These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Kentucky For 2018

We used science and data to determine which KY cities are really ghetto.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of Kentucky’s largest cities are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state, and then put out a list.

After analyzing the largest cities in the Bluegrass State, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places to live in Kentucky:

  1. Somerset (Photos)
  2. Grayson (Photos)
  3. Hazard (Photos)
  4. London (Photos)
  5. Paducah (Photos)
  6. Russellville (Photos)
  7. Mayfield (Photos)
  8. Columbia
  9. Carrollton (Photos)
  10. Paintsville (Photos)

In case you’re wondering, Edgewood is the least ghetto city of all we measured.

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

For more Kentucky reading, check out:


What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in Kentucky, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of the largest 100 cities in KY based on the 2013 American Community Survey.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime
  • Twitter mentions of #ghetto

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

For geo-located Tweets, we measured all mentions coming from a city with #ghetto


1. Somerset

Source: wikipedia

Income: $31,429
Drop out rate: 31%
Discount shopping: 1st in KY

When you look at the data, Somerset is the most ghetto place in the state of Kentucky. Let’s see why.

First of all, this city of under 12,000 people on the Cumberland Parkway is the poorest of the cities we measured. Families here simply struggle to make ends meet every month. While not the absolute poorest place in the state, it is the poorest of the largest 100 cities we measured.

An 8.4% unemployment rate, as well as more than 3 in 10 residents never having completed high school is one big reason for the economic woes.

Additionally, the number of discount shopping outlets per person is the highest in the state in Somerset. Sociologists have indicated that these types of shopping venues (drug stores, discount stores) are a staple of inner city life.

2. Grayson

Source: wikipedia

Income: $40,236
Drop out rate: 33%
Convenience stores: 6th most

Grayson is an Ashland suburb that’s also a very poor and uneducated place. More than 40% of the kids here live in poverty, and there are a high number of convenient stores here.

More than 3 in 10 residents dropped out of high school, and 10% of residents are unemployed. Homes are some of the cheapest in the state here, which is a sign that there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

3. Hazard

Source: wikipedia

Income: $48,884
Drop out rate: 29%
Drug stores: Most

Statistically, according to the FBI, Hazard is the 2nd most dangerous places in Kentucky. Violent crime has increased by 58% from 2011-2013, but property crimes fell by more than 40% in that same period. So that’s good news.

This city with a population of more than 5,000 also has the highest concentration of drug stores in the state. And while the population here is exploding (up 10% in the last 10 years), the jobless rate is more than 11%.

So there are no jobs and more people.

4. London

Source: wikipedia

Income: $37,384
Discount stores: 3rd most
Dropout rate: 29%

Half of the population under 18 and over 65 lives in poverty in London, a smallish city of about 8,000 people in southeast Kentucky.

The population here has plummeted more than 12% in the last 10 years. Perhaps a jobless rate of 8% and an uneducated population means people are trying to move to areas that have a more stable economy.

5. Paducah

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,293
Drop out rate: 21%
Discount outlets: 10th most

Paducah is the largest city to make this list, meaning technically, it’s the biggest ghetto in the state.

Yes, we’re aware that there are pockets in the Paducah area that are horribly dangerous and very broke. But overall, these small areas are outweighed by the population as a whole. And the fact remains, Paducah is more ‘ghetto’ than other larger cities.

Paducah was 5th in terms of ghetto Tweets. Example:

“you ever lived in the ghetto at night??? Lol especially Paducah!? Scary place.”

6. Russellville

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,283
Drop out rate: 34%
Convenience stores: 8th most

There were quite a few Tweets talking about the ‘ghetto side’ of Russellville, meaning there are definitely good and bad areas of this small city on Route 68 near the Tennessee state line.

“Driving in the Russellville ghetto and three 10 year olds flashed gang signs at me. Pretty sure they could’ve killed me too.”

Sadly, a 34% dropout rate isn’t even enough to crack the top 10 in Kentucky, which is one of the last educated states in the U.S.

7. Mayfield

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,275
Drop out rate: 32%
Crime: 7th worst

More than half of kids and the elderly live in poverty in Mayfield, a small city on the Tennessee line.

The unemployment rate is 8.5%, and homes average just over $70,000 each, a sure sign that people don’t view Mayfield as a viable option for long-term living.

8. Columbia

Source: Public Domain

Income: $40,815
Drop out rate: 46%
Drug stores: 13th

When you look at the data, Columbia is one of the most ghetto place in the state of Kentucky.

First of all, this city of under 5,000 people on the Cumberland Parkway is very uneducated and mostly poor. Clearly, when almost half of the population is without a high school diploma, you’re going to have some issues to deal with.

While residents aren’t as poor as some of the tinier communities in Kentucky, families earn the 8th lowest incomes of the 100 largest cities we measured. 40% of kids live in poverty here.

9. Carrollton

Source: wikipedia

Income: $45,033
Drop out rate: 35%

A staggering 60% of kids and folks over 65 struggle just to make ends meet every single month in Carrollton, a small city at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers.

While the population has trickled upwards, jobs are hard to come by, as is evident by a 7.5% unemployment rate.

Surprisingly, for such a small place, Carrollton had lots of #ghetto Tweets:

“Carrollton crossing so ghetto, i’m moving next year.”

10. Paintsville

Source: wikipedia

Income: $44,505
Drop out rate: 33%
Drug stores: 3rd most

This city of just under 4,000 people has a 10% unemployment rate. Perhaps its isolation along Route 460 is one reason the economy here stinks.

Paintsville is relatively poor and uneducated. About 1 in 3 residents never completed high school.

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in Kentucky where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in Kentucky: Reidland, Villa Hills, Edgewood, Oakbrook, St. Matthews.

We also wrote about the 10 Most Redneck Cities In Kentucky if you didn’t happen to see it.

Desktop users, below is a ghetto ranking chart of all large cities in Kentucky, along with their dropout numbers:

City Dropout rate Rank
somerset 30.90% 1
grayson 32.70% 2
hazard 28.50% 3
london 28.40% 4
paducah 21.20% 5
russellville 33.80% 6
mayfield 31.70% 7
columbia 46.20% 8
carrollton 34.60% 9
paintsville 32.60% 10
pikeville 23.40% 11
glasgow 32.40% 12
corbin 29.40% 13
lebanon 27.70% 14
campbellsville 35.20% 15
maysville 26.50% 16
cynthiana 33.70% 17
scottsville 30.60% 18
mount sterling 30.30% 19
shelbyville 26.30% 20
versailles 27.90% 21
leitchfield 32.90% 22
murray 17.50% 23
franklin 29.90% 24
williamsburg 34.60% 25
frankfort 24.00% 26
richmond 24.10% 27
winchester 31.20% 27
monticello 42.30% 29
princeton 30.70% 30
berea 24.50% 31
shepherdsville 26.20% 32
bardstown 23.00% 33
oak grove 21.20% 34
bowling green 22.60% 35
la grange 17.00% 36
harrodsburg 33.60% 37
newport 34.10% 38
louisville 19.60% 39
elizabethtown 17.80% 40
central city 30.20% 41
owensboro 21.70% 42
prospect 3.00% 43
hopkinsville 24.20% 44
florence 15.30% 45
crescent springs 13.40% 46
henderson 25.40% 47
covington 29.10% 48
bellevue 19.10% 49
greenville 22.30% 50
danville 22.00% 51
benton 26.50% 52
buckner 35.90% 53
dayton 33.50% 54
radcliff 18.00% 55
hebron 6.90% 55
morehead 22.00% 57
madisonville 23.00% 58
paris 24.20% 59
lawrenceburg 19.20% 60
georgetown 18.70% 61
elsmere 26.30% 62
ashland 20.30% 63
crestwood 14.40% 64
highland heights 16.80% 64
nicholasville 26.10% 66
vine grove 22.20% 67
cold spring 9.10% 68
middlesborough 38.20% 69
williamstown 21.70% 70
mount washington 20.20% 71
farley 32.60% 72
erlanger 14.10% 73
fort mitchell 6.00% 74
fort wright 6.60% 75
flatwoods 21.30% 76
union 2.00% 77
fort knox 7.70% 78
middletown 7.10% 79
alexandria 11.30% 80
lexington-fayette 15.30% 81
lyndon 11.70% 82
ludlow 23.00% 83
jeffersontown 12.10% 84
shively 24.10% 85
burlington 10.50% 86
hillview 26.20% 86
hurstbourne 3.50% 88
fort thomas 9.10% 89
hendron 16.90% 90
independence 15.40% 91
francisville 8.70% 92
taylor mill 13.70% 93
douglass hills 4.50% 94
massac 9.40% 95
st. matthews 7.70% 96
oakbrook 6.70% 97
edgewood 4.50% 98
villa hills 8.50% 99
reidland 12.00% 100

18 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Kentucky For 2018

  1. ghet·to
    1. a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.

    Mr. James, above is the definition of a ghetto, not your haphazard definition of [“Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area…”]. Ghettos also have a racial and segregated tone to them that maybe the cities mentioned here have or don’t, but that fact that they are being scaled as ghetto based on information that does not define a ghetto [ i.g. “we used income levels, crime and education levels….”].

    I think the term you are looking for is poverty, it will make you sound far less ignoarant.

  2. Hazards Crime rates are not high enough to be ranked as second most dangerous county. I don’t know where you got your information from but the most crime that happens in hazard is shoplifting and yes that is about as dangerous as it gets here. You have obviously never lived in a impoverished area because there are several surrounding counties to Perry County who’s income rate is much lower and they can’t even afford to have “Discount Stores” Or “Drug Stores” as you call them in your article. I’d have you to know that Perry County School System is one of the top in State as of the 2014-2015 School year and it has continued to improve. You should really check your research and sources before you write an article such as this. You have not made yourself into a very credible or reliable publisher. Yes Perry County “Hazard” may have some poverty issues but what county or state doesn’t? It’s easy to point fingers and laugh at the expense of other, especially those who are “inferior” to you because of low income, but until you have lived in our shoes or have undergone extreme hardships, like losing your job when you have a family to feed and bills to pay, and children who need clothes and proper utensils to go to school so that maybe one day they can grow up an be intelligent and have better things in life then you really have no right to talk. You clearly do not understand the meaning of the word ghetto nevertheless how hard impoverished communities have it but STILL find a way to make it. Yeah we may have a lot of “Drug Stores” we call them Pharmacies around here in case you would like to know, but those “Drug Stores” provide a lot of jobs for people in our community. So next time think about who you might affend and how big of an ass you might make out of yourself before making fun of other people and writing an article that has absolutely no credibility.

  3. Paducah uhhhh NO, it was written up (not that long ago) in Times Style Magazine as how to renegrize a downtown area. There are pockets but very small…..very smalll. Downtown is great with great restaurants and bars. Very hipster type atmosphere. Try it.

    1. You couldn’t be more wrong about your assessment of Paducah KY!!! It is a thriving river port city full of art and history. The international quilt museum and show alone, doubles the size of the city each year! Downtown has been re-energized with businesses, restaurants and unique homes open all over. Whomever was sent to visit probably found one of the few rundown hotels on the outskirts and stayed there!!! Never saw Paducah!!

    2. I totally agree with you, Paducah has came along way since 1965. I would like more details on how you selected each city.


  4. Whoever wrote this needs to really get there FACTS straight. Russellville is a good place to live .I have lived here most of my life and the crime rate is very low. There are alot of really nice and careing people that live in Russellville. This is all crap the person that wrote this is not all together.

  5. The person that wrote this is way off. I am from just outside Paintsville, and I have my problems with Paintsville but he notion that there is a 33% drop out rate is ridicules. As far as the city school goes they have a very low drop out rate and 99% of graduates go on to college. I don’t know what the county schools rate is but they are among the best schools in the state and ranked on national levels also. If you don’t live in a town and don’t know what your talking about, keep your so called scientific data to yourself.

  6. Uuuummmm where’s Cumberland? I see the measurements used for this and that little town doesn’t have very much anymore. Not bashing any city cause a lot of our small towns have issues but the list seems a bit off.

  7. seriously Columbia that is ridicoulous I live right in the downtown area and I don’t see no writing no gangs no bad stuff at all you all are offial this is crazy.

  8. nick james of roadsnacks, you should be ashamed of yourself. ghetto means to isolate of segregate people, especially those of a minority group. you are perpetuating this derogatory term.

  9. Nick James, you need turn your compucompute off, crawl up out of your basement and go visit some of these places you got this one all wrong. Oh, by the way. That bright light in the morning sky is what we call the Sun.

  10. OMG really I agree with everyone else dude u need to get your information somewhere else and actually from people that has lived in these places all there life and as far as somerset u must never been here we got new court house and they got done with new City Hall so get your s### straight

  11. “Ghetto” is not an adjective. If you don’t know what that means, you shouldn’t be writing anything for people to see. And “urban dictionary” is not a real dictionary.

  12. I can see this being accurate, and speaking as a resident of Somerset. First off let me point somethings out in the majority of you that are disappointed in the results. First read your own comments that you have posted. Take a look at grammatical errors, and how much short hand, or texting lingo that’s used. New buildings and developments does not mean it can’t be ghetto, and im sure the education is based over a span of time. I’ve noticed a lot of uneducated, or drop outs in these areas in the older generation, and the median income is significantly lower compared to most other places. Like in my own town of Somerset; $30,000 is a very poor household income. Honestly you could not live very comfortable with that income even if you were a single person house hold. For example my typical annual cost of living:
    Luxaries (cell, cable,etc)$175.00×12
    Automobile expenses(insurance, fuel, maintenance, etc) $475.00×12
    Food: $350.00×12
    Household material and cleaning: $100.00×12
    Hygiene and personal care:$100.00×12
    Student Loans:$212×12
    Add just this much so far and it is already to a total of
    $ 28284
    Now that’s just basic bills in my own household, and not nearly close to my entire list of expenses. If my income was just $30k a year I would struggle worse than I already do, any my household combined income is only around $68,000 a year. You have to purchase new clothing, home improvement, entertainment, yearly tax and registration fees, home or rental insurance, and lots more. I am considered semi-wealthy with my income here, and I pull 40+ hours a week, and am still barely making by, and that’s just to meet middle class standards. Also three homes down frome a couple nights ago the police raided a heroin trap house, and my neighborhood is considered fairly a nice area. No good shopping centers, or places to shop, lots of discount stores for sure though. TJ Max, Burke’s, but no Bloomingdale’s, or Macy’s around here. One things for sure though. I love watching the person cashing out at the store in front of me loaded down with cart loads pay with there government food bennifits pull out there new iPhone X to take a call or packing there msrp $650 Coach Bag. Then what 24 year old girl pays her remaining balance with her direct express payment card where she receives her disability or SSI. While I. Trying to figure out why she is not capable to work. Generally because the high volume of hard drugs in these areas being abused, and lack of educated decision making. High teen pregnancy rate, and increasing rates of violent crimes, unemployment rise, number of homeless or non productive citizens, and handed down bad family traditions, such as drug dealing, laziness or self empathy. Somerset has many percs, but definitely understand the reference of being ghetto, as well as Paintsville, for sure Hazard, London, Maysville. All very understandable to be defined as ghetto. Not saying it’s gross, and poor, as Somerset offers many ammenitys to commercial, and industrial growth, and the hub city for the region and surrounding counties. Rail Park, Center for Rural Developement, Regional Airport, Water parks, Many options of dinning, and bars, Largest Natural Gas hub in state with the most advanced facility in state, High Grade Medical Center, large community college with multiple county extensions, Valley Oak Technology Complex, and most populated city off of Lake Cumberland. This town is vastly growing and offering new options to continue to grow, and bring higher paying jobs, but the issue is the people and having the ability to move forward, and change the old generations way of life, and stop believing it’s okay to not work and live off the government, and live in disgusting conditions with pest, and filth. Stop selling and doing drugs around the youth of our community so they don’t fail as a result of exposure to criminal lifestyles. No child wants to get Mommy and Daddy in trouble and they will learn life and typically follow in the footsteps of their upbringing. They see people using drugs it’s only natural one day they probably will try it to and instead of being taught to work hard in school, and go to college they know the hustla life. Stop that and these community may turn over and be on of KY best towns to live in.

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