Worst Houston Suburbs For 2020

We used science and data to determine which Houston suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around Houston.

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Houston.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Houston 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Houston area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Houston proper, although West University Place certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Houston are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

We examined the 27 biggest suburbs of Houston to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in texas lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Houston in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Houston for 2020:

  1. Arcola
  2. Galena Park (Photos)
  3. Humble (Photos)
  4. Webster (Photos)
  5. South Houston (Photos)
  6. Baytown (Photos)
  7. Pasadena (Photos)
  8. Alvin (Photos)
  9. Richmond (Photos)
  10. Kemah

What's the worst suburb of Houston? Arcola ranks as the worst suburb of Houston for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Houston that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in texas check out the best places in texas overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Houston too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Texas reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Houston Suburbs To Live For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,221
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 4)
Median Income: $44,570 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $102,700 (3rd lowest)
More on Arcola:  Data

We'll get the ball rolling with Arcola, the absolute worst place to live around Houston according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Arcola beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Houston area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 3rd worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Arcola.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Galena Park, TX

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,075
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $45,020 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $73,400 (1st lowest)
More on Galena Park:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Galena Park. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 9.4 miles to Houston. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $45,020 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Humble, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,861
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $41,189 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $122,200 (6th lowest)
More on Humble:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Houston suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Humble on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Houston suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

Webster, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,165
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $51,779 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $159,600 (11th lowest)
More on Webster:  Data | Photos

If you live in Webster, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Houston suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Houston. Remember, we looked at 27 cities for this study.

Webster is about 23.6 miles to downtown.

South Houston, TX

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,627
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $46,100 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $92,500 (2nd lowest)
More on South Houston:  Data | Photos

South Houston has the distinction of being a Houston suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, South Houston has the 2nd lowest home values in the metro Houston area, where the median price is $92,500. To put that into perspective, in West University Place, the median income is $250,001, which is the best in the area.

South Houston has an unemployment rate of 5.95% which ranks 8th worst.

Baytown, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 76,581
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $55,628 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $111,800 (4th lowest)
More on Baytown:  Data | Photos

Baytown has 76,581 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 15.997099347353153%.

Pasadena, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 154,193
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $53,331 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $117,400 (5th lowest)
More on Pasadena:  Data | Photos

Ah, Pasadena. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Houston.

It's the place with the 3rd most out of work residents in the Houston metro area (8.71%).

Alvin, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 26,154
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $53,714 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $139,900 (8th lowest)
More on Alvin:  Data | Photos

Alvin is a city about 26.2 miles from Houston, but Houston probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Alvin has the 9th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 13th highest unemployment rate (5.29%) in the entire Houston metro area.

Homes only cost $139,900 for a reason. That's cheap for Houston standards.

Richmond, TX

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,084
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $37,340 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $153,600 (9th lowest)
More on Richmond:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Houston, then Richmond might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Houston suburb.

About 3.43% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,831
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Income: $73,056 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $196,400 (15th lowest)
More on Kemah:  Data

Rounding out the ten worst Houston suburbs to call home is Kemah.

Located 28.0 miles outside the city, Kemahs is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 1st highest unemployment rate (9.89%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Houston 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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2014-2018, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Houston.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 27 suburbs to evaluate around Houston.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 27 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Houston." We're lookin' at you, Arcola. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Houston where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Houston with Arcola casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Houston aren't all bad. West University Place takes the cake as the best place to live around Houston.

  • West University Place
  • Bellaire
  • Sugar Land

For more Texas reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Houston Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Arcola 2,221 $44,570 $102,700
2 Galena Park 11,075 $45,020 $73,400
3 Humble 15,861 $41,189 $122,200
4 Webster 11,165 $51,779 $159,600
5 South Houston 17,627 $46,100 $92,500
6 Baytown 76,581 $55,628 $111,800
7 Pasadena 154,193 $53,331 $117,400
8 Alvin 26,154 $53,714 $139,900
9 Richmond 12,084 $37,340 $153,600
10 Kemah 2,831 $73,056 $196,400
11 La Porte 35,386 $72,640 $138,300
12 Tomball 11,644 $60,657 $257,100
13 Deer Park 33,935 $79,726 $159,500
14 Stafford 18,110 $61,872 $172,500
15 Katy 18,094 $77,731 $192,300
16 Manvel 9,143 $94,956 $219,900
17 Nassau Bay 4,083 $86,944 $216,300
18 Seabrook 13,670 $86,738 $232,600
19 Shenandoah 2,817 $78,643 $247,200
20 El Lago 2,760 $97,750 $207,500
21 Friendswood 39,319 $104,097 $263,000
22 Oak Ridge North 3,136 $92,313 $209,000
23 Meadows Place 4,677 $85,875 $170,600
24 Pearland 117,867 $102,891 $224,600
25 Sugar Land 118,182 $122,233 $309,000
26 Bellaire 18,733 $201,629 $838,800
27 West University Place 15,619 $250,001 $1,055,000

How Is Your Town In ?

18 thoughts on “Worst Houston Suburbs, 2020

  1. Years ago, as in the 70s, my grandfather cut up a Tomball Chamber of Commerce bumper sticker that read ‘Tomball: Just A Smile’s Drive Away’ and reworked it to read ‘Tomball: Just Drive Away.’…

  2. I believe the author, Sam Sparkes is 1) Lazy – Because he obviously didn’t research the cities he listed as “the worst”. For instance, The Woodlands and Sugar Land, the two most prosperous cities around Houston with class “A” concert venues, shopping, museums, park n ride facilities, award winning schools, an abundance of public parks and playgrounds, low crime rate, low property taxes and complete hike and bike trail systems. And 2) Idiotic – For thinking that anyone will take his research and writing seriously after publishing this garbage.

  3. Most of what people refer to as Katy isn’t even in the Katy city limits. I suspect the same is true for many other suburbs listed. It’s difficult to get accurate statistics for unincorporated areas.

  4. This report is based on:
    •No jobs? In Tomball? Really?
    •Low incomes? Really?
    •Low population density (No things to do)? You haven’t been to Tomball lately, huh?
    •Low home values? Because of the growth to the northwest and Exxon moving into the Woodlands, Tomball is among the communities most often chosen to live because of its relatively low cost of living . . . and did we mention the quality of the schools and numbers of churches?
    •High cost of living? Really? Really? Compared to what?

    Did you even realize that the photo used to represent the city shows a building that has been gone for almost five years? As your disclaimer reads . . . “Snarkiness incorporated for entertainment purposes only.” This certainly is for entertainment, because the facts are limited.”

  5. Texas City – longest dike in USA ( five miles) ,second most boat launches annually in Texas, unlimited golf for $700.00/ year, world class fitness center with two indoor pools for $45.00/ year, gun range, miles of bike/ walking trails, movie complex, senior center, tons of dining options, revitalized downtown the list goes on. That’s why I retired in Texas City . I love it!!

  6. Whoever did this needs a life. You just wasted your time on stuff you had no idea what your talking about.


  7. The logic and research used here is as flawed as the link to “Best places to live in Houston” which lists no places near Houston. Just another troll website looking for clicks. I should expect better from the Houston Chronicle than to mention this, but I don’t.

  8. Just goes to show you how people that think they are smart and come up with the logic to determine the worst places to live in Houston are pretty stupid. Katy is one of the best places to live in Houston and if you actually lived in Houston, you would know that. You need to include all of Katy in your analysis, meaning Katy Independent School District which include unincorporated Katy. You quoted a population of 14,363 in Katy, city limits! Katy ISD population was 309,556 in 2015. You quoted a median income of $69,279 but was actually $89,485 in 2015. You didn’t mention anything in your analysis about schools. Maybe you should educate yourself. Katy has one of the best school districts, in Texas! Word of advice.

  9. Hello everybody . after reading the article and the commenets I am totally confuced by now . I am moving to Texas in the next few months . I am 45 and have 5 kids between 19 and 6 years old . Iam not rich and expect my live to be a hard one especially first two yeras . I am trying to figure out where is best for me and my family to settle so that we can make ends meet up . I care alot a bout the saftey of my family and their education . in the same time i need to be where i can find a descent job so that we survive . in addition to that we want to be in a place where we can enjoy the outdoor activties and nature . dot wanna be i a boring place like where i ive noe in europe . I apprciate any Help . I am mving to USA because of the treats I received for my privious work withe the US army in the middle east . Thank you

    1. Hey The Confused,
      The majority of people in the comments don’t really understand the data. This list takes into account only the 25 places around Houston, not the entirety of the state or country. Therefore, a place can rank low on this list (for places around Houston), yet still be a very good place to live (relative to the entire state of Texas or country).

      Our data is accurate and you can use as a way to judge the relative quality of life for places around Houston. For a look at the entire state check out:

  10. This “article” reads like it was written by an emtionally-regressed high school moron.

    Note I have no bias as I don’t even live in Texas.

  11. This has got to be the worst thing I’ve ever read. You should base your article of facts like crime rates etc. not your opinion!

  12. Humble being crime-ridden is misleading. It’s a much bigger town than the population numbers would suggest. And it borders George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the West, and it home to a big shopping mall and has many businesses and restaurants. It’s not some sleepy little country town that the photo used in the article would suggest. That’s a photo of “old Humble” and isn’t really indicative of what Humble looks like. People from all over the North Houston area come to Humble on a daily basis whether it’s to the shopping mall, movie theater, the traffic from the airport, and other major businesses that attracts people from all around the area. On any given day the number of people in Humble could be in the hundreds of thousands. So using the population of a little over 15 thousand is very misleading.

  13. I live in a Houston suburb. I admittedly don’t know much about Galena Park, which was listed as the #1 worst place. But when it said that the #2 was “Humble. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations” I just couldn’t read any further. You say the article was based on fact & science, so I went to Kmart.com just for shits & grins. Just as I thought…there isn’t a Kmart within 100 miles of Humble. The closest one is in McAllen (350+ miles from Humble.).

    So why should I believe any of these bogus “facts” or inaccurate science???Especially when the photos for both Webster and Pasadena are the same photo – which is a photo of Kemah?!?!?!?!

    1. He obviously meant Walmart. Humble is indeed a ghetto. If you don’t think so then you’re part of the reason why it’s a ghetto.

  14. This article calls West University a “suburb”, yet it’s totally contained inside of Houston’s city limits..I really don’t see the point in this article if the author is not going to distinguish this, when the actual worst neighborhoods to avoid are basically all inside Houston city limits proper anyway, right alongside “good” places like West University and Southside Place. Almost every “bad” place listed in this article is still 10X better than Sunnyside, Alief, Acres Homes, Gulfton, 5th Ward… plus excluding crime data statistics is the dumbest move this article could have made.

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