Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Memphis.
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 Memphis ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Memphis area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all 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. So without further ado…
We examined the 16 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.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Memphis for 2019:
- West Memphis
- Millington (Photos)
- Horn Lake
- Brighton (Photos)
- Munford (Photos)
- Olive Branch
- Oakland (Photos)
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.
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 Tennessee reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Tennessee
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Tennessee
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Memphis for 2019
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 2013-2017, 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 Memphis.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 16 suburbs to evaluate around Memphis.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 16 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 lookin’ at you, West Memphis.
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.
1. West Memphis
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,101 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $84,000 (1st lowest)
More on West Memphis:
We’ll get the ball rolling with West Memphis, the absolute worst place to live around Memphis according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, West Memphis beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Memphis area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st 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 West Memphis.
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.
Welcome to Millington. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 16.8 miles to Memphis. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $48,409 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.
3. Horn Lake
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $47,300 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $98,400 (2nd lowest)
More on Horn Lake:
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Memphis suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Horn Lake 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 Memphis suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Brighton, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Memphis suburb when it comes to residents making money.
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 16 cities for this study.
Brighton is about 29.5 miles to downtown.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $60,093 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $139,400 (5th lowest)
More on Southaven:
Southaven has the distinction of being a Memphis suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Southaven has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Memphis area, where the median price is $139,400. To put that into perspective, in Germantown, the median income is $113,957, which is the best in the area.
Southaven has an unemployment rate of 5.3% which ranks 7th worst.
Munford has 6,009 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 13.8%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $71,759 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $151,800 (6th lowest)
More on Marion:
Ah, Marion. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Memphis.
It’s the place with the 7th most out of work residents in the Memphis metro area (5.3%).
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $69,179 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $181,100 (11th lowest)
More on Hernando:
Hernando is a city about 17.6 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. Hernando has the 9th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 11th highest unemployment rate (3.8%) in the entire Memphis metro area.
Homes only cost $181,100 for a reason. That’s cheap for Memphis standards.
9. Olive Branch
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $70,572 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $170,200 (9th lowest)
More on Olive Branch:
If you absolutely have to live near Memphis, then Olive Branch might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Memphis suburb.
About 5.0% of residents are out of work.
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 6th highest unemployment rate (5.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Memphis where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Memphis with West Memphis 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:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Tennessee
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Tennessee
- 10 Safest Places In Tennessee
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Tennessee
Detailed List Of The Worst Memphis Suburbs