The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2023

The worst places to live in Oklahoma are Poteau and Idabel for 2023 based on Friday Night Science.

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 67 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Oklahoma:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2023

  1. Poteau
  2. Idabel
  3. Pauls Valley
  4. Hugo
  5. Seminole
  6. Wagoner
  7. Sallisaw
  8. Anadarko
  9. Okmulgee
  10. Durant

Where are these places, you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small towns in Oklahoma, that’s not the case.

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in Oklahoma is Alva.

However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Oklahoma? The worst place to live in Oklahoma is Poteau.

Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2023.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Oklahoma reading, check out:

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2023

Poteau, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,741
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $120,100
Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
More on Poteau:  Data | Photos

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 6.2%, which is the 2highest 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.

Idabel, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,945
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $76,000
Unemployment Rate: 8.1%
More on Idabel:  Data | Photos

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 8.1% of them are unemployed, which is the 11th 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.

Pauls Valley, OK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,030
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $86,800
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
More on Pauls Valley:  Data | Photos

Pauls Valley stands along I-35, about an hour south of Oklahoma City. The 6,030 residents generally work in agriculture or in the oil business. Unlike many of the towns on this list, the local economy actually hums along quite nicely. The unemployment stands at 5.9% and the median income hangs at $41,032.

So, if jobs are relatively easy to find, what’s the problem? Well, safety for one thing. The crime rate in Pauls Valley runs 150% above the U.S. standard. Housing and education are issues as well.

Looking for something to do in town? Head over to the Toy & Action Figure Museum. Or, if you want some more grown up, the Jet Stream Casino is around as well.

Hugo, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,146
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $73,900
Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
More on Hugo:  Data | Photos

Located in the southern part of the state, a short drive from the Texas border, Hugo was named after novelist Victor Hugo. That’s right: the Les Miserable guy. Strike you as a weird reference for a small town in Oklahoma? Well, the connection will seem appropriate once you hear some of the economic stats about this place.

The 5,146 residents of Hugo suffer with an unemployment rate of 10.2% and a median income of $27,710. As a result, fully 37.6% of locals scrape by below the poverty line.

Like Les Mis, Hugo has beauty mixed in with the suffering. For instance, check out the Frisco Depot Museum or Hugo Lake State Park.

Seminole, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,131
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $65,400
Unemployment Rate: 9.1%
More on Seminole:  Data | Photos

When you’re looking at science and data, Seminole is the 5th worst place you can live in Oklahoma. Let’s see why.

The unemployment rate in Seminole is 9.1%. In terms of comparing Oklahoma cities to one another, that’s the 7th highest in the state.

And while a lot of folks in Seminole are out of work, the ones who have jobs earn $34,375 a year, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. And the crime in Seminole is the 13th highest in the state, where 1 in 26.2 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.

Wagoner, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,694
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $111,700
Unemployment Rate: 9.8%
More on Wagoner:  Data | Photos

Sallisaw, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,503
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $108,400
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
More on Sallisaw:  Data | Photos

Sallisaw sits in the eastern part of the state, about a half hour from Fort Smith, Arkansas. More than anything else, rampant poverty lands this community of 8,503 residents on this list. The poverty rate in town runs nearly 30%, with unemployment hovering at 4.5%.

Housing and safety are also concerns. The town’s crime rate comes in at 30% above the national average.

Sallisaw has its benefits. Located near the Arkansas River, it provides excellent access to outdoor activity. Residents can also head to Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

Anadarko, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,182
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $72,500
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
More on Anadarko:  Data | Photos

Okmulgee, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,330
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $76,500
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
More on Okmulgee:  Data | Photos

If you drive a half hour south of Tulsa on Route 75, you’ll come to Okmulgee, which has the 9th highest unemployment rate in the state of Oklahoma. At 8.7%, 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 29th highest in the state, where people have to lock their doors at night, considering that 1 in 39.9 was statistically vulnerable to a property crime in 2023.

Durant, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 18,358
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $123,000
Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
More on Durant:  Data | Photos

Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in Oklahoma for 2023

To figure out the worst places to live in Oklahoma, 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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 67 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 67 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 ten worst cities in Oklahoma.

Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023. This is our tenth time ranking the worst places to live in Oklahoma.

Summary: 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 little to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Poteau ranks as the worst city to live in Oklahoma for 2023.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oklahoma:

  1. Edmond (Pop. 93,522)
  2. Jenks (Pop. 25,210)
  3. Alva (Pop. 5,056)

For more Oklahoma reading, check out:

Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Poteau 8,741 6.2% $120,100
2 Idabel 6,945 8.1% $76,000
3 Pauls Valley 6,030 5.9% $86,800
4 Hugo 5,146 10.2% $73,900
5 Seminole 7,131 9.1% $65,400
6 Wagoner 7,694 9.8% $111,700
7 Sallisaw 8,503 4.5% $108,400
8 Anadarko 6,182 10.3% $72,500
9 Okmulgee 11,330 8.7% $76,500
10 Durant 18,358 6.4% $123,000
11 El Reno 17,164 6.9% $122,500
12 Ardmore 24,829 5.1% $124,000
13 Muskogee 37,214 7.2% $101,100
14 Shawnee 31,237 6.2% $121,900
15 Pryor Creek 9,439 9.3% $117,800
16 Vinita 5,250 7.2% $87,400
17 Chickasha 15,655 4.8% $92,000
18 Tecumseh 6,356 4.7% $92,100
19 Henryetta 5,667 9.6% $76,500
20 Holdenville 5,753 4.4% $56,500
21 McAlester 18,225 9.2% $110,900
22 Purcell 6,506 4.8% $146,200
23 Tulsa 410,652 6.3% $151,500
24 Guthrie 10,767 3.0% $140,500
25 Miami 12,997 3.2% $84,300
26 Duncan 22,664 4.4% $115,300
27 Warr Acres 10,443 2.9% $123,100
28 Ada 16,804 4.1% $115,600
29 Cushing 8,201 5.5% $92,600
30 Woodward 12,246 5.7% $144,100
31 Claremore 19,173 6.2% $136,200
32 Catoosa 7,821 6.0% $114,400
33 Norman 125,745 5.3% $192,700
34 Tahlequah 16,213 7.1% $150,900
35 Grove 6,900 2.6% $179,600
36 Blackwell 6,192 9.0% $63,300
37 Enid 51,129 3.9% $123,500
38 Coweta 9,696 4.9% $145,900
39 Harrah 6,155 4.2% $166,100
40 Lawton 91,247 7.7% $115,600
41 Sand Springs 19,935 5.0% $151,500
42 Bethany 20,542 4.8% $130,400
43 Collinsville 7,765 8.3% $155,600
44 Sapulpa 21,853 3.1% $130,500
45 Noble 7,078 3.4% $156,400
46 Bartlesville 37,074 5.1% $126,400
47 Altus 18,825 4.7% $89,600
48 Guymon 12,804 2.4% $133,200
49 Yukon 23,697 4.2% $151,200
50 Glenpool 13,446 3.6% $144,100
51 Clinton 8,612 0.5% $100,700
52 Blanchard 8,511 5.2% $211,700
53 Stillwater 48,055 4.6% $186,600
54 Moore 62,633 4.1% $154,100
55 Piedmont 7,306 1.7% $263,600
56 Newcastle 10,970 2.6% $216,900
57 Tuttle 7,412 3.4% $217,100
58 Choctaw 12,130 2.0% $184,500
59 Mustang 19,847 3.7% $180,300
60 Broken Arrow 112,751 4.4% $179,800
61 Owasso 37,559 5.2% $188,400
62 Verdigris 5,189 4.0% $175,200
63 Weatherford 12,034 4.9% $190,900
64 Bixby 28,091 3.5% $246,300
65 Edmond 93,522 3.6% $263,900
66 Jenks 25,210 4.1% $228,100
67 Alva 5,056 4.4% $105,600

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.