Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround St. Louis.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which St. Louis ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the St. Louis area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to St. Louis proper, although Glendale certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of St. Louis are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 94 biggest suburbs of St. Louis to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Missouri lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of St. Louis in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around St. Louis for 2019:
- Washington Park
- East St. Louis
- Pagedale (Photos)
- Pine Lawn
- Berkeley (Photos)
- Jennings (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around St. Louis that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around St. Louis too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Missouri
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Missouri
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Missouri
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around St. Louis for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2013-2017, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of St. Louis.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 94 suburbs to evaluate around St. Louis.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 94 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near St. Louis.” We’re lookin’ at you, Madison.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,175 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $46,800 (2nd lowest)
More on Madison:
We’ll get the ball rolling with Madison, the absolute worst place to live around St. Louis according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Madison beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the St. Louis area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Madison.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
2. Washington Park
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,390 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 24.4% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $46,400 (1st lowest)
More on Washington Park:
Welcome to Washington Park. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 8.2 miles to St. Louis. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $25,390 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $17,441 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $47,900 (3rd lowest)
More on Centreville:
Back up the highway we go for the third worst St. Louis suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Centreville on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other St. Louis suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
4. East St. Louis
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $20,659 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.0% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $55,000 (6th lowest)
More on East St. Louis:
If you live in East St. Louis, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest St. Louis suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near St. Louis. Remember, we looked at 94 cities for this study.
East St. Louis is about 6.4 miles to downtown.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,200 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $48,700 (4th lowest)
More on Cahokia:
Cahokia has the distinction of being a St. Louis suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Cahokia has the 4th lowest home values in the metro St. Louis area, where the median price is $48,700. To put that into perspective, in Glendale, the median income is $203,250, which is the best in the area.
Cahokia has an unemployment rate of 13.2% which ranks 13th worst.
Pagedale has 3,307 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 30.2%.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $30,262 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.2% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $50,000 (5th lowest)
More on Pine Lawn: Data
Ah, Pine Lawn. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around St. Louis.
It’s the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the St. Louis metro area (17.2%).
Berkeley is a city about 8.9 miles from St. Louis, but St. Louis probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Berkeley has the 12th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 15th highest unemployment rate (12.3%) in the entire St. Louis metro area.
Homes only cost $63,700 for a reason. That’s cheap for St. Louis standards.
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,745 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.8% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $56,200 (8th lowest)
More on Riverview: Data
If you absolutely have to live near St. Louis, then Riverview might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst St. Louis suburb.
About 16.8% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst St. Louis suburbs to call home is Jennings.
Located 6.1 miles outside the city, Jenningss is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 3rd highest unemployment rate (18.2%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around St. Louis where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding St. Louis with Madison casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around St. Louis aren’t all bad. Glendale takes the cake as the best place to live around St. Louis.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Missouri
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Missouri
- 10 Safest Places In Missouri
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri
Detailed List Of The Worst St. Louis Suburbs
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