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:
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2019
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, OK needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 12.4%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 20th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 28.8 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Oklahoma, Purcell came in 3rd. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (10th worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 9.1%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
you’re looking to live in Oklahoma, Anadarko might not be the best choice as it places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.
Anadarko doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Anadarko may not be your first choice for a vacation.
Sallisaw is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $30,000 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Oklahoma, a 6.9% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 18th highest in Oklahoma here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
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 has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 29th-highest in the state of Oklahoma. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 14.9%.
Additionally, 24.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.
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.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Shawnee is the 10th 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 4th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Shawnee had a 1 in 21.6 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Shawnee, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Shawnee’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (7.4%) and income levels of its residents ($38,471).
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.
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: