The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2021

We used science and data to determine which Sooner State cities are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in Oklahoma.

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2021

  1. Idabel
  2. Okmulgee
  3. Hugo
  4. Poteau
  5. Sallisaw
  6. Henryetta
  7. Pauls Valley
  8. Seminole
  9. Shawnee
  10. Purcell

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 Idabel.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2021

Idabel, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,924
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $75,700 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (14th worst)
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 7.5% of them are unemployed, which is the 14th 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.

Okmulgee, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,846
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $70,400 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (2nd worst)
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 2nd highest unemployment rate in the state of Oklahoma. At 11.1%, 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 6th highest in the state, where people have to lock their doors at night, considering that 1 in 21.0 was statistically vulnerable to a property crime in 2021.

Hugo, OK

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Population: 5,142
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $67,400 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (worst)
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 5,142 residents of Hugo suffer with an unemployment rate of 11.3% and a median income of $25,212. As a result, fully 42.8% 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.

Poteau, OK

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Population: 8,843
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $108,500 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (48th worst)
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 4.1%, which is the 48th 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.

Sallisaw, OK

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Population: 8,571
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $104,600 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (13th worst)
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 8,571 residents on this list. The poverty rate in town runs nearly 30%, with unemployment hovering at 7.7%.

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.

Henryetta, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,633
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $64,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (4th worst)
More on Henryetta:  Data | Photos

NFL legend Troy Aikman went to high school in Henryetta. Presumably, he doesn't spend much time there these days. Sadly, his old home town now sits at number 6 on the list of Oklahoma's worst places to live.

Henryetta drew settlers in the 1800s with rich coal deposits. These days, though, it's hard to make a living in town. The unemployment rate tops 10% and 23.0% of locals struggle below the poverty line.

Despite these problems, Henryetta offers many features. Besides high school football, the town has Henryetta Nichols Park nearby, as well as the Henryetta Territorial Museum.

Pauls Valley, OK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,139
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $88,000 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (53rd worst)
More on Pauls Valley:  Data | Photos

Pauls Valley stands along I-35, about an hour south of Oklahoma City. The 6,139 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 3.5% and the median income hangs at $40,897.

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.

Seminole, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,219
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $61,900 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (5th worst)
More on Seminole:  Data | Photos

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 9.7%. In terms of comparing Oklahoma cities to one another, that's the 5th highest in the state.

And while a lot of folks in Seminole are out of work, the ones who have jobs earn $37,120 a year, which doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room. And the crime in Seminole is the 30th highest in the state, where 1 in 34.9 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.

Shawnee, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 31,235
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $109,600 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (20th worst)
More on Shawnee:  Data | Photos

Situated about 40 minutes east of Oklahoma City, Shawnee has a reputation as a cultural center in its region. It features a gorgeous former railroad depot, since turned into the Pottawatomie County Museum. In addition, residents can be proud of the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.

However, life in Shawnee has its troubling aspects as well. The area sports a sluggish economy, including a poverty rate of 20.5% and a median income of $40,473. The town also deals with unimpressive schools and a crime rate more than double the national average.

Purcell, OK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,401
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $149,700 (52nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (2worst)
More on Purcell:  Data | Photos

Purcell is known for its horses. In fact, the town's equestrian prowess has earned it the label "Quarterhorse Capital of the World." Well, Purcell might be a great place to grow up if you're a horse. If you're a person, however, you might have a different opinion.

A stagnant economy, an elevated crime rate, and a spotty school system make the town one of the worst places to live in Oklahoma. Purcell's unemployment rate runs 6.6%, while its poverty rate comes in at 15.3%. The median income hovers at $53,155. Meanwhile, the crime rate tracks at 50% above the national average.

How we determined the worst places to live in Oklahoma for 2021

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

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

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 -- Idabel. 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, Idabel ranks as the worst city to live in Oklahoma for 2021.

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

  1. Mustang (Pop. 21,459)
  2. Jenks (Pop. 22,488)
  3. Broken Arrow (Pop. 108,496)

For more Oklahoma reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Idabel 6,924 7.5% $75,700
2 Okmulgee 11,846 11.1% $70,400
3 Hugo 5,142 11.3% $67,400
4 Poteau 8,843 4.1% $108,500
5 Sallisaw 8,571 7.7% $104,600
6 Henryetta 5,633 10.5% $64,000
7 Pauls Valley 6,139 3.5% $88,000
8 Seminole 7,219 9.7% $61,900
9 Shawnee 31,235 6.7% $109,600
10 Purcell 6,401 6.6% $149,700

How Is The Area In ?

45 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma For 2021

  1. So you’ve never heard of fort smith which is only a 30 minute drive from poteau , I don’t believe that’s a long way to drive .

  2. Miami is Horrible?
    Your choice of pictures is! This is my hometown. I haven’t lived there in 25 years. I have been living in Godforesaken Texas. But I would give my right arm to move back. The history, memories and the beautiful things you won’t mention makes this town my forever home!

  3. I’m from seminole plenty of work here I’ve never had a problem crime wise and if you don’t mind fishing and lakes plenty to do plus casinos everywhere

    1. Never had an issue with crime in Seminole? Hard to believe. Its become a mecca for juvenile delinquents and druggies.

  4. Idabel’s crime stats have fallen dramatically over the last 30 yrs, I went to work for them in 1975. We were always in the top 3 crime per capita city in the state until the late 80’s when they started to drop from a lot of hard work from some extrodnary cops. It may be lower now because Idabel is like a lot of small Oklahoma towns that are slowly dying away. Still a pretty good place to live.

  5. Here’s a fact… 1.5 million tourist visited Broken Bow in 2014. Projected more in 2015. List is crap… who visits armpits by the hoards?

    1. They don’t visit broken bow, they visit hochatown, beavers bend state park, and the lake. Rarely do you see any tourist in BB… they all stay in the camp grounds or cabins in hochatown. Get your facts straight.

      1. If the tourist don’t visit Broken Bow. Why are our resturants, motels highways, grocery store and Walmart packed from Feb. Thru Oct., driving in Broken Bow on the weekend is as bad as driving in OKC. If you don’t believe, come to our little hidden paradise and see for yourself.

  6. We did some quick fact checking and found that quite a bit of information on your datasheet is either outdated, inaccurate, or wrongly compared.

    What we found with Poteau:

    From 2000 to 2013, we’ve seen a 206.82 percent growth factor. That’s one of the strongest growth factors in the state.

    Crime rating is at an 88.3, which is 11.97% lower than the rest of the national average. Violent crime rates at 18.94, which is 81.06% lower than the national average. Both of these are extreme positives. The only negative here is with our property crime score. Our property crime score is a 249.24, which is 149% higher than the national average. Still we’re doing very well with the rest of the state and nation on how we handle crime.

    Our quality of life index measures at 120. This is quite a bit above the national average. On almost every aspect, we measure on par with the state average. The only areas we fall in the national average is in culture (which is still far above the state average) and in the amusement average. However, this was measured in 2010. Since then, we’ve added the Reynolds Center, the skatepark, adding two new restaurants, and downtown is coming alive again.

    Our median income is slightly lower, but so is our cost of living. Average that out and we’re about on par with the rest of Oklahoma. Oklahoma, on average, is slightly lower than the national average, but that’s to be expected.

    Our unemployment rate is 6.60%, which is high, however, with employers such as Chili’s, Montana Mike’s, and others moving in to Poteau, we expect this number to drop. This number was closest to the mark with yours, however, it was still off.

    Just looking at the actual facts, and being non-biased, I don’t think this list is accurate at all. In fact, just a few months ago, Poteau was rated among the top ten.

    With spending just a few minutes checking this out and finding this many errors, I can only imagine what exists on other towns. Part of my business is traveling across Oklahoma and with many of the towns you mentioned as being the worst, I haven’t found that to be true by any means.

    I’m not sure where you got your numbers, but if you don’t mind, I would like to see the sources. What you said was from the Census wasn’t found on the Census . gov website.

  7. I lived in skiatook my whole life and have never have herd board or poles stolen and I would rather live in skiatook than anywhere else in owasso there has been a bunch of shootings! But skiatook in my opinion is the best town to live in!

  8. I was raised all around the muskogee area and decent work is very hard to find. Would love to move back it is home

  9. Hobart,ok sucks pertty bad.nothing to do bunch of drug problems there.just to get to a bigger town u have to go to Lawton about a hour away. Not such a bright town it self.i grew up in lawton its gotten bad in its most recent years.

    1. I’m a native Lawtonian and I love Lawton, Oklahoma. I loved my family and friends and so did the rest, of the people. They stand up, for the way they believe in and they believe, in mutual respect. They bond. with people.
      We have pride, in who we are and where we’re from. Lawton was our foundation, to our life and there is nothing you can do or say, to change our mind.

  10. Have you actually driven in either Broken Arrow or Owasso? The traffic is the main reason I would never live in either place. I couldn’t afford a house in any of those top 10 places anyway.

  11. Anyplace is what you make of it. We spent a year in Sidi Slamine Morocco in 1959/60/ You have to go to hell and turn left to get to Sidi Slamine, we made the most of it and it was a good assignment. It is an attitude.

  12. I think scoring a high population density as a good thing is WAY too much on the opinion side.

    As a result this whole article is bullshit.

    You couldn’t pay me to live somewhere with high population density.

    And Broken Bow is fantastic. Someday I will get my family out of Durant and back to BBow.

  13. I would rather live in one of these small towns than any big city in the world. People don’t know what they are missing. As we always say this is GOD’S country!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I lived in both Poteau and Heavener during the 15 years that I lived in Oklahoma. All that I can say is that Heavener is where you would stick the plug if you were going to give the planet an enema. And Poteau is pretty much (geographically) right next to it. You can figure it out from there. The people are not friendly and there is ZERO to do in either town.

  15. I lived in some of the worst, and some of the best. as long as it isn’t a hate ridden town, its ok by me. I loved living I Seminole, as I was born and raised down the road in Wewoka (which doesn’t make any list) these small towns are my best memories, and also my worst. except for the unavailability of some goods, and the need to travel to get most things…it was a great time

  16. I’ve been stuck in Miami for a while now. It’s quite the culture shock moving from a thriving city to this place. No opportunity here, if Walmart doesn’t have what you need you have to drive to Joplin, and people aren’t very welcoming here. You are only accepted in this community if you were born here.

  17. oklahoma sucks cuz all they want to do is lock up good people and slap chomos on the hand its a perverted state probably ran by a chomo money starving demons

  18. Yeah the state is kind of corrupt, but I lived in virginia and now new York and I can’t wait to go back to OK. The laws up here are ridiculous. However, Oklahoma is a very narrow minded state. Welcome to the Bible belt. However, it’s fairly peaceful in the country towns. I lived in towns in Leflore County and haskell county. The towns I refuse to live in are keota, bokoshe, mccurtain, Panama, porum and Spiro. Mostly because of bums and drugs. Panama was practically a meth capital at one time. The police department was supposedly involved in the problem as well. Spiro is also pretty bad. The towns I would purchase a home in would be stigler, Quinton, maybe heavener or kinta if it was out in the country. I really don’t like poteau. It has good neighborhoods but it has some drug issues and the cops are kinda lousy. Heavener and stigler also have some really poor neighborhoods with problems.

  19. There are reasons why there is a Facebook group called “Losers of Lawton”.

    And HENNESSEY. When a town shares a name with cheap liquor…..just saying.

  20. I was born and raised in snyder would love to go back just to see it but would never live there I need trees and greenery which is not there. I left when I was 17 yeasts old have spent most of that time in Alabama one in Washington Stand would not live anywhere else.

  21. If you do not live in this state, or any of the cities or towns listed, then keep your opinions to yourself. You are not going by the proper information, and have no real knowledge of any place in this state. Please keep your opinions in your own states where you have direct knowledge.

  22. Credibility of your story takes a big plunge when you have the wrong pictures of the city which you are bashing.

  23. I grew up in Hugo and was back recently. It has not gotten better so the others must have fared even worse. Your assessment actually seems fair in that it does not in personal opinion. I remember when Hugo was bustling thriving community. Time has not been kind to them.

  24. I have lived in Sallisaw sense 1997. This town’s crime rate is not the best and housing is too high if your trying too buy a home. I will be the first too tell you that everybody is up in everyone else’s business and everybody is sleeping with everybody else’s wife. The good thing,s about Sallisaw is the Farmers market and Cruse night, diamond days and the ppl are both friendly and jerk’s. The casino is good for fun and there are places you can work such as slpt, avagen and celphom plus fast food restaurant,s . The view is beautiful and lake Tenkiller is not too far away neither is ft Smith Ark and there are lots off places too work. Every place has its own attitude and too know it you must first become part off it so good luck and may God Bless you on your journey where ever you decide too go.

  25. I’m surprised McAlester and Lawton aren’t a the top of this list. Both have high unemployment and crime. And yes, I’ve live in McAlester.

  26. Y’all rank Edmond Oklahoma has one of the best places to live in Oklahoma, this is simply not true. The crime rate that was posted by your site isn’t at all like the facts. THERE IS RAMPANT DRUG MANUFACTURING AND DRUG USE ! If you plan to go out on Friday or Saturday night THERE IS VERY LITTLE TO DO AS FAR AS ENTERTAINMENT UNLESS YOU CONSIDER GOING OUT TO A BAR ENTERTAINMENT SO YOU HAVE TO GO TO OTHER TOWNS OR CITIES ! While it’s true that crimes like assault and battery, theft had been on the decrease it is NOW on the increase ! I would avoid Edmond Ok. as a place to live !

  27. Henryetta looks weirdly like downtown Tulsa. And people don’t understand Poteau. It is our own Brigadoon. Don’t rake on Poteau. If you don’t like it, you don’t understand it. And towns like it don’t belong on these lists because unless you have read the Foxfire series of books, you just don’t get it. And if you go out and rent, “Foxfire” and it has Angelina Jolie frolicking out naked in the woods with her witch friends, then you got the wrong damned thing. Log back onto Amazon and get “Foxfire”, the one with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. That’s the real Poteau. But the Jolie version is not too that far off either.

  28. We moved to Shawnee close to 20yrs ago and the crime is rising. South of Independence is a rough place to be. Not far from the police station drug dens are all over. They spent a ton of our tax dollars on new sidewalk corners for wheelchair accessibility but a few feet past there are cars parked blocking the sidewalks. Cars get broken into way too often and I know of drug dens and have reported them numerous times over the years but not seen one of them busted. I see the same activity and handoffs with same dealers for years.

  29. Henryetta’s fall from grace of being a wholesome town to live reflects leadership since the 70’s; the same leadership that has dragged Henryetta into this dilemma resonates throughout the school system, the HEDA Board, and public office.
    The first published audit in 2015 validated 7 of 9 issues. City official reaction to the issues was to do nothing???? However, then city manager Raymond Eldridge resigned prior to being terminated for overpaying himself to include a clothing allowance. He left a staff of hand picked retards to carry his banner and is why Henryetta was picked the #1 worst town to live in 2014.
    The 2nd state audit is in full swing and should be published by 2020 (it was approved in the fall of 2016 and initiated in June 2018 which sheds some light on the issue). Focus is corruption, gross mismanagement of public resources to include embezzlement, personal and political gain by civic officials, conspiracy for personal and political gain, and bullying of citizens through intimidation, false arrest, false police reports, etc. Among the most notable of financial mismanagement by the city clerk, mayor, councilmen, and HEDA board is that the $9.5 million water system does not function while citizens are being held hostage at $38,000 a month for the next 20 years to pay OWRB for construction funds; and yes, they (OWRB) knows the system DOES NOT WORK.
    So there’s a lot going on and into the next published audit where facts continue to validate why Henryetta is the #1 WORST PLACE TO LIVE IN OKLAHOMA in 2014 and #7 in 2019. Oh, did we say that Henryetta, population 5576, has 21 (twenty-one) full time police officers each with a personal cruiser? And a fire department ran by a bully.

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