These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Volunteer State are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Tennessee.

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“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:

  1. Covington (Photos)
  2. Sweetwater (Photos)
  3. La Follette (Photos)
  4. Ripley (Photos)
  5. Savannah (Photos)
  6. Lexington (Photos)
  7. Lawrenceburg (Photos)
  8. Harriman (Photos)
  9. Morristown (Photos)
  10. 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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,921
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $88,500 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (17th worst)
More on Covington:  Data | Photos

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.

Sweetwater, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,842
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $113,700 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (26th worst)
More on Sweetwater:  Data | Photos

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, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 6,983
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $59,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (4th worst)
More on La Follette:  Data | Photos

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.

Ripley, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 8,148
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $88,500 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (6th worst)
More on Ripley:  Data | Photos

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

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,977
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $89,300 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (9th worst)
More on Savannah:  Data | Photos

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.

Lexington, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,731
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 18)
Median Home Value: $101,500 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (8th worst)
More on Lexington:  Data | Photos

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).

Lawrenceburg, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,614
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $86,400 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (14th worst)
More on Lawrenceburg:  Data | Photos

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%.

Harriman, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 6,153
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $85,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (7th worst)
More on Harriman:  Data | Photos

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.

Morristown, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 29,446
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 16)
Median Home Value: $111,200 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (18th worst)
More on Morristown:  Data | Photos

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.

Crossville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,284
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $139,300 (51st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (16th worst)
More on Crossville:  Data | Photos

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?

Review Of Crossville by Masked Mole Reviews

Haha I live in Crossville… Honestly it’s not bad here and I’ve never been stolen from, except for one time I had my package stolen on ebay, and it was stolen from someone in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (also one time in grade school but that’s irrelevant, it was a key chain).. It’s very safe in the part of Cumberland County I live in, I never even lock my car doors at night… But yes, people steal here occasionally (quite rarely) when you go into town (Crossville), the actually ‘city’ part where few people actually live.. I do lock my door when I run into walmart, and as long as you lock your car in town, it’s very rare to be robbed here.. There aren’t people ‘out to get you’ around every corner when you walk down the street.

It’s quite unfair to label Crossville as a crime-ridden area because many people from surrounding rural counties and communities go into Crossville to shop and unfairly inflate the crime rate… And boy, do a LOT of people move here for it to be ‘such a bad place to live’… Real estate is very cheap here and there’s beautiful scenery, along with the smokies not being far away.. I bought my first house already and I’m only 23 years old..

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:

  1. Collierville (Pop. 48,960)
  2. Brentwood (Pop. 41,524)
  3. Germantown (Pop. 39,230)

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Tennessee

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Covington 8,921 10.0% $88,500
2 Sweetwater 5,842 8.1% $113,700
3 La Follette 6,983 14.6% $59,600
4 Ripley 8,148 14.5% $88,500
5 Savannah 6,977 11.8% $89,300
6 Lexington 7,731 12.5% $101,500
7 Lawrenceburg 10,614 10.3% $86,400
8 Harriman 6,153 13.2% $85,400
9 Morristown 29,446 9.3% $111,200
10 Crossville 11,284 10.2% $139,300
11 Fayetteville 6,976 8.4% $101,700
12 Dickson 15,128 5.1% $138,600
13 Memphis 654,723 10.4% $94,200
14 Lewisburg 11,457 10.6% $90,800
15 Rockwood 5,415 8.4% $75,600
16 Pigeon Forge 6,147 3.2% $169,100
17 Newport 6,780 16.6% $89,600
18 Dunlap 5,061 6.8% $130,400
19 Millington 11,073 6.6% $107,900
20 Bolivar 5,037 18.5% $97,000
21 Athens 13,559 11.5% $144,100
22 Dyersburg 16,666 10.3% $99,900
23 Mcminnville 13,591 6.8% $97,800
24 Shelbyville 21,028 6.7% $109,100
25 Springfield 16,692 8.0% $133,700
26 Henderson 6,237 14.6% $119,700
27 Sevierville 16,387 5.3% $173,300
28 Brownsville 9,829 6.3% $104,000
29 Alcoa 9,343 3.2% $122,300
30 Cleveland 43,496 7.3% $159,200
31 Cookeville 32,536 8.4% $160,600
32 Dayton 7,341 8.4% $108,500
33 Columbia 36,635 6.4% $126,000
34 Greeneville 14,895 8.0% $131,400
35 Bristol 26,668 7.9% $115,700
36 Humboldt 8,155 3.6% $75,500
37 Manchester 10,430 2.5% $112,100
38 La Vergne 34,905 5.8% $138,200
39 Lebanon 30,212 6.8% $189,400
40 Paris 10,059 5.7% $89,700
41 Chattanooga 176,291 7.4% $153,900
42 Elizabethton 13,796 6.1% $122,700
43 Winchester 8,467 5.4% $131,300
44 Lakeland 12,623 3.8% $249,700
45 Loudon 5,697 4.6% $105,500
46 Knoxville 184,465 6.7% $124,500
47 Kingsport 52,698 7.1% $136,000
48 Pulaski 7,653 5.4% $96,200
49 Erwin 5,921 15.0% $101,100
50 Portland 12,258 5.1% $131,100
51 Arlington 11,678 1.7% $217,300
52 Mckenzie 5,455 8.3% $90,600
53 Oak Ridge 29,009 7.7% $149,000
54 Martin 10,797 11.2% $121,400
55 Milan 7,715 5.0% $101,900
56 Jackson 66,977 6.9% $131,800
57 Clinton 9,961 5.2% $155,400
58 Millersville 6,760 5.0% $159,700
59 Tullahoma 19,037 6.4% $116,300
60 Fairview 8,442 4.1% $191,000
61 Munford 6,009 8.3% $153,700
62 Greenbrier 6,720 8.8% $142,100
63 Clarksville 147,771 7.6% $143,400
64 Smyrna 46,885 5.5% $160,800
65 Red Bank 11,744 4.4% $131,700
66 East Ridge 21,193 3.3% $119,000
67 Murfreesboro 126,188 5.7% $198,800
68 Goodlettsville 16,935 4.8% $196,300
69 Gallatin 34,495 4.7% $172,700
70 Church Hill 6,686 6.4% $130,900
71 Mount Carmel 5,386 6.8% $132,200
72 Kingston 5,812 5.6% $148,900
73 Oakland 7,508 5.5% $168,400
74 Jonesborough 5,275 2.5% $156,500
75 Forest Hills 5,002 2.7% $802,500
76 Farragut 21,975 4.1% $343,200
77 White House 11,107 4.9% $178,000
78 Atoka 8,994 3.5% $181,400
79 Hendersonville 55,635 4.6% $228,900
80 Mount Juliet 31,397 3.7% $238,700
81 Bartlett 58,640 4.5% $172,300
82 Maryville 28,208 5.5% $193,200
83 Collegedale 10,902 2.5% $191,400
84 Nolensville 7,119 2.6% $386,500
85 Spring Hill 35,995 3.3% $237,700
86 Franklin 72,990 4.0% $362,300
87 Signal Mountain 8,507 5.4% $337,800
88 Collierville 48,960 3.4% $286,700
89 Brentwood 41,524 3.2% $582,800
90 Germantown 39,230 3.0% $302,800

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34 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2019

  1. The links you listed compare the COUNTY of Scott vs the CITY of Lafollette. Check the city of Oneida vs Lafollette. Also, I think Campbell county, comparing apples to apples, is around 40000 in population.

  2. Most of the crime is created by the “war on drugs”. If pain management drugs (both legal and illegal) weren’t an entire black market economy then people wouldn’t be getting robbed and burglarized all the time. Appalachia better face its drug problem.

  3. Where is East Tennessee on that list? Are the towns so small that they just don’t qualify? Education there is dismal (secondary schools). Crime also is a problem there. This list seems to be unfairly skewed toward West Tennessee.

      1. What I found strange is the average home price….. Very far from the truth, not many homes in LaFollette for 80 k so that is simply not true! What year was this made? 30 yrs ago maybe. Drugs are at their meanest but aren’t they everywhere? Med household income well I have two adult’s son’s both of them have an average income way higher than what they have listed! So….. Who really cares what /when this list was compiled? Not me! Smile/Be Happy!

    1. I agree, I’m not sure as to how bad really Covington is, but i do know my husband & I loveit in this small country town…..
      To us it’s not bad at all…..

    1. Humboldt, Tn. has some wonderful people who rise every day as if it were a land of grand opportunity. Cynics most likely will find garbage everywhere they live. To speak of a place you lived as “enema of the state” is pathetic. However, sometimes a change of place for some is good. Yet you need not demonize the place you lived.

      1. What about clarksville im thinking of moving out there from glendale az to reunite with my brothers and my biological mom.

        1. Hello I live in Surprise, AZ and some parts of Glendale are very nice. Although the HEAT during the summer months are over 105 and can get as high as 115.
          It is a dry heat but just make sure you hydrate. During the winter there are time you can wear shorts and flip flops.

  4. Obviously incorrect. Education in Covington is great. It has actually been voted best public highschool in TN. And a Bronze award for top 100 in the US.

    1. I agree, our neighbors that have kids still in school, they are doing great & on the honor roll….if it was that bad, i don’t believe theywould be on it…..

  5. You should be ashamed to publish these facts about our city. I am the Mayor of Humboldt Tn. and have numerous calls about your so called poll of cities in Tennessee. You don’t know anything about Humboldt and you have caused much embarrassment to us. Please stop your comments about our wonderful city. People like you can harm a city like Humboldt way past anything I can repair..Shame on you !!!!
    Mayor Marvin Siles

    1. Facts are facts mayor. To bad you can’t fix what has long been broken in this as you put it so “wonderful city”. Take another payoff and keep living your corrupt dream as a big fish in the kiddie pool of life!

  6. Right about LaFollette. This is dead on. Lived there 36 years and finally moved away and can breath! Until the politicians and their bosses(the people with the cash) are evicted, it will remain number one.

  7. I live in Lafollette it is a small town I hate it when people consider it to be the worst when the only thing wrong with Lafollette is that the people in charge won’t let good businesses come in it the picture don’t even do Lafollette justice I have lived in towns with good jobs but it costs a lot to live there Lafollette is the cheapest place to live you people are in no way able to judge Lafollette so until you get your facts straight try not being judgemental ok

  8. I think Newport should be number 1,their cops are crooked the schools lets kids learn from other kids sexual gestures and if you can pay them off you can get away with anything they take kids away from loving parents for money…THE JUSTICE DEP.NEEDS TO INVESTIGATE!!

  9. I live in Knoxville. Like any city we have our fair share of crime. Some areas have more than others. I’ve lived here all my life. Moved away to bigger city’s, but always come home to East Tennessee. Love my Knoxville, my blood is Orange. Can’t imagine living any where else except, Dallas Texas. Love the city life, Knoxville is the best place to be,

  10. Harriman should also be on this list as it is for red neck list. Harriman utilities are the most expensive in Roane county. There’s nothing going for Harriman. The school system is a joke as all the money and programs go to Kingston. The prescription drug problem runs rampant in the streets. How in the world did Harriman win the best town in Roane is beyond me?

  11. Lawrenceburg is not so bad like they are trying to put it amd the picture really take one of the buildings that’s not being torn down for new ones or being repaired. Actually take a picture of our town and not criticize in a place I’m sure you have never lived more less probably never been to. This is a great place but like all places you have your certain people and there is nothing anyone can do about it bc thieves are goin to steal and drug addicts are going to keep doing drugs no matter where they live or where they are from. This is America and we should be proud and love each and everyone of our states and counties and small towns. God blessed us and people like this need to move to another country then come back and say something. Rant over

  12. I don’t know why they say Covington is that bad of a city/town…..
    My husband & I moved here last year & believe me from the town we moved from in Georgia, it is much worse there….
    We love it here in Tenn, everyone is soooo very friendly, no matter the age…..
    We are very thankful to be here & have such wonderful caring neighbors……
    I hate that this is making Covington out to be a bad town…..
    Have a blessed day….

  13. I live outside the city limits of Humboldt Tennessee before this I lived in Humboldt all my life. I don’t know where you get your info but it is wrong. How dare you demean a town that you know nothing about. This is one of the most disgusting pieces of crap ever put out. I rather live here than any place I know of so keep your info to yourself..

  14. Come on! I’m originally from Chicago and live in Sweetwater. If you want to talk crime, check out Illinois. I know people here that don’t even lock their doors! Also, there are plenty of fun things to do here. If you need “city” life, we are between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Seems like something is wrong with your facts. Cost of living isn’t as high here and there are plenty of jobs nearby.

  15. Livingston in the last 10 years under a black mayor has gone downhill since he has been the man. The back streets look like downtown detroit . only the square looks decent

  16. I moved to Lake Tansi from Southern California and retired here . Bought a home I never woulda have been able to there. It’s real quiet here and bein part of Crossville I don’t see how it ranks at #12.

  17. I’m considering moving to Tennessee from Michigan. Reading the various lists have me concerned as I have a little one to think about and safety and education are my top priority. I currently live in a metropolitan area where 30 minutes drive can find Detroit……to some extremely wealthy, beautiful areas.
    In the early 2000’s I loved going to Tennessee and renting a cabin in the mountains and being away from it all. Small towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge were my favorite. Now I’d like to find somewhere safe and quiet to raise my little one.
    So much to consider and learn about!

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