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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 128 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:
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 2021.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Missouri
- Cheapest Places To Live In Missouri
- Most Dangerous Cities in Missouri
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Missouri For 2021
When you're looking at science and data, Sullivan is the worst place you can live in Missouri. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 5.4%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $104,600, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 20.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Aurora ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 9th cheapest in the state here at $78,600. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn't a lot of demand to live in Aurora.
The median income levels here are the 22nd lowest in the state of Missouri, at $38,750. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we'll talk about in a minute. And almost 9.6% of people in Aurora were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Caruthersville ranks as the 3rd worst place to live in Missouri for 2021.
The issues Caruthersville has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 6th highest in Missouri (9.9%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom of Missouri.
Welcome to Jennings, where criminals go to make a living. Jennings has the 12th 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 2021. For a city of 14,712 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.
Dellwood needs some tough love as it ranks as the 5th worst city to live in Missouri for 2021.
Crime in Dellwood is the 12th highest in the state, where 1 in 0.0 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Missouri.
If commute time is important, Dellwood residents have the 8th longest commute of any residents on our list.
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $240,000 (107th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (17th worst)
More on Osage Beach: Data
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Osage Beach is the 35th most dangerous city in Missouri. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 18.0 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 Osage Beach 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 Osage Beach are really low. People here earn about $39,137 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Osage Beach 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 Osage Beach.
There's probably not many people in Missouri that would be surprised to see Bridgeton on this list. In fact, if Bridgeton wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Bridgeton has the 12th worst crime rate in Missouri. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 80 violent crimes in Bridgeton in 2021. Residents here had a 1 in 0 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Bridgeton are the 85th cheapest in the state ($168,700), the unemployment rate is the 37th highest (5.7%), and the annual household income is 80th lowest in Missouri, at $59,940. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Berkeley is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Berkeley residents earn the 4th-lowest salaries in the state. At $33,185 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $63,700, which means there isn't a lot of demand.
Crime is the 4highest in Missouri per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 3rd highest in the state, at 10.5%.
The tiny city of Charleston is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of Missouri in 2021.
It's unlucky for Charleston, which has the highest unemployment rate (14.7%), the 2nd lowest household incomes ($30,573) and the 6th lowest home prices in the state ($72,400).
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.
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 2021
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 128 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 128 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. 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, Sullivan ranks as the worst city to live in Missouri for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Missouri:
- Ladue (Pop. 8,601)
- Clayton (Pop. 16,588)
- Glendale (Pop. 5,891)
For more Missouri reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Missouri?