Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Philadelphia.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Philadelphia ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Philadelphia area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Philadelphia proper, although Narberth certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Philadelphia are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 92 biggest suburbs of Philadelphia to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Pennsylvania lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Philadelphia in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Philadelphia for 2019:
- Marcus Hook (Photos)
- Penns Grove
- Chester (Photos)
- Eddystone (Photos)
- Darby (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Philadelphia that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Philadelphia too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Pennsylvania
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Pennsylvania
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Pennsylvania
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Philadelphia 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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2013-2017, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Philadelphia.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 92 suburbs to evaluate around Philadelphia.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 92 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Philadelphia.” We’re lookin’ at you, Marcus Hook.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Marcus Hook, the absolute worst place to live around Philadelphia according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Marcus Hook beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Philadelphia area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 3rd worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Marcus Hook.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
2. Penns Grove
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $37,188 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 21.7% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $120,800 (14th lowest)
More on Penns Grove:
Welcome to Penns Grove. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 26.3 miles to Philadelphia. Income levels here are the 5th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $37,188 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Philadelphia suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Chester on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Philadelphia suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $26,105 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $82,300 (4th lowest)
More on Camden:
If you live in Camden, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 1st lowest Philadelphia suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Philadelphia. Remember, we looked at 92 cities for this study.
Camden is about 5.2 miles to downtown.
Eddystone has the distinction of being a Philadelphia suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Eddystone has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Philadelphia area, where the median price is $90,000. To put that into perspective, in Narberth, the median income is $138,920, which is the best in the area.
Eddystone has an unemployment rate of 9.7% which ranks 18th worst.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,524 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $95,900 (7th lowest)
More on Trenton:
Trenton has 84,867 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 27.3%.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $41,346 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $121,900 (15th lowest)
More on Lindenwold:
Ah, Lindenwold. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Philadelphia.
It’s the place with the 18th most out of work residents in the Philadelphia metro area (9.7%).
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $46,429 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $113,600 (12th lowest)
More on Paulsboro:
Paulsboro is a city about 13.0 miles from Philadelphia, but Philadelphia probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Paulsboro has the 29th most uninsured people, 13th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (16.1%) in the entire Philadelphia metro area.
Homes only cost $113,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Philadelphia standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Philadelphia, then Darby might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Philadelphia suburb.
About 10.6% of residents are out of work.
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Income: $52,634 (24th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (32nd highest)
Median Home Value: $128,600 (17th lowest)
More on Clementon:
Rounding out the ten worst Philadelphia suburbs to call home is Clementon.
Located 16.3 miles outside the city, Clementons is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 32nd highest unemployment rate (8.2%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Philadelphia where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Philadelphia with Marcus Hook casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Philadelphia aren’t all bad. Narberth takes the cake as the best place to live around Philadelphia.
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Pennsylvania
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Pennsylvania
- 10 Safest Places In Pennsylvania
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania
Detailed List Of The Worst Philadelphia Suburbs