Article Table Of Contents
New Hampshire is one of those states that you don't hear a lot about. Tucked away somewhere in New England, it's the wealthy, quiet kid in the corner with the plaid shirt and who has all the good grades.
At least that's the stereotype. That's not such a bad way to be viewed is it?
It's not an easy life for most of the year up there. But if you ask people who live there, they are fiercely protective of their state. They stick together up there, and would probably rather you stay out. Unless you're on vacation.
But is it all great in the Granite State? Of course not. Just like every other state, New Hampshire has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in New Hampshire are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, many of the cities on this list would rank highly if they were in other states. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make New Hampshire your home.
After analyzing 26 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,200 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in New Hampshire:
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 New Hampshire? That would be Rochester.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more New Hampshire reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In New Hampshire
- Cheapest Places To Live In New Hampshire
- Most Dangerous Cities In New Hampshire
The 10 Worst Places To Live In New Hampshire For 2021
Most of the rest of the cities on this list deserve to be on here due to their high crime numbers. Rochester is the 6th most dangerous city in New Hampshire, according to the FBI. Residents had a 1 in 31.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's really high for New Hampshire, but not even the highest in the state.
Home values are the 5th cheapest in the state, and income levels are almost as low as you can get. Households in Rochester bring in just under $62,179 a year annually.
Rochester is also on Route 16 just north of Portsmouth.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in New Hampshire, Berlin came in 2nd. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, New Hampshire residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in New Hampshire, you can see some really big differences. In Berlin, the number of people out of work is 8.0%
In New Hampshire, that's the highest in the state.
The residents in Berlin have the lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Berlin average $39,130 a year. Which isn't too shabby in comparison to the other 'lowest' income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $92,100 on average. That's the lowest in the state. The population has dropped about 15% in the last 15 years. Perhaps these numbers are part of the reason for the Berlin flight.
As one commenter said in City-Data: "Berlin is as run down looking as it gets after a WW-2 vintage bombing attack."
Maybe there's a reason they opened a prison there.
Berlin is on Route 16 on the northern side of Mount Washington.
The largest city in New Hampshire is also one of its most dangerous. No surprises there. But that still isn't an excuse. In looking at the latest FBI data, Manchester is the third-most dangerous place in the state.
Manchester saw four murders two years ago, and you have a 1 in 25 chance of having something stolen from you here.
Additionally, the schools spend the least amount of money per student than anywhere else in the state. But the ratio per student ($12,761) is still on par with the national average. That says a lot about how great the public schools are in New Hampshire.
The unemployment rates and income levels are also far below average in comparison to the rest of the state.
Built along the Connecticut River, on the border with Vermont, Claremont has a lot going for it. It has a decent economy, good housing, strong schools, and easy access to the Green Mountain Trail. It even has its own opera house.
So how does it end up as one of the worst places to live in the state? Diversity in town is almost nonexistent. Meanwhile, the cost of living is relatively high. The median home price of $133,500 compared to a median income of $47,649. This contributes to a poverty rate of 16.4% and an overall ranking of the 4th worst place to live in New Hampshire for 2021.
Want a ski vacation? Head to Newport, situated a short drive from several ski resorts. Need something to do in the summer? Well, Newport still has you covered. You can spend a pleasant day along Lake Sunapee at the Mt Sunapee State Park.
Great vacation spot. Not an ideal place to live, however. The tourist trade helps boost the economy, but isolation leads to weak diversity. The distance from a major urban center, combined with its small size, also means a lack of normal amenities. The town can also get expensive, which leaves 14.0% of its residents below the poverty line.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Franklin ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 4th cheapest in the state here at $164,800. 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 Franklin.
The median income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the state of New Hampshire, at $52,795. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we'll talk about in a minute. And the unemployment rate, while far lower than the national average, is high for New Hampshire. Almost 4.1% of people in Franklin were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Franklin is right off of I-93 north of Concord.
Little Laconia, New Hampshire could use a big hug right now. Sure, it's a beautiful place, sandwiched between Lakes Winnisquam and Winnipesaukee. But the crime here is horrible. In fact, Laconia is the most dangerous place you can live in New Hampshire.
Chatter on forums indicate Laconia hasn't recovered from a mini economic collapse to the area, and that Laconia is a 'little run down'. And while crime might be centered around some of the many cultural events that happen in this vacation spot, the fact remains it's just not safe, overall.
There were two murders here in 2021, and residents had a 1 in 30.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
Additionally, employment numbers (3.3% unemployment rate) and income levels are far below the state average ($57,960).
Who's the Pinard in Pinardville, you ask? Well, he was a French Canadian grocer who became a local community leader during the early 20th century. Pinardville itself sits just outside of Manchester, the state's largest city. A 10-minute drive will take you to the city center.
This location gives Pinardville a significant boost. It has a median income of $69,018 and an unemployment rate of just 3.0%. Meanwhile, it offers plenty of amenities and an easy commute to any local job.
The issue? Like much of New Hampshire, diversity is lacking. At the same time, the cost of living comes in 10% above the U.S. norm. This includes median home price of $210,400.
According to the chatter we've read on forums, this ranking is valid. People complain about drug dealing, sex clubs and other nefarious behavior. Fact is, Somersworth is the second most dangerous city you can live in New Hampshire.
There's a lot of Section 8 housing here, and apparently, you have to stay away from certain areas of downtown. There was a murder in town in 2021, and you have a 1 in 25 chance of being the victim of a robbery, most likely a car or home break in. Yikes.
The fact remains there are far better options if you want to commute into Portsmouth.
Concord ranks as the 10th worst place to live in New Hampshire for 2021, let's take a look at why.
Concord has its share of attractions. On one hand, it serves as a quaint New England town of 43,244 people. On the other, it sits in an excellent spot in the southern part of the state. Want a taste of nature? The Bear Brook State Park is just down the road. Want to hit the town for a night out? The state's largest city of Manchester sits just 20 minutes south.
Put it together and Concord seems like a perfect spot. Maybe a little too perfect, as it turns out. Thanks in part to its great location, real estate values in town price many locals out of the market. The median home price stands at $230,200. This contributes to a cost of living 10% above the national average.
How we determined the worst places to live in New Hampshire 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 26 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 26 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 New Hampshire -- Rochester. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in New Hampshire. 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 New Hampshire
If you're looking at areas in New Hampshire 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, Rochester ranks as the worst city to live in New Hampshire for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in New Hampshire:
- Portsmouth (Pop. 21,775)
- Durham (Pop. 11,159)
- Hanover (Pop. 8,508)
For more New Hampshire reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In New Hampshire
- Safest Places In New Hampshire
- Best Cities For Singles In New Hampshire
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In New Hampshire?