The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Hoosier State are the real pits.

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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 Indiana.

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The Hoosier State. A state that's about 90% farms and one large city, with small places sprinkled between long stretches of corn and beans. A place with a rich history, great colleges, and some of the friendliest people in the midwest. There are some really nice places in Indiana.

But is it all great there? Of course not. Just like every other state, Indiana has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in the Hoosier State have some serious issues, at least on paper.

After analyzing 111 of the state's most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Indiana:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana For 2020

  1. Gary
  2. East Chicago
  3. Anderson
  4. Lake Station
  5. Elkhart
  6. Salem
  7. Connersville
  8. South Bend
  9. Linton
  10. Logansport

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 Indiana? That would be Gary.

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 Indiana reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana For 2020

Gary, IN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 76,677
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $67,400 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.8% (1st worst)
More on Gary:  Data | Photos

There's probably not a single person in the state that would be surprised that Gary tops this list. In fact, if Gary wasn't atop this list, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.

Here are the statistics. Gary has the 19th worst crime rate in Indiana. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 374 violent crimes in Gary in 2020. Residents here had a 1 in 205 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.

The home values in Gary are the 6th cheapest in the state ($67,400), the unemployment rate is the highest (13.8%), and the annual household income is lowest in Indiana, at $30,310. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.

If there's one bright side to Gary, it's that the education is ranked above average. Meaning the kids at Gary public schools are getting as much attention and support as possible. Hopefully, that has an impact on the next generation that grows up here.

It's pretty much Gary, and then everyone else on this list.

East Chicago, IN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 28,448
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $73,900 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (2nd worst)
More on East Chicago:  Data | Photos

Since the southside of Chicago is one of the worst areas for crime in the nation, you can sure expect that East Chicago is going to be pretty rough. It is. In fact, East Chicago has the 13th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.

There were 80 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 25.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in East Chicago, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.

You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits. It is. The only thing saving East Chicago from being higher on the list is that the public schools are well funded. They may not be safe, but at least the kids are getting as much attention as they want.

Anderson, IN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 54,788
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $72,100 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (10th worst)
More on Anderson:  Data | Photos

Anderson is the first of a few cities near Indianapolis to make this list. When you're comparing things to Gary, things look a lot better here, but they still have some issues, according to science.

Anderson is the 8th most dangerous place in Indiana, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job -- at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 8.8% -- not horrible -- but worse than the state average.

Home values are really low ($72,100), and residents earn just $35,985 a year.

Plus, it's an hour drive into downtown Indy, so your entertainment options are fairly limited.

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,059
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $81,600 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (3rd worst)
More on Lake Station:  Data

Lake Station's issue is that it's right next door to Gary. However, it's a real head scratcher, since the crime here is actually right around the state average.

The issues Lake Station has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 3rd highest in Indiana (11.7%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom.

Elkhart, IN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 52,308
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $93,800 (41st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (19th worst)
More on Elkhart:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Indiana, Elkhart ranks 5th worst. Let's see why.

Here in Elkhart, crime is the 7th highest in the state, and 1 out of 28.0 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.

That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?

Additionally, you have a 1 in 83 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.

When you look at adult education in Indiana, the folks in Elkhart have the 2nd highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Elkhart undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.

The unemployment rate is the 19th highest in Indiana, at 7.8%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Indiana has some hard workers.

Salem, IN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,181
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $83,800 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (33rd worst)
More on Salem:  Data | Photos

While numbers in Indiana are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Indiana cities against one another, you see big differences.

Home values in Salem average $83,800, which is the 23rd 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 Salem.

Plus, 20.6% of the population here lives below the poverty line.

Plus, the crime rate is the 38th highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Salem city limits, you have a 1 in 33.1 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.

Connersville, IN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,069
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $71,000 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (51st worst)
More on Connersville:  Data | Photos

There's absolutely nothing to do in Connersville. Located out in the boonies toward the Ohio state line, the residents are most likely bored, and probably wouldn't have much disposable income to do much even if there was some form of entertainment. At least they can spend their Sundays with Andrew Luck.

The unemployment rate is the 5highest in the state (5.7%), the income levels and home prices are both in the bottom five in Indiana as well.

However, the public kids get just about as much attention and support than in any other region.

South Bend, IN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 102,233
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $82,500 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (23rd worst)
More on South Bend:  Data | Photos

You can sure expect that South Bend is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 8th in our analysis. It is. In fact, South Bend has the 5th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.

There were 1,064 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 23.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in South Bend, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.

You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 7.4% which is the 23rd worst in Indiana.

Linton, IN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,262
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 16)
Median Home Value: $65,800 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (20th worst)
More on Linton:  Data | Photos

Out of all the places to live in Indiana, Linton ranks as the 9th worst -- not something to brag about.

Linton's unemployment rate stands at 7.8%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $36,450 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.

Additionally, the homes are the 4th cheapest in the entire state at $65,800. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Linton. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?

Crime is the 38th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 33.1 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 169 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.

Logansport, IN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 18,141
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $65,700 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (24th worst)
More on Logansport:  Data | Photos

According to science, Logansport is the 10th worst place you can live in Indiana.

Let's see why. Logansport has the 38th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Logansport is certainly up there.

Factor in a very low housing cost ($65,700), and the 24th-highest unemployment rate in the state (7.4%), and across the board, Logansport 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.

How we determined the worst places to live in Indiana 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 111 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 111 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 Indiana -- Gary. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Indiana. 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 Indiana

If you're looking at areas in Indiana 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, Gary ranks as the worst city to live in Indiana for 2020.

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

  1. Zionsville (Pop. 26,209)
  2. Westfield (Pop. 37,769)
  3. Carmel (Pop. 90,163)

For more Indiana reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Indiana?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Gary 76,677 13.8% $67,400
2 East Chicago 28,448 12.3% $73,900
3 Anderson 54,788 8.8% $72,100
4 Lake Station 12,059 11.7% $81,600
5 Elkhart 52,308 7.8% $93,800
6 Salem 6,181 6.7% $83,800
7 Connersville 13,069 5.7% $71,000
8 South Bend 102,233 7.4% $82,500
9 Linton 5,262 7.8% $65,800
10 Logansport 18,141 7.4% $65,700

How Is The Area In ?

37 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana

  1. I am not a expert on what makes a city great and every city has its issues. I think everyone would agree, that they would want high median income, high rank in education (low student/teacher ratio and high expenditures), low crime rates, and high property values. The one question I have is population density. The way they calculated it was population divided by land area. Does a high population density make a city better or stronger? Is this common practice? Personally, I would rather live in a “Mayberry” than a big city. Ranking density (high to low) seems to be a personal opinion and biased.

  2. I didn’t get past the opening paragraph. Only about 63% of Indiana is used for agriculture. I’m not sure there are any facts in this post.

  3. This study gives some mighty broad assertions like, we think you should lock your doors when you drive past Michigan City. I beg your pardon…………This city is very safe and we have wonderful times here.

  4. Have you ever actually been to these places? I suggest you actually do before you criticize a place. Lawrenceburg is a great place to live. It is a great community to live in. There are plenty of things to do here like others have said. If something can’t be found or done here it most defiantly can in Cincinnati. I’m offended that Lawrenceburg is on the same list as Gary and Terre Haute. There is nothing scientific about this article.

    1. Seriously guys its bad but my grandparents house has been there for 60 years and we didn’t lock our doors or ever worry. Believe it or not it was a great place to grow up and am proud. Our thugs have a set back when you grow up with people from birth its harder to commit crime on peeps you share birtjdays with at least thats what I tell myself..Maybe black oak but DONT recall ever having my aunts place broken into.

    2. You don’t have to go there to tell about a place. If you have high crime, high unemployment, and low wages – the place is going to be undesirable. Those are facts the sane cannot dispute. Those conditions produce people who want their handouts. They don’t work so they gey bored and then go out and commit crime for something to do and to get more stuff (that they refuse to work to get).

  5. Can you give a little more info on terre haute. There wasn’t much listed on its schooling or its unemployment rates.

  6. Who are you to say stuff about Terre haute I’ve lived here all my life get over your selfs ppl really who cares

  7. I completely agree with Gary being #1. Everyone knows that. But Bedford being #10? Don’t agree at all. I love this county and wouldn’t trade it for anywhere.

    1. Also, Bedford is 30 minutes from Bloomington, not an hour. Unless you’re coming from the north side of Bloomington and get stuck in the I-69 construction at rush hour. Then it could take over an hour. 😉

  8. I am not sure how well this was researched. I can tell the picture of Lawrenceburg is from Google Maps so the writer did not travel to this town. Lawrenceburg only has one casino not two. There are a few other things to do in the town other than to gamble the money we clearly do not have. lol I know of several other things to do; Lawrenceburg Speedway, Perfect North Slopes, Lawrenceburg Pool which is free to residents in the summer months, Ice Staking Rink which is free to Lawrenceburg residents in the winter months, Durbin Bowl, ect… I have been to places that really have nothing to do I would say Lawrenceburg has a few more things to do than “just a casino”.

  9. Don’t forget Petersburg Indiana… Paul Harvey once said if you want to get away with murder go to Petersburg Indiana…Pike county…so very true!!! Crooked cops and politicians!!/

    1. I lived there for awhile and there were lots of murders, bodies floating in the river every few months…and it snows almost every day all winter long…and the people drive really slow and are rude…lots of abandoned houses…lots of blight/neglect/poverty/mental illness…definitely should have made the list.

      1. South Bend used to be that way but a lot has changed in the 30+ years I have lived here. Many of the abandoned buildings have been torn down or rebuilt/repaired and used. Murder rate is down as is crime in general. Hasn’t been a body in the river in decades. winter is milder than the 60s and 70s. Elkhart is much worse. It has the highest number of Superfund sites in Indiana at 6. Indianapolis and Gary both have 5. Elkhart has always been bad.

  10. I’ve lived in Dyer and Valparaiso … Valpo is a much nicer community to live in, with more to do, i.e., shopping, university, dining in a downtown environment, equal or better school system, and many more positive factors favoring Valpo over Dyer. The study is very simplistic and naive.

  11. My parents grew up in East Chicago (HARBOR). My grandfather retired from Inland Steel after 42 yrs.
    My 3 brothers and my 2 sisters and I grew up in the Miller Beach area if Gary.

    So sad too see what has happened to NW Indiana. Wonderful memories.

  12. Don’t think this article was well researched. Bedford is 30 minutes South of Bloomington, not one hour. And it’s called Bedford, not Little Bedford. Maybe the person writing this had not heard of Bedford; however, it should be known that we provided limestone for some beautiful buildings throughout the United States and beyond. Claude Akins (the actor) was from Bedford, IN and two astronauts were born and raised in Bedford (Charles Walker & Kenneth Bowersox) and Virgil Grissom from Mitchell, IN just a 15 minutes south of Bedford but all in Lawrence County. Our Lady’s and Mens Bedford North Lawrence High School basketball teams have won many State Championships and Damon Bailey was well known throughout the country and was a much sought after player by Bobby Knight. The person who wrote this article needs to do more research. Many people are employed by General Motors in Bedford while even more are employed with Cook, Inc. in Bloomington and NSA Crane, IN.

  13. I would have expected Muncie to be high on the list of worst places. When I worked for the Indianapolis Star I frequently read the Muncie Star Press. Several times a week they ran stories about local people arrested for child molestation. If that doesn’t qualify for a bad place to live, I don’t know what does.

    I do agree about Anderson, though. I was born and raised there and left at the age of 26. Don’t miss it a bit. When I visit, I find it terribly depressing.

  14. Marion, IN is a great city. I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s a nice environment, great schools, and great high school sports. As long as you’re in a good neighborhood, you don’t need to worry about crime one bit. It gives you just the right amount of cultural diversity, unlike places like DeKalb County. I plan on living here for the rest of my life.

    1. I lived in Marion for a short time moving from Crawfordsville. I agree with you Caleb I liked Marion and I consider Marion as my adopted hometown just like my dad who was born in Detroit living in Canada during his childhood years with him and my family moving to Marion sometime during the 1960s but my left Marion to expand his horizons but he always back because he got homesick and wanted to come back to the place that he had called home

  15. I live in Michigan City, In.
    And we have alot to do here and we don’ t have to lock our doors when we are driving and going places. Yes we have homeless people as much as any other town would have. But i love our town and the Beautiful beach and shopping we have. Crime isn’ t as bad as you say it is.
    All are welcome to come here and enjoy. You need to get you facts straight before you make your remarks about locking your doors .

    1. Bedford should readily be called Methford due to all of the dopeheads running around that town. Same with Mitchell 10 miles South of Bedford. It’s no wonder there’s so much poverty in Lawrence County when half the people are on dope and the other half are on welfare because of the plant closures and people too stupid to look for better jobs. This is what having unemployed able bodied people is like in these counties like Lawrence County. A good deal of the SSI and SSDI recipients could actually work especially those physically able and between the ages of 18 to 65 minus those with disabling medical problems and severe mental issues who can’t work. Most of them can but they choose to get mailbox money from the government rather than hold a job 30 to 40 hours a week and get a 500-800 dollar weekly paycheck. Its really disgusting when unemployment is 4 percent and yet people choose to sit on their rear ends. Time to cut their benefits off for the ones able bodied and send in a caseworker and get them back to work.

  16. Bedford is awful. The county leaders get rid of programs designed to help the people who live there. Education is discouraged, and people get made fun of for becoming educated. A lot of people there think those with an education are idiots, because apparently barely graduating high school, or dropping out of high school, makes you more knowledgeable about everything, including the Constitution, that studying and learning.

  17. Indianapolis should be somewhere on this list. It’s the largest hicktown, (pretending to be a big city) in the United States.

    1. Obviously you haven’t been to Louisville, Kentucky which has about 760,000 people and acts as if the city is something out of Appalachia despite pretending to be progressive and family oriented. Louisville is like Appalachia and the rest of Kentucky, truly the armpit of America.

  18. Salem being 8th on the list of 10 worst places. These people haven’t done their homework and their economic data is several years old. The unemployment rate in Washington County, Indiana in June 2018 is 3.6 percent. Granted Salem could use some improvement but its probably in many ways one of the better smaller communities in Indiana between 5,000 and 15,000 people. It’s not perfect and its not for everyone though I feel generally much safer in Salem than when I lived in Louisville, Kentucky for about 5 years.

    That being said, we have the same problems with drugs that most of the country has with the pill poppers, heroin junkies and meth addicts. Once you start locking them up and the other assorted thieves and bums you will see the crime rate in Washington County continue to go down. The only real problems around here are drugs and crooked law enforcement officials and judges along with lawyers that are involved with the drug trade in Salem, Indiana.

    If the State of Indiana actually removed its head from its rear end and launched an investigation of Salem public officials and local lawyers, they could easily find out which judges and lawyers along with crooked cops are causing the problems. Not to mention one or two law firms in Salem had people running it at one time that were heavily involved in cocaine trafficking and dope distribution but the good old boys turn their heads.

    If those people were prosecuted and sent up the river for 20 or 30 years, Salem would improve greatly and probably be one of the best smaller cities in Indiana with a city population of 6700 and 30,000 in the county total. Clean up the trash and you would have a much better community.

    That being said, Salem isn’t anywhere close to the worst ten communities in the state of Indiana and I’ve been to 85 out of 92 counties many times in most of them and there are plenty of other cities have much worse drug and crime problems along with the economy than Salem.

    Try out Muncie, Anderson, Mitchell, Austin, Scottsburg, Washington, Linton, Lawrenceburg, North Vernon, Rushville, English, Petersburg, Shoals, St. Paul, Greensburg, Marion, Gary, East Chicago, Hammond, Lake Station, NW Indianapolis, Indianapolis Eastside of City, etc.

  19. My husband and I moved down here to Bedford, Lawrence County from the South Bend/Mishawaka area (where we were born and raised) and have never regretted it. We decided that a small town/rural atmosphere was for us and we were correct. Jobs are not easy to find unless you are a professional or can work at GM or military at Crane Naval, but many have found their niche here. The beauty of the steep hills and landscape too is something many who have never driven down here are aware of. And speaking of the limestone quarries; Bedford limestone built the Empire State Building as well as the Pentagon and the National Cathedral in Washington,D.C. This area is close enough to Bloomington and Indy for big time shopping if you so desire.

  20. I live in Salem and I am a medical, police, and fire Dispatcher for the entire county this is complete bullshit. Salem isn’t a vad place to live, and you definitely don’t get robbed around here. This article is a lie.

  21. Your comments about East Chicago indicate you know little if anything about the area. You start your description out by talking about Chicago, a huge city in Illinois. While all of northwest Indiana can be loosely called another suburb of Chicago, East Chicago has no special relationship to Chicago. It is not adjacent to Chicago. They just share a name.

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