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)
- Opa-Locka (Photos)
- Fort Pierce (Photos)
- Cocoa (Photos)
- Belle Glade (Photos)
- Palatka (Photos)
- Avon Park (Photos)
- Homestead (Photos)
- Lauderdale Lakes (Photos)
- Fellsmere (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Florida for 2017
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
The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
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 204 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 204 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.
Population: 6,003Home Values: $79,100 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 34.2% (1st worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Pahokee is by far the worst place you can live in Florida. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate in Pahokee is 34.2%. In terms of comparing Florida cities to one another, that’s the 1st highest in the state.
And while a lot of folks in Pahokee are out of work, the ones who have jobs earn $27,348 a year, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. And the crime in Pahokee is the 69th highest in the state, where 1 in 29.9 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers. That’s really high.
Population: 16,139 Home Values: $99,000 (31st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (56th worst)
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Opa-Locka ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 31st cheapest in the state here at$99,000. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Opa-Locka.
The median income levels here are the 1st lowest in the state of Florida, at $18,134. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 11.5% of people in Opa-Locka were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
3. Fort Pierce
Population: 43,267Home Values: $85,900 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (11th worst)
If you’re looking for a sunny town where it’s dangerous and people don’t have jobs, then Fort Pierce is your place.
The mid-sized city just south of Vero Beach has an unemployment rate that’s nearly twice the national average, and is in the top 10 percentile for crime in Florida.
Additionally, Fort Pierce has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in Florida, meaning the kids aren’t getting as much attention as in other cities of its size.
Population: 17,339Home Values: $94,900 (25th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.2% (14th worst)
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Cocoa is the 7th most dangerous city in Florida. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 12.9 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Cocoa might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Cocoa are really low. People here earn about $30,517 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Cocoa are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Florida than in Cocoa.
5. Belle Glade
Population: 17,950Home Values: $94,800 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.1% (6th worst)
Belle Glade doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 18.1%, and people average less than $30,303 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $94,800, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Florida.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
Population: 10,414Home Values: $78,600 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.3% (7th worst)
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.
7. Avon Park
Population: 9,974Home Values: $62,200 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.0% (3rd worst)
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 7th worst in Florida.
Avon Park residents had a 1 in 19.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Avon Park is through the roof, as more than 20.0% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $62,200, Avon Park has the 2nd-lowest home prices in the state of Florida.
Population: 64,676Home Values: $116,400 (57th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.2% (40th worst)
Homestead ranks as the 8th worst city in Florida. Located in Miami-Dade County, Homestead has the 69th lowest income levels in the state of Florida ($40,959), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 12.2%.
9. Lauderdale Lakes
Population: 34,103Home Values: $90,900 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.9% (4th worst)
Here in Lauderdale Lakes, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Florida. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Broward County, you have a 1 in 22.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Lauderdale Lakes city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (18.9%). That’s good for the 4th highest unemployment rate in Florida.
Population: 5,390Home Values: $73,600 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (15th worst)
Welcome to Fellsmere, which might be one of the poorest areas in Florida. Residents average $25,132 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 42.0% of Fellsmere residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $73,600 and the unemployment rate hovers near 14.6%.
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 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Florida:
- Key Biscayne (Pop. 12,888)
- Palm Beach (Pop. 8,418)
- Lighthouse Point (Pop. 10,842)
For more Florida reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Tampa Suburbs
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Florida
- These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Florida
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Florida
|28||New Port Richey|
|31||North Miami Beach|
|63||Green Cove Springs|
|66||West Palm Beach|
|87||Port St. Lucie|