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:
- Pahokee (Photos)
- Belle Glade (Photos)
- Cocoa (Photos)
- Leesburg (Photos)
- Palatka (Photos)
- Homestead (Photos)
- North Miami (Photos)
- Lauderdale Lakes (Photos)
- Avon Park (Photos)
- Lake Worth (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. 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 2019.
For more Florida reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Florida
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Florida
- 10 Most Dangerous Places In Florida
How we determined the worst places to live in Florida 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
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 203 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 203 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.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
If you live in Florida, you may or may not be surprised that Pahokee ranked, at least on paper, as the 1st worst place to live in the state. It has the 1st highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 40th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Pahokee is the 34th most densely populated city in Florida. Draw your own conclusions.
Belle Glade needs some tough love as it ranks as the 2nd worst city to live in Florida for 2019. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Belle Glade is the 17th highest in the state, where 1 in 21.6 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Cocoa is the 3rd worst city in Florida for 2019. When you’re comparing other cities to Cocoa, things just don’t look great, at least according to science.
Cocoa is the 10th most dangerous place in Florida, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job — at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 10.4%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($106,100), and residents earn just $32,685 a year.
According to science, Leesburg is the 4th worst place you can live in Florida.
Let’s see why. Leesburg has the 5th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Leesburg is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($126,000), and the 18th-highest unemployment rate in the state (11.0%), and across the board, Leesburg 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.
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.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Florida, Homestead ranks 6th worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Homestead, crime is the 49th highest in the state, and 1 out of 27.1 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That’s not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 100 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That’s really high.
When you look at adult education in Florida, the folks in Homestead have the 12th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Homestead undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 36th highest in Florida, at 9.4%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Florida has some hard workers.
While the median household income in North Miami is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, North Miami still has the 24th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 41st worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average North Miami household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
Welcome to Lauderdale Lakes, which might be one of the poorest areas in Florida. Residents average $33,754 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 22.7% of Lauderdale Lakes residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $101,600 and the unemployment rate hovers near 12.5%.
Avon Park ranks as the 9th worst place to live in Florida for 2019.
The issues Avon Park has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 3rd highest in Florida (19.1%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom of Florida.
While numbers in Florida are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Florida cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Lake Worth average $165,600, which is the 99th lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Lake Worth.
Plus, 27.6% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 29th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Lake Worth city limits, you have a 1 in 24.8 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Florida:
- North Palm Beach (Pop. 12,749)
- Palm Beach (Pop. 8,593)
- Key Biscayne (Pop. 13,074)
For more Florida reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Florida
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Florida
- 10 Safest Places In Florida
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Florida
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Florida
|15||North Miami Beach||43,963|
|25||New Port Richey||15,674|
|44||West Palm Beach||106,805|
|80||Green Cove Springs||7,345|