The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

You might want to click your heels and wish home was somewhere else if you live in one of these cities.

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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 Kansas.

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Not only is Kansas smack dab in the middle of the country, it represents middle America to a tee. The people are some of the hardest working in the nation, have some of the best values, and frankly, are just plain friendly.

You could do a lot worse when you pick a place to live, that's for sure.

But is it all good in The Sunflower State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Kansas has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Kansas your home.

After analyzing 54 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Kansas:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

  1. Coffeyville
  2. Independence
  3. Parsons
  4. Wichita
  5. Great Bend
  6. Bonner Springs
  7. Iola
  8. Liberal
  9. Chanute
  10. Topeka

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 Kansas? That would be Coffeyville.

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 Kansas reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

Coffeyville, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,578
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $53,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (2nd worst)
More on Coffeyville:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at science and data, Coffeyville is the worst place you can live in the state of Kansas -- an improvement from last year when it ranked #1 overall. Let's see why.

First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Kansas. Coffeyville is the 3rd most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 20.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.

Homes here average $53,000, which is the lowest in the state. You can defend 'cheap living' all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Coffeyville.

Income levels are just about $35,083, the 3rd lowest in Kansas. Plus, you're way out in the middle of nowhere, so your options for entertainment are the same places you frequent every week or, a short drive to Independence. Does that sound like a blast?

When you add it all up, Coffeyville really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.

Independence, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,847
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $80,300 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (25th worst)
More on Independence:  Data | Photos

Back to SEK we go. The unemployment rate in Independence is the 25th highest in the state (4.3%). Crime is above normal, and home prices are far below average. But, the schools are some of the most funded in Kansas, so if you have to live in the area, and you value good education, this might be your only option.

Parsons, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,876
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $69,000 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (20th worst)
More on Parsons:  Data | Photos

Parsons is on Route 59 in the bottom right corner of the state. You can imagine it's a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.

Homes are the 3rd cheapest in the state, and at $69,000, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (4.6%) is the 20th highest in Kansas, and income levels are far below the state average. And 22.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Would you have guessed that the area around Parsons has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Kansas? Online commenters have noted that reliance on the welfare system in southeast Kansas, combined with heavy meth and alcohol use have played a big factor in this.

Wichita, KS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 389,563
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $128,600 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (12th worst)
More on Wichita:  Data | Photos

The biggest city in Kansas is also one of its worst. Per capita crime isn't always higher in larger cities, but in this case, Wichita has a lot of issues to contend with in regards to the sheer number of crimes happening here.

Wichita is the 6th most dangerous place in Kansas, where you have a 1 in 126 chance of being raped, attacked or killed within the city limits each year. Plus, the number of robberies here is through the roof; there's a 1 in 18 chance of having your car stolen or broken into, or having a criminal break into your home.

If all other things were equal, it might not be so bad. However, the unemployment rate in Wichita is 5.6%, which is the 9th highest in Kansas. Income levels are below average, but not too bad. The schools are overcrowded.

Great Bend, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,544
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $93,900 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (24th worst)
More on Great Bend:  Data | Photos

Great Bend is the 7th most dangerous place in the state of Kansas. That's part of the reason it's the 5th worst place in Kansas.

The fact remains, that when you're within Great Bend city limits, you have a 1 in 26.9 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?

Did you know Great Bend also has the 24th highest unemployment rate in the state at 4.3%? Or that homes are only valued at $93,900?

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Great Bend.

Bonner Springs, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,796
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $157,900 (34th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (10th worst)
More on Bonner Springs:  Data | Photos

Bonner Springs, part of Johnson County, is the 6th worst place to live in Kansas for 2020.

Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $59,333, and crime 14th worst in Kansas.

Additionally, the poverty level is 11.3% in Bonner Springs.

Iola, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,400
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $81,400 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (9th worst)
More on Iola:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Iola is the 7th worst place in the state of Kansas.

The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Iola 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 Iola are the 8th 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 Kansas.

Liberal, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,251
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $100,000 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (16th worst)
More on Liberal:  Data | Photos

Sure, it's in a beautiful area, and there's lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you're measuring desirability, it's the 8th worst in Kansas.

Liberal residents had a 1 in 31.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.

The unemployment rate in Liberal is through the roof, as more than 5.1% of the population can't get a job. At least their mortgages aren't too high; at $100,000, Liberal has the 17th-lowest home prices in the state of Kansas.

Chanute, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,119
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $69,100 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (8th worst)
More on Chanute:  Data | Photos

The data is telling us that the a lot of the region in SEK (southeast Kansas) has some big issues to address. Little Chanute has the 9th highest unemployment rate in Kansas, and some of the lowest incomes and home prices as well.

Online commenters have noted that Chanute is 'up and coming', and the community involvement has made an effort to modernize the city. We're just looking at the numbers, folks.

The schools here have more funding than in the rest of the region, however. At least they have that.

Topeka, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 126,877
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $102,600 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (17th worst)
More on Topeka:  Data | Photos

There's probably not many people in Kansas that would be surprised to see Topeka on this list. In fact, if Topeka wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.

Here are the statistics. Topeka has the 2nd worst crime rate in Kansas. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 766 violent crimes in Topeka in 2020. Residents here had a 1 in 165 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.

The home values in Topeka are the 20th cheapest in the state ($102,600), the unemployment rate is the 17th highest (5.0%), and the annual household income is 17th lowest in Kansas, at $46,890. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.

How we determined the worst places to live in Kansas 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 54 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 54 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 Kansas -- Coffeyville. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Kansas. 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 Kansas

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

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

  1. McPherson (Pop. 13,041)
  2. Bel Aire (Pop. 7,671)
  3. Leawood (Pop. 34,570)

For more Kansas reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Kansas?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Coffeyville 9,578 7.1% $53,000
2 Independence 8,847 4.3% $80,300
3 Parsons 9,876 4.6% $69,000
4 Wichita 389,563 5.8% $128,600
5 Great Bend 15,544 4.3% $93,900
6 Bonner Springs 7,796 6.0% $157,900
7 Iola 5,400 6.1% $81,400
8 Liberal 20,251 5.1% $100,000
9 Chanute 9,119 6.2% $69,100
10 Topeka 126,877 5.0% $102,600

How Is The Area In ?

24 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

  1. Who wrote this? First off the article says worst cities in KANSAS to live. Then the article says kcmo. Geography tells me mo is MISSOURI not Kansas. Get the facts correct if your going to write an article.

  2. You probably saw that 6 of the ten “worst” cities were in southeast Kansas. It’s interesting to note that 5 of them have a community college, and the other one has a 4-year school. Living in those communities might be as bad some critics say. But can you imagine how much worse it would be without the intellectual and cultural infusion from the faculty, staff and students of those hometown institutions of higher learning? Those educational centers are the people’s best hope and should be the focal point for creating any campaigns to turn the cities’ and the area’s quality of life around.

    1. Drugs killed southeast Kansas Independence Kansas at one time was the wealthiest city per capita in the United States Arco gas fuel that city and they even tried to pass a law that you could not carry a lunch pail on the streets. There are a lot of old mansions still in the city but run down and worthless. If you’re rich it would be a nice place to remodel a house.

    2. It could be argued that the college’s sometimes cause problems. Our daughter spent one semester at Coffeyville on a scholarship. The crime on campus was terrible. All of the female students were required to take a self defense course due to attacks on campus. There were episodes of shots fired on campus more than once and a teacher was beat up by some male students. All this in one semester. It was rumored that the school was recruiting athletes with gang backgrounds from big cities. I believe there are other reasons people migrate to these areas. This article makes it sound like Rural Kansans are a bunch of criminals, but if it were studied closer many of the offenders may be migrant workers or students.

    3. The colleges are part of the problem. Crime rates are higher because of them, not in spite of them.

      The low income nature of community colleges plus the amount of athletic scholarships handed out insure that a lot of lowest common denominator types flock to these towns during the college semesters.

      Let’s be sure and recognize what crimes we are talking about as well. You can read the police blotters for all these towns fairly easy and this isn’t violent crimes. Labette county had 0 murders last year, 1 rape, and 2 robberies. Most crime is theft.

  3. I totally disagree with Kansas City Kansas I live on the west side just a little west and a little north of the legends the crime rate here is near zero my family income is in six figures and I’ve lived here close to 30 years.
    Wyandotte County Taxes are higher than Johnson County but homes cost on average $10,000 less I love this city the only place I would rather live is on the farm where I can shoot my guns anytime I want.

  4. U forgot pawnee rock ks. And great bend cops just dont do there jobs. Clinton declared it meth capital so the cops try to make it look good now


  6. Emporia’ location on I35 and 335 as well as highway 50 has put it squarely on the drugs pipeline. Our law enforcement officers catch lots of drugs on the interstates. We have one of the highest conviction rates on drug possession and intent to sell, but a large number of those convicted were traveling through Emporia, not living here.

  7. First these measurements are all for liberal criteria. When I attended primary and secondary school classes up to 30 were not uncommon and everyone agrees we received a better education then than now.

    Crime statistics can be very misleading. I lived in Emporia and at one time they had the highest increase in violent crime in the US. A transient came to town and did 3 strong arm robberies which caused Emporia to lead everyone with a 300% increase. We hadn’t had any robberies for years previous.

    Finally, SEK has problems because of excessive taxes. It kills any possible growth as businesses simply cannot afford to reside here. Add the fact that most of these towns have a population of 50% who are on a fixed income. This cannot produce growth. Also, Montgomery County has 2 community colleges sapping their taxes. This is lunacy.

  8. My parents moved from Wichita to Overland Park then to Leawood. Leawood is a lovely city, near the Plaza. Thinking of moving there? I hope you are financially successful and secure.

  9. Centralia was the site of an infamous massacre in 1919 and now it has massacred the competition when it comes to being the worst place to live in Washington. Have the writers ever visited any of these towns?

  10. As someone from Wichita KS I call BS. Most of the towns you have on here are tiny and don’t have much to do. Kansas City KS is a small portion of KC. It goes into Missouri and there is a TON to do there! As for Wichita, sure there is crime but not as much as they are saying. Wichita has small pockets of bad neighborhoods but what city doesn’t? Wichita has a thriving art and music scene. Always something to do here!

  11. According to the bottom of this article it states this was made in Durham,NC. I grew up in Southwest Kansas. I married an Army man stationed at Fort Riley,KS born and raised in TN. I now live TN with my kids and divorced the Army vet. I have family all over KS and I trust what they tell me is true about where they live. So, being that the article is from NC perhaps they are KS haters wanting to stir the shit pot. I personally do not trust anyone from NC. TN despises NC, much like KS vs. MO, KS vs. NE, or KS vs. OK. I know from my sis in Emporia that things are rough there as is in Witchita where my brother works EMS and his family lives elsewhere near Witchita. We all have good and bad places all over the map. Yes, I know not everyone is going to agree with our opinions but we do the best with what we have. Everything else can take a leap off a steep mountain cliff.

    1. I’ll second that, if you want ample meth for your kids welfare moms and ex cons no jobs and a good place to get robbed. Awww aww Kansas. land of broken hopes and dreams

  12. Have lived in 7 states and long stays in 7 more.U S as a whole has a drug problem,but being from Chicago originally,I feel blessed and safe in the beautiful
    SUNFLOWER STATE.Yes,the job situation is bad,like everywhere.Crime,however,is low in Kansas,comparitively.
    Low housing costs are in the top five reasons why i’m here.Low crime,short winters,Low housing costs,unique geological traits,such as geoliths,low traffic,best highway system in the US good sandy loam,grow your own organic food,fields of sunflowers,clean air, the Flint Hills and Tallgrass Prairie and much more.I’ve seen the worst in
    America and i’ll take so called ‘redneck’ fly-over country Kansas over a Chicago ghetto or a Minneapolis hi rise and 7 months of snow in a heartbeat.
    Basically,the author is like some New York or West Coast rich snobby brat that knows nothing about Kansas whatsoever.
    Many decent people want lower priced homes.Where do you think youngish retired people live?Do you think we are all in nursing homes or trailer parks?
    Housing costs are on the plus side–everyone here knows that.
    Don’t judge the world by what YOU THINK,because a lot of us here in redneck
    Kansas have college degrees,have lived all over and settled here for many good reasons.
    BTW,this redneck university degreed woman lives and is a home owner in the town of Goodland Kansas,and will never read one word of your garbage again.I agree with whoever it was that said it best
    However,keep flying over and keep cutting us down…we love it cause it keeps Kansas better for the rest ofl us,who will spend our lives here gratefully.

  13. calling Leawood Ks and houses that cost 415,900

    Leawood Kansas with $400-500 thousand dollar homes is on the WORST LIST
    of places to live????
    Some needs to learn basic math.Just plain dumb.


    1. You say Leawood is what–the best of the worst?It’s also the first listed of the best cities to ive in!
      Leawood is a rich community and known in Kansas as a great and desirable place to live.The OP would be lucky to live there,but I doubt he would fit in.

  15. Lot of butt hurt kansans. I can just hear the “You come say that to mah face you commie liberal, and i’ll shoot it off” in half of these comments. Racists, the lot of ya.

  16. The fact that three cities in KS with at least 20,000 people, (and would all almost certainly be candidates for the top 10 worst), makes this list a joke. Where are Dodge City, Garden City and Junction City?

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