“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)
- Sweetwater (Photos)
- La Follette (Photos)
- Ripley (Photos)
- Savannah (Photos)
- Lexington (Photos)
- Lawrenceburg (Photos)
- Harriman (Photos)
- Morristown (Photos)
- Crossville (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.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Tennessee, Sweetwater ranks 2nd worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Sweetwater, crime is the 9th highest in the state, and 1 out of 15.5 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 77 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 Tennessee, the folks in Sweetwater have the 15th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Sweetwater undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 26th highest in Tennessee, at 8.1%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Tennessee has some hard workers.
La Follette ranks as the 3rd worst city on this list.
La Follette has the 33rd highest crime rate in Tennessee, where residents have a 1 in 22.7 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 1st cheapest in the state ($59,600), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
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?
Savannah, TN needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 11.8%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 3rd highest in the state. You have a 1 in 13.5 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Lexington is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Tennessee. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 39th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Lexington had a 1 in 26.6 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Lexington, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Lexington’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (12.5%) and income levels of its residents ($38,468).
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%.
What the heck is going on in little Harriman? The crime is the 43rd highest in the state of Tennessee. Here, residents have a 1 in 27.8 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 13.2% of Harriman residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 7th highest in the state.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Morristown is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of Tennessee. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Morristown, located in Hamblen County, have the 27th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $111,200, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Tennessee, that is.
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?
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:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire 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