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:
- North Cleveland
- Paint Rock
- Roaring Springs
- Seven Oaks
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.
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.
1. North Cleveland
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
- A Guy Spent Over A Year In Texas. What He Captured Will Make Your Jaw Drop.
- These 15 Texas Restaurants Will Melt Your Taste Buds
- 43 Texas Facts They Never Taught You In School
Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Texas