The suburbs of Memphis call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Memphis to avoid all the hustle and bustle.
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 Saturday Night Science to determine which Memphis ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Memphis area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Memphis proper, although Germantown certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Memphis are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones.
We examined the 18 biggest suburbs of Memphis to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Tennessee lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Memphis in terms of quality of life.
Now don’t freak out.
What’s the worst suburb of Memphis? Earle ranks as the worst suburb of Memphis for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Memphis that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Memphis too.
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
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The 10 Worst Memphis Suburbs To Live For 2023
Median Income: $39,013 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.9% (highest)
Median Home Value: $65,400 (lowest)
More on Earle:
We’ll get the ball rolling with Earle, the absolute worst place to live around Memphis according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Earle beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Memphis area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 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 Earle.
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.
2. West Memphis
Median Income: $35,099 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $89,400 (2nd lowest)
More on West Memphis:
Welcome to West Memphis. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 12.9 miles to Memphis. Income levels here are the lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $35,099 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Median Income: $49,196 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $134,500 (4th lowest)
More on Millington:
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Memphis suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Millington 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Memphis suburbs.
But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.
4. Horn Lake
Median Income: $54,783 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $117,900 (3rd lowest)
More on Horn Lake:
If you live in Horn Lake, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Memphis suburb for median household incomes.
Not only that, but this is the 4th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Memphis. Remember, we looked at 18 cities for this study.
Horn Lake is about 11.2 miles to downtown.
Median Income: $74,271 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $153,800 (5th lowest)
More on Brighton:
Brighton has the distinction of being a Memphis suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Brighton has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Memphis area, where the median price is $153,800. The median income is $132,949.
Brighton has an unemployment rate of 5.93% which ranks 6th worst.
Median Income: $67,157 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $169,800 (7th lowest)
More on Southaven:
Southaven has 54,141 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 12.110591174332109%.
Median Income: $64,240 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $236,600 (13th lowest)
More on Hernando:
Ah, Hernando. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Memphis.
It’s the place with the 18th most out of work residents in the Memphis metro area (1.89%).
Median Income: $80,170 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $169,300 (6th lowest)
More on Marion:
Marion is a city about 14.6 miles from Memphis, but Memphis 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. Marion has the 11th most uninsured people, 10th worst incomes, and has the 9th highest unemployment rate (4.93%) in the entire Memphis metro area.
Homes only cost $169,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for Memphis standards.
Median Income: $110,682 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $399,600 (18th lowest)
More on Piperton:
If you absolutely have to live near Memphis, then Piperton might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Memphis suburb.
About 6.2% of residents are out of work.
Median Income: $78,125 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (17th highest)
Median Home Value: $195,300 (8th lowest)
More on Oakland:
Rounding out the ten worst Memphis suburbs to call home is Oakland.
Located 26.3 miles outside the city, Oaklands is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 17th highest unemployment rate (2.86%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Memphis for 2023
To figure out how bad a Memphis suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.
It’s Saturday Night Science.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 dropouts
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Memphis.
We also limited the analysis to places with over 1,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 18 suburbs to evaluate around Memphis.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 18 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 Memphis.” We’re looking at you, Earle.
We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Memphis.
Summary: The areas around Memphis where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Memphis with Earle casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Memphis aren’t all bad. Germantown takes the cake as the best place to live around Memphis.
For more Tennessee reading, check out:
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Detailed List Of The Worst Memphis Suburbs