These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama

Here are the places in the Heart Of Dixie that are the real pits.

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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 65 of the largest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Alabama:

  1. Gadsden (Photos)
  2. Prichard
  3. Bessemer (Photos)
  4. Anniston (Photos)
  5. Atmore (Photos)
  6. Selma (Photos)
  7. Talladega (Photos)
  8. Fort Payne (Photos)
  9. Eufaula (Photos)
  10. Phenix City (Photos)

And in 11th place, Mobile.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and/or scroll to the bottom to see how each town ranked. And you can read about the best places in Alabama here.

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How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst places to live in Alabama, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.

We also looked at the bigger places, because while the smaller places have less to do (which might make them ‘worse’ than a bigger city), it wouldn’t be fair to compare a place with less than 20 people with a place of 200,000.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • High Housing Vacancy Rate
  • Education (Low expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Long Commute Times
  • High Crime
  • The Worst Weather

1. Gadsden

Source: Google Maps

Population: 36,888
Unemployment: 8.3%
Household income: $27,865
Household vacancy rate: 18.3%
Crime: 4th worst in Alabama

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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.”

2. Prichard

Source: Google Maps

Population: 22,844
Crime: 10th worst in Alabama
Household income: $23,726
Unemployment rate: 11.5%

Prichard, a Mobile suburb, is almost as dangerous and its residents make even less per year than in Gadsden. The unemployment rate here is almost higher than in any other place in Alabama, and nearly 1 in 5 homes is vacant.

Additionally, Prichard is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings, and has seen its population cut in half over the last 20 years.

3. Bessemer

Source: Flickr user Dystopos

Population: 27,516
House vacancy rate: 17.1%
Crime: 3rd worst of cities of its size
Unemployment: 4th worst for larger cities

The city of Bessemer, a Birmingham suburb, has tried to rebound from a loss of manufacturing and railroad jobs, but its population has shrunk nearly 20% in the last 20 years.

The hometown for NFL quarterback Jameis Winston has very bad crime and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.

4. Anniston

Source: Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Population: 23,067
Household vacancy rate: 20.5%
Crime: 5th worst for larger cities
Unemployment rate: 8.1%

Anniston is out in an area on its own, about an hour drive east of Birmingham. In 2002, it was determined by 60 Minutes that Anniston was one of the highest-contaminated cities in the country.

Crime is bad here, houses are vacant, and the unemployment rate is nearly 1 in 10. As several residents of Anniston said on City-Data, don’t move there.

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5. Atmore

Source: Google Maps

Population: 10,103
Population density: 7th lowest
Unemployment rate: 7.9%
Household vacancy rate:15%

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.

6. Selma

Source: Flickr user Steven Martin

Population: 20,559
Unemployment rate: 12%
Household income: $22,076
Crime: 3rd worst for larger cities

Selma is in a fix. It has some of the worst crime, lowest household incomes and one of the highest unemployment rates in the state of Alabama.

The economic base in Selma was decent at one point, but the population has been diminishing at a high rate for the last 30 years. Selma is located out in the boonies, about an hour west of Montgomery, and as one user on City-Data said, “There’s not a lot to do in Selma except hunt.”

7. Talladega

Source: Google Maps

Population: 15,753
Crime: 8th worst for larger cities
Median income: $29,121

Eric Church recently released a song praising Talladega as being a fun place for boyhood memories (not sure if he actually spent time there or not). Nowadays, Talladega is a fairly dangerous place, statistically, with a household income much lower than the state average.

Like other places on this list, Talladega has failed to adjust to a new economy, as the population and overall economic output has shrunk in the last 30 years.

8. Fort Payne

Source: Google Maps

Population: 14,068
House vacancy rate: 17.4%
Population density: 3rd lowest for cites its size
Education ranking: 5th lowest for similarly sized cities in Alabama

On paper, Fort Payne is one of the worst places to live in Alabama. It has one of the worst educational rankings in the state, as spending per student, and teacher-to-student ratios are far below average.

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Located near the Georgia state line, Fort Payne is one of the least densely populated places in the state, meaning there’s really not a lot to do here. Except, perhaps, enjoy the weather: It has the highest Comfort Index in the state, according to BestPlaces.Net, which measures temperature, rain, and humidity levels.

9. Eufaula

Samford University. Source: Google Maps

Population: 13,086
Unemployment rate: 10.6%
Population density: 3rd lowest for cities its size
Household income: $34,086

Like Fort Payne, Eufaula ranks high on this list partly due to its lack of things to do. It’s sparsely populated, and an hour from Birmingham. Additionally, the unemployment rate here is way above the state average, and residents in Eufaula earn substantially less than residents in other cities.

10. Phenix City

Source: Google Maps

Population: 33,555
Household income: $34,559
House vacancy rate: 15%
Crime: 15th worst for cities its size

Phenix City, sitting a stone’s throw away from the Georgia state line, rounds out our worst places to live in Alabama list.

It was ranked as one of the most affordable suburbs to raise kids, eight years ago, by BusinessWeek magazine, and has been named as a great place for nightlife. That’s why it’s surprising that Phenix City ranked so high on this list. But, the data never lies.

There You Have It

Like we said earlier, Alabama has some beautiful places that a lot of folks are proud to call home, for sure. But if you’re analyzing places in Alabama with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best places to live in Alabama, according to science.

  1. Vestavia Hills (Pop. 33,831)
  2. Mountain Brook (Pop. 20,398)
  3. Hoover (Pop. 81,432)
  4. Madison (Pop. 42,925)
  5. Forestdale (Pop. 10,316)

Disclaimer: This article is an opinion based on data. It should not be taken as fact.

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51 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama

  1. Do you actually set foot in the places you slice and dice? I doubt it. So you just spill stats and show the worst photos you can find? Judging by the hatchet job on Talladega,Al., you certainly don’t do your homework.

  2. What about other places? Sure, if you take a picture of the worst spot in the whole town its sure to look like the worst place too.
    Google “pictures of Gadsden” and there are amazing pictures of the scenery around here. Get real. If youre gonna take a picture of the town do it right.

    1. I’ve only lived here a year, from California and I enjoy Gadsden. The High School is great , I’m not worried about my Son here. Does it need a little work, yes but every city does.

    2. You have to admit Gadsden is a pretty crappy place to live since the steel plant shut down. Yes there is “pretty scenery” but that is all they take care of. The city’s bottom line is what are the people driving through going to see, the rest of it can rot or turn to ghetto for all they care.

  3. Clearly you haven’t double checked your data. Eufaula is not an hour from Birmingham and learn how to spell the city name. Eufaula has plenty to do for the outdoorsman and is a great place to grow up.

  4. i don’t know who gathered this information, but they need to get some facts straight. Look at a map, Atmore is not a suburb of Mobile!!!!! Atmore is an hour from Mobile!!!!!!!!!

    1. I agree w/ your comment. Atmore is at least 60 miles from Mobile. Therefore it is not a suburb of Mobile. Where did they find that picture….a desolate farm road in the country ?

      1. It looks to me like the pictures came from a street view of a map website, such as googlemaps or mapquest. I don’t think the author actually went to any of these cities, just went off of statistics. I, for one, HAVE been to almost all of them and they are NOT as bad as they seem on paper. Plus the pictures are all of backstreets in the older downtown areas.

      2. it’s East Ridgeley. An abandoned road which no one ever drives down….at all. This guy is insane, and just wanted to do a hatchet job on cities he’d never even been near.

  5. I don’t know who all compiled this list, but there are so many errors I hope no one takes it as fact. I’m from Eufaula and while it’s not for everyone, it’s a beautiful place to live. The article misspells Eufaula several times and states it is an hour from Birmingham. They must have just “flew” in for a visit.

  6. Mr. Johnson,

    I totally disagree with you analyzing of Mobile. I am originally from Terre Haute , Indiana and have been in Mobile for 25 years I now call Mobile home. I live in the midtown / historic district and it is full of culture, history, museums, bus tours. The residents in Mobile are very friendly and welcoming and a great downtown entertainment district. I see you have place new small pop up town’s in your top 5. When I visit those area I have no idea where to go or what to do so. why go there.
    Mobile is a growing city and if you would look at crime statistics for the same size as Mobile you will find the crime rate percentage is gonna be about the same…. more than a small new town……Mobile is a city and your top 5 best places to live are TOWN’S a big difference.
    I will say I think it’s sad Mobile gets a bad rap being so close to Prichard, AL but Mobile alone is the most beautiful, historically best CITY in Alabama to live and visit.

  7. Not buying this survey. Fort Payne is a beautiful place and why Cullman did not make list as one of best places to live I don’t know. The places they listed as best also has high crime rates.

  8. I would invite you to visit these towns and then decide if your list is accurate. Fort Payne City Schools were one of the first schools with a Prometheum Board, if not the first, in the State and have a lot of excellent programs that other schools their size only dream of. It is also one of the most beautiful places in the State. No, there aren’t a lot of bars, etc., but if you enjoy the outdoors there is a ton of things to do. Fort Payne and DeKalb County are home to DeSoto State Park, Little River Canyon, Buck’s Pocket, DeSoto Falls and many other places that are great for camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, etc. Funny that MANY other lists I have seen have it as one of the most beautiful places in the State and even one of the most beautiful and best places to live in the country.

  9. Fort Payne?? ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT! This is the good restaurant capital of Northeast Bama! On top of THAT it is within an hour of Bham, Chatt and Huntsville! Total rubbish!

  10. This is a bunch of horse shit. I’ve lived in Atmore almost my whole life and it is not that bad. And it is not a suburb of Mobile. It’s a freaking hour from Mobile. Whoever did this needs to do their research

    1. I was going to say the same thing. These want-a-be journalists drive thru Alabama and think they are experts on the state. Bay Minette isn’t even a suburb of Mobile and it is 15 miles closer to Mobile.

  11. Do you not like to provide links to other lists that may be more credible than yours? (Editor’s note — We don’t allow links in comments.)

    Also, do you ever think of the damage you may be doing to the towns on any of these lists that you put together as far as their ability to recruit new business or other things that would stimulate their economy. I’m sure many of the towns on your various lists in different states are working hard to improve their situations while you sit in front of your computer in North Carolina with no true knowledge about the towns you are bashing.

  12. It was rather disheartening to see my hometown, Eufaula, on this list. However, due to the description, I’m a little uncertain about if you, the author, were actually refering to Eufaula. You are absolutely correct about the lack of “things to do”; however, I can’t imagine why that should be a primary reason to place this gem on this list, especially when we have an exceptional educational system and many local, less commercialized activities, programs and organizations available. Please review your resources. The picture used does NOT look like South Randolph AND we are NOT located an hour from Birmingham! As a former resident of Birmingham who just relocated back home two years ago, I can assure you that the drive is roughly 3-1/2 hours. We are roughly 45 minutes SOUTH of Phenix City and Columbus, Georgia and an hour NORTH of Dothan. As I do understand that we have all been alloted the freedom of speech and the flexibility to express our personal opinions, we shouldn’t abuse those rights by writing and publishing falsehoods. Again, PLEASE double-check your sources.

    1. The pic is taken from Google Earth, looking north in the south bound lane of South Randolph in front of Baker furniture across the street from First Baptist. Eufaula does starve for overall entertainment and unemployment is high but a much better place than this writer is familiar with. Take it for what it’s worth, they can’t even research enough to spell Youfalla correctly! 🙂

  13. Who are you making this list for? From the comments I’ve seen very few people agree with your list. Talking down someones hometown is not a good idea. How about doing something worthwhile. No one is buying your propaganda. If you really want a true list, start it off with Birmingham. Why does people try to cover for Birmingham. High crime. Black on Black crime is through the roof. City is all but bankrupt. Worse political leadership ever. Traffic is a nightmare. No one from the city should be allowed to drive. Schools are horrible. Next time you do a survey try actually getting it right.

    1. I think Birmingham has the highest crime rate in Alabama! My hometown Southside on the outskirts of Gadsden & next to Rainbow city is my choice of the best city to live in.

  14. “This is, though, isn’t that.” You’ve an extra “is” in there that made it past the editing. I generally agree with the content. I like the ranking, but a little more discussion on the weighting of the statistics and the rationale for using those stats would have been interesting.

  15. Gadsden – is a city full of possibilities. But they have too few serious investments from outside sources. Road and rail – Gadsden is in a perfect situation with highways and rail – and it is under utilized. Interstate 59 runs north and south with easy access to I 20 – east and west. There is a massive rail system in West Gadsden that was utilized when we made steel. Changes in attitudes and altitudes. Believe it or not – folks want to have fun. A long time ago an investor planned on building a waterpark utilizing Noccalula Moutains changes in elevations. A mega Water Park would generate tons of taxable revenue and jobs. And what are the support groups for a large attractions – hotels – dinning – shopping – and oh you get the idea!

    I grew up there – and was visiting just yesterday. It does make me sad to know that the older people don’t want traffic and fuss. It’s understandable – I wouldn’t want it in my 60s or 70s. That seems to me the major thing holding them back.

  16. Mr. Johnson, it would serve you well to visit Eufaula, AL before judging it based soley on the criteria of which was chosen to defile it!
    Eufaula, AL is one of the most historical and beautiful towns in America. I can assure, Eufaula offers much more positives than what your criteria offered.
    Matter-of-fact, you should visit. You just might be pleasantly surprised with the wealth of the good southern hospitality by which you would be greeted. It would seem, based on the criteria, you just might benefit from it.
    Shame on you and your criteria!

  17. Personally, I absolutely love Alabama! These small towns are why I love Alabama! Wouldn’t have raised my children any where else! Don’t give a rat’s behind what this author or anyone else thinks about it! You can keep your ,so called, progress of the bigger cities! If you don’t like where you live, simple, move! Sell your property, or whatever other excuse you may have, and go be happy! We won’t mind!

  18. If you are trying to decide if a place is lousy or not, do not use this article as a guide. It’s criteria is highly flawed and rather than a scientific analysis, is merely opinion based upon questionable logic. To use the term “scientific analysis” is a stretch at the very least. Possibly, if it were an article written for a 7th or 8th grade school assignment that term could be used, but not here.

    There are parts of the criteria ( crime rate, unemployment, and income) that make perfect sense in determining the quality of life in a given community. Another would be quality of education, but that is not part of their criteria. They use expenditures per student. This measure in no way indicates quality of education. In fact, those school districts that have the highest e.p.s. often produce the lowest results.

    Now for the rest of the criteria. Since when is a lower population density a bad thing. That is an opinion, not a fact and has no place in “scientific analysis”. Commute time? Commute time to where? Most people commute because they don’t want to live in the high population density area in which they work. Finally, worst weather? If your comparing weather in Alabama to say Idaho or even Kentucky, that would apply. Comparing weather in communities that are only miles apart makes absolutely no sense.

    This article, with out a doubt, rates as the worst and poorest executed article on the worst places to live in Alabama.

  19. Home is where the heart is. If a cow turd was ur home and someone said anything negative about ur stinky cow turd, you’d be offended, that’s human nature. Love is blind and that includes the love of ones hometown. So say what you want about my cow turd, good or bad, I’m use to the smell. Hometowns don’t make the individual, the individual does. So Sweet Home Alabama or wherever you call home

  20. I agree with gadsden being the worst its not so much the crimeits the cops harrasment on out of state tags. Then you have the city councel that has been taken over by people from up north historical places have been destroyed..then cops are running any bussiness out of town city council don’t like there trying gto makeit a retirment community. And run out familys that have been in gadsden since the very beginning of gadsden my grandfather was founder of baptist assoc for state of ala and owned most of soutth gadsden dureing the great depression well banks froze peoples money so he sold most all of it off except the bikg farm house and 2 rent houses the money he received he built a church in south gadsden and chipped in on a nurseing home well in 1970s the state came in forced grandmother out of her home to build a hwy there they handed her ten thousand dollars and evicted her off our land even back then the property barnhuge green houseand huge home with a smaller rent house beside it was worth 250.000.00. My suggeston is don’t move there if state decides they want your land they will take it and you will loose all the money you invested

    1. Spelling and grammar are not your strong suite. Yes, you’ll make a fine mayor. You can be the mayor of Goofy Land, where spelling and grammar are silly things that people don’t concern themselves with.

  21. I moved from gadsden long ago it sickens me the things I c when I go to visit relitives there like I say my family was one of the first settlers there most commenting here on gadsden I’ve noticed arnt from original founding settlers if I ever move back home I will be running for mayor to try and restore gadsden to its former glory it once had

    1. I can’t speak to the eternal beauty or degradation of Gadsden, but I can say that your response would be much easier to read if you inserted some punctuation.

  22. I’ve been to every city on this list during the 25 years I lived in Alabama. The worst are not that bad and the best are not so good. But every city could be a lot better if they had a decent state government. The 1901 constitution is archaic (it’s got about 900 amendments!)gives the state almost unlimited power over cities, and is racist to boot. Change the legislature, change the lawmakers, and all these cities will improve.

  23. Some of the criteria used is bogus. For example, someone actually wanting to live in a “less densely populated” area would prefer a low density population and thus this wouldn’t be a negative. Another journalist using different criteria would arrive at at an entirely different conclusion. My opinion: writers writing this type of article are seeking readership, not accuracy.

  24. I am planning to travel in the Mid of january and I think it would be a fantastic experience to go Dothan,AL and Orange Beach.

  25. I m glad i took the time to read the coments . I am retiiring and i have been very serious about moving around mobile, i was getting kind of nervous when i was checking the crime rates. I am a single female in my 60’s and would be on my own. I love the fact of being close to the gulf iit sounds beautiful. I am from Chicago cant handle the cold anymore and looking for some peace and quiet, so i will just take a roadtrip and find out myself. I have been to alabama a few times i have relatives that live around Jasper i just want to go farther south.

    1. No! High crime and poor schools.

      Nothing for young people to do at all.

      You can do much better within a 20 mile radius. I lived there for a year when I first moved to Birmingham.

  26. i grew up in Mountain,Brook,and it was most likely the best place to raise a family, It had no blacks in the public schools except for the help in kitchen n the maids, every house had a black maid that left after 3 PM.The homes were very clean very nice and costly.Inhabited by Drs Lawyers business owners (the jews), but the Jews have their own special section called Dunbarton,(little Israel)No christmas lights in that area,
    Mountain Brook is the most expensive place in the state to live. smooth roads, the police are really bad about ticketing only the teens and outsiders passing thru. but as soon as you entered birmingham thats on all sides of Mt Brook, it was like instant depression. blacks crime and a feeling of leaving fantasy land.They called it the yellow brick road for a reason. None of the home owners there dare cut aby trees down so its the coolest area dyring hot humid summers,however during ab ice storm all the roads will be blocked from fallen trees.The Beverly Beverly Hills Palm Beach of Alabama…Everywere else is run down ridden with either red necks or blacks..thankfully the segrigation held on in this state for as long as possable, it keeps the crime in certain areas…

  27. The band, Clutch, did a gig for New Year’s Eve in Gadsden, for the Shriners. They must be the only Shriners that don’t own their own facility. They were renting a tiny downtown building with a tiny stage. The gig was horrid and the check from the Shriners bounced. Clutch had to go through the law to get it’s money. Gadsden is trash. Birmingham and Huntsville leave much to be desired, as well.

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