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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 5,200 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 Mayfield.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
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 2020
Mayfield is out in the middle of nowhere, in the southwestern part of the state. Here, 19.0% of the adult population lack's even a high school degree. That makes Mayfield have the 7th highest adult drop out rate in Kentucky.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $91,300 each -- the 5th lowest in Kentucky.
As you can imagine, there's not a lot of demand to live here.
Lebanon is one of the poorest cities in the state of Kentucky. This city has 16.7% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $29,699 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Lebanon has the 45th 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.
Maysville, KY needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is 25th worst in the state, which is very high considering Maysville is so far removed from the rest of Kentucky.
If you know anyone in Maysville, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Oak Grove is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of Kentucky. Let's see why.
Residents who live in Oak Grove, located in Christian County, have the 11th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level--per resident--and homes valued around $103,100, and you've got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Kentucky, that is.
If you're looking to live in Kentucky, Hazard might not be the best choice as it places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
The unemployment rate here is 16.4%, and households bring in a combined $27,944 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Kentucky.
Crime is the 32nd highest in the state in Hazard as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
Russellville ranks as the 6th-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 53rd-worst commute of any place in the state.
Somerset's situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Somerset has the 37th worst crime index of any place in Kentucky, and has the 2nd lowest income.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Glasgow is one of the worst places you can live in Kentucky. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let's see why.
We're not economists, but when you have a 9.7% unemployment rate for a city of 14,370 people, that's a sign that things aren't just bad. They are downright depressing.
You can sure expect that Paducah is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 9th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Paducah has the 5th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 93 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 21.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Paducah, 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 5.3% which is the 40th worst in Kentucky.
Covington, where there's absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 10th worst city in Kentucky.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Covington has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 8.5%, and families earn around $41,254 a year. It's also the 30th highest in Kentucky for crime, where 1 in 37.0 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
How we determined the worst places to live in Kentucky for 2020
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. 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, Mayfield ranks as the worst city to live in Kentucky for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kentucky:
- Edgewood (Pop. 8,723)
- Wilmore (Pop. 6,299)
- Fort Thomas (Pop. 16,313)
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Kentucky
- Richest Cities In Kentucky
- Safest Places In Kentucky
- Best Cities For Singles In Kentucky
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Kentucky?