There is nothing like Oklahoma.
Songs, movies and pop culture in general have talked about Oklahoma forever now. It’s got a lot of history, beauty, culture and some of the friendliest sports fanatics in the country. If you grew up there, you’ll most likely never leave.
But is it all good in the Sooner State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma your home .
After analyzing 70 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Oklahoma:
- Poteau (Photos)
- Wagoner (Photos)
- Purcell (Photos)
- Anadarko (Photos)
- Sallisaw (Photos)
- Idabel (Photos)
- Henryetta (Photos)
- Seminole (Photos)
- Okmulgee (Photos)
- Shawnee (Photos)
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 Oklahoma? That would be Poteau.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Oklahoma reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Oklahoma
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Oklahoma
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Oklahoma
How we determined the worst places to live in Oklahoma for 2019
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 70 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 70 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 Oklahoma — Poteau. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Oklahoma.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Way out near the Arkansas state line is Poteau, where there simply isn’t much to do, entertainment wise. You have a long way to drive to get to any decent sized city.
But that’s not all. The unemployment rate is at 5.7%, which is the 36th highest in the state. And the income levels are far below the state average. So, even if residents here had a ‘big city’ to venture into every now and then, many couldn’t afford to make the trip.
Wagoner needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Wagoner. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Wagoner. Of the 70 cities considered in this ranking, Wagoner had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Wagoner have Oklahoma’s 19th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 4th and 20th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in Oklahoma.”
If you know anyone in Wagoner, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Purcell is the 3rd worst place in the state of Oklahoma.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Purcell is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Purcell are the 54th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Oklahoma.
Anadarko ranks as the 4th worst city in Oklahoma. Located in Caddo County, Anadarko has the 6th lowest income levels in the state of Oklahoma ($30,820), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 12.8%.
Welcome to Sallisaw, which might be one of the poorest areas in Oklahoma. Residents average $30,000 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 28.7% of Sallisaw residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $97,000 and the unemployment rate hovers near 6.9%.
Speaking of a long drive for some indoor entertainment, people in Idabel would have to drive all the way down to Texarkana to find a decent-sized town. If they could afford it. The average family in Idabel lives right at the poverty line, and 5.3% of them are unemployed, which is the 42nd highest in the state.
Crime is certainly above the state average here.
But on the bright side, the education, measured in terms of money spent per student and teacher-student ratio, is towards the top.
Henryetta, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 7th worst city in Oklahoma.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Henryetta has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 14.9%, and families earn around $32,822 a year. It’s also the 29th highest in Oklahoma for crime, where 1 in 32.2 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
When you’re looking at science and data, Seminole is the 8th worst place you can live in Oklahoma. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate in Seminole is 11.3%. In terms of comparing Oklahoma cities to one another, that’s the 6th highest in the state.
And while a lot of folks in Seminole are out of work, the ones who have jobs earn $36,114 a year, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. And the crime in Seminole is the 44th highest in the state, where 1 in 48.9 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers. That’s really high.
Plus, it’s one of the least densely populated places in the state, where you have to drive an hour to Oklahoma City to find anything beyond the norm for fun. Sure, Oklahomans enjoy their ‘outdoor’ fun, but when you want to mix in a fancy night out or hit the malls, that’s a long drive.
Seminole folks could use a big hug right about now.
If you drive a half hour south of Tulsa on Route 75, you’ll come to Okmulgee, which has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the state of Oklahoma. At 12.4%, a lot of folks are having a hard time finding jobs here, and those that do earn some of the lowest salaries in the state.
The crime rate is the 14th highest in the state, where people have to lock their doors at night, considering that 1 in 24.3 was statistically vulnerable to a property crime in 2019.
There’s probably not many people in Oklahoma that would be surprised to see Shawnee on this list. In fact, if Shawnee wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Shawnee has the 4th worst crime rate in Oklahoma. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 388 violent crimes in Shawnee in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 79 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Shawnee are the 22nd cheapest in the state ($98,600), the unemployment rate is the 15th highest (7.4%), and the annual household income is 19th lowest in Oklahoma, at $38,471. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Oklahoma
If you’re looking at areas in Oklahoma 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, Poteau ranks as the worst city to live in Oklahoma for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oklahoma:
- Jenks (Pop. 20,836)
- Edmond (Pop. 89,769)
- Alva (Pop. 5,167)
For more Oklahoma reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Oklahoma
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Oklahoma
- 10 Safest Places In Oklahoma
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Oklahoma
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma