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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.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Hugo is the 2nd worst place you can live in the state of Oklahoma. Let's see why.
Residents who live in Hugo, located in Choctaw County, have the 7th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level--per resident--and homes valued around $64,400, and you've got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Oklahoma, that is.
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.
Anadarko is one of the poorest cities in the state of Oklahoma. This city has 12.1% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $34,779 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Anadarko has the 9th highest crime rate in Oklahoma. While the numbers aren't staggering (Oklahoma is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it's still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Sooner State.
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.
Purcell is the 6th worst city in Oklahoma for 2020. When you're comparing other cities to Purcell, things just don't look great, at least according to science.
Purcell is the 14th most dangerous place in Oklahoma, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job -- at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 8.1%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($140,900), and residents earn just $52,063 a year.
Sallisaw ranks as the 7th worst city in Oklahoma. Located in Sequoyah County, Sallisaw has the 2nd lowest income levels in the state of Oklahoma ($29,656), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 8.0%.
Would you believe that Pauls Valley is the 8th most dangerous place in Oklahoma? That's the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 20.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within Pauls Valley city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 267 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Pauls Valley. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Oklahoma, that's just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Pauls Valley's unemployment rate is the 5highest in Oklahoma (4.3%), and homes are the 12th cheapest in the state ($84,500). Say what you want about 'cheap living', the fact is homes are priced on demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Pauls Valley.
Welcome to Henryetta, which might be one of the poorest areas in Oklahoma. Residents average $31,129 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 23.6% of Henryetta residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $59,200 and the unemployment rate hovers near 13.2%.
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 1st-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Shawnee had a 1 in 19.3 chance of being robbed in 2019. 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 (6.8%) and income levels of its residents ($39,677).
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:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma?