The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas For 2021

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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in Arkansas.

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 2021.

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 2021

West Memphis, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 24,823
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $86,800 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (5th worst)
More on West Memphis:  Data | Photos

You'll find West Memphis right by the Arkansas-Tennessee border. If you're smart, you'll keep driving until you make your way out of this city. We wouldn't be shocked if its 24,823 residents were right behind you too.

People often associate a larger population with a thriving metropolitan area that is rich in opportunity. West Memphis offers neither of those things, except plenty of people to share your sorrow. The area has a dismal 9.9% unemployment rate, which is probably part of the reason 9.0% of its population is on food stamps. To top all of that off, the city ranks 2nd in the state for highest levels of violent crime and is also one of the most dangerous cities in Arkansas.

Helena-West Helena, AR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,749
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $73,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (2nd worst)
More on Helena-West Helena:  Data | Photos

There's not a lot near Helena-West Helena and unfortunately, the city itself isn't much of a hot spot either. Even if the area did have plenty to offer, residents would have a hard time affording any of it given that the city has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the state.

The people here who do have a job are barely better off than those without pay. The median household income here is only $22,177. A bleak figure that may have something to do with the fact that 20.0% of the adult population dropped out of high school. Yikes. Let's hope this city that was once known for its blues community can get back some of its former glory in one way or another.

Osceola, AR

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Population: 6,908
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $81,200 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (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 worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 4th 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.

Newport, AR

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Population: 7,616
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $72,500 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (9th worst)
More on Newport:  Data | Photos

Next on our list is Newport. This community of 7,616 ranks highly for all the wrong reasons.

The area is 1st in the state for lowest median home value. An accomplishment that makes sense considering no one is getting much for their money when they decide to sell here. The median home value in Newport is a just $72,500.

Things aren't a whole lot better when it comes to how much money families are bringing in either. The city has the 3rd lowest median household income in Arkansas. Luckily for residents though, the area is at least affordable. The overall cost of living score here is 78, where the US average is 100.

Camden, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,999
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $77,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (14th worst)
More on Camden:  Data | Photos

History buffs may enjoy seeing the many historic buildings Camden has on display, but they certainly won't want to put down roots here.

According to the data, life in the city is grim for anyone who has chosen to stick around. A staggering 31.8% of residents live at the poverty level. A figure that is hard enough to wrap one's mind around. Yet, on top of that, 9.2% of people here are on food stamps too.

The final factor for those questioning whether to move on from this place seemingly devoid of growth should be that Camden also has the 2nd lowest median household income in Arkansas.

Blytheville, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 14,011
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $79,400 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (7th worst)
More on Blytheville:  Data | Photos

Blytheville is the kind of place that has it bad all around. Not only does the city have economic problems like its 9.5% unemployment rate, which happens to be the 7th highest in the state, it's also a hotbed of crime.

In the 2019 data year, lawbreakers committed 109 violent crimes. The real kicker though is that 10 of those were murder.

The city's one redeeming quality may be that those who get out alive, seem to do well. It's been home to a decent number of big names, including the famous
football coach Fred Akers.

Warren, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,646
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $85,500 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (15th worst)
More on Warren:  Data | Photos

Coming in as the 7th worst place to live in Arkansas is Warren, a city with hardly anything to offer. However, its population of 5,646 didn't do itself any favors by throwing education out the window. Of the adults here, 22.0% dropped out of high school.

A decision that has surely contributed to the high rates of hardships here, such as 11.4% of people being on food stamps and 29.8% living at the poverty level. Hopefully, teenagers currently residing in Warren realize they have the power to chart a different path for themselves.

El Dorado, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,982
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $88,600 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (2worst)
More on El Dorado:  Data | Photos

Unlike other areas on this list, El Dorado has a decent number of upsides, like a community college and numerous arts and culture sights.

It's also slightly better economically. Slightly being the key word. The city's median household income of $42,595 is higher than other places but nothing to get excited about. The median home value is better here too, but again, not by much. It comes in at $88,600.

Plus, residents have the added worry of how they're going to protect their property. Criminals here were busy in the 2019 data year, causing the city to rank 4th in the state for the highest rates of property crime.

Hot Springs, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 38,559
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $122,900 (32nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (27th worst)
More on Hot Springs:  Data | Photos

For a city as bustling and popular as Hot Springs, it's disappointing to say the least that it ended up on this list. But the data doesn't lie and it's lackluster for this community.

Residents here have a median household income of $37,552, which is bad enough. Then, the area adds insult to injury with a median home value of $122,900. Talk about stretching your budget.

Putting a roof over your head isn't the only thing you may struggle with here. Safety is a problem too. Hot Springs has the 2nd highest rates of total crime in Arkansas.

At least residents can briefly melt their worries away at one of the city's celebrated spas.

Malvern, AR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,920
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $93,200 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (11th worst)
More on Malvern:  Data | Photos

About 30 minutes away from Hot Springs is Malvern. Though it might be known as "The Brick Capital of the World," it's certainly not a top relocation destination.

In fact, the people who currently live here are probably planning their escape right now. First, however, it's likely they'll need to round up some extra money for their move. The median household income here is only $33,549.

And if residents are able to get out, fingers crossed employers in their new home care about their workers. The ones in Malvern definitely don't, given that 10.4% of people here don't have health insurance.

How we determined the worst places to live in Arkansas for 2021

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 2021.

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

  1. White Hall (Pop. 5,078)
  2. Maumelle (Pop. 18,142)
  3. Bentonville (Pop. 49,467)

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 24,823 9.9% $86,800
2 Helena-West Helena 10,749 11.8% $73,400
3 Osceola 6,908 13.9% $81,200
4 Newport 7,616 8.9% $72,500
5 Camden 10,999 7.7% $77,000
6 Blytheville 14,011 9.5% $79,400
7 Warren 5,646 7.6% $85,500
8 El Dorado 17,982 6.4% $88,600
9 Hot Springs 38,559 5.7% $122,900
10 Malvern 10,920 8.3% $93,200

How Is The Area In ?

23 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas For 2021

  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, 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.

  6. Pine Bluff is the worst place to live I was born and raised in ark. The hole state is in denial

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!’

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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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