These Are America’s 10 Worst States To Live In

We used science to determine which of these United States are the real pits.

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You might think people across the nation love where they live. After all, you wouldn’t spend your life somewhere that you truly didn’t love. Right?

Not always. In fact, a Pew Research Center study not too long ago determined that almost half of Americans would rather live somewhere else than they do now.

Well, if you’re in one of the states we’re about to highlight, we don’t blame you for wanting to move.

After analyzing all 50 U.S. states, we came up with this list as the 10 worst states in our nation. It turns out Mississippi is the worst state to live in the country:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Florida
  3. Alabama
  4. Arizona
  5. Nevada
  6. West Virginia
  7. New Mexico
  8. Tennessee
  9. Georgia
  10. Alaska

The purpose of this study is to use science to determine which of our great American states are the absolute worst. While unbiased, this research does take into account factors that almost all Americans would agree are undesirable.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your state ranked or check out the best states to live in America. Unfortunately for the south, things aren’t very…charming.

map of the worst states in America

Click image to enlarge

How do you decide if a state is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst states to live in the United States, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, ranked which places did not have the stuff people like, and, like magic, got to the answer for the worst states in America.

How we crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • High Housing Vacancy Rate
  • Education (Low expenditures per student and high Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Long Commute Times
  • High Crime
  • The Worst Weather

If you’d like to see the complete list of states, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.

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1. Mississippi

The capital, Jackson, MS. Source: Flickr user Ken Lund

Population: 2,967,620
Median income: 5th lowest in the country
Weather: 2nd worst in the nation
Unemployment rate: 8th lowest in the U.S.

Mississippi is, by far, the worst state in the entire country, according to this scientific analysis. Sorry to break the news to you folks down there in the Magnolia State.

The median household income in Mississippi is only $38,882, which is more than $15,000 less than the national average. Unsurprisingly, the weather, measured in terms of sunny days, temperature and humidity, is the second worst in the nation in Mississippi.

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Nearly 7% of residents here are unemployed, and just about 1 in 7 homes is vacant or unoccupied. The national average for public school student spending is $12,483. In Mississippi, students only get a fraction of that financial support.

Rebel Yell? Maybe not.

2. Florida

The capital, Tallahassee, FL. Source: Flickr user Steven Martin

Population: 18,885,152
Crime: 4th worst in the nation
Weather: 2nd worst in the nation (tied with Mississippi)
Household vacancy rate: 20%

Yes, we’re aware that Florida is a vacation haven for the retirees and snowbirds, who flock there in droves from northern states. But when more than 1 in 5 homes is vacant or unoccupied in the entire state, that’s not necessarily a place where you can become part of a community, and feel like you’re ‘home’.

Plus, Florida recently had to pass a law so people don’t lie that their dogs are service dogs anymore. Meaning, people are pretending to be blind and crippled to get better parking and seating in restaurants down there.

And there’s the meth and pain pill addiction problem. And bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.

The weather in Florida is atrocious, if you haven’t actually spent time there between April and October. And, in case you have been living under a rock your entire life, you’d know that crime in Florida is sky high. There are only three other states with a higher crime rate than Florida. One of them is lower down on this top 10 list.

The other two: Louisiana (2nd worst crime) and South Carolina (1st).

Meaning if you live in the south, you’d better watch your back.

3. Alabama

The capital, Montgomery, AL. Source: Flickr user Mark Brennan

Population: 4,777,326
Crime: 15th highest in the U.S.
Education: 14th lowest spending per student
Weather: 7th worst in the nation

Alabama residents aren’t necessarily underemployed at a higher rate (they’re at the national average), but people here earn far less than the national average, per household.

Crime is significantly higher, per capita here, and the public schools spend much less than other states do on their students. And, once again, weather played a factor here. It can be downright miserable for half of the year in the Yellowhammer State.

But their college football team is awesome. At least they have that.

4. Arizona

The capital, Phoenix, AZ. Source: Flickr user Al_HikesAZ

Population: 6,410,979
Education: 6th lowest for public school support in the nation
Household vacancy rate: 7th highest in the U.S.
Crime: 13th highest

The first of several states out west, Arizona has several things going against it. Besides the fact that the summer months can be downright sickening, heat wise, Arizona has a surprisingly high crime rate and very poor support in its school system for its students.

Residents are still recovering from the housing mess here, and nearly 1 in 5 homes sits unoccupied or is vacant for most of the year. That’s off the charts high.

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Walmart is the biggest provider of jobs in Arizona.

5. Nevada

The capital, Carson City, NV. Source: Flickr user Reno Tahoe Directory

Population: 2,704,204
Crime: 8th highest in the country
Unemployment rate: 2nd highest in the nation
Household vacancy rate: 15%

More than 7% of the workforce of Nevada is unemployed at this time, which isn’t surprising, since nearly half of the state’s population lives in the Las Vegas metro area. And, if you’ve looked at a map in your lifetime, you’d know that Nevada doesn’t necessarily have a lot do to, outside of Vegas. Unless you hunt rattlesnakes for a living.

Crime in Nevada is very high, and nearly 1 in 7 homes is unoccupied. And it’s really hot there for long stretches of the year.

6. West Virginia

The capital, Charleston, WV. Source: Wikipedia

Population: 1,850,481
Household income: 10th lowest in the U.S.
Weather: 12th worst
Household vacancy rate: 8th highest

Ah, West Virginia. Unfortunately, the butt of many jokes. In this case, West Virginia’s rankings in terms of annual household income ($40,400 a year) and the sheer number of homes that are empty (16%), means the West Virginian economy isn’t…robust.

No one can argue that West Virginia is a beautiful state. Unfortunately, science doesn’t measure beauty. It measures facts, and the fact is, West Virginia is towards the bottom when it comes to factors that people consider desirable.

7. New Mexico

The capital, Santa Fe, NM. Source: Flickr user Steven Martin

Population: 2,055,287
Crime: 8th highest in the nation, per capita
Median income: 6th lowest in the U.S.
Population density: 6th lowest in America

Residents in New Mexico enjoy some of the best weather in the country. And there are some awesome landscapes to enjoy.

But that’s where the enjoyment ends. Economically, and socially, New Mexico has some issues. Its residents are underpaid, and the crime here is very high. In addition, if you’re not into exploring the outdoors, finding entertainment can be a chore. Unless you’re a UFO enthusiast.

New Mexico does have the highest concentration of PhD holders in the entire country.

8. Tennessee

The capital, Nashville, TN. Source: Flickr user Brent Moore

Population: 6,353,226
Crime: 2nd highest in the nation
Weather: 12th worst in the U.S.
Education: 11th lowest support for students

Poor Tennessee. Having the second most crimes per capita in the country is quite a distinction (and a surprising one). But it doesn’t stop there. The weather is less than desirable, and public school students get some of the least support in the country, too.

Across the board, Tennessee doesn’t rank in the bottom 10 in any particular category. It’s just, generally, a bad state, when you consider all of the desirable factors we talked about above.

9. Georgia

The capital, Atlanta, GA. Source: Flickr user Hector Alejandro

Population: 9,714,569
Commute time: 8th longest in the nation
Crime: 12th highest
Unemployment rate: 8th highest
Weather: 8th worst

You know the saying. There’s Atlanta and there’s the rest of Georgia. According to science, both are undesirable.

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When you factor in crummy weather, high crime and a high unemployment rate, things in Georgia could use a fixin’. But the population here is booming. Meaning longer commute times (and less time with the family) if you live in the Atlanta area.

10. Alaska

The capital, Juneau, AL. Source: Flickr user Alan Wu

Population: 711,139
Crime: 11th highest in the US of A
House vacancy rate: 5th highest in the country

Considering the fact that almost every reality television show is shot in Alaska, you’d think it was paradise. Outside of enjoying the raw, natural beauty, you can imagine it takes a hardy individual to want to hack out a living here.

The crime rate is far above the national average, and a lot of homes here are vacant (almost 1 in 5 of them). But on a positive note, the commute time is really short here. Meaning, more time with the family…to fish and build outhouses?

And hey, residents in Alaska don’t have to pay state taxes. That’s good.

There You Have It

Like we said earlier, trying to determine the worst states in America is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing states with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and bad weather, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best states in the USA, according to science. Apparently, things are ‘all that’ when it comes to middle America.

  1. Nebraska (Pop. 1,827,306)
  2. Iowa (3,047,646)
  3. Wyoming (562,803)
  4. North Dakota (676,253)
  5. Minnesota (5,313,081)

Mobile users: Here’s a link to the complete data chart.

We also wrote about the 10 worst cities to live in America. Click here to read that story.

Desktop users: Here’s a complete abridged chart of the scientific data for all 50 states

State Population Worst Score Rank
Mississippi 2,967,620 15.75 1
Florida 18,885,152 16.5 2
Alabama 4,777,326 16.56 3
Arizona 6,410,979 17.31 4
Nevada 2,704,204 17.75 5
West Virginia 1,850,481 17.94 6
New Mexico 2,055,287 19.06 7
Tennessee 6,353,226 19.44 8
Georgia 9,714,569 19.56 9
Alaska 711,139 19.75 10
Michigan 9,897,264 20.19 11
Louisiana 4,529,605 20.38 12
arkansas 2,916,372 20.69 13
oregon 3,836,628 20.88 14
south_carolina 4,630,351 21.31 15
north_carolina 9,544,249 21.75 16
california 37,325,068 22 17
delaware 900,131 22.56 18
maine 1,329,084 22.88 19
missouri 5,982,413 23.06 20
kentucky 4,340,167 23.06 20
washington 6,738,714 24.19 22
hawaii 1,362,730 24.31 23
montana 990,785 24.75 24
texas 25,208,897 24.88 25
oklahoma 3,749,005 24.94 26
colorado 5,042,853 25.38 27
rhode_island 1,052,471 25.5 28
illinois 12,823,860 25.69 29
new_york 19,398,125 25.94 30
idaho 1,567,803 26.44 31
indiana 6,485,530 27.06 32
vermont 625,498 28.5 33
ohio 11,533,561 28.69 34
massachusetts 6,560,595 28.81 35
maryland 5,785,496 29 36
pennsylvania 12,699,589 29 36
wisconsin 5,687,219 29.44 38
new_hampshire 1,317,474 30.5 39
south_dakota 815,871 31.19 40
new_jersey 8,793,888 31.63 41
utah 2,766,233 31.88 42
connecticut 3,572,213 32.19 43
virginia 8,014,955 32.5 44
kansas 2,851,183 32.5 44
minnesota 5,313,081 32.75 46
north_dakota 676,253 34.19 47
wyoming 562,803 34.44 48
iowa 3,047,646 35.69 49
Nebraska 1,827,306 36 50

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28 thoughts on “These Are America’s 10 Worst States To Live In

  1. I grew up in North Dakota (28 years). I live in Washington now (39 years). Comparison? None.

    Hands-down, Washington is a better place to live, work, and find friends. Mountains, rivers, temperate climate, many backpacking trails, places to go and things to do. Educated, tolerant, and aware people live here compared to grade-school level farmers and ex-farmers working for minimum wage in North Dakota.

    Once I finished college and found that regardless of North Dakota’s perennial 4% unemployment rate, I couldn’t find ANY job, I moved west. I pity the residue who stayed, pity them.

    When I’ve visited back, I’ve met people who looked like the ones I used to know but who had never changed, never grown.

    1. Well I guess you consider yourself educated however the stats would show a different story than you paint of the state. Most retired or former farmers that you note are most likely worth millions in the bank. William County ND has an average salary of $70,000 per year even with the downturn in the oil industry. I guess there was a reason you did not find work in ND but its probably more related to your lack of intelligence than anything related to ND. Enjoy yourself but I really don’t think we are looking for any low wage earners so no need to look for employment here in North Dakota.

    2. WA is a cesspool. If you’re a vampire, might be nice, but the constant grey and 55 degrees 10 months out of the year – oh wait all 12 because at night it’s still 50 bloody degrees. Have to have winter clothes out all year round. Barely get a summer. And people are cold and passive-aggressive. I’m trying to leave after 20 soggy, soul-sucking years.

  2. Yeah, pretty sure that isn’t Santa Fe up there in #7.
    That is Santa Fe Station in Forth Worth, Texas.
    It is bad enough that some people don’t even know that NM is a state. Then you have to go and put in an image that isn’t from our state.

  3. Why not just poll residents and rank the states based on the percentage of people who would rather live elsewhere? I can think of no more accurate indication of desirability than one where you measure the amount of people who want out.

    As soon as you factored in public education, you exposed your bias and tilted the results. Maybe they counted for something once upon a time but today they are little more than babysitting and indoctrination centers.

  4. What about taxes? Don’t taxes factor into this?

    And who in their right mind makes population density a *positive*??? New Jersey cannot possibly be the 9th best place to live in the USA, but that’s what this “scientific” analysis shows.

    If that’s not proof positive that you need to reconsider your technique, I don’t know what is.

  5. How about the quality of the people living there? Virginia might have the highest rate of a$$holes in the country, and I have lived in several states, including NY. New Yorkers have a reputation for being jerks, but my 12 years there proved it unfounded. Virginians are jerks for the sake of being jerks. And oh, by the way, they’re better than you are. In fact, the worst of them is better than the best of you from anywhere else. Virginia is where Southern hospitality goes to die.

    1. Being right next to them in Maryland I agree! I imagine you have some choice words for us too but I have to say, everytime I visited NY people were nice…definitely nicer than they’ve ever been in VA.

    2. I’ve been noticing that about Washington. Seattle has a reputation for being “Brainy” but honestly living here for two years now, I’ve not seen a trace of that to be true. The medical professionals here are top notch without a doubt, but the general populace, not so much. Not only are they poorly read and completely unaware of what’s going on in the world, but arrogant as well. Many of them lack manners and politeness. Very bland, dry personalities. It’s like if the people here were represented by a color that color would be beige. The lot of them walk around cranky, depressed and moody. They’ll look for ANY reason to bitch and complain so working any kind of customer service here is pure hell. Washingtonians need to have their asses kissed and powdered otherwise they get pissy. Similar to how you have to speak to children. Once I finish my degree I’m flying the coop. The natural environment is something special. It’s very beautiful and rich in nature, but the people and their pissy attitudes ruin it. I’m also a New Yorker born and raised so the adjustment has been quite challenging to say the least. The population lacks any sort of vibrancy.

  6. Florida is a hot, humid, and buggy place where depending on where you live, it can be a warm haven for the wealthier snowbirds who come here or a low salary hell for those of us who have to tough it out all year and deal with raising utility rates during the summer months when we need air conditioning to merely survive. Mixed feelings all around. Moved back here from California when things got economically out of hand and couldn’t afford to stay anymore. Not crazy about this place but don’t want to deal with winters either. What to do…what to do. (Is there a little island off of the coast of North Carolina or something?)

    1. Yes and it is one of the most cruel law enforcement criminal not so much justice states. FL boast of feeding inmates unfit for human comsumption food on less than $2/day in nasty muderous abusive (both from employee and other inmates) rape filled spider vermin and rat n mice ridden non a/c literally torture chambers called dorms.
      I don’t like somethings but FL on the whole is not a place I want to live.

  7. Sometimes you want to tell your friends what a great place you just but then you realize most things are fleeting and maybe mostly subjective. And then you forget what was so great about it. Probably like ole whats his face said, ‘stuff’ happens. Yuk yuk.

  8. Your current state of health, (physical) and financial situation has a lot to do with it. Sometimes you relocate out of necessity and sometimes out of stupidity.

  9. Keep up with expecting things to improve, and don’t ever say ‘things’ or ‘it’ is getting worse, because you really may get what you pray for. (Unless you are an athiest, of course.l

  10. Nebraska is the worst state in the Union. Over and over I see Nebraska listed as one of the best, but based on what criteria? There is nothing to do in Nebraska. A majority of the population have no critical reasoning skills. They might be able to read and write, but there’s no reading comprehension. They blindly believe anything reported on Fox News, love football and the Tea Party, hateful, bigoted, but only in a politically correct way. In short, Nebraskans hate anyone that doesn’t conform to what they consider to be “normal” meaning you must look like them, think like them, watch the same TV shows, read the same books, listen to the same music, go to the same church, or you will never be accepted. Our Public TV station is run by a bunch of brownie scouts all working on merit badges. They can’t even publish an accurate program guide. Highest State income taxes, property taxes, and where does all the money go? There very few services, especially for the poor or disabled. They refused to extend Medicare to the uninsured under Obama Care, even though this was essentially free money!! Our new Governor is a good old boy who’s trying to set things up for himself and his cronies, and to hell with the rest of us. There is no thought given to the quality of life in Nebraska from our “elected” officials, and it shows. Don’t come here. Don’t go to school here. Don’t even drive through the State, drive around it, or better yet, fly over it, and don’t even bother looing down.

    1. In Maryland, the residents blindly believe everything the Democrats tell them and absolutely hate everyone else. Now, that’s bigotry.

    2. You nailed it! I live here, and everything you said is so true. It’s the most narrow minded states, why else do they keep electing some ones who have done nothing since getting elected. Check what Adrian Smith has done, especially when you think about how many years he’s been in office. Yet, they keep reelecting him.

    3. Iowa is right up there in crappiness with Nebraska. They never accept you unless you agree with all of their narrow minded ways, or inherited a ton of farm money like them. They think they feed the world, yeah with crappy gmo food devoid of nutrients and sickening everyone. Living near them and trying to grow some healthy food in nigh on impossible because of their constant herbicide drift and vaporization. Then try to turn them to the worthless IDALS regulatory agencies, and nothing gets done. Iowa sucks.

  11. I’m sorry but whoever wrote this has the most backwards sense of “good weather”. You can’t say that Florida has the second worst weather in the nation (unless you’re allergic to the sun or something) and that the weather in places like Minnesota and Alaska is much better. I live in Georgia and one of the only things I like about living here is the weather

  12. With the exception of D.C., the worst of humanity gravitates to wherever the cost of living is cheap. If I was forced to live in Florida, I would commit suicide because it is the armpit of the US – Stinking hot with stifling humidity almost year round- – Boring without the change of seasons, and with flat landscapes with the ugliest of trees. It’s a place that breeds pestilence and disease, including leprosy and let’s not forget the mosquitoes and, palmettos, as well as poisonous snakes, alligators and sharks- Sinkholes abound, as well as scam artists, fraudulent doctors and medical practices, baby killers, such as Casey Anthony and wife killers, such as O J Simpson, as well as wannabe narcissitic big shots that kill black teens and beat up their girlfriends, such as the POS George Zimmerman – Florida also boasts the Number 6 state with the most sex offenders. Florida also has the most old people, who are the worst drivers and spread the most STD’s in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. And the worst of the worst gun-toting and bible belching hypocritical confederate flag flying racist hypocrites. I wish I could be alive to see Florida sink into the ocean from climate change, which the majority of retards living there still deny.

  13. I live in Utah and here are my personal pros/cons of living here:
    Pro: Utah boasts that it has a healthy economy. Con: Many of the jobs are low-level jobs (minimum wage is around $7.25) and since Utah’s job market is unregulated, many of those jobs are pyramid schemes, otherwise known as multi-level marketing schemes. My background is in marketing and I cannot tell you how many job posts were MLMs where they requested that the employee pays to work there.
    Housing market:
    Pro: In Salt Lake City, there are charming bungalows and Victorians. Con: The SLC median housing price is around $315K and it’s more in some of the suburbs. Plus, there is a major meth problem.
    Pro: Fun outdoor activities- skiing, boating, and hiking. Con: Not a diverse selection of bars or restaurants.
    The People:
    Pro: I can’t really think of one. Con: Lots of self-righteous self-centered people. I swear everyone here is related to one another. They all dress the same, act the same and look the same. In other words, homogeneous.

  14. Damn! Nebraska never wins anything.

    I am surprised this was not reported every day for a week in Nebraska.
    I guess this is not news.
    I’d like to say Nebraska is best rather than read it’s least worst.

    Thanks RoadSnacks

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