEST LITTLE TOWN IN THE BIG COUNTRY. I WAS PROUD TO CALL IT HOME.

    1. According to your blog: We use data, analytics, and a sense of humor to determine the dirt on places across the country. It’s too bad that you condemn places you have never been and know nothing about. You are pretty weak on accuracy and I am not sure what you gain by slamming small towns across the country. It’s things like this that make me glad that I grew up in a town where we always knew the difference between people who were genuine and those who were just out to bring attention to themselves without an ounce of integrity. It’s nice to grow up in a place that people like you would choose not to visit.

  2. To the author, yes I lack formal education, as your STATS, clearly state, about someone from my hometown. You are what us uneducated people refer to as a educated Idiot. You put all you value into what a mathematical spreadsheet tells you. I would guarantee you you’d be safer, happier, and enjoy much more of life living in one of these small towns, than you would in any of the metropolitan areas around the state. If you were half as intelligent as you are educated you would know this. I understand that you are only stating facts, but the way you word this leads me to believe that you are slightly bias in your reporting of the facts.

  3. I agree with the others that your data is off by a long shot and your opinion is off even more. These are the places that make Texas great! Small towns are full of character and charm. Just because there isn’t a McDonalds on every corner doesn’t make it bad. Your article makes me sad and I think you need to visit these places and let us show you around. You might change your mind.

  4. I read the article and I am from a metropolitan area (Fort Worth/Dallas); however, I also have been to different small towns and there are many peaceful and enjoyable people. What “few” “not majority” others may say as well as using stats to make reports based on the internet, is truly a pathetic way to judge a location. Talking about someone’s education does not make them dumb. If someone has not completed school, this doesn’t make them uneducated. There could have been other issues or reasons he or she did not finish school, just as any rich town or metropolitan. Talking about low budget homes, does not make the town worse in economic status. If the Author had actually talk to the Mayor of these towns, many would inform they are not given the budget to build “classy” commercial buildings and residential homes as bigger cities or smaller cities that has budget. The article is just another way to slam people “who” are thought to be some of the poorest in the U.S. This article is poorly written and there are no true facts or accurate based information supporting the thoughts. #maybetimeforanewjob for this Author.

  5. In a small town, when a crime occurs it is reported, and the officers actually generate a written report, which results in a statistic, unlike urban areas, where the officer just laughs if you want to report a stolen bike or something. The “statistics” don’t reflect the reality. The chief observation seems to be that poor people live in these towns. In the estimation of Mr. Tapman, the residents are poor, and therefore must be miserable. On the other hand, if you live in an urban area and have money, you must be happy. I prefer to live in a place where there is a sense of Community and where your neighbors know you and are there when you need them. I know many of the towns on this list, and I intend to build a home in one of them. If Mr. Tapman had actually done his research on the ground, rather than in the census statistics and Google Earth, he might have thought better than to waste time on this garbage piece.

  6. I love Joaquin, Texas! We bought a lake property and loved it so much, we moved there. I guess to each his own…….

  7. All it takes is a drive to a “bigger” city to do your shopping and you see why we live in a small town, crime, crack-heads, mentally ill people wandering around, police arresting people left and right, fights in stores, etc.

  8. A common error researchers have is they find evidence of what they assumed prior to beginning their research. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” Pollyanna took Mister Lincoln’s quote farther when she said, “If you look for the bad in people you’re sure to find it, so look for the good in them instead.” In that pursuit you will come to realize the true nature of the small towns and the people living in and around them.

  9. First of all your assumption is flawed to start with. Many people prefer life in small communities or rural areas and some of those are trapped in the rat-race of the urban areas now, because of their job. Your stats for our little town are flawed in unforgivable ways. Our population is not 138. Our city limits signs denote the last census information and our population is 106. You demean our intelligence by claiming “half the population is a high school dropout” when in fact very available stats tell us 70% of our population completed high school or higher. One reason we have a population of 30% who did not graduate is because we have many elderly who grew up in an era when it was not uncommon to have to drop out of school to provide for family–an honorable sacrifice. Others in our community came from Mexico where they may have never had the opportunity for advanced education, yet we are proud of these who work hard and contribute in tremendous ways to our way of life out here. The last unemployment figures for O’Brien are 4.6% as opposed to the state average of 5.5%. Real stats also tell us it is less than a 10 minute average drive to work (and no potential for a traffic jam, ever). I suppose if you base any little act of crime against our population we do not fare well. However, the last memorable murder in O’Brien occurred around 1900-1910. No one who lives here considers crime a problem in O’Brien. You demean us for low housing cost. What an advantage when a $25,000 house here would cost $75,000 in an urban area, when a $90,000 house here would cost $270,000 to $300,000 in an urban area. We are connected to the more urban areas by Highway Six which runs through downtown O’Brien and we have not had any victims of road rage because of our density of population at any time. We just don’t have traffic jams or long commutes because of traffic congestion. We count that a positive thing. Our school system has produced Doctors, lawyers and many educated and successful people. We live two miles from a nice golf course. There are two lakes within 35 miles that provide recreation and a water supply for our city, amending our ground water supply that is available. These lakes entertain a flow, a steady stream of people, from the more urban areas to fish and relax. Just beyond our city limits, and sometimes within, we find all kinds of wildlife (turkey, dove, Quail, deer, wild hogs etc.) which seems (in season) to draw our urban neighbors to our area. Maybe you need to search out some idea for an internet site that encourages those across our land!!! Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I commend the others from the small towns who have taken the time to defend a way of life that many can only wish they were a part of.

    1. Ive been to some of the some of the small towns listed …i myself is from a small blink and you might miss towns called May Tx. Promise you arent or havent missed a thing.

  10. You tell ’em C.H. I grew up in O’Brien, TX. The values I was taught were honest Christian values. We were taught manners in O’Brien, something I see very little of anymore these days. Yes and No Ma’am and Sir were expected or a hide tanning was to follow. Never walk in front of a lady and treat you wife like she is a Queen…because she is. My work led me away from O’Brien, because farming was not what I wanted to have as a career. But, farming is an honest profession that does not pay very well anymore because the politicians have their hands in it…and the farmer”s pocket, ALSO.

    Mark Lippard, I was honored to grow up and go to school with you. My best memories are of sports with you and others in our little clan that were sooooo much a part of my great life in O’Brien. The cliche, “Don’t knock it until you try it!”, definitely applies here. The writer of this article does not know what they are talking about. People like those in O’Brien, TX are the BACKBONE OF AMERICA. GOD BLESS O’BRIEN, TX. I say this because HE has!

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