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
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Sullivan is the worst place you can live in the state of Missouri. Let’s see why.
Crime and no jobs. How does that sum it up? When you look at the numbers, you can see why Sullivan might be a bad place to live. Would you believe Sullivan has the 15th highest crime rate in Missouri? It does. You have a 1 in 14.9 chance of being robbed when you’re within Sullivan city limits each year.
Plus, Sullivan has the 10th highest unemployment rate in the state at 10.9%.
And the home prices ($104,600) are the 39th cheapest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is, homes are priced on demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Sullivan.
Aurora is the 2nd worst city in Missouri for 2019. When you’re comparing other cities to Aurora, things just don’t look great, at least according to science.
Aurora is the 23rd most dangerous place in Missouri, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job — at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 10.8%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($78,100), and residents earn just $36,563 a year.
The city of Caruthersville is the 3rd worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2019.
It’s unlucky for Caruthersville, which has the 2nd highest unemployment rate (17.1%), the 1st lowest household incomes ($27,244) and the 8th lowest home prices in the state ($77,300).
Basically, a lot of people in Caruthersville 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.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 4th worst in Missouri.
Berkeley residents had a 1 in 20.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Berkeley is through the roof, as more than 12.3% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $63,700, Berkeley has the 2nd-lowest home prices in the state of 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’re looking to live in Missouri, Dellwood might not be the best choice as it places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.
Dellwood 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, Dellwood may not be your first choice for a vacation.
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.
When you’re looking at science and data, Branson is the 10th 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. Branson is the 6th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 7.8 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $156,600, which is the 83rd 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 Branson.
Income levels are just about $40,738, the 39th lowest in Missouri.
When you add it all up, Branson really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
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)
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