Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Pittsburgh.
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 Pittsburgh ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Pittsburgh area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Pittsburgh proper, although Seven Fields certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Pittsburgh are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 97 biggest suburbs of Pittsburgh 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 Pittsburgh in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Pittsburgh for 2019:
- Duquesne (Photos)
- McKeesport (Photos)
- Clairton (Photos)
- Midland (Photos)
- Brownsville (Photos)
- North Braddock (Photos)
- Rankin (Photos)
- Aliquippa (Photos)
- McKees Rocks (Photos)
- Donora (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Pittsburgh that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Pittsburgh 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 Pittsburgh 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 Pittsburgh.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 97 suburbs to evaluate around Pittsburgh.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 97 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 Pittsburgh.” We’re lookin’ at you, Duquesne.
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 Duquesne, the absolute worst place to live around Pittsburgh according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Duquesne beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Pittsburgh area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st 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 Duquesne.
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.
Welcome to McKeesport. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 9.7 miles to Pittsburgh. Income levels here are the 7th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $28,750 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 Pittsburgh suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Clairton 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 Pittsburgh suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Midland, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 11th lowest Pittsburgh suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 42nd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Pittsburgh. Remember, we looked at 97 cities for this study.
Midland is about 28.6 miles to downtown.
Brownsville has the distinction of being a Pittsburgh suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Brownsville has the 13th lowest home values in the metro Pittsburgh area, where the median price is $58,200. To put that into perspective, in Seven Fields, the median income is $162,054, which is the best in the area.
Brownsville has an unemployment rate of 12.1% which ranks 9th worst.
North Braddock has 4,794 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 33.2%.
Ah, Rankin. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Pittsburgh.
It’s the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the Pittsburgh metro area (12.1%).
Aliquippa is a city about 19.0 miles from Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh 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. Aliquippa has the 31st most uninsured people, 13th worst incomes, and has the 15th highest unemployment rate (10.9%) in the entire Pittsburgh metro area.
Homes only cost $72,000 for a reason. That’s cheap for Pittsburgh standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Pittsburgh, then McKees Rocks might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Pittsburgh suburb.
About 7.1% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Pittsburgh suburbs to call home is Donora.
Located 18.9 miles outside the city, Donoras is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 7th highest unemployment rate (12.8%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Pittsburgh where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Pittsburgh with Duquesne casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Pittsburgh aren’t all bad. Seven Fields takes the cake as the best place to live around Pittsburgh.
- Seven Fields
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 Pittsburgh Suburbs