Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Washington, DC.
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 Washington ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Washington area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Washington proper, although Falls Church certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Washington are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 35 biggest suburbs of Washington to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in District Of Columbia lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Washington in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Washington for 2018:
- Riverdale Park (Photos)
- Bladensburg (Photos)
- Capitol Heights
- Mount Rainier (Photos)
- New Carrollton (Photos)
- Seat Pleasant
- Greenbelt (Photos)
- Forest Heights
- Hyattsville (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Washington that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Washington 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.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Washington for 2018
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, 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 Washington.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 35 suburbs to evaluate around Washington.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 35 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 Washington.” We’re lookin’ at you, Dumfries.
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.
Population: 5,180 Unemployment Rate: 9.5%
Median Home Price: $166,600
Median Income: $57,649
We’ll get the ball rolling with Dumfries, the absolute worst place to live around Washington according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Dumfries beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 4th worst in the Washington area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st 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 Dumfries.
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. Riverdale Park
Population: 7,221Unemployment Rate: 7.3%
Median Home Price: $248,100
Median Income: $61,520
Welcome to Riverdale Park. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 6.4 miles to Washington. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $61,520 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.
Population: 9,505Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Median Home Price: $179,800
Median Income: $44,236
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Washington suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Bladensburg 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 Washington suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
4. Capitol Heights
Population: 4,489 Unemployment Rate: 12.9%
Median Home Price: $189,000
Median Income: $67,863
If you live in Capitol Heights, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 12th lowest Washington suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Washington. Remember, we looked at 35 cities for this study.
Capitol Heights is about 6.2 miles to downtown.
5. Mount Rainier
Population: 8,364Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Median Home Price: $275,900
Median Income: $50,345
Mount Rainier has the distinction of being a Washington suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Mount Rainier has the 16th lowest home values in the metro Washington area, where the median price is $275,900. To put that into perspective, in Falls Church, the median income is $150,000, which is the best in the area.
Mount Rainier has an unemployment rate of 7.8% which ranks 10th worst.
6. New Carrollton
Population: 12,727Unemployment Rate: 11.7%
Median Home Price: $232,000
Median Income: $60,645
New Carrollton has 12,727 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 9.9%.
7. Seat Pleasant
Population: 4,721 Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
Median Home Price: $175,000
Median Income: $51,930
Ah, Seat Pleasant. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Washington.
It’s the place with the 18th most out of work residents in the Washington metro area (6.4%).
Population: 23,623Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Median Home Price: $190,500
Median Income: $67,162
Greenbelt is a city about 9.4 miles from Washington, but Washington 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. Greenbelt has the 11th most uninsured people, 11th worst incomes, and has the 20th highest unemployment rate (6.3%) in the entire Washington metro area.
Homes only cost $190,500 for a reason. That’s cheap for Washington standards.
9. Forest Heights
Population: 2,549 Unemployment Rate: 14.1%
Median Home Price: $195,700
Median Income: $70,875
If you absolutely have to live near Washington, then Forest Heights might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Washington suburb.
About 14.1% of residents are out of work.
Population: 18,262Unemployment Rate: 6.5%
Median Home Price: $265,600
Median Income: $65,452
Rounding out the ten worst Washington suburbs to call home is Hyattsville.
Located 5.2 miles outside the city, Hyattsvilles is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 17th highest unemployment rate (6.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Washington where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Washington with Dumfries casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Washington aren’t all bad. Falls Church takes the cake as the best place to live around Washington.
For more District Of Columbia reading , check out:
- 10 Snobbiest Cities In Maryland
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Maryland
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Maryland
Detailed List Of The Worst Washington Suburbs