“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:
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2019
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.
Would you believe that Sweetwater is the 9th most dangerous place in Tennessee? That’s the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 15.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within Sweetwater city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 77 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Sweetwater. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Tennessee, that’s just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Sweetwater’s unemployment rate is the 26th highest in Tennessee (8.1%), and homes are the 29th cheapest in the state ($113,700). 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 Sweetwater.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, La Follette is one of the worst places you can live in Tennessee. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 14.6% unemployment rate for a city of 6,983 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
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?
If you’re looking to live in Tennessee, Savannah might not be the best choice as it places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Volunteer State for 2019.
The average family earns $29,890 a year out here, and 33.3% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 11.8% 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 Savannah, every year, you have a 1 in 13.5 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 3rd most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Lexington needs some tough love as it ranks as the 6th worst city to live in Tennessee for 2019. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Lexington is the 39th highest in the state, where 1 in 26.6 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
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%.
Welcome to Harriman, which might be one of the poorest areas in Tennessee. Residents average $29,103 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 22.8% of Harriman residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $85,400 and the unemployment rate hovers near 13.2%.
The city of Morristown is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of Tennessee in 2019.
It’s unlucky for Morristown, which has the 18th highest unemployment rate (9.3%), the 21st lowest household incomes ($33,597) and the 27th lowest home prices in the state ($111,200).
Basically, a lot of people in Morristown are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it’s not one of the most dangerous places we’ll look at, it’s in the top 20%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Tennessee.
Somewhere west of Knoxville along I-40 is the small city of Crossville, where you have a 1 in 10 chance of being robbed every year. If you’re passing through, lock your doors and don’t talk to strangers.
Folks in Crossville earn under $30,000 a year, and you can imagine, many live at or below the poverty line. And the public schools are in the bottom 10% when it comes to spending levels.
What makes it worse is the cost of living is higher here than is most of the other cities on this list. Meaning, owning a home here is really a lot harder. Who wants to overpay to live in’Crossville?
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.
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: