People who live in Louisiana are darn proud of it. There’s a certain grit that comes with living in the Bayou State. A little bit of toughness and ruggedness mixed in with a lot of culture. More culture than most Americans have seen, actually.
But, just like every other state in the U.S., Louisiana comes with some baggage. There are some pretty rough spots there, and the purpose of this post is to identify exactly which places stand out as being the least desirable, at least according to science.
After analyzing all 60 cities with a population of 5,000 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Louisiana:
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. And the worst place to live in Louisiana? That would be Bogalusa.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Louisiana reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Louisiana
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- Most Dangerous Places In Louisiana
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Louisiana For 2021
Bogalusa began life as a lumber town. Businessmen from the north established the community in the early 20th century around a sawmill. Unfortunately, this economic base has eroded by the early 21st century. Now, a lack of jobs leaves the town as the number 1 worst place to live in Louisiana.
Almost a third of residents live below the poverty line. That state of affairs comes about because of an eye-popping 13.2% unemployment rate. The median income is disappointing as well, reaching just $31,976. Given this financial situation, it’s not surprising that the area also has problems with housing, crime, and education.
This community in northern Louisiana was founded by a scam artist. The Baron de Bastrop (not a real baron, as it turns out) had traveled to the region to avoid embezzlement charges. With this as the town’s namesake, what could go wrong?
Plenty, as it turns out. Maybe Bastrop’s financial woes put a curse on the area. With a median income of just $20,117 almost half of the town’s residents scrape by on the wrong side of the poverty line.
As a result, Bastrop faces a crime rate more than 250% above the national average. Schools and housing are substandard as well.
People love the architecture of Natchitoches. Built in a quaint European style and including the occasional brick street, the Natchitoches Historic District provides an excellent place to stroll during a lazy afternoon.
The economy does its best to make these walks possible. With an unemployment rate of 18.3%, a good chunk of the town’s 17,898 residents have their afternoons free. Even the folks who find jobs can only expect a median income of $21,715. As a result, the poverty rate in town runs a freighening 43.9%.
Compounding these woes, the community faces a crime rate more than triple the national average.
Ville Platte roughly means “flat city.” That may make the town seem like a boring kind of place. Better to focus on the community’s other title: “Smoked Meat Capital of the World.” Now, we’ve got your attention, right? Well, how about this other distinction the town has earned: “Swamp Pop Capital of the World.”
That seems like a fun place, a far cry from a flat city. Unfortunately, smoked meat and swamp music aren’t enough to fuel a sustained economy. Instead, the town struggles with an unemployment rate of 16.9% and a poverty rate of 41.4%.
In addition, the area’s crime rate more than doubles the U.S. norm and most of its schools score no better than a 5/10 on Great Schools.
Opelousas is known for its music. If you like zydeco, plan to take your vacation here. You can learn all about it at the town’s Creole Heritage Folklife Center. You’ll also enjoy some great Cajun cooking in “the spice capital of the world.”
With all this going for it, how did Opelousas end up on this list? Well, besides the great music and the great food, the community doesn’t have much of an economic base. Like most of the towns we talk about here, poverty poses a massive problem. In this case, the poverty rate hovers at 43.3%.
Meanwhile, the crime rate runs more than 300% above the national average. Local schools and housing also fall below expectations.
Here’s another town on this list with a rich history and not much of a present. Located along the Mississippi River, Donaldsonville became the site of what became known as Fort Butler, a haven for runaway slaves during the Civil War. The community commemorates this history at educational attractions, like the Fort Butler Historic Site and the River Road African American Museum.
So that’s a sample of the rich past. Now to the stagnant present. The current population of 8,237 residents face a lot of daily struggles, including a 12.2% unemployment rate and a $25,551 median income. Those conditions lead to a 38.5% poverty rate. And, as usually happens, the economic issues contribute to problems related to housing and schools.
Located near the coast in southern Louisiana, Jeanerette sits along the main travel route between Lafayette and New Orleans. This placement has done little to boost the local economy. Instead, the area’s unemployment rate almost reaches 25%, while the median income comes in at $34,643.
As a result of these financial conditions, about 1 in 4 residents live below the poverty line. At the same time, housing and education suffer. None of the area’s schools scores better than a 6/10 on Great Schools.
Still, Jeanerette has its charms. It provides a great jumping-off point for the region’s unique natural beauty, as epitomized by the nearby Attakapas Island Wildlife Management Area.
St. Gabriel contains a namesake church, St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church. This is considered one of the oldest such churches in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. The parish was founded in the 1760s by Acadians migrating to Louisiana from Canada.
Bucking the overall trend of this list, St. Gabriel isn’t bogged down by a horrible economy. In fact, this southern suburb of Baton Rouge, built along the Mississippi River, offers plenty of jobs for its 7,282 residents.
So what’s the problem? Well, cash coming in from the nearby city has swelled real estate prices. The median home value of $172,100 takes many locals out of the market. The town also has issues with education and a lack of amenities.
Eunice is home to the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. That sounds like enough for any town. However, day-to-day life for the community’s 10,140 inhabitants is far from a song. The blues, maybe…but not a jaunty Cajun number.
Located in the southern part of the state, about 45 minutes northwest of Lafayette, good-paying jobs are scarce in town. The unemployment rate runs 11.4%, leaving nearly 30% of the community below the poverty line.
As you’ve probably guessed, this leads to other social problems. The crime rate comes in at more than 140% above the national average. Housing and education are also sources of disappointment.
One of the oldest communities in Louisiana, St. Martinville has a rich cultural history. Considered a centerpiece of Cajun culture, the town also features several examples of historic architecture and appears in multiple famous works of fiction, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Evangeline” to the movie Christmas on the Bayou.
Sounds like living in postcard, right? Not quite. The daily grind in St. Martinville is, well…pretty grinding.
The unemployment rate hangs at 11.3% and the median income only reaches $25,520. As a result, the town, built along the Bayou Teche waterway in the southern part of the state, suffers a poverty rate of 28.2%.
How we determined the worst places to live in Louisiana for 2021
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 60 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 60 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 Louisiana — Bogalusa. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Louisiana. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Louisiana
If you’re looking at areas in Louisiana 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, Bogalusa ranks as the worst city to live in Louisiana for 2021.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Louisiana:
- Mandeville (Pop. 12,448)
- Patterson (Pop. 5,953)
- Harahan (Pop. 9,304)
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Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Louisiana?