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 5,300 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Kentucky:
- Mayfield (Photos)
- Russellville (Photos)
- Maysville (Photos)
- Newport (Photos)
- Somerset (Photos)
- Harrodsburg (Photos)
- Franklin (Photos)
- Princeton (Photos)
- Glasgow (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Kentucky for 2018
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 5,300 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.
Population: 10,078Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $85,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (2nd worst)
Mayfield is out in the middle of nowhere, in the southwestern part of the state. Here, 24.7% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Mayfield have the 4th highest adult drop out rate in Kentucky.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $85,000 each — the 4th lowest in Kentucky.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
Population: 6,998Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Home Values: $87,400 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (22nd worst)
Russellville places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live in Kentucky. Here, 24.6% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Russellville have the 5th highest adult drop out rate in Kentucky.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $87,400 each — the 5th lowest in Kentucky.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
Population: 6,850 Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $93,800 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (32nd worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Leitchfield is the worst place you can live in Kentucky. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 7.5%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $93,800, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 50.0 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Leitchfield is a far drive south from Louisville.
Population: 8,883Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 21)
Home Values: $111,800 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (12th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Maysville is the worst place you can live in Kentucky. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 9.9%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $111,800, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 29.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Maysville is a far drive south from Louisville.
Population: 15,321Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Home Values: $121,700 (38th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (17th worst)
Newport ranks as the 5th-worst place in Kentucky due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 35th-worst commute of any place in the state.
Population: 11,415Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Values: $105,100 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (35th worst)
Somerset, part of Pulaski County, is the 6th worst place to live in Kentucky for 2015.
. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $25,070, and crime 24th worst in Kentucky.
Additionally, the poverty level is 3650.0% in Somerset.
Population: 8,409Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 12)
Home Values: $104,800 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (1st worst)
Here in Harrodsburg, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Kentucky. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Mercer County, you have a 1 in 46.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Harrodsburg city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (14.8%). That’s good for the 1st highest unemployment rate in Kentucky.
Population: 8,706Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Values: $96,700 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (38th worst)
Here in Franklin, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Kentucky. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Simpson County, you have a 1 in 36.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Franklin city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (7.1%). That’s good for the 38th highest unemployment rate in Kentucky.
Population: 6,215Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Home Values: $91,900 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (9th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Princeton is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of Kentucky. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 23rd-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Princeton had a 1 in 27.0 chance of being robbed in 2014. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Princeton, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Princeton’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (11.6%) and income levels of its residents ($39,696).
Population: 14,338Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Home Values: $98,700 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (13th worst)
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Glasgow ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 17th cheapest in the state here at $98,700. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Glasgow.
The median income levels here are the 8th lowest in the state of Kentucky, at $28,362. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 9.8% of people in Glasgow were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kentucky:
- Edgewood (Pop. 8,703)
- Fort Thomas (Pop. 16,317)
- Fort Mitchell (Pop. 8,245)
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Kentucky
- These Are The 10 Most Miserable Cities In Kentucky
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In Kentucky
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Kentucky