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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 328 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:
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 2020.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Illinois
- Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois
- Most Dangerous Cities In Illinois
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Illinois For 2020
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Centreville is the worst place you can live in the state of Illinois. Let's see why.
Residents who live in Centreville, located in St. Clair County, have the 4most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level--per resident--and homes valued around $52,800, and you've got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Illinois, that is.
If you live in Illinois, you may or may not be surprised that Riverdale ranked, at least on paper, as the 2nd worst place to live in the state. It has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 53rd most dangerous.
Incidentally, Riverdale is the 249th most densely populated city in Illinois. Draw your own conclusions.
Cahokia ranks as the 3rd worst city in Illinois. Located in St. Clair County, Cahokia has the 7th lowest income levels in the state of Illinois ($29,330), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 13.3%.
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 2020. 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.
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.
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 13.5%, residents earn about $42,593 a year, and home prices are just over $68,400. 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: 24 (Up 17)
Median Home Value: $72,500 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (20th worst)
More on Robbins: Data
If, by some reason, you were driving through Robbins, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren't so peachy keen here.
It's tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($26,804) and they can't get good jobs (12.4% unemployment rate).
Robbins ranks as the 7th wost place in Illinois.
Beardstown has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 54th-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 8.9%.
Additionally, 22.6% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Zion doesn't have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 10.1%, and people average less than $51,039 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $117,600, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Illinois.
And again, in terms of the overall 'enjoyment' factor, it's not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
Out of all the places to live in Illinois, Centralia ranks as the 10th worst -- not something to brag about.
Centralia's unemployment rate stands at 11.0%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $36,896 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 10th cheapest in the entire state at $67,700. 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 Centralia. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 30th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 25.1 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 79 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
How we determined the worst places to live in Illinois for 2020
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 328 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 328 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. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Illinois:
- Buffalo Grove (Pop. 41,329)
- Western Springs (Pop. 13,227)
- Deerfield (Pop. 18,930)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Illinois
- Richest Cities In Illinois
- Safest Places In Illinois
- Best Cities For Singles In Illinois
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Illinois?
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