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

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


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.

Ripley, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,148
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
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?

La Follette, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,983
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $59,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (4th worst)
More on La Follette:  Data | Photos

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.

Savannah, TN

Overall SnackAbility


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

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.

Lexington, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,731
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 18)
Median Home Value: $101,500 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (8th worst)
More on Lexington:  Data | Photos

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, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,153
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $85,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (7th worst)
More on Harriman:  Data | Photos

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.

Lawrenceburg, TN

Overall SnackAbility


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%.

Sweetwater, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,842
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $113,700 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (26th worst)
More on Sweetwater:  Data | Photos

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, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,780
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $89,600 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.6% (2nd worst)
More on Newport:  Data | Photos

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, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,976
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $101,700 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (22nd worst)
More on Fayetteville:  Data | Photos

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:

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

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