Missouri might be one of the most unique states in the country. Are you in the midwest or are you in the south? While much of the state is farmland, there are some southern features like the Ozarks that dominate the landscape. You’re friendly like the south, and you love frog giggin, but you love baseball and winter snow, too.
Plus, you’re in the SEC. Go figure.
Is it all rosy in the Show Me State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Missouri has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Missouri your home.
After analyzing 125 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 the state of Missouri:
- Berkeley (Photos)
- Charleston (Photos)
- Caruthersville (Photos)
- Jennings (Photos)
- Bellefontaine Neighbors (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 Missouri 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 5,000 people were considered — leaving 125 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 125 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 Missouri — Berkeley. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Missouri.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 9,068Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $65,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (5th worst)
you’re looking to live in Missouri, Berkeley might not be the best choice as it places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2015.
Berkeley doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Berkeley may not be your first choice for a vacation.
Population: 5,855Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Home Values: $57,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.7% (4th worst)
The tiny city of Charleston is the 2nd worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2015.
It’s unlucky for Charleston, which has the 4th highest unemployment rate (17.7%), the 1st lowest household incomes ($24,203) and the 1st lowest home prices in the state ($57,600).
Basically, a lot of people in Charleston are out of work, and nearly 1 in 4 people who live here are below the poverty line. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it’s not one of the most dangerous places we’ll look at, it’s in the top 20%.
Finally, the kids who live in Charleston get not only the lowest support in the state, in terms of spending levels, but some of the lowest in the nation. The national average for spending per pupil is $14,000. In Charleston, it’s half that. Wow.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Missouri. Charleston is in the far southeast corner of the state.
Population: 5,941Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $75,200 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.4% (3rd worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Missouri, Caruthersville ranks 3rd worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Caruthersville, crime is the 27th highest in the state, and 1 out of 22.9 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That’s not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 71 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That’s really high.
When you look at adult education in Missouri, the folks in Caruthersville have the 1st highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Caruthersville undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 3rd highest in Missouri, at 18.4%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Missouri has some hard workers.
Population: 14,749Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Home Values: $64,900 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.4% (1st worst)
Welcome to Jennings, where criminals go to make a living. Jennings has the 5th highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Jennings city limits, you have a 1 in 15.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 529 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 14,749 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 27 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Jennings every year as well.
Jennings is a northern suburb of St. Louis.
Population: 6,838 Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Values: $106,600 (44th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (11th worst)
The unemployment rate in Sullivan is a sky high 11.6%, which is the 12th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Sullivan is $31,217. That means 1990.0% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 14.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
Population: 7,473 Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Values: $76,400 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (11th worst)
According to science, Aurora is the 6th worst place you can live in Missouri.
Let’s see why. Aurora has the 36th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Aurora is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($76,400), and the 12th-highest unemployment rate in the state (11.6%), and across the board, Aurora doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
Population: 10,500 Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Home Values: $93,700 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (31st worst)
Kennett is located in the Missouri boot heel down near the Arkansas/Tennessee state line. Not only are there few pure entertainment options here, the economy here is lacking. More than 8.3% of Kennett residents are out of work, and households bring in less than $29,569 a year. Schools are also way underfunded.
Crime is way higher than the state average in Kennett. Residents have a 1 in 18.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when within Kennett city limits every year.
Population: 5,020Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 7)
Home Values: $74,500 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.6% (2nd worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Dellwood is the 8th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Missouri. Dellwood is the 5th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 15.1 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $74,500, which is the 6th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Dellwood.
Income levels are just about $44,583, the 59th lowest in Missouri.
When you add it all up, Dellwood really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
9. Bellefontaine Neighbors
Population: 10,785Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Values: $69,600 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (18th worst)
Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Bellefontaine Neighbors has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (10.4%) and homes are the 4th cheapest in the state ($69,600).
Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Bellefontaine Neighbors.
Population: 14,652 Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Values: $96,600 (32nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (28th worst)
A short drive north of Springfield on I-44 brings you to Lebanon, where you see some of the same issues that other cities have. The unemployment rate is actually higher here (8.6%), and households make slightly more incomes ($31,425), but not enough to be comfortable. And 19.3% of the adult population lacks a high school degree.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Missouri
If you’re looking at areas in Missouri 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, Berkeley ranks as the worst city to live in Missouri for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Missouri:
- Glendale (Pop. 5,917)
- Ladue (Pop. 8,579)
- Webster Groves (Pop. 23,111)
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Missouri
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Missouri
- If You’re From Missouri This Will Be The Funniest Thing You See All Day. Guaranteed.
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Missouri