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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:
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.
For more Kansas reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kansas For 2020
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.
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 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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
- McPherson (Pop. 13,041)
- Bel Aire (Pop. 7,671)
- Leawood (Pop. 34,570)
For more Kansas reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Kansas?