These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2018


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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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 91 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Tennessee:

  1. Ripley (Photos)
  2. Savannah (Photos)
  3. La Follette (Photos)
  4. Harriman (Photos)
  5. Fayetteville (Photos)
  6. Lawrenceburg (Photos)
  7. Newport (Photos)
  8. Sweetwater (Photos)
  9. Rockwood (Photos)
  10. Lewisburg (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.

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

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How we determined the worst places to live in Tennessee for 2018

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 5,100 people were considered — leaving 91 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 91 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 — Ripley. 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.

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1. Ripley

Ripley, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,249
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $91,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (6th worst)
Welcome to Ripley, Tennessee, where more people are out of work than almost anywhere else in the state. 1 in 6.9 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $26,266 a year.

Crime is the 24th highest in Tennessee, where you have a 1 in 22.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 85 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?

2. Savannah

Savannah, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,043
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Home Values: $87,500 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.4% (2nd worst)
Welcome to Savannah, where criminals go to make a living. Savannah has the 3rd highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Savannah city limits, you have a 1 in 13.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.

Plus, there were 100 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 7,043 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 70 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Savannah every year as well.

3. La Follette

La Follette, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,131
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Home Values: $64,200 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (13th worst)
You might have passed through La Follette once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.

Here’s what science says about why La Follette needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 11.2%, residents earn about $26,920 a year, and home prices are just over $64,200. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.

And there simply isn’t anything to do in La Follette.

4. Harriman

Harriman, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,223
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Values: $79,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (4th worst)
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Harriman is the 38th most dangerous city in Tennessee. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 25.2 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.

Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Harriman might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Harriman are really low. People here earn about $26,280 a year per household.

Additionally, the public schools in Harriman are some of the lowest funded in the state.

When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Tennessee than in Harriman.

5. Fayetteville

Fayetteville, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,033
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Home Values: $96,900 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (11th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Fayetteville is the 5th worst place you can live in Tennessee. Let’s see why.

The unemployment rate here is 11.5%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $96,900, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.

You have a 1 in 17.9 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.

Fayetteville is a far drive south from Louisville.

6. Lawrenceburg

Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,573
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Home Values: $85,700 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (10th worst)
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 (12.0%) is the 10th highest in the state. A home here sells for $85,700, on average. That signals it’s not a desirable place to live.

Plus, crime is in the top 10%.

7. Newport

Newport, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,856
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Home Values: $92,400 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (7th worst)
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 $22,417 a year out here, and 3990.0% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 13.6% 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 10.8 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 1st most dangerous place in the state, per capita.

8. Sweetwater

Sweetwater, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,877
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 10)
Home Values: $110,200 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (17th worst)
If you live in Sweetwater, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 8th worst place to live in the state.

You’ve got the 6th highest crime rate in Tennessee, which saw 68 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 15.3 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 86 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Sweetwater.

Plus, folks are simply out of work. Sweetwater sports the state’s 17th highest unemployment rate (10.4%), and families bring in a combined $38,948 a year, which is far below the state average.

No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $110,200.

9. Rockwood

Rockwood, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,443
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $73,200 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (27th worst)
According to science, Rockwood is the 9th worst place you can live in Tennessee.

Let’s see why. Rockwood has the 22nd-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Rockwood is certainly up there.

Factor in a very low housing cost ($73,200), and the 28th-highest unemployment rate in the state (9.4%), and across the board, Rockwood doesn’t sound like the best of the best.

Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.

10. Lewisburg

Lewisburg, Tennessee

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,376
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Home Values: $92,200 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (9th worst)
Lewisburg is the 58th most dangerous place in the state of Tennessee. That’s part of the reason it’s the 10th worst place in Tennessee.

The fact remains, that when you’re within Lewisburg city limits, you have a 1 in 49.5 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?

Did you know Lewisburg also has the 9th highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.4%? Or that homes are only valued at $92,200?

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Lewisburg.

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, Ripley ranks as the worst city to live in Tennessee for 2018.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Tennessee:

  1. Germantown (Pop. 39,213)
  2. Brentwood (Pop. 40,873)
  3. Signal Mountain (Pop. 8,500)

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Tennessee

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Ripley 1 2 8,249 14.4% $91,600
Savannah 2 6 7,043 18.4% $87,500
La Follette 3 5 7,131 11.2% $64,200
Harriman 4 3 6,223 16.7% $79,000
Fayetteville 5 8 7,033 11.5% $96,900
Lawrenceburg 6 9 10,573 12.0% $85,700
Newport 7 4 6,856 13.6% $92,400
Sweetwater 8 18 5,877 10.4% $110,200
Rockwood 9 10 5,443 9.4% $73,200
Lewisburg 10 11 11,376 12.4% $92,200
Bolivar 11 14 5,154 20.3% $90,800
Crossville 12 16 11,308 9.7% $136,900
Memphis 13 15 655,857 11.3% $93,700
Brownsville 14 13 9,938 7.8% $94,200
Covington 15 1 9,016 10.9% $98,000
Mcminnville 16 25 13,664 7.1% $92,500
Sparta 17 16 5,063 8.7% $90,900
Shelbyville 18 20 20,916 7.2% $104,200
Athens 19 22 13,651 10.2% $131,700
Morristown 20 7 29,395 9.7% $109,000
Dyersburg 21 37 16,867 10.9% $103,900
Paris 22 21 10,168 9.4% $87,700
Lexington 23 38 7,796 8.2% $112,200
Henderson 24 12 6,491 15.3% $112,700
Sevierville 25 40 16,213 7.8% $166,300
Dunlap 26 29 5,065 6.4% $129,800
Milan 27 33 7,803 9.7% $101,000
Dayton 28 24 7,308 8.6% $113,900
Mckenzie 29 41 5,650 10.9% $89,900
Columbia 30 39 36,130 9.4% $122,200
Cookeville 31 42 32,256 9.6% $156,900
Millington 32 30 11,069 7.7% $110,900
Pulaski 33 26 7,728 6.7% $96,900
Pigeon Forge 34 23 6,092 3.0% $168,900
Cleveland 35 36 43,276 10.1% $154,900
Alcoa 36 32 9,058 4.5% $121,900
Winchester 37 46 8,504 9.4% $118,600
Humboldt 38 19 8,254 4.7% $74,800
Dickson 39 28 15,098 6.7% $137,600
Springfield 40 35 16,650 9.6% $130,400
Loudon 41 34 5,701 6.3% $106,300
Erwin 42 31 5,998 18.2% $97,300
Manchester 43 27 10,387 4.5% $116,000
Bristol 44 47 26,734 8.6% $111,900
Greeneville 45 44 15,035 7.7% $127,900
Knoxville 46 49 183,927 7.5% $120,300
Elizabethton 47 43 14,012 7.6% $116,100
Chattanooga 48 48 175,462 8.7% $152,000
Portland 49 52 12,125 5.8% $128,200
Soddy-Daisy 50 51 13,162 8.2% $119,300
Martin 51 57 10,989 12.9% $125,700
Lebanon 52 45 29,439 8.3% $177,100
Jackson 53 50 67,162 8.3% $128,700
La Vergne 54 56 34,451 6.8% $130,700
Tullahoma 55 53 19,185 6.8% $114,900
Kingsport 56 54 52,871 7.9% $134,800
Oak Ridge 57 73 29,285 9.0% $149,900
Red Bank 58 55 11,794 6.1% $126,900
East Ridge 59 59 21,311 3.7% $116,200
Clinton 60 60 9,993 5.1% $150,000
Millersville 61 58 6,602 4.7% $152,000
Lakeland 62 64 12,541 3.4% $252,000
Fairview 63 66 8,271 5.8% $172,000
Greenbrier 64 62 6,684 10.0% $136,900
Munford 65 69 6,025 8.7% $148,300
Church Hill 66 67 6,723 7.8% $123,300
Arlington 67 65 11,599 1.4% $207,800
Clarksville 68 61 146,281 8.8% $140,000
Smyrna 69 72 45,369 5.5% $155,500
Goodlettsville 70 63 16,848 9.0% $177,900
Murfreesboro 71 74 122,007 6.7% $186,200
Gallatin 72 71 33,426 6.2% $168,600
Mount Carmel 73 67 5,425 6.0% $130,400
Jonesborough 74 76 5,234 3.7% $149,500
Kingston 75 75 5,841 5.5% $143,600
Oakland 76 77 7,270 5.4% $175,400
Atoka 77 70 8,917 4.3% $172,400
White House 78 78 10,944 5.6% $174,300
Farragut 79 79 21,690 4.6% $328,600
Maryville 80 81 28,151 5.7% $190,000
Hendersonville 81 83 55,073 4.7% $211,100
Mount Juliet 82 80 29,853 3.9% $223,800
Bartlett 83 84 58,318 4.5% $171,300
Nolensville 84 86 6,724 3.0% $341,400
Collegedale 85 82 10,438 3.8% $194,400
Franklin 86 87 70,625 4.2% $342,900
Spring Hill 87 85 34,364 3.6% $225,800
Collierville 88 88 48,005 3.8% $278,600
Signal Mountain 89 90 8,500 4.3% $325,900
Brentwood 90 89 40,873 2.8% $555,800
Germantown 91 91 39,213 3.7% $296,300

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29 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2018

  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

  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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