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:
- Jennings (Photos)
- Berkeley (Photos)
- Caruthersville (Photos)
- Aurora (Photos)
- Charleston (Photos)
- Kennett (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 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Missouri for 2017
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
The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
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 — Jennings. 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: 14,755Home Values: $63,200 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.6% (1st worst)
Welcome to Jennings, where criminals go to make a living. Jennings has the 16th highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Jennings city limits, you have a 1 in 19.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 271 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 14,755 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 54 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: 9,083Home Values: $66,500 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (12th worst)
Berkeley seems to be the have’s and have not’s. While the annual average income levels here are respectful ($33,776), about 1 in 8.4 people here are without jobs. Homes are valued at only $66,500.
But the biggest eye opener is the sheer crime here. It seems as if just about everyone in town without a job is pillaging the community. Berkeley has the 3rd highest crime rate in Missouri, where 1 in 11 people has a statistic chance of being attacked, raped or murdered each year.
Plus, 1 in 11.7 people are robbed.
If you’re headed past Berkeley and stop for gas, make sure you lock your doors.
Population: 6,026Home Values: $73,700 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.3% (5th worst)
Caruthersville needs some tough love as it ranks as the 3rd worst city to live in Missouri for 2015. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Caruthersville is the 30th highest in the state, where 1 in 27.3 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Population: 6,998 Home Values: $106,900 (44th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (13th worst)
Sullivan ranks as the 4th worst city in Missouri. Located in Crawford County, Sullivan has the 10th lowest income levels in the state of Missouri ($30,507), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 11.7%.
Population: 7,473Home Values: $78,800 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (20th worst)
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Aurora is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It’s that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 73 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 16.6 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 10.1%, which isn’t horrible, but the 20th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $36,158 a year in combined household income.
Population: 5,877Home Values: $57,800 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.5% (3rd worst)
The tiny city of Charleston is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2015.
It’s unlucky for Charleston, which has the 3rd highest unemployment rate (20.5%), the 4th lowest household incomes ($27,463) and the 1st lowest home prices in the state ($57,800).
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.
Population: 10,678Home Values: $91,300 (25th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (24th 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 9.6% of Kennett residents are out of work, and households bring in less than $30,426 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.
8. Bellefontaine Neighbors
Population: 10,814Home Values: $74,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (11th worst)
The city of Bellefontaine Neighbors is the 8th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2015.
It’s unlucky for Bellefontaine Neighbors, which has the 11th highest unemployment rate (12.0%), the 24th lowest household incomes ($35,556) and the 7th lowest home prices in the state ($74,000).
Basically, a lot of people in Bellefontaine Neighbors 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.
Population: 14,637 Home Values: $95,500 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (22nd 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 (9.9%), and households make slightly more incomes ($31,115), but not enough to be comfortable. And 18.7% of the adult population lacks a high school degree.
Population: 8,454 Home Values: $68,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (68th worst)
You have three options for entertainment when you live in Nevada. You make the 90 minute drive north to Kansas City, drive 90 minutes south to Springfield, or drive 20 minutes into the depressed, crime ridden area of southeast Kansas.
Crime in Nevada is the 10th highest in Missouri, and households average just above the poverty line, income wise.
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, Jennings ranks as the worst city to live in Missouri for 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Missouri:
- Glendale (Pop. 5,928)
- Webster Groves (Pop. 23,120)
- Clayton (Pop. 15,900)
For more Missouri reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In Missouri
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck 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