People from Alabama are really passionate about being from Alabama. As a state, Alabama doesn’t necessarily get a lot of media attention, but it’s also a quiet gem, tucked away in the deep south.
This article isn’t a knock on Alabama, it’s just a scientific analysis on where the worst places to live there are. Of course, there are a lot of awesome places to live in Alabama. This is, though, isn’t that. It’s the opposite.
It’s the places you don’t want to live in.
After analyzing 100 of the largest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Alabama:
Where are these places, you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small towns in Alabama, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in Alabama is Mountain Brook.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Alabama? The worst place to live in Alabama is Talladega.
Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2023.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama For 2023
If you like racing, you’ve probably heard of Talladega. It hosts the Talladega Superspeedway (as well as the International Motorsports Hall of Fame). But, while you might to take the family out for the day, you wouldn’t want to stay in Talladega for an extended period of time. It has the dubious distinction as the number 1 worst place in Alabama to put down roots.
Despite the cash brought in by the speedway, the 15,782 residents of the community suffer from a weak economy. The area has the 4th lowest median income in the state, with a figure of $31,795. The unemployment rate is weak as well, coming in at 12.0%.
The median home value in Talladega hovers at $96,300 and the schools ranks below average.
Atmore, a Mobile suburb, is the smallest city on our entire list. As Alan Jackson says, “It’s alright to be itty bitty”, but when you have a high unemployment rate, 1 in 6 houses are vacant, and household incomes are far below the state average, it’s not the first place you might want to move to.
On the bright side, Atmore has more sunny days a year than almost any other place in Alabama. And former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield was born there, so they have that going for them.
At one time, Bessemer hosted a thriving industrial economy, based largely on steel production (the town shares a name with a steel-making process). Those boom days are now long in the past. These days, Bessemer ranks as the number 4 worst place in Alabama to call home.
This suburb of Birmingham has a population of 26,171. It also sports the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the Heart of Dixie, with a pace of 12.8%. Even the people who have jobs don’t make all that much. The median income for the area sits at $32,416.
There is a little good news: living in Bessemer isn’t too expensive. The cost of living is about 80% of the national average. The median home value sits at $102,200.
Anniston has a close connection with history. A one-time planned community from the 19th century, it now hosts the Freedom Riders National Monument. Unfortunately, a strong link to the past doesn’t do much for the current residents. After all, they live in the number 6 least attractive community in Alabama.
Built along Blue Mountain in the eastern part of the state, with easy access to the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge, a home in Anniston comes with some beautiful scenary. Everything else is a struggle, though. The crime rate is more than 300% above the national average. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate sits at 6.3% and the median income hovers at $39,928.
Tarrant is home to the largest producer of foundry coke in the U.S. A major employer like that should bolster a local economy. Yet, Tarrant suffers from high unemployment and low wages, making it one of the worst places to live in all of Alabama.
A suburb of Birmingham, the largest city in the state, Tarrant has the 14th lowest median income in Alabama, with a figure of just $36,927. The unemployment rate is dismal as well, hovering at 8.6%. The median home value sits at $92,300.
If you walk the streets of Tarrant at night, be careful. The crime rate is about three times the national average. The schools in the area are also terrible, receiving a lowly 1/10 from Great Schools.
Gadsden, about an hour north of Birmingham, takes the honor of being the worst place in Alabama, at least on paper. Crime is almost highest here than anywhere else in the state. And with an unemployment rate of more than 8%, and considering the fact that 1 in 5 houses are vacant, things aren’t looking up there.
Additionally, Gadsden residents have a very low household income level, and student spending is almost dead last in the state (schools spend, on average, a measly $8,500 per student, per year).
Things have changed here. Way back in 1991, Gadsden was awarded the honor of being called an “All-American City.”
On the surface, Clanton, Alabama, is in the center of the action…literally. It stands near the geographic center of the state. Besides that, it acts as the county seat for Chilton County and straddles the road between two major population centers in Birmingham and Montgomery. Still, with all this going for it, Clanton still ranks near the bottom of places you’d want to live in Alabama.
Education and the economy hold the town back. The community contains 8,715 residents. Of these, 14.3% suffer below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the schools in the area are average at best.
Looking at other economic indicators, the median income in Clanton stands at $48,051. Meanwhile, the median home value comes in at $147,600.
One thing that can be said for Prichard: housing is cheap. Located just outside of Mobile, near the Gulf Coast, the area has a median home value of $69,300. That’s the lowest mark in the state.
It’s not really a surprise that inexpensive homes are easy to find in Prichard, though. There’s not a lot of demand to live in the number 10 worst place to live in Alabama.
The 19,645 residents of the community need the affordable housing. With a median income of $32,900, they couldn’t get by with higher-cost living arrangements. The unemployment rate is high as well, coming in at 9.8%.
Along with these economic challenges come high crime and unimpressive schools. Prichard’s crime rate is more than double that of the U.S. standard.
Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in Alabama for 2023
To figure out the worst places to live in Alabama, 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 more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 100 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 100 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 Alabama — Talladega. Read on for a detailed look at the ten worst cities in Alabama.
Summary: Wrapping Up The Worst In Alabama
If you’re looking at areas in Alabama with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime and little to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Talladega ranks as the worst city to live in Alabama for 2023.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Alabama:
- Madison (Pop. 55,551)
- Vestavia Hills (Pop. 38,504)
- Mountain Brook (Pop. 22,184)
For more Alabama reading, check out:
Worst Places To Live In Alabama?