Arkansas is known as the ‘Natural State’, and it’s often easy to see why: there’s an absolute abundance of natural scenic beauty, clear lakes and streams, and fascinating wildlife.
But, unfortunately, there are some cities and towns that are better places to live in Arkansas than others. Using scientific data, we’ve compiled a list of the worst places to live in Arkansas.
These are the places you don’t want to end up for reasons like high crime and unemployment rates, along with lack of access to quality education.
Here is the worst of the worst in Arkansas:
- Helena-West Helena (Photos)
- Newport (Photos)
- Camden (Photos)
- Hope (Photos)
- Osceola (Photos)
- Warren (Photos)
- Pine Bluff (Photos)
- West Memphis (Photos)
- Blytheville (Photos)
- El Dorado (Photos)
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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Arkansas for 2018
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 5,200 people were considered — leaving 60 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 60 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 Arkansas — Helena-West Helena. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Arkansas.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
1. Helena-West Helena
Population: 11,325Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $71,100 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.6% (1st worst)
It’s true that the unemployment rate in Helena-West Helena is even worse than Osceola. Additionally, the media income is substantially lower than Osceola as well.
However, Helena-West Helena has a slightly lower crime rate than many other cities on this list, causing it to be a slightly safer (and better!) place to live.
Population: 7,781Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $78,800 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (11th worst)
Newport is at the top of the list for worst places to live in Arkansas. It has the 7th worst crime index in the state, the unemployment rate is exceptionally high, and the median income is one of the lowest in the state.
Additionally, 3730.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 11,515Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $70,900 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (12th worst)
Camden has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 35th-highest in the state of Arkansas. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 10.1%.
Additionally, 3400.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 9,968Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Home Values: $75,400 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (7th worst)
Hope’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Hope has the 14th worst crime index of any place in Arkansas, and has the 5th lowest income.
Population: 7,315Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Home Values: $80,400 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.1% (2nd worst)
While the median household income in Osceola is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of ‘worst cities’, Osceola still has the 2nd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 5th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Osceola household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
Population: 5,804Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Home Values: $67,900 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (9th worst)
Warren places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Arkansas.
You can imagine it’s a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 1st cheapest in the state, and at $67,900, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (11.2%) is the 9th highest in Arkansas, and income levels are far below the state average. And 3230.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Warren has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Arkansas?
7. Pine Bluff
Population: 45,404Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Home Values: $75,200 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (5th worst)
According to science, Pine Bluff is the 7th worst place you can live in Arkansas.
Let’s see why. Pine Bluff has the 3rd-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Pine Bluff is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($75,200), and the 5th-highest unemployment rate in the state (12.6%), and across the board, Pine Bluff doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
8. West Memphis
Population: 25,411Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Values: $82,000 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (7th worst)
West Memphis ranks 8th in worst places to live in Arkansas for several obvious reasons: it has the 10th highest crime rate in all of Arkansas, and the unemployment rate is the 7th worst in the state.
While there is a higher median income, the heavy crime rates and high unemployment rates make West Memphis one of the worst places to live.
Population: 14,849Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Home Values: $77,700 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (21st worst)
Blytheville, AR needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 8.1%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 4th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 17.0 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
10. El Dorado
Population: 18,393Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Home Values: $82,300 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (10th worst)
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, El Dorado is one of the worst places you can live in Arkansas. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 10.9% unemployment rate for a city of 18,393 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Arkansas
If you’re looking at areas in Arkansas 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, Helena-West Helena ranks as the worst city to live in Arkansas for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arkansas:
- Bentonville (Pop. 42,499)
- Maumelle (Pop. 17,795)
- Bryant (Pop. 19,529)
For more Arkansas reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Arkansas
- These Are The 10 Most Miserable Cities In Arkansas
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Arkansas
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