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)
- 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.
Sullivan’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Sullivan has the 15th worst crime index of any place in Missouri, and has the 13th lowest income.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Aurora is the 23rd most dangerous city in Missouri. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 19.9 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Aurora might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Aurora are really low. People here earn about $36,563 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Aurora are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Missouri than in Aurora.
you’re looking to live in Missouri, Caruthersville might not be the best choice as it places 3rd in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2017.
Caruthersville 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, Caruthersville may not be your first choice for a vacation.
We’re seeing a pattern here. A small, isolated city with a bad economy. Berkeley is located in St. Louis County.
Here, the schools are way underfunded, when you compare them to the rest of Missouri. Families can barely make ends meet, and the unemployment rate (12.3%) is the 6th highest in the state. A home here sells for $63,700, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
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 2017. 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.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $73,800 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (4th worst)
More on Dellwood: Data
Dellwood is the 6th worst city in Missouri for 2017. When you’re comparing other cities to Dellwood, things just don’t look great, at least according to science.
Dellwood is the 3rd 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 14.6%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($73,800), and residents earn just $42,370 a year.
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 2017.
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.
While numbers in Missouri are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Missouri cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Branson average $156,600, which is the 83rd lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Branson.
Plus, 20.0% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 6th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Branson city limits, you have a 1 in 7.8 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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