Illinois. America’s heartland. The Land of Lincoln. Green summers, cold winters. Farmers and gangsters. And everything in between.
It’s not a flyover state. In fact, when you consider Chicago is possibly the best city in America, Illinois can make a case that it’s the most important state in the entire midwest.
Where you’ve got corn fields, corn hole, and some of the hardest-working, down-to-earth people in the country.
But is it all roses in Illinois? Of course not. Just like every other state, Illinois has its issues. The sore spots, if you will. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which Illinois cities need a little tender loving care.
After analyzing 325 of the Prairie State’s most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 places that could use a hug right about now:
- Centreville (Photos)
- Harvey (Photos)
- Cahokia (Photos)
- East St. Louis (Photos)
- Dolton (Photos)
- Hoopeston (Photos)
- Kankakee (Photos)
- Riverdale (Photos)
- Benton (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Illinois? That would be Centreville.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Illinois
How we determined the worst places to live in Illinois 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 don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 325 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 325 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Illinois — Centreville. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Illinois.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Illinois, Centreville ranks 1st worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Centreville, crime is the 24th highest in the state, and 1 out of 22.9 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That’s not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 113 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That’s really high.
When you look at adult education in Illinois, the folks in Centreville have the 65th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Centreville undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 2nd highest in Illinois, at 19.9%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Illinois has some hard workers.
Out of all the places to live in Illinois, Harvey ranks as the 2nd worst — not something to brag about.
Harvey’s unemployment rate stands at 18.5%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $24,343 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 19th cheapest in the entire state at $72,400. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Harvey. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 8th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 2.2 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 24 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Cahokia has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 31st-highest in the state of Illinois. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 13.2%.
Additionally, 30.9% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Don’t even try and argue about this one. The only thing controversial about East St. Louis being this high is that it wasn’t number one.
East St. Louis needs some tough love.
The unemployment rate is 12% which is the second-highest in the state of Illinois. And residents here make a paltry $19,278 a year. That’s well below the poverty line. Home values are barely above $40,000, which is the 4th-lowest in the state.
And crime. There isn’t a more dangerous city in the state. Not even close.
The only thing keeping East St. Louis from topping this list is the fact that its public school system is actually decent — meaning student spending and teacher-student ratios are a main focus in trying to turn this community around.
Hopefully, the next generation of kids growing up in this city can step it up and talk some sense into the older generation.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Dolton is the 5th worst place you can live in the state of Illinois. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 8th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Dolton had a 1 in 2.2 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Dolton, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Dolton’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (22.6%) and income levels of its residents ($44,075).
If you’ve ever taken the backroads to or from Chicago, you might have passed through Hoopeston on Route 1. It seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Hoopeston needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 12.7%, residents earn about $41,313 a year, and home prices are just over $64,100. Across the board, those are in the bottom 10% in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Hoopeston. Don’t believe me? The city’s events calendar is…blank.
Maybe people in Hoopeston just need some friends. They don’t even have a Facebook page for their city. #FacebookforHoopeston
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $86,700 (51st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (20th worst)
More on Markham: Data
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 7th worst in Illinois.
Markham residents had a 1 in 2.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Markham is through the roof, as more than 13.4% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $86,700, Markham has the 51st-lowest home prices in the state of Illinois.
Kankakee is pretty much the first place you get to when you leave Chicago, south on I-57. And according to the data, it might be the first place you might want to pull over and spread some goodwill.
Kankakee has the third lowest student-teacher ratio in the state, and its public education system is in the bottom 10% as a whole when it comes to spending. The unemployment rate is 11%, which is nearly double the national average.
Factor in a very low median household income and the 16th-highest crime rate in the state, and you’ve got some real issues. Oh yeah, and there were four murders here in 2019. Yikes.
Kankakee has seen its ups and downs over the years. In the late 90s, it was rated as one of the best places to raise a family one year, and then two years later, rated as the worst place to live by Places Rated Almanac.
But it’s been consistently rated as having great golf courses. And they’re probably looking for a new friend to play with.
Riverdale places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Illinois. Here, 13.2% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Riverdale have the 89th highest adult drop out rate in Illinois.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $82,200 each — the 38th lowest in Illinois.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
When you factor in the economy, crime and sheer number of things to do, Benton residents are in need of a hug more than any other place in the state.
Where is Benton, Illinois you say? It’s in Franklin County, on I-57 on your way to Carbondale. If you’re driving through town, stop by and give a friendly wave. They could sure use it right about now.
Benton has the 20th worse crime in Illinois, but most of those crimes are property crimes, meaning robberies and thefts. However, when you consider than Benton residents had a 1 in 40 chance of having something stolen from them last year, it’s a place where you can’t let your guard down.
Other issues with Benton: The unemployment rank is 9.4%, residents earn about $29,000 a year, and home costs hover around $62,000 on average. Meaning there’s not a lot of demand.
And 17% of the families live below the poverty line here.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Illinois
If you’re looking at areas in Illinois with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Centreville ranks as the worst city to live in Illinois for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Illinois:
- Hinsdale (Pop. 17,705)
- Western Springs (Pop. 13,187)
- Deerfield (Pop. 18,896)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Illinois
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Illinois
- 10 Safest Places In Illinois
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Illinois
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Illinois
|4||East St. Louis||26,678|
|58||Country Club Hills||16,756|