“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 90 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:
- Covington (Photos)
- Ripley (Photos)
- La Follette (Photos)
- Savannah (Photos)
- Lexington (Photos)
- Harriman (Photos)
- Lawrenceburg (Photos)
- Sweetwater (Photos)
- Newport (Photos)
- Fayetteville (Photos)
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 Covington.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Tennessee
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee
How we determined the worst places to live in Tennessee for 2019
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 90 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 90 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 — Covington. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Tennessee.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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 10.0%, which is the 17th highest in Tennessee. And, as you can imagine, many of the folks in Covington live at or below the poverty line.
Welcome to Ripley, Tennessee, where more people are out of work than anywhere else in the state. 1 in 6.9 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $27,309 a year.
Crime is the 35th highest in Tennessee, where you have a 1 in 26.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 79 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?
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, La Follette is the 3rd worst place in the state of Tennessee.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. La Follette is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in La Follette are the 1st lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Tennessee.
Here in Savannah, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Tennessee. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Hardin County, you have a 1 in 13.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Savannah city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (11.8%). That’s good for the 9th highest unemployment rate in Tennessee.
We’re seeing a pattern here. A small, isolated city with a bad economy. Lexington is located in Henderson County.
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 (12.5%) is the 8th highest in the state. A home here sells for $101,500, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
Harriman is the 43rd most dangerous place in the state of Tennessee. That’s part of the reason it’s the 6th worst place in Tennessee.
The fact remains, that when you’re within Harriman city limits, you have a 1 in 27.8 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Harriman also has the 7th highest unemployment rate in the state at 13.2%? Or that homes are only valued at $85,400?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Harriman.
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 (10.3%) is the 14th highest in the state. A home here sells for $86,400, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.
Plus, crime is in the top 10%.
Sweetwater places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Tennessee. Here, 20.4% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Sweetwater have the 15th highest adult drop out rate in Tennessee.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $113,700 each — the 29th lowest in Tennessee.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
Newport might be the most isolated place on this list. Sure, it’s beautiful out here, and if you enjoy fishing and kayaking, there’s plenty of that. But can the people here afford bait and paddles?
The average family earns $22,127 a year out here, and 40.8% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 16.6% 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 Newport, every year, you have a 1 in 11.0 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 2nd most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Fayetteville needs some tough love as it ranks as the 10th worst city to live in Tennessee for 2019.
Crime in Fayetteville is the 23rd highest in the state, where 1 in 22.1 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
. Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Tennessee.
If commute time is important, Fayetteville residents have the 63rd longest commute of any residents on our list.
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, Covington ranks as the worst city to live in Tennessee for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Tennessee:
- Collierville (Pop. 48,960)
- Brentwood (Pop. 41,524)
- Germantown (Pop. 39,230)
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Places In Tennessee
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Tennessee
- 10 Safest Places In Tennessee
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Tennessee
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Tennessee