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:
- Centreville (Photos)
- Cahokia (Photos)
- Harvey (Photos)
- East St. Louis (Photos)
- Riverdale (Photos)
- Kankakee (Photos)
- Dolton (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.
- 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Illinois
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Illinois
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: 5,127Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $48,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.2% (4th worst)
More on Centreville: Data | Jobs | Photos
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Centreville is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It’s that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 56 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 29.8 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 22.2%, which isn’t horrible, but the 4th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $16,715 a year in combined household income.
Not feeling safe in Centreville: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 5,216 Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $72,500 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (15th worst)
More on Robbins: Data | Jobs
Here in Robbins, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Illinois. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Cook County, you have a 1 in 8.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Robbins city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (15.5%). That’s good for the 16th highest unemployment rate in Illinois.
Not feeling safe in Robbins: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 14,574Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Home Values: $50,300 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (27th worst)
More on Cahokia: Data | Jobs | Photos
While the median household income in Cahokia is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Cahokia still has the 27th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 29th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Cahokia household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
Not feeling safe in Cahokia: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 25,625Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $72,700 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.7% (6th worst)
More on Harvey: Data | Jobs | Photos
Harvey needs some tough love as it ranks as the 4th worst city to live in Illinois for 2015.
Crime in Harvey is the 8th highest in the state, where 1 in 8.8 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
. Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Illinois.
If commute time is important, Harvey residents have the 132nd longest commute of any residents on our list.
Not feeling safe in Harvey: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
5. East St. Louis
Population: 26,731Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Home Values: $53,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.8% (12th worst)
More on East St. Louis: Data | Jobs | Photos
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.
Not feeling safe in East St. Louis: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 13,047Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Values: $82,800 (43rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.6% (3rd worst)
More on Riverdale: Data | Jobs | Photos
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Riverdale ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 43rd cheapest in the state here at $82,800. 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 Riverdale.
The median income levels here are the 9th lowest in the state of Illinois, at $31,438. 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 Riverdale were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Not feeling safe in Riverdale: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 26,424Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 8)
Home Values: $87,800 (55th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (27th worst)
More on Kankakee: Data | Jobs | Photos
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.
Not feeling safe in Kankakee: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 12,633 Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Values: $87,700 (54th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (37th worst)
More on Markham: Data | Jobs
Markham seems to be the have’s and have not’s. While the annual average income levels here are respectful ($34,414), about 1 in 8.0 people here are without jobs. Homes are valued at only $87,700.
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. Markham has the 8th highest crime rate in Illinois, where 1 in 280 people has a statistic chance of being attacked, raped or murdered each year.
Plus, 1 in 8.8 people are robbed.
If you’re headed past Markham and stop for gas, make sure you lock your doors.
Not feeling safe in Markham: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 5,245 Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $64,500 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (29th worst)
More on Hoopeston: Data | Jobs
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
Not feeling safe in Hoopeston: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
Population: 23,113Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Values: $92,000 (60th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (1st worst)
More on Dolton: Data | Jobs | Photos
Dolton ranks as the 10th worst place to live in Illinois for 2015.
While the unemployment rate is high (but not terrible), crime is a real factor here. It’s the 8th most dangerous place you can live in Illinois, according to the latest FBI numbers. If you live here, you have a high chance of being a victim each year.
Residents here earn about $44,511 a year. That’s in the bottom half of what people in Illinois normally make.
Not feeling safe in Dolton: Protect yourself with a state of the art home security system.
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 Richest Cities In Illinois
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Illinois
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Illinois
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Illinois
|5||East St. Louis||26,731|
|61||Country Club Hills||16,794|
|90||Round Lake Beach||27,936|