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.
Or, if you live in the south, for wanting to run away as fast as you possibly can.
After analyzing all 50 U.S. states, we came up with this list as the 10 worst states in our nation for 2018:
It turns out New Mexico is the worst state to live in the country. New Mexico is having a rough week since we also just named it the most dangerous state for 2018.
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 city ranked. Or check out more on the worst cities to live in America.
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 researched the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers for the worst states of 2018
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the most recent ACS 2012-2016, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Low Median Income
- Low Home Values
- Low Levels of College Education
- A lot of uninsured people
- High Crime
- High poverty
We then ranked each state from 1 to 50 for the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Index”.
Finally, we ranked every state on the “Worst Place To Live Index” with the lowest index being the Worst State To Live in America for 2018, New Mexico.
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.
Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the states themselves. This list is based on data. It’s also not a testament to the effectiveness of local law enforcement.
1. New Mexico
Population: 2,082,669Median Income: $45,674 (7th worst)
Median Home Value: $161,600 (21st worst)
New Mexico is, by far, the worst state in the entire country for 2018, according to this scientific analysis. Sorry to break the news to you folks out there in the Land of Enchantment.
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.
Population: 2,968,472Median Income: $42,336 (2nd worst)
Median Home Value: $114,700 (3rd worst)
Arkansas begins the string of truly southern states which you should try to avoid if at all possible.
The 2nd worst state in the country, Arkansas “boasts” the second lowest wages and third lowest home prices.
Luckily, you probably do have a job in the Razorback State, which prevented it from being the worst state in the country.
Population: 2,989,192Median Income: $40,528 (1st worst)
Median Home Value: $105,700 (1st worst)
The median household income in Mississippi is only about $40,000, which is more than $15,000 less than the national average. Unsurprisingly, home values are also the lowest in the country.
With those two facts in hand, Mississippi can make a very strong argument it should actually still be the worst state (It took the top spot 2 years ago).
Nearly 8.5% 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.
Population: 4,841,164Median Income: $44,758 (4th worst)
Median Home Value: $128,500 (8th worst)
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, poverty also played a factor here.
But their college football team is awesome. At least they have that.
Population: 4,645,670Median Income: $45,652 (6th worst)
Median Home Value: $148,300 (18th worst)
Ah, Louisiana Unfortunately, the butt of many jokes. In this case, Louisiana’s rankings in terms of annual household income ($45,6520 a year) and the sheer number of homes that are empty (16%), means the Louisiana economy isn’t…robust.
No one can argue that Louisiana is a beautiful state. Unfortunately, science doesn’t measure beauty. It measures facts, and the fact is, Louisiana is towards the bottom when it comes to factors that people consider desirable.
6. South Carolina
Population: 4,834,605Median Income: $46,898 (9th worst)
Median Home Value: $143,600 (15th worst)
South Carolina, the butt of North Carolina, has pretty big problem when it comes to crime. That’s the leading cause of its 6th place ranking for 2018.
It scored in the bottom 30% of states for basically every category except for population density. So at least you can enjoy your squalid living conditions with your neighbors.
Population: 3,875,589Median Income: $48,038 (10th worst)
Median Home Value: $121,300 (4th worst)
The 7th worst state for 2018 goes to Oklahoma.
Home prices and incomes are some of the lowest in the country. And violence is relatively high.
Mix that with a lack of health insurance coverage and there’s little surprise that the opioid problem is taking hold in Oklahoma.
Population: 6,728,577Median Income: $51,340 (21st worst)
Median Home Value: $176,900 (29th worst)
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.
Walmart is the biggest provider of jobs in Arizona.
Population: 10,099,320Median Income: $51,037 (20th worst)
Median Home Value: $152,400 (19th worst)
You know the saying. There’s Atlanta and there’s the rest of Georgia. According to science, both are undesirable.
When you factor in crummy insurance coverage, 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.
Population: 2,839,172Median Income: $53,094 (23rd worst)
Median Home Value: $191,600 (31st worst)
More than 9.3% 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 a lot of people lack insurance.
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 northeast America.
- New Hampshire
For more ‘Murica reading, check out these:
Detailed List Of The Worst States In America For 2018