Article Table Of Contents
"Tennessee is a lot more than country music and barbecue."
Well said, random internet comment. Well said.
Tennessee has tons of history and culture. Friendly people, great food, and it's one of the most beautiful states in the nation.
You could do a lot worse when you pick a place to live, that's for sure.
But is it all good in the Volunteer State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Tennessee 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 Tennessee your home.
After analyzing 91 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Tennessee:
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 Tennessee? That would be Ripley.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Tennessee
- Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee
- Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2020
Welcome to Ripley, Tennessee, where more people are out of work than anywhere else in the state. 1 in 8.4 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $31,209 a year.
Crime is the 30th highest in Tennessee, where you have a 1 in 26.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 114 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered when you're within Ripley city limits.
Plus, they're completely isolated out here, What do you do for entertainment when you're an hour north of the nearest Memphis suburbs?
We're seeing a pattern here. A small, isolated city with a bad economy. Lawrenceburg is way down on Route 64 near the Alabama state line.
Here, the schools are way underfunded, when you compare them to the rest of Tennessee. Families can barely make ends meet, and the unemployment rate (10.1%) is the 12th highest in the state. A home here sells for $87,600, on average. That signals it's not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
Out of all the places to live in Tennessee, Millington ranks as the 3rd worst -- not something to brag about.
Millington's unemployment rate stands at 9.0%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $52,324 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 3cheapest in the entire state at $118,600. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Millington. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 12th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 18.3 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 106 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
If you're looking to live in Tennessee, Savannah might not be the best choice as it places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
The unemployment rate here is 11.5%, and households bring in a combined $35,059 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Tennessee.
Crime is the 7th highest in the state in Savannah as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
Here in Morristown, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Tennessee. That's not a good combination.
Located in Hamblen County, you have a 1 in 21.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Morristown city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (9.0%). That's good for the 17th highest unemployment rate in Tennessee.
you're looking to live in Tennessee, Sweetwater might not be the best choice as it places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
Sweetwater doesn't have the worst crime in the state, but it's sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Sweetwater may not be your first choice for a vacation.
If you live in Tennessee, you may or may not be surprised that Pigeon Forge ranked, at least on paper, as the 7th worst place to live in the state. It has the 79th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 2nd most dangerous.
Incidentally, Pigeon Forge is the 4th most densely populated city in Tennessee. Draw your own conclusions.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Dunlap is the 25th most dangerous city in Tennessee. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 21.3 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That's lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Dunlap might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Dunlap are really low. People here earn about $44,773 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Dunlap are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Tennessee than in Dunlap.
Covington is just down the road from Ripley. Here, the public schools are some of the least funded in the state. If you value a good education, this isn't a place for you. Kids who attend Covington public schools see the 10th lowest spending levels in terms of per-student ratios and teacher to student ratios.
Crime is far above average here, and the unemployment rate is 7.3%, which is the 28th highest in Tennessee. And, as you can imagine, many of the folks in Covington live at or below the poverty line.
Rockwood is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Rockwood is the 11th most dangerous place you can live in Tennessee.
Residents in Rockwood have a 1 in 17.0 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 Rockwood, where average homes are valued at only$81,100. That's the 3rd-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
How we determined the worst places to live in Tennessee 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 91 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 91 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 Tennessee -- Ripley. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Tennessee. 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 Tennessee
If you're looking at areas in Tennessee 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, Ripley ranks as the worst city to live in Tennessee for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Tennessee:
- Collierville (Pop. 49,610)
- Brentwood (Pop. 41,987)
- Germantown (Pop. 39,164)
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Tennessee?