The 10 Worst Places To Live In The United States For 2022

We used science and data to determine which cities in America are the real pits.

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Today, we're going to talk about the worst places to live in the entire country. We might hurt some feelings along the way, and some people will agree with each city. Either way, we did the research, so we know we're pretty darn close.

How did we determine the worst places to live in America anyways? Most people would agree with us that bad places to live have a lot of crime, crummy schools, not a lot of culture, and crappy jobs. Basically, we're talking about the cities where you want to avoid if you're looking for a fresh start in life. And if you live in the places we're about to talk about, well, then, you are clearly not going to move away if you haven't left by now. So, good for you!

The cities below all share those qualities. There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it's hard to argue against. We had more than 10 million people read our worst cities in a state series, which was featured in hundreds of media outlets, including an NPR feature.

So we know what we're talking about.

After analyzing the biggest cities in the country, here is our list of the worst cities to live in America.

You might be surprised to see some of these cities on this list. We understand there's a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty, 'friendly people', and community involvement), there are far better options in America for making a place home.

What's the worst place to live in America for 2022? The worst place to live in America is Memphis, TN based on the most recent crime and census data around quality of life.

The best place to live in America? Sunnyvale, CA. More on that later.

Now, I'd like to add that we'd like to also help these cities too. So, in the description, there's links to places in each city where you can do your part if you want, to make things better. So, while we're poking a little fun at some of these places, we want to do our part to help, too.

That said, try not to get too depressed as we begin our journey of America's worst cities.

For more reading about America, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In America For 2022

If you were looking for a match and Memphis came across your screen, you would definitely swipe left. Memphis, my friends, needs some real TLC.

Here in Memphis, crime is the 3rd highest in the country, and 1 out of 17.7 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers. That's not the first place you think of making home, is it? Additionally, you have a 1 in 54 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes all sorts of bad stuff. That's really high.

When you look at adult education in Tennessee, the folks in Memphis have the 76th highest dropout rate. And other factors that make Memphis undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.

The unemployment rate is the 20th highest in the states, at 8.56%

Sadly, Memphis is a really lousy place to live.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 650,910
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $107,100 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (20th worst)
More on Memphis:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Memphis, TN

Next up is the seriously unimpressive city of Dayton, Ohio. This city also makes sense to me based on firsthand experience. Dayton is quite a depressing place. Whenever I drive through Ohio, I try and always time my trip so I don't have to stop in Dayton for gas. And it's not the only Ohio city we're going to talk about...

If you live in Dayton, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 3highest crime rate, per capita in the country. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery. Plus there were 1,523 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 100 chance of being a major crime victim.

Finally, the folks who live here earn the 3rd lowest salaries in America's big cities at ~$30,000 a household -- that's simply not enough to get by for most folks. People in Dayton need money BAD. They'll take anything they can get their hands on - Christmas lights, Ja Rule Tickets, even your cracked cell phone.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 140,444
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $69,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (7th worst)
More on Dayton:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Dayton, OH

Our next stop is the terrible, terrible city of Shreveport, Louisiana. Actually, Shreveport isn't the worst place you could possibly live, but on paper, it ranks really high as a bad place to live. Here's why.

First off, crime is really high. You have a 1 in 16 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 113 chance of being a crime victim here for every year you spend in the city limits of Shreveport. Gang activity probably has something to do with that.

Shreveport is the slowest growing city in America, too. Did you know Shreveport ranks 3rd in the nation for least gender equality? That means the number of men versus women is really low.

No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $139,800. What else makes Shreveport so noxious? It has to be the most boring and stagnant place in Louisiana to live, quite honestly. So it's not really a shock to anyone when a story comes out that paints Shreveport in a negative light. People don't get upset and say "that's not our Shreveport" they usually go "yup, that sounds about right".

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 189,890
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $151,700 (37th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (40th worst)
More on Shreveport:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Shreveport, LA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 117,321
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 21)
Median Home Value: $123,700 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (96th worst)
More on Beaumont:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Beaumont, TX

Source: Public domain

Practically right next door is Cleveland -- it ranks as the 5th worst city you can live in America.

What makes Cleveland so abominable? Well, the weather here stinks. It's a gray, cloudy, dreary and very cold place for a majority of the year. They've made an attempt at fixing up the downtown area a bit, but there's still a bunch of downtown that's dangerous and very sketchy. And don't EVER get off the freeway in east Cleveland. I did that once to let my dog out to pee and I seriously thought I was going to get shot. Like a block from the off ramp. And, remember, i grew up in San Bernardino, so I'm tough.

On paper, Cleveland is miserable. Cleveland has a 12.42% unemployment rate, which is the 2nd worst in the entire country. It has far below average income levels and the 19th highest crime rate in the country.

If you look up Cleveland on forums, you'll see headlines like this:
"Cleveland is the most depressing, boring place on earth"
"Why is Cleveland filled with so many negative people?"
"Why do Clevelanders hate Cleveland?"

Some place called the Economic Innovation Group called Cleveland the most distressed place in the country, citing factors such as a lack of educated, successful people. Did you know a quarter of all Cleveland residents doesn't even have a high school degree? For people in Cleveland, that means 25%. Or, 1 in 4. And, 1 in 5 homes in Cleveland is vacant.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 383,331
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $73,400 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (2nd worst)
More on Cleveland:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Cleveland, OH

Our next stop is the terrible, terrible city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Actually, Tulsa isn't the worst place you could possibly live, but on paper, it ranks really high as a bad place to live. Here's why.

First off, crime is really high. You have a 1 in 16 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 113 chance of being a crime victim here for every year you spend in the city limits of Tulsa. Gang activity probably has something to do with that.

Homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $143,400. What else makes Tulsa so noxious? It has to be the most boring and stagnant place in America to live, quite honestly. So it's not really a shock to anyone when a story comes out that paints Tulsa in a negative light. People don't get upset and say "that's not our Tulsa" they usually go "yup, that sounds about right".

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 402,441
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $143,400 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (64th worst)
More on Tulsa:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Tulsa, OK

You've probably seen a coastal snob on TV talk about how the idea of moving to the midwest sounds awful. And Springfield is the exact mental image people on the coasts conjure up when they think of the midwest. The place that no one has ever said, "I'm excited to move to Springfield!"

The overall crime rate ranks as the worst in the country driven primarily by property crimes. It's a "city", but is really just a big town tucked away in rural Missouri without much to do. And home values, as a sign of demand, are some of the lowest in the country for the big cities we looked at -- meaning no one's trying to move here. The median income clocks in at $37,491.

On the plus side, Springfield has a cost of living below the national average and the weather is pretty mild. And you can always take a day trip down to the Ozarks to pretend you're living that glamorous Langmore life.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 167,601
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $122,200 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (119th worst)
More on Springfield:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Springfield, MO

Brownsville Texas really isn't all that great. And if you move there then you'll know.

First off, homes here average $92,400 a year. That's the 8th lowest home price value in the USA. You can judge a city by the cost of the homes there, and when homes cost well under $100K a year, that means, well, no one wants to live there.

What else makes Brownville so lousy? Well, unfortunately, the reality of living in a border town means higher crime. Statistically, border towns are far less desirable when you measure quality of life factors.

Many Brownsvillians will defend Brownsville, saying it's a diverse place, and it's affordable. Plus, there are a bunch of places in Brownsville to get Mexican food, which means...are you kidding me? They have a MR. TACO? OMG, we might have to move Brownsville off this list. Guys, seriously. Why is Brownsville on here? They have a Mr. Taco there.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 182,230
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $92,400 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (70th worst)
More on Brownsville:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Brownsville, TX

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 222,191
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $185,000 (56th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (18th worst)
More on Baton Rouge:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Baton Rouge, LA

Source: Public domain

Moving right along on our terrible tour of America brings us to America's favorite punching bag, Detroit.

Well, good for you, Detroit, you're not the absolute worst place to live.

Detroit has all sorts of issues. Particularly with its economy. 1 in 5 people in Detroit is out of work, which is the highest rate in America. And, home prices are around $40 or $50,000, which is the lowest rate in the country. You could be an unemployed joker and still afford a house in Detroit.

Remember when the entire city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy? The city was slashing jobs, cutting services and closing parks. They even shut street lights off on many blocks in town. But Detroit is apparently getting better. People talk about a resurgence of jobs, a new attitude, and lower crime rates. While many areas of Detroit ARE improving, overall, the city as a whole is still doing very poorly.

We're all pulling for you Detroit.

Everyone except Cleveland.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 672,351
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $52,700 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (1st worst)
More on Detroit:  DataCrime | Cost Of Living

Detroit, MI

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

In order to rank the worst places to live in America, 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, things to do and a stable economy.

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

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the most recent 2016-2020 American Community Survey data, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse -- meaning there's less to do for indoor entertainment)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Low home prices
  • A lot of uninsured individuals
  • A high portion of uneducated adults
  • High Crime
  • High Poverty

If you'd like to see the complete list of cities, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a link to the entire data set. Or you can download the data here.

Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves.

Summary: The Worst Big Cities in America

If you're looking at cities in the U.S. where crime is high, people are broke, and the public schools are lousy, this is an accurate list.

Now, do these cities have any redeeming qualities? Sure. We were being a little hard on most of them while trying to make our point, but there's some culture in most of these places. Like anywhere in America, there's good and bad around every corner. But overall, based on statistical data, and from what many top news gathering agencies have written in the past, these are your worst potential places you could live in the US.

If you live in Memphis, or any of the other cities we talked about, hopefully you're working to make your city a better place. If not, you have nothing to complain about yourself.
In case you're wondering which cities ALMOST made the list: St. Louis and Springfield Missouri as well as Hartford Connecticut are also terrible places to live.

Here are the best cities in America, according to science

  1. Sunnyvale
  2. Naperville
  3. Cambridge

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In America

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Memphis, TN 650,910 8.6% $107,100
2 Dayton, OH 140,444 10.3% $69,400
3 Shreveport, LA 189,890 7.1% $151,700
4 Beaumont, TX 117,321 5.6% $123,700
5 Cleveland, OH 383,331 12.4% $73,400
6 Tulsa, OK 402,441 6.2% $143,400
7 Springfield, MO 167,601 5.2% $122,200
8 Brownsville, TX 182,230 6.1% $92,400
9 Baton Rouge, LA 222,191 8.7% $185,000
10 Detroit, MI 672,351 14.9% $52,700
11 Waco, TX 137,779 4.6% $133,500
12 Houston, TX 2,313,238 6.2% $186,800
13 New Orleans, LA 391,249 8.5% $250,000
14 Akron, OH 197,375 8.8% $83,500
15 Chattanooga, TN 181,370 5.2% $174,900
16 Tucson, AZ 545,340 7.5% $165,900
17 Hartford, CT 122,549 11.3% $170,200
18 Evansville, IN 118,414 6.2% $98,600
19 Rockford, IL 147,441 9.6% $95,200
20 Fayetteville, NC 211,201 8.4% $134,800
21 Knoxville, TN 187,487 5.5% $142,700
22 San Bernardino, CA 216,784 8.7% $272,600
23 San Antonio, TX 1,529,133 5.9% $156,700
24 Toledo, OH 275,116 8.7% $83,600
25 Columbia, SC 134,057 6.8% $186,000
26 Pasadena, TX 152,537 9.8% $132,300
27 Corpus Christi, TX 326,332 5.7% $150,100
28 Lubbock, TX 257,013 4.2% $147,900
29 St. Louis, MO 304,709 5.8% $143,700
30 Lansing, MI 117,488 9.6% $87,700
31 Greensboro, NC 294,395 6.5% $163,000
32 Milwaukee, WI 592,649 6.3% $128,300
33 Rochester, NY 206,357 8.9% $88,100
34 Indianapolis, IN 869,387 5.7% $145,200
35 Independence, MO 117,139 5.6% $121,200
36 Cincinnati, OH 302,687 7.3% $148,700
37 Amarillo, TX 199,225 3.8% $138,900
38 Odessa, TX 122,630 7.1% $159,700
39 Syracuse, NY 142,553 9.6% $95,800
40 Kansas City, MO 491,158 4.9% $163,300
41 Dallas, TX 1,338,846 4.9% $208,700
42 Laredo, TX 260,571 5.5% $140,100
43 Oklahoma City, OK 649,821 4.6% $161,800
44 Tallahassee, FL 192,885 7.1% $212,800
45 New Haven, CT 130,381 8.6% $205,100
46 Newark, NJ 281,917 10.6% $254,900
47 Paterson, NJ 145,484 7.4% $257,700
48 Bridgeport, CT 145,014 11.5% $186,000
49 Victorville, CA 122,958 11.1% $235,700
50 Buffalo, NY 255,805 7.6% $101,000
51 Mcallen, TX 142,557 5.7% $131,500
52 Gainesville, FL 133,611 5.1% $179,500
53 El Paso, TX 679,879 6.2% $132,800
54 Fresno, CA 526,147 9.5% $256,000
55 Des Moines, IA 215,408 6.0% $141,300
56 Phoenix, AZ 1,658,422 5.4% $250,800
57 Orlando, FL 284,817 5.0% $262,500
58 Albuquerque, NM 560,447 5.6% $204,100
59 Bakersfield, CA 379,879 7.6% $258,700
60 Little Rock, AR 198,067 4.2% $172,500
61 Jacksonville, FL 902,488 5.5% $187,700
62 Fort Worth, TX 892,221 5.7% $190,400
63 Norfolk, VA 244,300 8.0% $215,800
64 Miami, FL 461,080 5.7% $344,300
65 Richmond, VA 229,233 6.3% $244,200
66 Lafayette, LA 126,674 5.3% $197,900
67 Stockton, CA 311,103 8.1% $298,200
68 Mesquite, TX 142,429 4.6% $160,000
69 Durham, NC 276,341 4.7% $243,000
70 North Las Vegas, NV 247,248 7.9% $260,100
71 Glendale, AZ 250,290 5.8% $231,200
72 Abilene, TX 124,691 3.4% $131,300
73 Fort Wayne, IN 268,378 5.9% $121,600
74 Elizabeth, NJ 128,484 6.0% $291,300
75 Grand Rapids, MI 199,417 5.8% $156,500
76 Lancaster, CA 157,697 6.6% $280,300
77 Columbus, OH 889,079 5.4% $160,000
78 Providence, RI 179,472 7.1% $225,200
79 Salt Lake City, UT 200,133 3.8% $346,100
80 Clarksville, TN 156,092 6.5% $164,800
81 Fort Lauderdale, FL 181,818 6.2% $350,900
82 Wilmington, NC 122,162 4.9% $264,600
83 Palmdale, CA 153,240 7.4% $302,800
84 Pomona, CA 151,124 6.3% $420,600
85 Spokane, WA 219,185 5.9% $205,500
86 Arlington, TX 397,269 5.2% $188,100
87 Newport News, VA 179,582 5.7% $194,700
88 Norman, OK 124,086 5.5% $184,300
89 Garland, TX 238,622 5.4% $172,600
90 Aurora, CO 379,434 5.2% $322,200
91 Salem, OR 171,806 6.2% $266,200
92 Grand Prairie, TX 193,835 5.4% $174,300
93 Tempe, AZ 191,607 6.1% $287,600
94 Tampa, FL 395,912 5.8% $254,600
95 Moreno Valley, CA 208,751 8.3% $335,700
96 Warren, MI 134,188 7.4% $132,900
97 Eugene, OR 170,457 7.5% $304,500
98 St. Paul, MN 305,877 5.0% $217,100
99 Hialeah, FL 233,876 4.1% $256,900
100 Los Angeles, CA 3,973,278 6.9% $670,700

Worst Places By State

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.