The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Natural State need a big hug right now.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst places to live in Arkansas.

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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:

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 Arkansas? That would be West Memphis.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Arkansas reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas For 2020

West Memphis, AR

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 25,009
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $84,600 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (5th worst)
More on West Memphis:  Data | Photos

West Memphis ranks 1st in worst places to live in Arkansas for several obvious reasons: it has the 3rd highest crime rate in all of Arkansas, and the unemployment rate is the 5th 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.

Camden, AR

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 11,152
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $76,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (21st worst)
More on Camden:  Data | Photos

Camden has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 13th-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 7.0%.

Additionally, 31.4% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Helena-West Helena, AR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

1
/10

Population: 10,965
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $75,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.2% (2nd worst)
More on Helena-West Helena:  Data | Photos

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.

Blytheville, AR

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 14,298
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $80,400 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (6th worst)
More on Blytheville:  Data | Photos

Blytheville, AR needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 10.2%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 5th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 17.1 chance of being robbed here every year.

You could find a much better place to call home.

Osceola, AR

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 7,049
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $76,500 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (3rd worst)
More on Osceola:  Data | Photos

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 3rd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 7th 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.

Hot Springs, AR

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 36,969
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $117,200 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (9th worst)
More on Hot Springs:  Data | Photos

Hot Springs'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.

Hot Springs has the 2nd worst crime index of any place in Arkansas, and has the 12th lowest income.

Newport, AR

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,695
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 10)
Median Home Value: $76,700 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (19th worst)
More on Newport:  Data | Photos

Newport is at the top of the list for worst places to live in Arkansas. It has the 12th 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, 30.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Pine Bluff, AR

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 43,840
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $75,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (1st worst)
More on Pine Bluff:  Data | Photos

Say what you want about how beautiful Pine Bluff might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.

The unemployment rate rankss highest in the state at 13.0%. Homes are the 3rd lowest priced ($75,900), and the median income per household is just a tad over $32,917.

The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.

El Dorado, AR

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 18,129
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $89,600 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (12th worst)
More on El Dorado:  Data | Photos

El Dorado is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.

El Dorado residents earn the 33rd-lowest salaries in the state. At $42,411 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $89,600, which means there isn't a lot of demand.

Crime is the 4th highest in Arkansas per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 12th highest in the state, at 8.9%.

Hope, AR

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 9,847
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $77,700 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (25th worst)
More on Hope:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Arkansas, Hope came in 10th. Let's see why.

When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Arkansas residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Arkansas, you can see some really big differences. In Hope, the number of people out of work is 6.2%

In Arkansas, that's the 25th highest in the state.

The residents in Hope have the 16th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Hope average $35,677 a year. Which isn't too shabby in comparison to the other 'lowest' income cities in most other states.

Additionally, the homes are valued at $77,700 on average. That's the 7th lowest in the state.

How we determined the worst places to live in Arkansas 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

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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 62 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 62 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 -- West Memphis. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Arkansas. 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 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, West Memphis ranks as the worst city to live in Arkansas for 2020.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arkansas:

  1. Cabot (Pop. 26,176)
  2. Maumelle (Pop. 18,053)
  3. Bentonville (Pop. 46,857)

For more Arkansas reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Arkansas?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 West Memphis 25,009 10.9% $84,600
2 Camden 11,152 7.0% $76,300
3 Helena-West Helena 10,965 12.2% $75,600
4 Blytheville 14,298 10.2% $80,400
5 Osceola 7,049 11.9% $76,500
6 Hot Springs 36,969 9.0% $117,200
7 Newport 7,695 7.3% $76,700
8 Pine Bluff 43,840 13.0% $75,900
9 El Dorado 18,129 8.9% $89,600
10 Hope 9,847 6.2% $77,700

How Is The Area In ?

23 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas

  1. Monticello isn’t the 2 worst place. It is a great town, with good people. Pine bluff is the worst town around us.

  2. I totally disagree with Monticello being listed as your number two selection.
    Just look at the number of job opportunities available at MonticelloLive.com, Monticello’s daily news website.
    Also, check out the number of good stories representing life in Monticello, not just the bad news, like all communities have.

  3. The palmetto state issue skewed it for me.
    I have visited most of the cities on the list and live in one off them.

    The only thing monticello has going for it is the state university

  4. So glad you don’t have to live here in Arkansas! Its really easy for someone from another state to judge towns you have never lived it. It never occurs to some people that we don’t want to live in big cities, or that we like our towns just fine, or that bigger cities have much worse crime rates but what makes the little towns look bad is just that our population is small. WHATEVER!! This is such bull!! Don’t judge unless you live here city boy!

  5. Not good for credibility when you begin a piece with “The Palmetto State”. Sorry, but you have Arkansas confused South Carolina.

    But as to the statistics used, you made some huge assumptions on what people like/want. I’m also somewhat suspect at the supposed “lack of quality education” in regards to multiple cities listed. Several have very good community-based colleges as well as good-performing public schools.

    And apparently crime didn’t weigh too heavily, as the two highest crime cities didn’t even make the list.

    Something smells.

    1. Little rock crime rate 93%,Pine Bluff 90%!!! Point is that Little Rock is getting bad right under eveones nose!!! Wake up people!!!!!

  6. How on earth is Pine Bluff not on this list?? This is a joke. Several of the towns you have listed are great places to raise a family with morals and values. Look again

  7. I have lived in several parts of the state but I’ve always believed if God wanted to give the world an enema, he would apply it in Bentonville.

  8. It looks to me that this entire article was written by a script run against a database of census stastics. I disagree with the assumption that higher population density = better place to live.

  9. We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
    •Good education
    •Lots of jobs
    •Low crime
    •High incomes
    •High population density

    Why would you assume that people necessarily value population density? If they did, they probably wouldn’t live in Arkansas to begin with. High population density means traffic, pollution, living on small lots in crowded neighborhoods or high rise apartments. That is a completely bogus criteria on which to rank cities in an already largely rural state.

    If you want to “rank” cities, then crime, economic opportunity, availability of cultural pursuits (including hunting, fishing, hiking) would certainly be valid criteria. Including population density is just stupid. I can name fifty cities that are “worse” than Monticello, Morrilton and Beebe. I can only guess that Pine Bluff didn’t make the list because it has higher population density than most of the others.

  10. Wrong wrong wrong! Whoever wrote this needs to explore the area listed! I can list 30 towns worse than Newport! With data! Screw you’ll. go float the White River, and bird hunt the White River Valley!!’

  11. Where did you get this nonsense. about Morrilton Arkansas? Our town is NOT crime ridden. I’ve been in Morrilton for 66 years and never had a problem!! We have a sheriff and deputies that work 24/7!!!And it’s full of very nice people.your article is B.S.!!!!!!!

    1. No, I guess not since your obviously one of the ass suckers who sucks up to the inner circle in this unholy, evil little nowhere greedy life sucking prison town. The sheriff and his deputies are some of the primary criminals, who work 24/7 at ‘BEING CRIMINALS” and taking payoffs from drug dealers and bootleggers.

  12. I must say I live in Forrest city and where ever did you get the info that this town spends most the money on education for the kids? That’s a total lie, this town is in need of major makeovers from buildings to law and government

  13. This town spends money on whatever the mayor sees fit for his re election. The drug dealers and the law that work with them is the only for sure jobs in this town

  14. Morrilton should be on your number 1 list of worst cities in AR to have to live in. A dead little nowhere town that sucks the life and steals dreams and ideas of the impoverished. The little town with no limits on how much people can hate, steal, sabotage and backstab their neighbors. Buck the power system and your blacklisted for life, refuse to marry, your blacklisted for life, refuse to give this little town children to corrupt, your blacklisted for life. I will not dignify them with he term “Gay” closet queers and drug dealers, some of the drug dealers are local law enforcement prosper. Come out of the closet you’re blacklisted for life. Suck ass up to the Morrilton power wheel you do fine, all old decaying buildings on main street according to their owners should be declared historical monuments, when in fact they should be bull dozed to the ground. Morrilton is little more than a dead gigantic black hole and old people are nothing more than empty shells waiting for the grave to come and take them. Whatever glory days Morrilton ever saw “IF ANY” have long since faded into a bygone era. Counseling Associates of Morrilton is a joke and filled with greedy Neanderthal Buffoons by the system of Morrilton for the system of Morrilton. Run by white supremacist for white supremacist.
    Non Compensated “GAY” Vietnam Veteran

  15. Abandon hope all ye who enter Morrilton, AR. Legal professionals won’t even come near Morrilton or take on any legal of any low-income person living in it though it not provable I suspect Morrilton is one Government controlled rat holes. Medical care for low income is lowest substandard that can be afforded. Drug houses prosper here as do drug dealer, money laundering operations, prostitution rings and bootleggers as well as do illegal gambling operations. The FBI avoids Morrilton on stings like Morrilton had some type of plague. Every once in a blue moon the FBI makes a stink about huge drug and not a one of them is ever from Morrilton. Obviously some massive amount of power structure not located in Morrilton protects Morrilton as well as Conway County. Morrilton is as evil, dirty ad treacherous as any small off the beaten path town can be. Perhaps one day Morrilton’s government controlled rat will be discovered and it power broken for all time to come and Conway County’s power stripped away entirely.

  16. First, they don’t HAVE snowmobiles in Pine Bluff. This is the South. So your report is obviously filled with carbon copy stats and you as authors would have a terrible time convincing me you were ever in the state, much less one of the cities listed here.
    My vote for worst? I can’t argue with Little Rock. It’s a crossroads of gang bangers between Dallas and Memphis and has a terrible violent crime record. You simply are taking life into your own hands if you get off the well worn tourist path. But I worked in Springdale for over 32 years, and it is one of the most depressing, dirty and dangerous cities out there.
    At about 77, 000, it is basically divided between the west, where it’s primarily right wing racist white people who are also in many cases poorly educated and have no real sense of civic pride. Downtown is dead. A joke. The city overall is just unimaginative nickel and dime strip malls with no real personality, charm or reason to ever want to be there. The east side? Ultra poverty. Marshallese and Latinos and poor people in general are cramped in run down houses, ugly apartments, duplexes, full of gang and criminal activity including drugs, human trafficking and a horrific meth problem that plagues the city.
    Because nearby Fayetteville with the university attracts the more educated, anything approaching uniqueness, beauty, and civic pride, people want to live there. Springdale is strictly lower end blue collar – dominated by Tyson, Georges, and Cargill poultry giants. It’s flat, has no personality, and is a very intolerant town, especially west vs. east. Right wingers and evangelical fans are at odds with the east side, and everybody loses.

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