Chicago’s neighborhoods conjure up too many stereotypes to count. You’ve got hipster areas, preppy places, neighborhoods where college kids thrive, and of course, ghettos. As a whole, the region consistently ranks as one of the best places to live across the country thanks in part to a strong economy and tons of entertainment.
It seems as if there’s a neighborhood for everyone in Chicago.
So the question arises, which Chicago neighborhoods are the worst, and which are the best?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Chicago hoods need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Chicago area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the neighborhoods to all be amazing, although Forest Glen certainly tries.
We examined 76 of Chicago’s neighborhoods to find out the worst places to live. These ten places are a little too far downwind of Chicago in terms of quality of life:
- Fuller Park
- West Englewood
- South Deering
- Washington Park
- New City
- West Pullman
- Grand Crossing
Read on to see how we determined the places around Chicago that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
We’re also aware that we didn’t list every single neighborhood. There are places like Wrigleyville and Wicker Park that are great neighborhoods, and thus, we didn’t measure them. You know they are awesome already.
How we determined the worst Chicago hoods
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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the criteria found on Area Vibes (which itself gets data from the Census, the FBI, and the Council for Community and Economic Research), here’s what we measured:
- Less jobs
- Low incomes
- High population density (too crowded)
- Low home values
- Higher crime
We crunched the numbers, and got the list from worst to best. Then, we ranked the list based on places that are the worst in all of these categories.
Read on below to learn more about these places around Chicago to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 76 suburbs ranked from worst to best.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only. Hold onto your pants.
Median Income: $15,734
Median Home Value: $23,943
We’ll get the ball rolling with Riverdale, the absolute worst neighborhood to live around Chicago, according to the data.
It’s shocking that in America, we can have neighborhoods in which the entire population lives well below the poverty level like we do here in Riverdale. Actually, it’s pretty sad.
Crime is the absolute worst of any other Chicago neighborhood, nearly 1 in 5 residents doesn’t have a job, and homes sell for an average of $24,000. Yea, we double checked.
When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why people are fleeing this neighborhood in droves.
Riverdale is about halfway between downtown and Chicago Heights, along I-94. If you find yourself lost, don’t get off on E. 130th Street. That’s Riverdale. That’s bad.
2. Fuller Park
Median Income: $19,195
Median Home Value: $91,075
Want to play a joke on your friends? Text them that you’re going to Fuller Park for a house party and see their reactions.
Up the road a bit from Auburn Gresham is the teeny hood of Fuller Park. And we mean, this place is a real hood. All of the nearly 3,000 residents live in or very near poverty, and this is the 2nd most dangerous place you can live in the Chicago area.
No wonder homes sell for around $91,000 each. We’re surprised it’s even that high.
Median Income: $19,930
Median Home Value: $96,432
Englewood is the slightly smaller, much poorer ‘twin’ of West Englewood. Here, folks are just straight living in poverty. Believe it or not, but at $20,000 a year, that’s only the 3rd poorest hood in south Chicago. A family of four needs about $25,000 a year to stay out of poverty every year, according to the government standards.
It’s just about as dangerous here as it is next door in West Englewood. You don’t want to walk alone through these places, even in the daytime.
4. West Englewood
Median Income: $29,019
Median Home Value: $95,724
West Englewood is down a few spots from last year, but still isn’t a great place to live.
You know this place is bad when Google autosuggests, “West Englewood crime” before you even finish typing the neighborhood’s name.
West Englewood’s crime is the third worst of all Chicago neighborhoods, and just about the entire population struggles to make ends meet every month.
This neighborhood is defined as the area surrounded by W. Garfield Blvd, S. Racine Ave., and a couple of railroad tracks.
So yeah, this ‘hood is on the other side of the tracks, literally.
5. South Deering
Median Income: $37,259
Median Home Value: $104,400
So far, all of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago are on the south side. That isn’t a surprise at all.
South Deering is a densely packed hood. Here, crime isn’t as bad as it is for the cities above, but it’s still really rough. When 16% of the neighborhood is out of work, and families bring in about $37K a year, you’re going to have some big problems to contend with.
6. Washington Park
Median Income: $24,840
Median Home Value: $141,442
The neighborhood of Washington Park, where it’s dangerous and poor. Incomes are actually on the lower side here relative to other neighborhooda on this list, which puts into perspective just how broke some of the neighborhoods are in south Chicago.
7. New City
Median Income: $32,448
Median Home Value: $127,708
This is the 8th most dangerous hood in Chicago, and homes are only valued at $128,000 as a result.
On the bright side, ‘only’ 10% of the residents in New City are unemployed. That’s still twice the national average, but good for a Chicago hood.
Median Income: $39,095
Median Home Value: $101,938
Continuing our journey of the worst Chicago neighborhoods, we come to Pullman, which is a bit worst than West Pullman.
Here, most of the residents live at or below poverty, and crime is far higher than it is in other neighborhoods in the Chicago area. You have a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of crime for every year you spend in West Garfield Park neighborhood limits.
To get there, head due west on, nevermind why would you want to go there?
9. West Pullman
Median Income: $34,936
Median Home Value: $113,508
West Pullman glocks… umm… clocks in at number 9.
Almost 14% of the people who live here don’t work, and homes go for less than $114,000 on average. Trust us, there’s a reason there’s no demand to live here.
10. Grand Crossing
Median Income: $29,910
Median Home Value: $122,230
Grand Crossing is the final ‘worst’ Chicago neighborhood to make this list.
The Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago is between E. 67th and E. 79th, not too far away from the lake. If you want to head to the lake, you’d best veer around this place, since it’s very dangerous and poor.
The only reason Grand Crossing didn’t rank higher is that it’s a lot less crowded than most other neighborhoods in the region, and we felt as if ‘less’ crowded was a good thing.
The ‘hoods around Chicago that are really hoods
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘hoods surrounding Chicago with West Englewood landing ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods around Chicago aren’t all bad. Forest Glen takes the cake as being the best neighborhood you can live in. Other great Chicago hoods: Beverly, Edison Park, Near South Side and Norwood Park.
Now that you’re done reading this, you’ll definitely enjoy a funny ‘Visit Chicago’ commercial we found. Click here to watch it.
For the chart below, these are ranked from worst to best.
Detailed List Of The Worst Chicago Neighborhoods
|East Garfield Park||19|
|West Garfield Park||26|
|Lower West Side||41|
|Near West Side||52|
|Near South Side||69|
|Near North Side||74|