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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 100 of the largest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Alabama:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.
We understand there's a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Alabama? That would be Bessemer.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama For 2020
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 (6th worst) and an employment rate that's nearly the highest for cities of its size 14.7%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $84,500 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (17th worst)
More on Opp: Data
What the heck is going on in little Opp? The crime is the 24th highest in the state of Alabama. Here, residents have a 1 in 19.0 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn't have something stolen from you, there's a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we've seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 10.6% of Opp residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 17th highest in the state.
Prichard, a Mobile suburb, has the 3rd lowest income in Alabama. 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.
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 8.6. As several residents of Anniston said on City-Data, don't move there.
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.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Tarrant ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 6th cheapest in the state here at $76,000. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn't a lot of demand to live in Tarrant.
The median income levels here are the 8th lowest in the state of Alabama, at $29,981. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we'll talk about in a minute. And almost 9.6% of people in Tarrant were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Clanton is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of Alabama. Let's see why.
Residents who live in Clanton, located in Chilton County, have the 34th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level--per resident--and homes valued around $120,500, and you've got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Alabama, that is.
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.
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."
The unemployment rate in Greenville is a sky high 8.9%, which is the 24th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Greenville is $36,472. That means 24.4% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 22.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.
How we determined the worst places to live in Alabama 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 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 larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really 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 -- Bessemer. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Alabama. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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 not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Bessemer ranks as the worst city to live in Alabama for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Alabama:
- Homewood (Pop. 25,595)
- Vestavia Hills (Pop. 34,163)
- Mountain Brook (Pop. 20,466)
For more Alabama reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Alabama
- Richest Cities In Alabama
- Safest Places In Alabama
- Best Cities For Singles In Alabama
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Alabama?