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Delaware. The first state. The 2nd smallest state. The place with awesome beaches, where you get your country life and your city life and everything in between.
Where you have Philly wannabes on one side and chicks in the sticks on the other.
If you're from Delaware, you think it's the best kept secret around. But is it all good in your hood?
Just like every other state, Delaware has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Delaware your home.
After analyzing 35 of the state's most populous cities (over 2,300 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Delaware:
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 Delaware? That would be Seaford.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Delaware reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Delaware
- Cheapest Places To Live In Delaware
- Most Dangerous Cities In Delaware
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Delaware For 2021
No, Seaford isn't near the sea. It's actually in the southwest section of Delaware, built along the Nanticoke River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. (The town is named after Seaford, England, which, to be fair, does sit along the coast.)
More than just a confusing name, Seaford has other, more substantial, problems. It's unemployment rate runs an elevated 7.7%. At the same time, crime happens at 175% greater frequency than in the country as a whole.
There are benefits to life in Seaford. Still want a catch a glimpse of water? You can stroll along the river as part of the Nanticoke River Walk.
If you live in Laurel, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 3rd highest crime rate, per capita in the state of Delaware. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 18.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus, for such a small place, there were 62 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 67 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the lowest salaries in Delaware. At $37,857 a household, that's simply not enough to get by for these Slower Lowers.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $212,800 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (13th worst)
More on Kent Acres: Data
Kent Acres sits just south of Dover, about 10 minutes from the center of the state's capital. This location provides the 2,519 residents of the town great access to amenities and a pleasant commute. Unfortunately, this comes with a downside. A lackluster economy and high cost of living make Kent Acres the number 3 worst spot to put down roots in Delaware.
It's not like the economy of the area is hopeless. The unemployment rate sits at 5.6% and the median income comes in at $44,750. However, many locals can't make ends meet. The poverty rate stands at 21.7% and housing is fairly expensive, with a median home value of $212,800.
Milford is built along the Mispillion River in the central part of the state. A 15-minute drive will take you to Slaughter Beach and fun in the sun along the coast. Also, unlike many towns on this list, the economy of Milford is actually pretty good. The unemployment rate sits at a healthy 4.4% and the median income comes in at a respectable $47,824.
So why is Milford one of the worst spots in Delaware? Short answer: crime and living expenses. The crime rate in the area tracks 130% above the U.S. norm. At the same time, many of Milford's 11,111 residents have trouble making ends meet. The poverty rate stands at 14.1%.
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $209,700 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (2nd worst)
More on Bear: Data
Bear has kind of a sink-or-swim economy. On the one hand, the unemployment rate sits at an elevated level of 9.3%. Meanwhile, the people with jobs fair rather well, with a local median income of $72,192.
This mixed financial situation leaves Bear as the number 5 hardest place to live in Delaware. Part of this comes from the high cost of living, which sits 10% above the national average. The median home value comes in at $209,700.
Built on the Indian River in the southern part of the state, Millsboro has a lot going for it. Plenty of waterfront property. A healthy economy. Good access to education and to amenities. The problem? Well, the 4,342 residents of Millsboro have to deal with a high crime and a bloated cost of living.
Millsboro's crime rate hovers about 120% above the national average. Meanwhile, housing is out of reach for many folks in the area. The median home value sits at $215,200...this in a community with a median income of $49,737 and a poverty rate of 22.4%.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $293,300 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (10th worst)
More on Rising Sun-Lebanon: Data
You've got to hand it to the founders of Rising Sun-Lebanon: they know how to give a town an interesting name. Unfortunately for the 4,065 current residents of this suburb of Dover, a great name doesn't save it from becoming the number 7 least appealing spot in Delaware.
The main challenge in town comes from affordability. Even with a median income of $72,273, locals have trouble affording the $293,300 median home prices.
Otherwise, Rising Sun-Lebanon has many advantages. Its location near the state capital gives the economy a boost. Meanwhile, education and the local amenities are strong.
Dover has a 6.2% unemployment rate (9th in DE), below average income levels and the 6th highest crime rate in the state.
This random City-Data comment sums up Dover.
"I visited Dover over the weekend (July 4th) and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.
"I saw lots people around Dover who looked...well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.
"And what's with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes? And the huge ugly Dover Race Track.
"Just looked sad."
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $184,700 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.5% (worst)
More on Edgemoor: Data
Edgemoor is located along the Delaware River, just outside of Wilmington, about 40 minutes outside of downtown Philadelphia. In a lot of ways, this puts Edgemoor in a prime location. That hasn't done the town's 6,934 residents much good, though. It still stands as the number 9 worst hometown in the state.
The community suffers from a sluggish economy, with unemplyoment running at 13.5% and 28.6% of the population struggling below the poverty line. At the same time, commuters from the nearby big cities have driven up property values, making it hard to afford a home in the area. The median home value sits at $184,700.
Besides the nearby cities, there is plenty to do in Edgemoor. For instance, you can take a walk by the river in Fox Point State Park.
Claymont sits along I-95, between Wilmington and Philadelphia. It also overlooks the Delaware River, across the water from New Jersey. A murky job market and a high cost of living make this one of the most difficult places to put down roots in all of Delaware.
The local economy isn't terrible, but it isn't exactly thriving either. The unemployment rate stands at 7.2%, while the poverty rate hovers at 13.3%. This comes with an expensive lifestyle. The overall cost of living tops the national average by about 10%, with the median home price coming in at $208,400.
There are benefits to life in Claymont. The 9,330 residents have access to good education and many amenities. They can also enjoy the area's historical significance, with such landmarks as the Darley House.
How we determined the worst places to live in Delaware 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 2,000 people were considered -- leaving 35 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 35 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 Delaware -- Seaford. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Delaware. 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 Delaware
If you're looking at areas in Delaware 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, Seaford ranks as the worst city to live in Delaware for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Delaware:
- Milton (Pop. 2,893)
- Greenville (Pop. 2,467)
- Newark (Pop. 33,448)
For more Delaware reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Delaware?