These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Missouri For 2017


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 2017.

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

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.

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 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.

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1. Jennings

Jennings, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,755
Home 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.

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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.

2. Berkeley

Berkeley, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,083
Home 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.

3. Caruthersville

Caruthersville, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,026
Home 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.

4. Sullivan


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%.

5. Aurora

Aurora, Missouri

Source: Flickr

Population: 7,473
Home 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.

6. Charleston

Charleston, Missouri

Source: Flickr

Population: 5,877
Home 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%.

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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.

7. Kennett

Kennett, Missouri

Source: Flickr

Population: 10,678
Home 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

Bellefontaine Neighbors, Missouri

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,814
Home 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.

9. Lebanon


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.

10. Nevada


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:

  1. Glendale (Pop. 5,928)
  2. Webster Groves (Pop. 23,120)
  3. Clayton (Pop. 15,900)

For more Missouri reading , check out:

  These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Missouri

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Missouri

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Jennings 14,755 23.6% $63,200
2 Berkeley 9,083 12.0% $66,500
3 Caruthersville 6,026 15.3% $73,700
4 Sullivan 6,998 11.7% $106,900
5 Aurora 7,473 10.1% $78,800
6 Charleston 5,877 20.5% $57,800
7 Kennett 10,678 9.6% $91,300
8 Bellefontaine Neighbors 10,814 12.0% $74,000
9 Lebanon 14,637 9.9% $95,500
10 Nevada 8,454 6.5% $68,500
11 Poplar Bluff 17,195 9.3% $91,800
12 St. Louis 317,850 12.4% $120,400
13 Sedalia 21,457 8.0% $85,200
14 Dellwood 5,011 20.5% $76,500
15 Warrenton 8,025 8.3% $125,300
16 Hannibal 17,717 8.6% $92,100
17 Ferguson 21,120 10.7% $87,600
18 Clinton 9,012 8.7% $87,400
19 St. Robert 5,151 13.6% $187,300
20 Carthage 14,278 6.7% $91,400
21 Monett 8,957 14.1% $104,900
22 De Soto 6,469 8.2% $96,700
23 Neosho 12,102 4.1% $90,700
24 Dexter 7,920 10.2% $85,800
25 Springfield 163,763 8.2% $107,600
26 Moberly 13,879 8.6% $78,500
27 Sikeston 16,436 8.5% $99,200
28 West Plains 12,230 7.4% $106,700
29 Branson 11,084 6.8% $167,800
30 Richmond 5,654 6.9% $96,200
31 Park Hills 8,695 9.4% $72,900
32 Macon 5,468 9.3% $86,700
33 Independence 117,192 8.4% $98,600
34 Grandview 24,997 8.9% $105,700
35 Marshfield 6,860 6.5% $99,400
36 Mexico 11,588 10.0% $81,500
37 Bonne Terre 7,064 10.7% $80,400
38 Bridgeton 11,699 11.2% $158,900
39 Overland 16,011 7.7% $88,200
40 Fulton 12,812 8.7% $108,600
41 Bolivar 10,507 12.0% $109,000
42 Joplin 51,042 7.5% $108,700
43 St. Joseph 77,037 7.7% $100,500
44 Pevely 5,596 8.5% $123,100
45 St. Ann 12,973 9.7% $89,700
46 Cameron 10,167 7.2% $109,600
47 Black Jack 6,938 14.6% $131,900
48 Boonville 8,350 5.1% $107,200
49 St. John 6,491 8.4% $82,600
50 Excelsior Springs 11,512 5.7% $108,500
51 Union 10,644 8.4% $138,200
52 Hazelwood 25,686 10.8% $106,900
53 Pacific 6,305 5.7% $131,800
54 Kirksville 17,574 9.0% $99,300
55 Harrisonville 10,003 11.2% $128,200
56 Belton 23,209 8.9% $124,700
57 Maplewood 7,960 8.8% $146,400
58 Trenton 6,042 3.1% $78,300
59 Bowling Green 5,465 5.1% $86,000
60 Festus 11,839 9.6% $137,900
61 Cape Girardeau 38,959 7.3% $130,800
62 Ozark 18,608 8.3% $131,700
63 Chillicothe 9,025 4.0% $89,400
64 Raytown 29,486 6.5% $97,200
65 Rolla 19,910 6.7% $118,700
66 Valley Park 6,970 5.3% $168,000
67 Troy 11,175 5.0% $135,900
68 Farmington 17,570 6.6% $122,900
69 Republic 15,594 6.3% $119,100
70 Arnold 21,123 8.6% $142,600
71 Marshall 13,048 4.6% $95,200
72 Maryville 11,997 9.4% $129,700
73 Washington 13,993 5.7% $153,200
74 Willard 5,429 8.4% $117,700
75 Odessa 5,222 6.2% $112,800
76 Perryville 8,333 4.4% $108,900
77 Florissant 52,356 7.8% $96,200
78 Warrensburg 19,739 7.7% $151,100
79 Gladstone 26,309 7.6% $131,600
80 Liberty 30,035 7.9% $163,300
81 Wildwood 35,776 3.7% $354,300
82 Waynesville 5,250 23.4% $161,600
83 Pleasant Hill 8,216 7.7% $149,300
84 Oak Grove 7,839 3.7% $117,200
85 Maryland Heights 27,401 6.2% $151,800
86 Savannah 5,092 5.8% $97,700
87 Nixa 20,177 5.4% $129,600
88 Columbia 115,391 4.8% $176,900
89 Jackson 14,439 6.0% $156,400
90 Grain Valley 13,134 3.4% $154,200
91 Blue Springs 53,364 5.9% $144,900
92 Weldon Spring 5,517 2.1% $330,000
93 St. Charles 67,479 6.0% $173,700
94 Eureka 10,450 4.7% $233,900
95 Greenwood 5,400 4.5% $143,100
96 Kearney 9,039 5.0% $156,800
97 Dardenne Prairie 12,383 3.6% $263,600
98 Smithville 8,911 3.4% $175,100
99 Carl Junction 7,577 2.8% $130,100
100 St. Peters 55,135 5.5% $167,400

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16 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Missouri For 2017

  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.

  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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