These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2018


We used science and data to Show You which places to live in the Show Me State are the worst to live.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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:

  1. Berkeley (Photos)
  2. Charleston (Photos)
  3. Caruthersville (Photos)
  4. Jennings (Photos)
  5. Sullivan
  6. Aurora
  7. Kennett
  8. Dellwood
  9. Bellefontaine Neighbors (Photos)
  10. Lebanon

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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

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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

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 — 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.

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1. Berkeley

Berkeley, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,068
Rank 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.

2. Charleston

Charleston, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,855
Rank 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.

3. Caruthersville

Caruthersville, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,941
Rank 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.

4. Jennings

Jennings, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,749
Rank 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.

5. Sullivan


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.

6. Aurora


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.

7. Kennett


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.

8. Dellwood

Dellwood, Missouri

Source: Google Maps

Population: 5,020
Rank 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

Bellefontaine Neighbors, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,785
Rank 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.

10. Lebanon


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:

  1. Glendale (Pop. 5,917)
  2. Ladue (Pop. 8,579)
  3. Webster Groves (Pop. 23,111)

For more Missouri reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Missouri

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Berkeley 1 2 9,068 14.1% $65,900
Charleston 2 6 5,855 17.7% $57,600
Caruthersville 3 3 5,941 18.4% $75,200
Jennings 4 1 14,749 21.4% $64,900
Sullivan 5 4 6,838 11.6% $106,600
Aurora 6 5 7,473 11.6% $76,400
Kennett 7 7 10,500 8.3% $93,700
Dellwood 8 15 5,020 18.6% $74,500
Bellefontaine Neighbors 9 8 10,785 10.4% $69,600
Lebanon 10 9 14,652 8.6% $96,600
Poplar Bluff 11 11 17,198 9.3% $92,200
De Soto 12 22 6,466 11.5% $96,100
Warrenton 13 14 8,077 6.6% $123,500
St. Louis 14 12 316,030 10.6% $120,900
Park Hills 15 31 8,666 8.9% $75,400
Monett 16 21 8,954 12.3% $105,000
Sedalia 17 13 21,441 8.8% $86,000
Nevada 18 10 8,388 4.4% $72,500
Carthage 19 20 14,247 5.4% $84,800
Ferguson 20 17 21,035 10.5% $87,100
Clinton 21 18 8,989 7.2% $84,300
Springfield 22 23 165,138 7.2% $109,500
Branson 23 29 11,158 6.2% $157,800
Neosho 24 24 12,144 3.8% $95,300
Sikeston 25 26 16,464 8.7% $106,100
Dexter 26 25 7,934 10.4% $85,700
Macon 27 32 5,463 9.9% $86,900
Harrisonville 28 56 10,002 11.4% $126,700
Bridgeton 29 37 11,698 10.1% $158,500
Independence 30 33 117,217 7.8% $100,500
Richmond 31 30 5,638 4.7% $94,200
Fulton 32 40 12,886 8.5% $111,200
West Plains 33 28 12,259 5.4% $97,600
Bolivar 34 41 10,592 12.4% $114,400
Hannibal 35 16 17,707 7.5% $95,000
Union 36 51 10,813 8.6% $139,600
St. Robert 37 19 5,396 12.2% $191,200
Marshfield 38 35 6,958 6.8% $101,400
Grandview 39 34 25,126 7.3% $102,700
Joplin 40 42 51,231 7.4% $115,600
Bonne Terre 41 38 7,109 12.6% $78,300
Hazelwood 42 52 25,604 10.9% $106,100
Mexico 43 36 11,622 8.2% $87,200
St. Joseph 44 43 76,901 6.8% $103,500
Moberly 45 27 13,867 8.1% $79,000
Cameron 46 46 10,150 6.1% $107,400
Overland 47 39 15,932 6.2% $88,500
St. John 48 48 6,459 6.9% $81,800
Kirksville 49 55 17,592 7.4% $105,700
Raytown 50 64 29,366 7.8% $97,000
Chillicothe 51 63 9,199 3.7% $91,700
St. Ann 52 44 12,931 8.1% $87,500
Festus 53 60 11,929 9.9% $128,400
Black Jack 54 48 6,956 9.6% $119,700
Rolla 55 65 19,904 5.9% $129,300
Excelsior Springs 56 50 11,480 5.8% $114,500
Bowling Green 57 59 5,464 4.0% $81,500
Cape Girardeau 58 61 39,200 6.8% $134,500
Pacific 59 54 6,246 3.9% $136,200
Trenton 60 58 5,946 2.2% $83,300
Marshall 61 71 12,984 4.2% $96,800
Belton 62 57 23,236 6.6% $124,000
Pevely 63 44 5,616 4.0% $124,600
Farmington 64 66 17,881 4.3% $119,500
Maplewood 65 53 7,948 6.2% $154,800
Arnold 66 70 21,196 7.1% $147,400
Waynesville 67 82 5,297 14.1% $160,000
Boonville 68 47 8,397 4.1% $110,600
Republic 69 69 15,766 4.8% $122,300
Warrensburg 70 78 19,932 7.2% $150,800
Valley Park 71 68 6,956 3.2% $171,400
Ozark 72 62 18,867 7.8% $139,200
Troy 73 67 11,374 5.6% $136,900
Maryville 74 72 11,957 6.7% $137,800
Odessa 75 75 5,221 6.0% $126,400
Gladstone 76 79 26,562 5.9% $132,500
Oak Grove 77 84 7,844 3.2% $117,500
Perryville 78 76 8,374 4.6% $111,600
Florissant 79 77 52,218 7.3% $94,700
Washington 80 73 14,012 4.5% $156,200
Wildwood 81 81 35,764 3.5% $358,300
Willard 82 74 5,447 2.9% $123,100
Nixa 83 87 20,520 5.4% $135,400
Pleasant Hill 84 83 8,272 5.9% $162,900
Columbia 85 88 117,165 4.2% $178,600
Smithville 86 97 9,069 7.3% $174,200
Jackson 87 89 14,641 6.3% $159,700
Liberty 88 80 30,239 5.5% $165,600
Savannah 89 86 5,103 4.5% $108,800
Maryland Heights 90 85 27,359 5.7% $153,300
Weldon Spring 91 93 5,545 2.7% $322,500
Blue Springs 92 91 53,641 4.4% $146,800
St. Charles 93 92 68,341 4.7% $179,200
Kearney 94 96 9,259 4.5% $158,100
Grain Valley 95 90 13,273 1.9% $151,600
Greenwood 96 95 5,474 4.6% $143,300
Dardenne Prairie 97 98 12,692 3.6% $267,800
Eureka 98 94 10,497 4.8% $239,200
Raymore 99 105 20,107 3.5% $178,100
St. Peters 100 100 55,820 4.6% $168,400

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18 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2018

  1. 1) This author does not live in Missouri. I highly doubt he has been to the towns he sits in judgement of. Numbers on paper do not depict actual quality of life issues in any town or city. The community of Charleston is filled with people who would give you anything you truly needed to survive or make your life better if you were in NEED.
    2) This author does not understand statistical data. He failed to take into account the FACT that Charleston has a state pen population within its statistical data. Of course those folks are largely broke, unemployed, and uneducated. SKEWED DATA does NOT make an accurate picture.
    3) This author spews forth negativity under the guise of it being “infotainment”. Who would tear down people and their communities for “infotainment”. He obviously is in severe need of guidance and direction.

  2. The problem with the variables used to rank cities is that they are all symptoms of one another. Low employment = Low income = high crime = low housing cost.

    At the same time, if you take a look at some cities, the housing costs are very low compared to other areas and that is a negative, even though it shouldn’t be. If I can get a 3000 SQFT, newly built home in a small town in Southeast Missouri for half the price, why is that immediately a bad thing?

  3. It would have been nice to measure assets of a city like cultural institutions and arts venues; especially those that are free and open to the public. The City of St. Louis has a world class symphony orchestra, art museum, history museum, national monument (the Arch) the Cathedral Basilica among many others that make living in St. Louis delightful!

  4. Centralia was the site of an infamous massacre in 1919 and now it has massacred the competition when it comes to being the worst place to live in Washington. The mix of extremely high unemployment and crime is a winning combination to end up high on our list of worst places to live.

  5. Id take small town crime… car break spousal fights etc rather than rapes and murders any day!.All in the same catagory.? Murders are rare.plus a town like Park Hills is almost a suburb of Farmington a town with growing number of restaurants a movie A college is in Park Hlls so olays and music and car race track nearby so there is entertainment Maybe not BIG CITY but ok except for GOOD JOBS needed… as everywhere

  6. Not to mention PARK HILLS is in the” PARKLAND “named because many large well known parks within close driving distance for horse back riding canoeing dirt bike or bike riding swimning walking camping fishing among other things. AND GENEROUS giving corteous people here too.NOTHING TO DO? maybe by NY standards

  7. Lamar Missouri should have made the list. There’s no work if you’re not in the right click it could be a snooty place to live. We have a chief of police you can’t get in to see you can’t talk to on the phone. They’re more concerned about making the town look nice then making it be a nice town to live in. What drug issues all over the place. Yet the fight somebody for having a decent-looking car in their driveway with no tags because it needs work taxes paid on it no less and is insured. Butt we’ll let the guy up the street have rusted-out novas his front yard. The dog pound lady harasses people giving out these uncalled for tickets. But at 10 o’clock at night when you have a pitbull in your yard growling at you and your puppy you call and they say you have to talk to her 9 to 5 Monday through Friday there’s nothing they can do. The one thing Lamar does have is an excellent Athletics program. But the town is going to hell in a handbasket and all they want to do is make sure it looks nice as it goes down.

    1. Not sure how long you have lived here but this city is not beholding to anyone new. This city does not like changes made to anything and how dare anyone questions anyone of authority. The state rep does not handle criticism and bamblaststs anyone who questions him and he has been in this job for 8 years and has still not brought any busineses to this city? Now his wife is running due to term limits and we will see the name again for another 8 years and everyone thinks he is God. All the young kids are leaving as soon as they graduate because there is nothing here for them especially jobs.. This city does not want changes or new people. They want the same old thing they have had for years and nothing changed and due to that everything has to close down. We have no grocery store? What county seat has no grocery store so that forces everyone to go to Wal Mart for everything? Unemployment rate is the highest it has ever been here in Lamar at an all time high and more people are unemployed in this town than ever before. We moved here from another state and small city and they were wonderful but we were never welcomed by anyone in this town. We were never given a map, a phone book and never approached by anyone in this town for a welcone to Lamar. For any town to treat someone who moved in the way we were treat is apprehensible. We are both politically savvy but how dare we question the state rep or everyone in town bamblasts me when we know more than he does. We knew we had made a mistake by moving here within a year after we moved but we are now stuck with a house we can get nothng out of so ther is nothng we can do for now unless we just take a “dive” on our home. We want out because everything her costs extra money. Every single little thing costs money. This city cannot sem to combine anything together into one bill but they want everything separate so everything here cost more than it did where we came fron in Texas and there we had no taxes on groceries. People including the county commissioners do not want changes here. The doctors are horrible and that is all of southwest Missouri and not just here. The sheriffs dept? The animal control? This town is not accepting of new people who move in and they never will unless atitudes change and new ideas come forth and it never will change and with the same people in charge of the city and county I am not looking for that to happen. Lamar Missouri should have been in the top 5 on this list of worst places to live in the State of Missouri.

  8. Stop giving my city a bad name some evil. Wants to destroy the country don’t forget St.Louis started with the Indians. We see others from. Other places all are welcome. But. Our women. Men and children will countine. In the footsteps. Of peace education. And living. Happy I. St.Louis leave our people alone. Leave our beautiful city alone. Am a happy Indian and half black. Native born. In the 1960s. Am young and am standing up for St.Louis. and my country .have you ate spegetti.

  9. The good. People. Want to survive we are not giving up hope and our dreams to keep St.Louis our beautiful. City. Alive.we love our city we. Love our citizens. The bad. Will not destroy. St.Louis.wake up St.Louis look at all the good things that were built. By people in Missouri. So that we all can have a beautiful. Place to live. Stand up for good people. Love you St.Louis

  10. You need to add the city of St. Louis to the list. Not everywhere in St. Louis is bad, but the city does actually get bad once you cross kingshighway and when you’re north of delmar blvd. It’s where crime peaks at its worst in the St. Louis area.

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