The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nevada For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in The Silver State have the worst luck.

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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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in Nevada.

The state of Nevada is a lot more than Vegas and Reno. But for most people, that's all they know. Oh, and Primm. But no one actually lives there.

If you actually ventured out into Nevada, you'd see a lot of sand and mountains. The landscape can be pretty cool in some parts. especially near the mountain side of the state. It's actually one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated states in the U.S.

But is it all good in The Silver State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Nevada has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Nevada your home.

After analyzing 16 of the state's most populous cities (over 1,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Nevada:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nevada For 2021

  1. North Las Vegas
  2. Lovelock
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Wells
  5. Elko
  6. Reno
  7. Carlin
  8. West Wendover
  9. Yerington
  10. Fernley

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 Nevada? That would be North Las Vegas.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

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

For more Nevada reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nevada For 2021

North Las Vegas, NV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 241,369
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $233,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (6th worst)
More on North Las Vegas:  Data | Photos

You can probably guess where North Las Vegas is located. Yeah, that's right: just north of Las Vegas. So you've got the glitz and glamor of the Strip just a few miles away. Head the other direction and you'll find breathtaking desert landscapes, with the Valley of Fire State Park just 45 minutes to the northeast.

With this prime location, the town comes with its share of benefits. You've got plenty of amenities and a relatively strong economy. However, safety presents a problem, with a crime rate nearly 20% above the national average. Meanwhile, aggressive real estate competition prices many locals out of the market. The median home price hovers at $233,600, compared to a median income of $59,835.

Lovelock, NV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,959
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $88,800 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (2nd worst)
More on Lovelock:  Data | Photos

Lovelock sounds like a romantic sort of place. And it does feature a spot where couples can show their affection by snapping a love-themed padlock in place. It's when romance turns to economics that things get troubled.

Jobs are hard to find work in town. The unemployment rate stands at 11.1%. Combine that with a median income of $41,896 and you end up with a poverty rate of 21.9%. Not surprisingly, this financial situation leads to other issues. Crime, housing, and education fall below expectations as well. None of the local schools score better than a 6/10 on Great Schools.

Las Vegas, NV

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 634,773
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $258,600 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (5th worst)
More on Las Vegas:  Data | Photos

If you live in Las Vegas, you deal with the noise and the chaos. You know which parts of town to avoid, how to handle the criminals, and which buffets to frequent. You know where to take friends when they come to visit, and who to ask for free tickets to the shows.

Science says it's the 3rd worst place in the state, and you can imagine why. Mostly because of the crime, and the stupid people who can't handle themselves. Yes, there were a bunch of murders here two years ago. And yeah, it might be hard to find a 'sense of community' there. And it's not a family friendly place. People smoke like chimneys and there are solicitations for sex on every corner.

It's corrupt. And it's hard to find a good doctor that sticks around for more than two years.

Vegas isn't for everyone. Either you love it or you hate it. If you're the latter, then there are a lot of homes in Henderson for sale.

Wells, NV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,022
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $132,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (15th worst)
More on Wells:  Data | Photos

Wells ranks as the 4th worst place to live in Nevada for 2021, let's take a look at why.

Wells started life as a point along an old pioneer trail west. It also served as a stop on the original transcontinental railroad. These days, it sits along I-80 in the northeast part of the state, about two and a half hours west of Salt Lake City, Utah.

As it did in the days of covered wagons, Wells gets a boost from its location on the main east-west transportation artery in the region. The unemployment rate comes in at a skimpy 2.9%. However, the town suffers from isolation, with a distinct lack of amenities. At the same time, Wells experiences a deficient in housing and in education.

Elko, NV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 20,304
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $232,100 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (13th worst)
More on Elko:  Data | Photos

Elko serves as a key commercial and cultural center in its region. In fact, the town flaunts its local importance with the motto "The Heart of Northeast Nevada." You can learn all about it at the town's Northeastern Nevada Museum.

The economic stats bear out its prominence. True, the unemployment rate comes in at an unimpressive 5.0%. But the town supports a healthy median income of $79,205.

Still, Elko wouldn't make this list if it didn't have its share of problems. The crime rate tops the national average by nearly 20%. At the same time, most of its schools have average or below-average ratings on Greatschools.

Reno, NV

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 246,500
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $335,000 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (12th worst)
More on Reno:  Data | Photos

They call Reno the "The Biggest Little City in the World." It's ranks second to Las Vegas as a gambling destination in the state. Located along I-80 in the northwest part of the state, right up against the California border, Reno draws its share of tourist dollars.

Unfortunately, the cash it brings in from visitors doesn't solve all its problems. It even causes some. For instance, the city sports a median home price of $335,000, more than many locals can afford, with their median income of $58,790. In addition, crime presents a drawback as well. The crime rate runs slightly above the U.S. norm.

It ranks as the 6th worst place to live in Nevada for 2021.

Carlin, NV

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 2,025
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $139,400 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (3rd worst)
More on Carlin:  Data | Photos

Carlin exists because of the railroad and the gold rush. In fact, the town's motto sums it up: "Where the Train Stops...And the Gold Rush Begins."

In modern times, that leaves it as an isolated town in the north-central part of the state. Situated along I-80, the closest population center of any size is Elko, about a half hour down the road. To get to any real city, you'd have to drive four hours west to Reno or three and a half hours east to Salt Lake City.

This isolation makes Carlin a tough place to live. The commute to any job outside of town requires a long trip. Meanwhile, the community itself has a severe lack of amenities.

West Wendover, NV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,285
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $158,700 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.7% (16th worst)
More on West Wendover:  Data | Photos

Here's another isolated community along I-80. This one sits at the eastern border of Nevada, along the Utah state line and at the edge of the Great Salt Lake Desert.

It's position along the highway, and just over the state border, gives West Wendover some value as a regional tourist draw. This town of 4,285 has its own airport and its own casinos. This helps bolster the economy, which boasts a skimpy unemployment rate of 1.7%.

However, the isolation and small size leads to some problems. It has limited amenities and its education system often misses the mark. The best it's schools can do is a rating of 4/10 from Great Schools.

Yerington, NV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 3,137
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 8)
Median Home Value: $122,800 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (worst)
More on Yerington:  Data | Photos

If 'yer in Yerington, you might be out of a job. More than 10% of the people here are unemployed, and those who do find work (farming), earn under $40,000 a year. Home prices are outrageous for a place that's hours from any real fun.

Unless you think a quick jaunt to Schurz is a blast.

And, for some reason, crime is the 15th highest in Nevada way out here. You have a 1 in 37 chance of being robbed out here. Most likely, it's someone you know. Or a friend of a friend. Because there's no one else around for a long, long ways.

Fernley, NV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 20,068
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $221,200 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (9th worst)
More on Fernley:  Data | Photos

I-80 cuts a route through the northern part of Nevada, a long desert drive from the Utah state line to Reno, on the California border. You've probably noticed that many of the towns on this list dot that path...small, isolated communities given existence mainly because the highway runs through town.

Here's another town that fits the profile. Fernley sits along I-80, about a half hour east of Reno. The town comes with a few distinctions that set it apart from most of the other towns on this list. For instance, it's just down the road from the TOPGUN naval flight school. Yeah, that Top Gun.

How we determined the worst places to live in Nevada 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

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 1,000 people were considered -- leaving 16 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 16 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 Nevada -- North Las Vegas. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Nevada. 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 Nevada

If you're looking at areas in Nevada 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, North Las Vegas ranks as the worst city to live in Nevada for 2021.

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

  1. Sparks (Pop. 100,589)
  2. Mesquite (Pop. 18,446)
  3. Henderson (Pop. 300,116)

For more Nevada reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Nevada?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 North Las Vegas 241,369 6.5% $233,600
2 Lovelock 1,959 11.1% $88,800
3 Las Vegas 634,773 6.7% $258,600
4 Wells 1,022 2.9% $132,900
5 Elko 20,304 5.0% $232,100
6 Reno 246,500 5.4% $335,000
7 Carlin 2,025 7.9% $139,400
8 West Wendover 4,285 1.7% $158,700
9 Yerington 3,137 11.8% $122,800
10 Fernley 20,068 5.8% $221,200

How Is The Area In ?

13 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nevada For 2021

  1. Lots of people live in Primm, Nevada. There are lots of apartments there. Drive behind the extremely high priced, trashy mall and there are two or three very large apartment complexes.

  2. What a list!

    Las Vegas noise… noisy areas and quiet areas just like EVERY OTHER big city.

    Buffets to frequent… There is no such thing as a decent buffet in Las Vegas; hasn’t been a good one in 15 years.

    who to ask for free tickets to the shows… nothing in Vegas is free.

    hard to find a ‘sense of community’ there… NO nosy people who criticize everything you do, everywhere you go, and everything you buy; NO people who are negative about every aspect of live… NO ONE who gossips about everyone 24/7? Yeah, that’s the best part of living in Las Vegas.

    And it’s not a family friendly place… Much of Las Vegas is very family friendly.

    People smoke like chimneys… some do, some don’t – like EVERYWHERE.

    there are solicitations for sex on every corner… NO, there are not. Yeah, they have it… but not everywhere.

    it’s hard to find a good doctor that sticks around for more than two years… Not at all true.

    Vegas isn’t for everyone. Either you love it or you hate it. If you’re the latter, then there are a lot of homes in Henderson for sale… you must be f*cking insane… Henderson is a MUCH WORSE place to live than Las Vegas.

  3. I lived in Las Vegas and moved to Henderson first week our cars were broken into. Lived there 2 1/2 yrs had things stolen 3x . Moved back to Vegas we’re we never had a problem.

  4. Left out Pahrump. One of the fastest growing places in the state.

    I grew up in Reno, lived in Elko Co from ‘63-to recently, when I’ve moved to Fallon.

    I’ve traveled the state, have friends and/or family in EVERY part It’s a great state throughout You really missed the boat on this list. STUPID

  5. Reno and Fernley are in both the best and worst places to live in Nevada???

    Unless you are lucky enough to have a good job to pay even the most basic of bills, Reno/Sparks is a damn nightmare. Drug addicts, gambling addicts, alcoholics, and the homeless run the streets now, with a few gangs to make things really nice. Rents have skyrocketed, which has just led to more homelessness. Drinking and doping all day takes money, so there is a lot of crime. We seem to be having a scourge of gun violence the last couple years too. BTW, Nevada ranks 49th for violent crime among the US states, meaning it is the 2nd worst state, having the 2nd highest violent crime incidence. They are not kidding when they say Reno/Sparks is growing quickly (too quickly). We’re being overrun by a certain state’s former residents who are sick of the traffic and have the means to pay outrageous prices for a home here. If I had the means, I’d move far away to a small community.

  6. The authors of this may have, as they claim, “used science and data,” but they clearly didn’t use math. How do you come up with an unemployment rate of over 1000%?

  7. No mention of Hawthorne either. If you’ve ever driven from RENO to Las Vegas you’ve driven through Hawthorne. Or maybe you took the bypass. It’s only 1 square mile so if you blinked, you missed it. Luning and Mina aren’t mentioned either. Seems like Mineral County is the BEST place ever to live. Beautiful Walker Lake, Mount Grant, lots of outdoor things to do. Or if you follow me around a while you’ll be ready to lay down and rest a bit! It don’t tell anybody how great it is because we want to keep it great!

  8. As someone previously mentioned, people do live in Primm – be it, mostly those employed by the 3 Casinos. And Primm is actually considered to be part of Jean. They have the same zip code. It’s more rural, but plenty of people live in Jean.

    Prostitution being on every corner is a ridiculous exaggeration. On the strip and other major highly trafficked “party” type tourist spots is where you find it.

    Smoking is allowed in public places as part of the old Vegas ways/tradition (to help promote gambling)…. but in no way does everyone smoke like a chimney. Outside of the touristy areas, I’m not going to restaurants and dealing with smoke while I’m eating.

    And like anywhere else, schools, crime etc is dependent on part of the city.

  9. WOW! Your assessment of Las Vegas is a ridiculous tourist fairytale. There are certainly good and bad places to live, but your description is outrageously inaccurate. Allow me to help your readers on this matter:

    —–For all intents and purposes, “Las Vegas, NV” includes the greater Las Vegas Township, which means all regions of the city except for North Las Vegas and Henderson.

    —–Noise/chaos: Outside of the strip, Fremont and highway along those areas (I-15), Las Vegas is not noisy or chaotic. I’m not saying it’s as quiet and slow as living in a rural countryside, it is a city, but it’s not a super dense loud chaotic city. I’ve lived a half mile from the strip, 2 miles from the strip, and 5 miles from the strip. Even a half mile from the strip, I lived in a very quiet, peaceful, and secure condominium complex where I was able to completely avoid any of the strip noise, chaos, and traffic when coming and going and living there.

    —–How to handle the criminals/crime: What does this even mean? Obviously avoid living in an area, regardless of what city, where crime is so bad that you’re apparently “handling” criminals. I’ve never been robbed, assaulted, or so much as threatened, and I also make sure to stay out of any especially bad areas. Bars on the windows? Yeah, you should probably avoid that area.

    —–Buffets, shows, tourist things, “stupid” people: most locals avoid tourist areas at all costs and especially HATE the strip. Free tickets aren’t just lying around for all locals when family and friends come into town. Some people may have access to free tickets for certain shows depending on their job, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to pull those strings for you.

    —–Sense of community: I agree that it can be difficult to find a strong sense of community probably more so than many similarly sized cities. The transient/transplant nature of Las Vegas and fact that most jobs revolve around hospitality/entertainment/tourism (irregular work hours and days are common) affects the entire city, even the more stable and community oriented ones. Las Vegas seems to lack a cohesive, collective local identity that you often find in other cities and can feel lonely for some people.

    —–Chainsmokers and hookers on every corner: This is so stupid that I shouldn’t even address it. This has nothing to do with local Las Vegas, and hookers standing around on street corners isn’t something I’ve seen anywhere I’ve been. Maybe in really bad neighborhoods? Prostitution is technically illegal here, and overt loitering and solicitation isn’t tolerated. You’ll see casinos let it slide if the girls make an effort to be subtle and mingle somewhat.

    —–Family friendly: There is a whole city outside of the strip filled with parks, libraries, museums, schools, sports (for participating and watching), churches, special events just for kids and families, etc.

    —–Corrupt: Yes though I don’t know if it’s any worse than other major cities. Casinos/tourism related entities have huge sway here, and I’ve heard ballot stuffing is common. Politicians seem just a corrupt as everywhere else.

    —–Good doctor that sticks around more than 2 years: I’ve never had this problem… what sketchy clinics are you going to?!

    —–Public schools: I’ve heard most aren’t good and lots are awful. You’re better off sending your kids to some sort of private/non-public school option a lot of the time, though there are some decent, well rated schools in certain areas, which also coincide with good, low crime communities farthest from the strip that are great for families.

    —–Rude people: I don’t find this to be the case at all. Perhaps this is conflating people keeping to themselves with being rude?

    Las Vegas has its pros and cons, good and bad areas, and is a unique place. It’s not for everyone but can be a very nice place to live. I like living in Las Vegas and have met people who don’t – to each their own. But don’t spread silly made up things as if all of Las Vegas is a smokey, seedy, casino where you’ll get mugged or shot (maybe by hookers?) if you step outside. I wish there were properties with a lot of acreage, privacy, and trees in the area, but unfortunately we’re in the middle of the desert in a state almost completely owned by the federal government! Eventually I will buy a forever home where I can have the things I mentioned, but I plan on keeping my home in Las Vegas for snowbirding.

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