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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:
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.
For more Indiana reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana For 2020
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
- Zionsville (Pop. 26,209)
- Westfield (Pop. 37,769)
- Carmel (Pop. 90,163)
For more Indiana reading, check out:
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- Richest Cities In Indiana
- Safest Places In Indiana
- Best Cities For Singles In Indiana
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Indiana?