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There is nothing like Kentucky.
Songs, movies and pop culture in general have talked about Kentucky forever now. It's got a lot of history, beauty, culture and some of the gosh darn friendliest sports fanatics in the country. If you grew up there, you'll most likely never leave.
But is it all good in the Bluegrass State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Kentucky has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Kentucky your home .
After analyzing 75 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Kentucky:
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 Kentucky? That would be Oak Grove.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Kentucky
- Cheapest Places To Live In Kentucky
- Most Dangerous Cities In Kentucky
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kentucky For 2021
Oak Grove needs some tough love as it ranks as the worst city to live in Kentucky for 2021. There's not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it's not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Oak Grove is the 10th highest in the state, where 1 in 23.5 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Mayfield is out in the middle of nowhere, in the southwestern part of the state. Here, 15.0% of the adult population lack's even a high school degree. That makes Mayfield have the 20th highest adult drop out rate in Kentucky.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $100,200 each -- the 8th lowest in Kentucky.
As you can imagine, there's not a lot of demand to live here.
Somerset ranks as the 3rd worst city in Kentucky. Located in Pulaski County, Somerset has the 3rd lowest income levels in the state of Kentucky ($29,611), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 9.2%.
Welcome to Maysville, which might be one of the poorest areas in Kentucky. Residents average $35,102 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 23.4% of Maysville residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $132,200 and the unemployment rate hovers near 6.7%.
You can sure expect that Russellville is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 5th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Russellville has the 23rd-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 15 violent crimes here in 2021, and residents have a 1 in 31.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Russellville, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 11.1% which is the 5th worst in Kentucky.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Lebanon is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Kentucky. Let's see why.
Residents who live in Lebanon, located in Marion County, have the 48th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level--per resident--and homes valued around $92,600, and you've got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Kentucky, that is.
The unemployment rate in Monticello is a sky high 11.2%, which is the 4th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Monticello is $31,639. That means 30.3% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 50.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.
Monticello is located in the southern part of the state, two hours east of Bowling Green. Unless you like to fish, there really isn't much to do out this way.
Glasgow, where there's absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 8th worst city in Kentucky.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Glasgow has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 8.4%, and families earn around $35,138 a year. It's also the 25th highest in Kentucky for crime, where 1 in 33.2 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
There's probably not many people in Kentucky that would be surprised to see Pikeville on this list. In fact, if Pikeville wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Pikeville has the worst crime rate in Kentucky. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 18 violent crimes in Pikeville in 2021. Residents here had a 1 in 378 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Pikeville are the 64th cheapest in the state ($182,500), the unemployment rate is the 35th highest (5.5%), and the annual household income is 10th lowest in Kentucky, at $32,281. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
If you're looking to live in Kentucky, Paducah might not be the best choice as it places 10th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Bluegrass State for 2021.
The average family earns $39,266 a year out here, and 21.6% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 4.6% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it's just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you're in Paducah, every year, you have a 1 in 19.1 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it's an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it's the 2nd most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
How we determined the worst places to live in Kentucky 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 75 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 75 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 Kentucky -- Oak Grove. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Kentucky. 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 Kentucky
If you're looking at areas in Kentucky 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, Oak Grove ranks as the worst city to live in Kentucky for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kentucky:
- Fort Wright (Pop. 5,745)
- Edgewood (Pop. 8,745)
- Fort Thomas (Pop. 16,308)
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Kentucky?