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 places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live in Oklahoma.
You can imagine it’s a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 19th cheapest in the state, and at $93,000, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (12.4%) is the 4th highest in Oklahoma, and income levels are far below the state average. And 24.3% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Wagoner has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Oklahoma?
Purcell’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Purcell has the 10th worst crime index of any place in Oklahoma, and has the 37th lowest income.
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 12.8%
In Oklahoma, that’s the 3rd highest in the state.
The residents in Anadarko have the 6th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Anadarko average $30,820 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 $65,000 on average. That’s the 6th lowest in the state.
Sallisaw needs some tough love as it ranks as the 5th worst city to live in Oklahoma for 2019. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Sallisaw is the 18th highest in the state, where 1 in 25.4 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
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.
We’re seeing a pattern here. A small, isolated city with a bad economy. Henryetta is located in Okmulgee County.
Here, the schools are way underfunded, when you compare them to the rest of Oklahoma. Families can barely make ends meet, and the unemployment rate (14.9%) is the 1st highest in the state. A home here sells for $59,400, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
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.
Shawnee is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Shawnee residents earn the 19th-lowest salaries in the state. At $38,471 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $98,600, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 4th highest in Oklahoma per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 15th highest in the state, at 7.4%.
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)
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