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 5,200 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Kentucky:
- Mayfield (Photos)
- Russellville (Photos)
- Hazard (Photos)
- Maysville (Photos)
- Lebanon (Photos)
- London (Photos)
- Franklin (Photos)
- Somerset (Photos)
- Oak Grove (Photos)
- Covington (Photos)
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 Mayfield.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Kentucky
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Kentucky
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Kentucky
How we determined the worst places to live in Kentucky 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 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 — Mayfield. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Kentucky.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Mayfield is out in the middle of nowhere, in the southwestern part of the state. Here, 22.2% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Mayfield have the 5th highest adult drop out rate in Kentucky.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $89,300 each — the 4th lowest in Kentucky.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
The unemployment rate in Russellville is a sky high 9.3%, which is the 14th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Russellville is $29,143. That means 29.1% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 28.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
Hazard is one of the poorest cities in the state of Kentucky. This city has 13.5% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $27,209 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Hazard has the 20th highest crime rate in Kentucky. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Kentucky is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Bluegrass State.
There’s probably not many people in Kentucky that would be surprised to see Maysville on this list. In fact, if Maysville wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Maysville has the 23rd worst crime rate in Kentucky. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 17 violent crimes in Maysville in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 517 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Maysville are the 27th cheapest in the state ($113,200), the unemployment rate is the 19th highest (8.7%), and the annual household income is 10th lowest in Kentucky, at $29,852. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
While the median household income in Lebanon is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Lebanon still has the 5th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 51st worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Lebanon household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
London is another place in the Bluegrass State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in London is a staggering 10.7%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($32,551 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $113,500, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in London is bad, but not horrible.
If you live in Kentucky, you may or may not be surprised that Franklin ranked, at least on paper, as the 7th worst place to live in the state. It has the 29th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 39th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Franklin is the 8th most densely populated city in Kentucky. Draw your own conclusions.
Somerset ranks as the 8th worst city on this list.
Somerset has the 36th highest crime rate in Kentucky, where residents have a 1 in 33.9 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 17th cheapest in the state ($103,500), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Would you believe that Oak Grove is the 5th most dangerous place in Kentucky? That’s the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 17.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within Oak Grove city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 218 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Oak Grove. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Kentucky, that’s just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Oak Grove’s unemployment rate is the 69th highest in Kentucky (3.3%), and homes are the 16th cheapest in the state ($101,000). Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is homes are priced on demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Oak Grove.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 10th worst in Kentucky.
Covington residents had a 1 in 30.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Covington is through the roof, as more than 9.2% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $100,800, Covington has the 15th-lowest home prices in the state of Kentucky.
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, Mayfield ranks as the worst city to live in Kentucky for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kentucky:
- Wilmore (Pop. 6,226)
- Edgewood (Pop. 8,688)
- Fort Thomas (Pop. 16,254)
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Kentucky
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Kentucky
- 10 Safest Places In Kentucky
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Kentucky
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Kentucky