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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 109 of the state's most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Indiana:
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 East Chicago.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Indiana reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana For 2021
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 10th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 201 violent crimes here in 2021, and residents have a 1 in 25.8 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.
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 2worst crime rate in Indiana. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 414 violent crimes in Gary in 2021. Residents here had a 1 in 183 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Gary are the 2nd cheapest in the state ($66,100), the unemployment rate is the highest (12.4%), and the annual household income is lowest in Indiana, at $31,936. 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.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $84,400 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (2nd 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 2nd highest in Indiana (9.9%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom.
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 14th 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 7.8% -- not horrible -- but worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($72,900), and residents earn just $37,038 a year.
Plus, it's an hour drive into downtown Indy, so your entertainment options are fairly limited.
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 23rd highest in the state (6.6%), 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.
The city of Hammond is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Indiana in 2021.
It's unlucky for Hammond, which has the 11th highest unemployment rate (7.6%), the 47th lowest household incomes ($46,406) and the 26th lowest home prices in the state ($91,700).
Basically, a lot of people in Hammond are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it's not one of the most dangerous places we'll look at, it's in the top 20%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Indiana.
Charlestown is a really small, densely populated place in Indiana.
The unemployment rate here is sky high at 2.2%, and income levels are the 43rd lowest in Indiana. Homes sell for an average of $136,500.
If you're trying to have some sort of professional career in Indiana, this is one of the last places you would want to live.
There's probably not many people in Indiana that would be surprised to see South Bend on this list. In fact, if South Bend wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. South Bend has the 4th worst crime rate in Indiana. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 1,357 violent crimes in South Bend in 2021. Residents here had a 1 in 75 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in South Bend are the 2cheapest in the state ($85,200), the unemployment rate is the 3highest (6.3%), and the annual household income is 2lowest in Indiana, at $40,265. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Linton is the 9th worst place in the state of Indiana.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Linton is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Linton are the 4th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can't get much worse in Indiana.
The unemployment rate in Salem is a sky high 5.9%, which is the 34th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Salem is $36,339. That means 19.7% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 41.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.
How we determined the worst places to live in Indiana 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 109 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 109 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 -- East Chicago. 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, East Chicago ranks as the worst city to live in Indiana for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Indiana:
- Westfield (Pop. 39,610)
- New Whiteland (Pop. 6,051)
- Carmel (Pop. 97,464)
For more Indiana reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Indiana?