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 327 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:
- East St. Louis
- Harvey (Photos)
- Kankakee (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Illinois 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 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 327 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 327 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.
Population: 5,127 Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $48,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.2% (4th worst)
Centreville seems to be the have’s and have not’s. While the annual average income levels here are respectful ($16,715), about 1 in 4.5 people here are without jobs. Homes are valued at only $48,400.
But the biggest eye opener is the sheer crime here. It seems as if just about everyone in town without a job is pillaging the community. Centreville has the 26th highest crime rate in Illinois, where 1 in 56 people has a statistic chance of being attacked, raped or murdered each year.
Plus, 1 in 29.8 people are robbed.
If you’re headed past Centreville and stop for gas, make sure you lock your doors.
Population: 5,216 Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $72,500 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (15th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Robbins is the worst place you can live in Illinois. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 15.5%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $72,500, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 9.4 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Robbins is a far drive south from Louisville.
Population: 14,574Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Home Values: $50,300 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (27th worst)
There’s probably not many people in Illinois that would be surprised to see Cahokia on this list. In fact, if Cahokia wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Cahokia has the 29th worst crime rate in Illinois. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 64 violent crimes in Cahokia in 2015. Residents here had a 1 in 227 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Cahokia are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($50,300), the unemployment rate is the 27th highest (13.3%), and the annual household income is 6th lowest in Illinois, at $28,439. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
4. East St. Louis
Population: 26,731Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Values: $53,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.8% (12th worst)
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.
Population: 25,625Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Home Values: $72,700 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.7% (6th worst)
Harvey ranks as the 5th worst city in Illinois. Located in Cook County, Harvey has the 4th lowest income levels in the state of Illinois ($21,909), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 20.7%.
Population: 13,047 Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Values: $82,800 (43rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.6% (3rd worst)
Riverdale takes the 6th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Riverdale its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 8th worst in the whole state.
Population: 26,424Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 8)
Home Values: $87,800 (55th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (27th worst)
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 2015. 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.
Population: 12,633 Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Values: $87,700 (54th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (37th worst)
Markham, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 8th worst city in Illinois.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Markham has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 12.5%, and families earn around $34,414 a year. It’s also the 8th highest in Illinois for crime, where 1 in 9.4 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Population: 5,245 Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $64,500 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (29th worst)
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 13.2%, residents earn about $37,820 a year, and home prices are just over $64,500. 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
Population: 23,113 Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Values: $92,000 (60th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (1st worst)
What the heck is going on in little Dolton? The crime is the 8th highest in the state of Illinois. Here, residents have a 1 in 9.4 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 23.9% of Dolton residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 1st highest in the state.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Illinois:
- Western Springs (Pop. 13,133)
- Deerfield (Pop. 18,686)
- Winnetka (Pop. 12,437)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Cities In Illinois That Hate The Bears The Most
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In Illinois
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Illinois
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Illinois
|East St. Louis||4||3|
|Country Club Hills||61||46|
|Round Lake Beach||90||83|