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 113 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 2019.
For more Indiana reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Indiana
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Indiana
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Indiana
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana For 2019
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 23rd-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 188 violent crimes here in 2019, and residents have a 1 in 29.5 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.
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 26th worst crime rate in Indiana. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 471 violent crimes in Gary in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 164 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Gary are the 5th cheapest in the state ($66,300), the unemployment rate is the 1st highest (15.7%), and the annual household income is 1st lowest in Indiana, at $29,293. 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.
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 12th highest in the state (9.3%), 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.
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 9.2% — not horrible — but worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($70,500), and residents earn just $34,693 a year.
Plus, it’s an hour drive into downtown Indy, so your entertainment options are fairly limited.
Elkhart seems to be the have’s and have not’s. While the annual average income levels here are respectful ($37,121), about 1 in 10.6 people here are without jobs. Homes are valued at only $87,700.
But the biggest eye opener is the sheer crime here. It seems as if just about everyone in town without a job is pillaging the community. Elkhart has the 12th highest crime rate in Indiana, where 1 in 96 people has a statistic chance of being attacked, raped or murdered each year.
Plus, 1 in 28.7 people are robbed.
If you’re headed past Elkhart and stop for gas, make sure you lock your doors.
Hammond’s main issue is crime. It’s the 14th most dangerous place in the state of Indiana. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Hammond, you have a 1 in 26.0 chance that you’ll be the victim of a property crime. That’s really high, especially for a city of its size. That’s a lot of stolen lawn mowers, cell phones and cameras. Perhaps it’s because the folks here live in far nicer homes than some of the other cities to top this list. They’re targets.
The unemployment rate is higher than the state average at 9.5%.
Would you believe that South Bend is the 2nd most dangerous place in Indiana? That’s the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 20.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within South Bend city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 95 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in South Bend. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Indiana, that’s just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, South Bend’s unemployment rate is the 14th highest in Indiana (9.0%), and homes are the 23rd cheapest in the state ($81,100). Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is homes are priced on demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in South Bend.
If you’re looking to live in Indiana, Salem might not be the best choice as it places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Hoosier State for 2019.
The average family earns $34,483 a year out here, and 20.4% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 6.8% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Salem, every year, you have a 1 in 30.7 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 39th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
If you live in Lawrence, 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 9th worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 4th highest crime rate in Indiana, which saw 80 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 22.2 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 73 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Lawrence.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Lawrence sports the state’s 24th highest unemployment rate (7.8%), and families bring in a combined $50,107 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $133,600.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $78,700 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (4th 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 4th highest in Indiana (10.5%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom.
How we determined the worst places to live in Indiana for 2019
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 113 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 113 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.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Indiana:
- West Lafayette (Pop. 45,110)
- New Whiteland (Pop. 5,881)
- Carmel (Pop. 88,595)
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