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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 Idabel.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
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 2021
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.
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.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Oklahoma, Hugo ranks 3rd worst. Let's see why.
Here in Hugo, crime is the 9th highest in the state, and 1 out of 22.2 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 214 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.
When you look at adult education in Oklahoma, the folks in Hugo have the 4th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Hugo undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the highest in Oklahoma, at 11.3%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Oklahoma has some hard workers.
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 is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Sallisaw is the 28th most dangerous place you can live in Oklahoma.
Residents in Sallisaw have a 1 in 34.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you're considering home prices, you can't do much lower than in Sallisaw, where average homes are valued at only$104,600. That's the 19th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Tthe small town of Henryetta has the 5th lowest income levels in the entire state. At $32,589, many of the people are having trouble making ends meet, and the unemployment rate is 10.5%. Additionally, 23.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The cost of a home here is bottom barrell at $64,000.
At least the crime is very minimal here.
Pauls Valley is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $40,897 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Oklahoma, a 3.5% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 4th highest in Oklahoma here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
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.
Here in Shawnee, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Oklahoma. That's not a good combination.
Located in Pottawatomie County, you have a 1 in 20.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Shawnee city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (6.7%). That's good for the 20th highest unemployment rate in Oklahoma.
While numbers in Oklahoma are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Oklahoma cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Purcell average $149,700, which is the 52nd lowest in the state. Say what you want about 'cheap living,' the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Purcell.
Plus, 15.3% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 22nd highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Purcell city limits, you have a 1 in 28.8 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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
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:
- Mustang (Pop. 21,459)
- Jenks (Pop. 22,488)
- Broken Arrow (Pop. 108,496)
For more Oklahoma reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oklahoma?