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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 68 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:
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 2020.
For more Oklahoma reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Oklahoma
- Cheapest Places To Live In Oklahoma
- Most Dangerous Cities In Oklahoma
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2020
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 5.6%, which is the 3highest 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.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Hugo is the 2nd worst place you can live in the state of Oklahoma. Let's see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 7th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Hugo had a 1 in 22.2 chance of being robbed in 2019. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Hugo, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Hugo's other issues are a very high unemployment rate (13.4%) and income levels of its residents ($24,548).
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 7.5% of them are unemployed, which is the 17th 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.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Oklahoma, Anadarko came in 4th. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Oklahoma residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Oklahoma, you can see some really big differences. In Anadarko, the number of people out of work is 12.1%
In Oklahoma, that's the 4th highest in the state.
The residents in Anadarko have the 8th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Anadarko average $34,779 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 $63,700 on average. That's the 4th lowest in the state.
If you drive a half hour south of Tulsa on Route 75, you'll come to Okmulgee, which has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the state of Oklahoma. At 12.2%, 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 11th highest in the state, where people have to lock their doors at night, considering that 1 in 21.9 was statistically vulnerable to a property crime in 2020.
If you're looking to live in Oklahoma, Purcell might not be the best choice as it places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Sooner State for 2020.
The average family earns $52,063 a year out here, and 17.8% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 8.1% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it's just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you're in Purcell, every year, you have a 1 in 25.1 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it's an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it's the 14th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Sallisaw, 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, Sallisaw has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 8.0%, and families earn around $29,656 a year. It's also the 27th highest in Oklahoma for crime, where 1 in 33.1 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
If you live in Oklahoma, you may or may not be surprised that Pauls Valley ranked, at least on paper, as the 8th worst place to live in the state. It has the 5highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 8th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Pauls Valley is the 25th most densely populated city in Oklahoma. Draw your own conclusions.
There's probably not many people in Oklahoma that would be surprised to see Henryetta on this list. In fact, if Henryetta wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Henryetta has the 39th worst crime rate in Oklahoma. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 9 violent crimes in Henryetta in 2020. Residents here had a 1 in 630 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Henryetta are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($59,200), the unemployment rate is the 2nd highest (13.2%), and the annual household income is 4th lowest in Oklahoma, at $31,129. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Shawnee, OK needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is worst in the state, which is very high considering Shawnee is so far removed from the rest of Oklahoma.
If you know anyone in Shawnee, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
How we determined the worst places to live in Oklahoma 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
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 68 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 68 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. 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 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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oklahoma:
- Edmond (Pop. 91,053)
- Alva (Pop. 5,154)
- Jenks (Pop. 21,793)
For more Oklahoma reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Oklahoma
- Richest Cities In Oklahoma
- Safest Places In Oklahoma
- Best Cities For Singles In Oklahoma
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma?