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)
- Opa-Locka (Photos)
- South Bay (Photos)
- Cocoa (Photos)
- Live Oak (Photos)
- Palatka (Photos)
- Lauderdale Lakes (Photos)
- Fort Pierce (Photos)
- Homestead (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 2018.
For more Florida reading, check out:
- 10 Safest Places In Florida
- These Are The 10 Best Cities In Florida
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Florida
How we determined the worst places to live in Florida for 2018
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 205 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 205 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: 6,022Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $77,000 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 27.1% (1st worst)
More on Pahokee: Data | Photos
Change can be good. Pahokee should look into it as it ranks as the worst in Florida two days in a row.
Pahokee’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime.
Pahokee has the 49th worst crime index of any place in Florida, and has the 11th lowest income.
2. Belle Glade
Population: 18,855Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Home Values: $94,000 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (7th worst)
More on Belle Glade: Data | Photos
Belle Glade, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 2nd worst city in Florida.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Belle Glade has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 15.5%, and families earn around $26,859 a year. It’s also the 17th highest in Florida for crime, where 1 in 19.5 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Population: 16,245Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Values: $98,900 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (50th worst)
More on Opa-locka: Data | Photos
Welcome to Opa-Locka, where criminals go to make a living. Opa-Locka has the 2nd highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Opa-Locka city limits, you have a 1 in 3.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 180 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 16,245 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 89 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Opa-Locka every year as well.
4. South Bay
Population: 5,026Rank Last Year: N/A
Home Values: $85,800 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.0% (4th worst)
More on South Bay: Data | Photos
South Bay takes the 4th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives South Bay its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 104th worst in the whole state.
Population: 17,558Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Values: $93,200 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (11th worst)
More on Cocoa: Data | Photos
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Cocoa is the 5th worst place you can live in the state of Florida. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 7th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Cocoa had a 1 in 14.5 chance of being robbed in 2014. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Cocoa, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Cocoa’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (14.4%) and income levels of its residents ($32,067).
6. Live Oak
Population: 6,921Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 12)
Home Values: $77,300 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.4% (9th worst)
More on Live Oak: Data | Photos
If you live in Florida, you may or may not be surprised that Live Oak ranked, at least on paper, as the 6th worst place to live in the state. It has the 9th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 57th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Live Oak is the 23rd most densely populated city in Florida. Draw your own conclusions.
Population: 10,407Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Home Values: $75,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (16th worst)
More on Palatka: Data | Photos
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.
8. Lauderdale Lakes
Population: 34,321Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Home Values: $93,400 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.9% (6th worst)
More on Lauderdale Lakes: Data | Photos
Lauderdale Lakes takes the 8th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Lauderdale Lakes its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 33rd worst in the whole state.
9. Fort Pierce
Population: 43,883Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 6)
Home Values: $89,100 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (17th worst)
More on Fort Pierce: Data | Photos
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: 65,688Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Values: $141,300 (71st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (42nd worst)
More on Homestead: Data | Photos
Here in Homestead, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Florida. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Miami-Dade County, you have a 1 in 24.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Homestead city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (10.7%). That’s good for the 42nd highest unemployment rate in Florida.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Florida:
- Key Biscayne (Pop. 12,935)
- Palm Beach (Pop. 8,501)
- Lighthouse Point (Pop. 10,946)
For more Florida reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Florida
|17||New Port Richey||15,503|
|29||North Miami Beach||43,722|
|57||West Palm Beach||104,978|
|58||Green Cove Springs||7,205|
|100||Port St. Lucie||175,652|