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:
- Sullivan (Photos)
- Aurora (Photos)
- Caruthersville (Photos)
- Berkeley (Photos)
- Jennings (Photos)
- Dellwood (Photos)
- Kennett (Photos)
- Charleston (Photos)
- Lebanon (Photos)
- Branson (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. 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
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.
The unemployment rate in Sullivan is a sky high 10.9%, which is the 10th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Sullivan is $34,544. That means 18.0% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 14.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Aurora is the 2nd worst place in the state of Missouri.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Aurora is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Aurora are the 9th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Missouri.
Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Caruthersville has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (17.1%) and homes are the 8th cheapest in the state ($77,300).
Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Caruthersville.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Berkeley is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Berkeley, located in St. Louis County, have the 21st most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $63,700, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Missouri, that is.
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.
If you live in Dellwood, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 6th worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 3rd highest crime rate in Missouri, which saw 80 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 4.4 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 12 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Dellwood.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Dellwood sports the state’s 4th highest unemployment rate (14.6%), and families bring in a combined $42,370 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $73,800.
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.
Here in Branson, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Missouri. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Stone County, you have a 1 in 7.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Branson city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (7.0%). That’s good for the 32nd highest unemployment rate in Missouri.
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:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Missouri
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Missouri
- 10 Safest Places In Missouri
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Missouri
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Missouri