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:

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee For 2019

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.

Review Of Covington by HomeSnacks User

I am from Covington, TN. I am extremely proud of where I was raised because it made a humble man with intentions of building the community.

Sweetwater, TN

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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

Sweetwater is the 9th most dangerous place in the state of Tennessee. That’s part of the reason it’s the 2nd worst place in Tennessee.

The fact remains, that when you’re within Sweetwater city limits, you have a 1 in 15.5 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?

Did you know Sweetwater also has the 26th highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.1%? Or that homes are only valued at $113,700?

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

Review Of Sweetwater by HomeSnacks User

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.

La Follette, TN

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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

You can’t blame them for living in La Follette since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.

Not only is the unemployment rate the 4th highest in the state here (14.6%), the residents in La Follette earn the smallest household income in the state of Tennessee. At a combined income of $27,819, families of four are barely above the poverty line.

In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Tennessee. La Follette has the 33rd highest crime rate in the state.

Ripley, TN

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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

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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

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Savannah is the 3rd most dangerous city in Tennessee. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 13.5 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 Savannah 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 Savannah are really low. People here earn about $29,890 a year per household.

Additionally, the public schools in Savannah 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 Savannah.

Lexington, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


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

Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Tennessee when we get to Lexington. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 12.5% (which is really high), and the median income is $38,468. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.

Review Of Lexington by HomeSnacks User

Wow, you really know nothing about these areas. Saying the crime rate is too high to live here is a slap in the face of the excellent police department there. Some of the brightest students come out of this area and most move on to college. Just because a town doesnt have the latest amenities doesnt mean theres nothing to do. The people of Lexington are mostly country people that dont need clubs to have a good time. You want a night out with friends- Ten Pins bowling alley is perfect, safe, and family minded. Visit some time and let the people change your mind.

Ten Pins bowling alley, as stated is fun, safe and family minded. The historic district has tons of local shops, diners, a coffee house and and the Princess Theater which first opened in 1922. This place has history.

Lawrenceburg, TN

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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%.

Review Of Lawrenceburg by HomeSnacks User

I’m mighty proud to be from Lawrenceburg, The Dimple of the Universe. Best place in Tennessee. And by the way, those who don’t know where Hohenwald is…. it’s only about an hour away. Pulaski is maybe 20 minutes away. One more thing….. don’t mess with us!

Harriman, TN

Overall SnackAbility


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

Harriman is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $85,400. That means it ranks as the 4th lowest in Tennessee.

You can make a case that based on the fact that Harriman has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 43rd worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in Tennessee.

Morristown, TN

Overall SnackAbility


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

Morristown, TN needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 9.3%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 27th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 21.2 chance of being robbed here every year.

You could find a much better place to call home.

Review Of Morristown by HomeSnacks User

While I do not live here, I do work for the city as a police officer. I can attest to the fact that crime is much more significant than some who live here realize. Gangs are more prevalent in this city than most residents are aware of. Shootings, stabbings, & robberies are actually a common occurrence. People assume that a city that isnt exactly comparable in size to cities like Knoxville or Chattanooga is inherently quiet & innocent. This is not the case. Hispanics make up nearly a quarter of the population. Additionally, over half of the students in the Hamblen County School System are Hispanic. Drug activity is such a powerful force that its very difficult to combat. We joke that if you dont find m**h at some point during a shift then you were ignoring it. There are genuinely good people here & I will admit that my view of the city is skewed since those are not the type of people I typically deal with on a daily basis. However, I cannot say that I would recommend anyone to move here. There are much better options elsewhere.

The area does have some picturesque quality to it & being in such close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park does make it somewhat more attractive, I suppose. It has plenty of parks but with the amount of homeless people & drug users that frequent them, it makes it difficult to enjoy them. Morristown is growing rapidly & I do hope that with this growth, comes a higher quality of life.

Crossville, TN

Overall SnackAbility


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 HomeSnacks User

I truly think that your study doesn’t take everything into account about Crossville. For decades, it’s been in the top 10 places to retire in the United States. I was born and raised there, and crime was not much more substantial than the occasional lawn mower being stolen or a little vandalism from time to time. Granted, times do change… But I truly think that if the gaps along Main Street were filled with shops and an effort was made to revitalize South Main Street, it’d still be a nice place to live. I think that people should have decent jobs to afford the cost of living and I do fault the Chamber of Commerce for THAT… But it could regain its mountain plateau charm and be a wonderful place to live.

Cumberland Mountain State Park is a great place to have a picnic or walking or fishing or swimming. There’s also been some effort to promote cruising downtown on Friday and Saturday nights as well. Plateau Lanes has a very nice bowling alley and I enjoyed it for years. Lots of camping and hiking to enjoy as well.

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.

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:

Where Are 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

37 thoughts on “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!

  18. I currently live in Dallas Tx and am planning on moving to East Tennessee. Don’t know which town yet. I understand everybody gets frustrated where they live. I’ve lived here in Dallas for 36 years and I’m done. Tired of the traffic!!!! So I’m looking at Knoxville or Maryville or Farragut or Sevierville.

  19. Do not come to Cleveland TN the ppl are rude lots of drugs, meth, and poverty for the bible buckle of the belt I belive this place is cursed, I can’t belive it’s not on this list the building’s or should I say ruins of Cleveland says it all not much for job opportunitys beware if you arnt apart of a click you will get no where here lots of greed to…

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