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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
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Pahokee. The only real difference is Pahokee is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Pahokee is at 29.3%, which is the worst in Florida. And households earn a combined $26,701 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Pahokee is merely $90,400.
Pahokee is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
Welcome to Opa-Locka, Florida, where 1 in 7.9 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $17,908 a year.
Crime is the 2nd highest in Florida, where you have a 1 in 5.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 65 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered when you're within Opa-Locka city limits.
Belle Glade is the 22nd most dangerous place in the state of Florida. That's part of the reason it's the 3rd worst place in Florida.
The fact remains, that when you're within Belle Glade city limits, you have a 1 in 24.6 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Belle Glade also has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the state at 16.1%? Or that homes are only valued at $104,300?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Belle Glade.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Florida, Leesburg ranks 4th worst. Let's see why.
Here in Leesburg, crime is the 10th highest in the state, and 1 out of 18.3 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 127 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 Leesburg have the 52nd highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Leesburg undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 22nd highest in Florida, at 9.5%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Florida has some hard workers.
Homestead is the 5th worst city in Florida for 2020. When you're comparing other cities to Homestead, things just don't look great, at least according to science.
Homestead is the 5most 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 7.8%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($195,300), and residents earn just $43,568 a year.
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.
According to science, Avon Park is the 7th worst place you can live in Florida.
Let's see why. Avon Park has the 9th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Avon Park is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($68,400), and the 2nd-highest unemployment rate in the state (19.9%), and across the board, Avon Park 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.
The unemployment rate in North Miami is a sky high 9.0%, which is the 28th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in North Miami is $40,661. That means 21.5% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 26.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.
If you live in Miami Gardens, 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 9th worst place to live in the state.
You've got the 33rd highest crime rate in Florida, which saw 816 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 24.9 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 138 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Miami Gardens.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Miami Gardens sports the state's 15th highest unemployment rate (10.1%), and families bring in a combined $42,398 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $170,900.
Cocoa ranks as the 10th worst city in Florida. Located in Brevard County, Cocoa has the 19th lowest income levels in the state of Florida ($34,727), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 8.9%.
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?