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:
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 Missouri? That would be Sullivan.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Missouri
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Missouri
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Missouri
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2019
Sullivan needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Sullivan. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Sullivan. Of the 125 cities considered in this ranking, Sullivan had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Sullivan have Missouri’s 39th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 10th and 15th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in Missouri.”
If you know anyone in Sullivan, tag 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 Aurora is the 2nd worst place you can live in the state of Missouri. 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 Aurora had a 1 in 19.9 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Aurora, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Aurora’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (10.8%) and income levels of its residents ($36,563).
If, by some reason, you were driving through Caruthersville, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($27,244) and they can’t get good jobs (17.1% unemployment rate).
Caruthersville ranks as the 3rd wost place in Missouri.
The city of Berkeley is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2019.
It’s unlucky for Berkeley, which has the 6th highest unemployment rate (12.3%), the 7th lowest household incomes ($32,589) and the 2nd lowest home prices in the state ($63,700).
Basically, a lot of people in Berkeley are out of work. 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%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Missouri.
Welcome to Jennings, where criminals go to make a living. Jennings has the 3rd highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Jennings city limits, you have a 1 in 4.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 80 violent crimes here in 2019. For a city of 14,743 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 12 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Jennings every year as well.
Jennings is a northern suburb of St. Louis.
You can sure expect that Dellwood is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 6th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Dellwood has the 3rd-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 80 violent crimes here in 2019, and residents have a 1 in 4.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Dellwood, 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 14.6% which is the 4th worst in Missouri.
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 6.8% of Kennett residents are out of work, and households bring in less than $30,973 a year. Schools are also way underfunded.
Crime is way higher than the state average in Kennett. Residents have a 1 in 17.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when within Kennett city limits every year.
The tiny city of Charleston is the 8th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2019.
It’s unlucky for Charleston, which has the 3rd highest unemployment rate (15.6%), the 3rd lowest household incomes ($27,875) and the 1st lowest home prices in the state ($61,800).
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.
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 (7.2%), and households make slightly more incomes ($34,863), but not enough to be comfortable. And 18.4% of the adult population lacks a high school degree.
If you live in Branson, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 6th highest crime rate, per capita in the state of Missouri. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 7.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That’s a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 53 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you’d have a 1 in 211 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 39th lowest salaries in Missouri At $40,738 a household, that’s simply not enough to get by for most folks.
How we determined the worst places to live in Missouri 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 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 — Sullivan. 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.
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, Sullivan ranks as the worst city to live in Missouri for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Missouri:
- Clayton (Pop. 16,214)
- Ladue (Pop. 8,591)
- Glendale (Pop. 5,919)
For more Missouri reading, check out: