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Florida takes some abuse. Not just from its own residents, but from the general public, the media, and on social media.
We're not here to debate Florida's merits. As far as we're concerned, it's a warm place that's quite beautiful almost all year long.
But, for those who are considering a relocation within Florida, or who are thinking of moving to the Sunshine State, this list should provide some value.
The following are the worst, avoid-at-all-costs cities in Florida:
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 Florida? That would be Pahokee.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Florida reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Florida For 2020
If you're looking to live in Florida, Pahokee might not be the best choice as it places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Sunshine State for 2020.
The average family earns $26,701 a year out here, and 37.9% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 29.3% 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 Pahokee, every year, you have a 1 in 35.4 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 78th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Florida, Opa-Locka came in 2nd. Let's see why.
The city has very bad crime (2nd worst) and an employment rate that's nearly the highest for cities of its size 12.6%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
Belle Glade places 3rd in our ranking of the worst places to live in Florida.
You can imagine it's a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 22nd cheapest in the state, and at $104,300, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (16.1%) is the 3rd highest in Florida, and income levels are far below the state average. And 42.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Belle Glade has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Florida?
Leesburg is another place in the Sunshine State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Leesburg is a staggering 9.5%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($36,191 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $139,700, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Leesburg is bad, but not horrible.
When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Homestead is the 5th worst place in the state of Florida.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Homestead 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 Homestead are the 116th 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 Florida.
Palatka has almost every other city in Florida beat when it comes to crime, as only 20 other cities in the entire state have a worse crime index. According to Wikipedia, Palatka has been hit by a loss of automobile and a surge big box retail jobs has taken a toll on the city's economic landscape.
Palatka is on the St. John's River, about an hour's drive east of Gainesville.
you're looking to live in Florida, Avon Park might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
Avon Park doesn't have the worst crime in the state, but it's sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Avon Park may not be your first choice for a vacation.
North Miami places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Florida. Here, 22.0% of the adult population lack's even a high school degree. That makes North Miami have the 22nd highest adult drop out rate in Florida.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $183,200 each -- the 10lowest in Florida.
As you can imagine, there's not a lot of demand to live here.
Miami Gardens is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Miami Gardens is the 33rd most dangerous place you can live in Florida.
Residents in Miami Gardens have a 1 in 24.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you're considering home prices, you can't do much lower than in Miami Gardens, where average homes are valued at only$170,900. That's the 82nd-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Cocoa takes the 10th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Cocoa its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 8th worst in the whole state.
How we determined the worst places to live in Florida for 2020
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
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 207 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 207 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 Florida -- Pahokee. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Florida. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Florida
If you're looking at areas in Florida 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, Pahokee ranks as the worst city to live in Florida for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Florida:
- North Palm Beach (Pop. 12,899)
- Palm Beach (Pop. 8,667)
- Key Biscayne (Pop. 13,054)
For more Florida reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Florida
- Richest Cities In Florida
- Safest Places In Florida
- Best Cities For Singles In Florida
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Florida?