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:
- Harvey (Photos)
- Centreville (Photos)
- Dolton (Photos)
- Cahokia (Photos)
- East St. Louis (Photos)
- Hoopeston (Photos)
- Kankakee (Photos)
- Riverdale (Photos)
- University Park (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 Harvey.
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 — Harvey. 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.
You might have passed through Harvey once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Harvey needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 18.5%, residents earn about $24,343 a year, and home prices are just over $72,400. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Harvey.
Centreville is another place in the Prairie State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Centreville is a staggering 19.9%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($17,441 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $47,900, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Centreville is bad, but not horrible.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Dolton ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 59th cheapest in the state here at $94,700. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Dolton.
The median income levels here are the 58th lowest in the state of Illinois, at $44,075. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 22.6% of people in Dolton were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
you’re looking to live in Illinois, Cahokia might not be the best choice as it places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.
Cahokia doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Cahokia may not be your first choice for a vacation.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $86,700 (51st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (20th worst)
More on Markham: Data
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Illinois, Markham came in 5th. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (8th worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 13.4%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
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 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
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 ranks as the 9th-worst place in Illinois due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 1st-worst commute of any place in the state.
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, University Park is the 10th worst place in the state of Illinois.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. University Park is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in University Park are the 89th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Illinois.
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, Harvey 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:
- Buffalo Grove (Pop. 41,551)
- Western Springs (Pop. 13,187)
- Deerfield (Pop. 18,896)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire 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
|6||East St. Louis||26,678|
|33||Country Club Hills||16,756|