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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 2021.
For more Florida reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Florida For 2021
It's not even close. Pahokee is the worst place in the state of Florida that you can live in, according to science. Let's see why.
Pahokee's residents are unemployed at a 26.3% clip, which is the highest in the state. Homes are the 13th cheapest in Florida here, and at $97,000, that shows there's not a lot of demand to live here.
Plus, crime is the 74th highest in the state of Florida in Pahokee. In Pahokee, there were 59 violent crimes in 2021. That means people who live here have a 1 in 106 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered. For Florida, that's off the charts high.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Florida, Opa-Locka ranks 2nd worst. Let's see why.
Here in Opa-Locka, crime is the 2nd highest in the state, and 1 out of 5.4 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 87 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 Opa-Locka have the 6th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Opa-Locka undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 7th highest in Florida, at 12.6%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Florida has some hard workers.
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 19)
Median Home Value: $97,900 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (2worst)
More on Starke: Data
According to science, Starke is the 3rd worst place you can live in Florida.
Let's see why. Starke has the 28th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Starke is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($97,900), and the 21st-highest unemployment rate in the state (8.8%), and across the board, Starke 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.
Cocoa, FL needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 7.5%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 8th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 18.9 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
If you live in Leesburg, you're either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn't matter, because science says it's the 5th worst place to live in the state.
You've got the 9th highest crime rate in Florida, which saw 172 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 19.0 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 131 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Leesburg.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Leesburg sports the state's 24th highest unemployment rate (8.3%), and families bring in a combined $37,092 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $153,000.
You can sure expect that Homestead is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 6th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Homestead has the 40th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 684 violent crimes here in 2021, and residents have a 1 in 30.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Homestead, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 7.1% which is the 53rd worst in Florida.
If you're looking to live in Florida, North Miami might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2021.
The unemployment rate here is 7.6%, and households bring in a combined $41,611 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Florida.
Crime is the 30th highest in the state in North Miami as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
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 Belle Glade average $113,400, which is the 23rd 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 Belle Glade.
Plus, 41.1% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 96th highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Belle Glade city limits, you have a 1 in 48.5 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.
If you live in Marianna, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 70th highest crime rate, per capita in the state of Florida. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 37.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 65 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 106 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 2nd lowest salaries in Florida At $22,909 a household, that's simply not enough to get by for most folks.
When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Avon Park is the 10th worst place in the state of Florida.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Avon Park 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 Avon Park are the 2nd 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.
How we determined the worst places to live in Florida for 2021
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 208 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 208 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 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Florida:
- Sanibel (Pop. 7,319)
- Palm Beach (Pop. 8,723)
- North Palm Beach (Pop. 13,029)
For more Florida reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Florida?