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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.
Hugo, OK needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is 7th worst in the state, which is very high considering Hugo is so far removed from the rest of Oklahoma.
If you know anyone in Hugo, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
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.
You might have passed through Anadarko once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Anadarko needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 12.1%, residents earn about $34,779 a year, and home prices are just over $63,700. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn't anything to do in Anadarko.
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 for 2020.
The unemployment rate here is 8.1%, and households bring in a combined $52,063 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Oklahoma.
Crime is the 14th highest in the state in Purcell as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
If you're looking to live in Oklahoma, Sallisaw might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Sooner State for 2020.
The average family earns $29,656 a year out here, and 30.1% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 8.0% 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 Sallisaw, every year, you have a 1 in 33.1 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 27th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Pauls Valley ranks as the 8th-worst place in Oklahoma due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 32nd-worst commute of any place in the state.
If you live in Oklahoma, you may or may not be surprised that Henryetta ranked, at least on paper, as the 9th worst place to live in the state. It has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 39th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Henryetta is the 36th most densely populated city in Oklahoma. Draw your own conclusions.
According to science, Shawnee is the 10th worst place you can live in Oklahoma.
Let's see why. Shawnee has the 1st-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Shawnee is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($105,100), and the 20th-highest unemployment rate in the state (6.8%), and across the board, Shawnee doesn't sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there's simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We're aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you'd have to drive a ways away.
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?