The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2020


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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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst places to live in Missouri.

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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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2020

  1. Berkeley
  2. Sullivan
  3. Caruthersville
  4. Aurora
  5. Branson
  6. Jennings
  7. Park Hills
  8. Kennett
  9. Lebanon
  10. Poplar Bluff

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 Berkeley.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.

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

For more Missouri reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2020

Berkeley, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,991
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $64,700 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (4th worst)
More on Berkeley:  Data | Photos

You might have passed through Berkeley once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.

Here's what science says about why Berkeley needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 10.7%, residents earn about $33,874 a year, and home prices are just over $64,700. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.

And there simply isn't anything to do in Berkeley.

Sullivan, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 6,496
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $105,500 (37th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (38th worst)
More on Sullivan:  Data | Photos

Sullivan takes the 2nd worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.

But what gives Sullivan its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 18th worst in the whole state.

Caruthersville, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

1
/10

Population: 5,760
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $80,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.3% (1st worst)
More on Caruthersville:  Data | Photos

Caruthersville, MO needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 15.3%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 17th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 21.3 chance of being robbed here every year.

You could find a much better place to call home.

Aurora, MO

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,435
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $80,500 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (7th worst)
More on Aurora:  Data | Photos

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Aurora is the 19th most dangerous city in Missouri. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 21.3 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 $38,601 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.

Branson, MO

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,345
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $152,000 (77th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (33rd worst)
More on Branson:  Data | Photos

Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Branson 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 133 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 9.3 chance of being robbed each year. That's off the charts high.

And the unemployment rate is at 6.6%, which isn't horrible, but the 33rd-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $40,343 a year in combined household income.

Jennings, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 14,794
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $65,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (5th worst)
More on Jennings:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Jennings, where criminals go to make a living. Jennings has the 4th highest crime rate in the state. When you're within Jennings city limits, you have a 1 in 0.0 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 2020. For a city of 14,794 people, that's absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 0 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you're in Jennings every year as well.

Jennings is a northern suburb of St. Louis.

Park Hills, MO

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,568
Rank Last Year: 26 (Up 19)
Median Home Value: $70,800 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (27th worst)
More on Park Hills:  Data | Photos

21% of the population in Park Hills lives below the poverty line, and nearly 7% of them are unemployed. While the population here has gone up 10% over the last 15 years, and the cost of living is far below the national average, the fact remains, that according to science, it's a very undesirable place to live in Missouri.

Park Hills is located an hour south of St. Louis on Route 67.

Kennett, MO

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,225
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $91,100 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (29th worst)
More on Kennett:  Data | Photos

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 6.9% of Kennett residents are out of work, and households bring in less than $33,853 a year. Schools are also way underfunded.

Crime is way higher than the state average in Kennett. Residents have a 1 in 15.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when within Kennett city limits every year.

Lebanon, MO

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 14,637
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $97,800 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (31st worst)
More on Lebanon:  Data | Photos

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 (6.7%), and households make slightly more incomes ($37,896), but not enough to be comfortable. And 20.0% of the adult population lacks a high school degree.

Poplar Bluff, MO

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 17,107
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $101,900 (31st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (9th worst)
More on Poplar Bluff:  Data | Photos

Poplar Bluff might be a pretty place, as it's tucked down on Route 60 in the Ozark region of the state. However, the fact remains, living here is tough. Residents average poverty level incomes every year, and crime is the 9th highest in the state. That might be a surprise for a small area so far removed for major cities.

Would you want to live in a mountainous area where people are broke and stealing from one another?

How we determined the worst places to live in Missouri for 2020

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. You can download the data here.

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, Berkeley ranks as the worst city to live in Missouri for 2020.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Missouri:

  1. Clayton (Pop. 16,448)
  2. Ladue (Pop. 8,586)
  3. Glendale (Pop. 5,888)

For more Missouri reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Missouri?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Berkeley 8,991 10.7% $64,700
2 Sullivan 6,496 6.0% $105,500
3 Caruthersville 5,760 15.3% $80,100
4 Aurora 7,435 10.0% $80,500
5 Branson 11,345 6.6% $152,000
6 Jennings 14,794 10.5% $65,600
7 Park Hills 8,568 7.0% $70,800
8 Kennett 10,225 6.9% $91,100
9 Lebanon 14,637 6.7% $97,800
10 Poplar Bluff 17,107 8.8% $101,900

How Is The Area In ?

22 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2020

  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

    1. I grew up South of Farmington. Haven’t lived there for many years now. I notice the author just HAD to use that picture of the abandoned lead mine WITHOUT mentioning it’s now a state historical site. My uncle worked there until it was shut down, worked there and farmed too!
      As far as I’m concerned, Farmington, Fredericktown, Park Hills, Bonne Terre, Desloge, and all those places are still God’s country. Park hills will always be Flat River to me.

  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.

    1. Nope, but they did include most of KC’s suburbs (Parkville & Lee’s Summit are 2 that I can only think of offhand) & nearest surrounding cities (Lexington, Higginsville, Platte City are 3 that I can only think of offhand).

  11. Spot on! Aurora deserves it number “2” ranking. Its a turd. All of southwest Mo is horrible. I advise anybody thinking about moving here to go elsewhere. This aint little house on the prairie.

  12. Lived in Springfield since the 1990s. This town has a lot of issues, Crime and drugs are bad but the police chief and city council are only worried about speeding. So kill some one just don’t speed. Jobs are hard to find with good pay. The town is split in half, south side gets the money and business and the north side gets what’s left, which isn’t much. Oh the city council is just a big wheel, same people different term. And this city is ran by the City Utilities. So you pay the rate for your electric or gas or go with out. The schools are in bad shape expect for the were all the big money kids go. And they raise your taxes when ever they feel they need a pay raise. The teachers are horribly unpaid.

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