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 112 of the state’s most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Indiana:
- Gary (Photos)
- East Chicago (Photos)
- Connersville (Photos)
- Anderson (Photos)
- Elkhart (Photos)
- Lake Station
- South Bend (Photos)
- Salem (Photos)
- Richmond (Photos)
- New Castle (Photos)
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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Indiana for 2018
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 112 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 112 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.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 77,858Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $65,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.6% (1st worst)
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 10th worst crime rate in Indiana. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 460 violent crimes in Gary in 2015. Residents here had a 1 in 169 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Gary are the 4th cheapest in the state ($65,400), the unemployment rate is the 1st highest (16.6%), and the annual household income is 3rd lowest in Indiana, at $28,895. 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.
2. East Chicago
Population: 28,961Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $75,000 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.2% (2nd worst)
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 21st-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 192 violent crimes here in 2015, and residents have a 1 in 26.8 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.
Population: 13,202Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $67,100 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (6th worst)
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 6th highest in the state (11.7%), 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.
Population: 55,342Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Values: $70,600 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (11th worst)
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 19th 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 10.5% — not horrible — but worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($70,600), and residents earn just $34,441 a year.
Plus, it’s an hour drive into downtown Indy, so your entertainment options are fairly limited.
Population: 52,378Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Home Values: $85,500 (31st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (19th worst)
Here in Elkhart, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Indiana. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Elkhart County, you have a 1 in 23.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Elkhart city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (9.7%). That’s good for the 19th highest unemployment rate in Indiana.
6. Lake Station
Population: 12,199 Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Values: $81,000 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (5th worst)
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 5th highest in Indiana (12.3%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom.
7. South Bend
Population: 101,037Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Values: $80,500 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (11th worst)
Welcome to South Bend, where criminals go to make a living. South Bend has the 3rd highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within South Bend city limits, you have a 1 in 19.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 1,037 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 101,037 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 97 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in South Bend every year as well.
Population: 6,214Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Values: $83,700 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (20th worst)
The unemployment rate in Salem is a sky high 9.6%, which is the 20th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Salem is $33,022. That means 2540.0% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 27.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
Population: 36,082Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $81,900 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (31st worst)
While the median household income in Richmond is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of ‘worst cities’, Richmond still has the 32nd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 33rd worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Richmond 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.
10. New Castle
Population: 17,634Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Home Values: $68,800 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (8th worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Indiana, New Castle came in 10th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Indiana residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Indiana, you can see some really big differences. In New Castle, the number of people out of work is 11.6%
In Indiana, that’s the 8th highest in the state.
The residents in New Castle have the 17th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in New Castle average $34,924 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $68,800 on average. That’s the 8th lowest in the state.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Indiana:
- Zionsville (Pop. 25,709)
- Carmel (Pop. 86,940)
- St. John (Pop. 15,777)
For more Indiana reading, check out:
- If You’re From Indiana This Will Be The Best Three Minutes Of Your Day. Guaranteed.
- 30 Things That Will Definitely Happen To You When Moving To Indiana
- These Are The 10 Indiana Cities With The Worst Water
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Indiana