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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 2021.
For more Arkansas reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Arkansas
- Cheapest Places To Live In Arkansas
- Most Dangerous Places in Arkansas
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arkansas For 2021
West Memphis ranks 1st in worst places to live in Arkansas for several obvious reasons: it has the 5th 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.
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.
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 is at the top of the list for worst places to live in Arkansas. It has the 9th 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, 27.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Camden has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 23rd-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 7.7%.
Additionally, 31.8% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Blytheville, AR needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 9.5%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 11th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 22.3 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
If you live in Warren, you're either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn't matter, because science says it's the 7th worst place to live in the state.
You've got the 46th highest crime rate in Arkansas, which saw 24 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 38.7 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 235 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Warren.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Warren sports the state's 15th highest unemployment rate (7.6%), and families bring in a combined $38,508 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $85,500.
El Dorado needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in El Dorado. That's not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about El Dorado. Of the 62 cities considered in this ranking, El Dorado had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does El Dorado have Arkansas's 13th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 21st and 6th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of "Worst City in Arkansas."
If you know anyone in El Dorado, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
While numbers in Arkansas are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Arkansas cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Hot Springs average $122,900, which is the 32nd lowest in the state. Say what you want about 'cheap living,' the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Hot Springs.
Plus, 24.3% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 2nd highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Hot Springs city limits, you have a 1 in 14.4 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.
Malvern is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Malvern is the 26th most dangerous place you can live in Arkansas.
Residents in Malvern have a 1 in 28.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you're considering home prices, you can't do much lower than in Malvern, where average homes are valued at only$93,200. That's the 16th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
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
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:
- White Hall (Pop. 5,078)
- Maumelle (Pop. 18,142)
- Bentonville (Pop. 49,467)
For more Arkansas reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Arkansas?