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:
- Bonner Springs (Photos)
- De Soto (Photos)
- Coffeyville (Photos)
- Parsons (Photos)
- Great Bend (Photos)
- Independence (Photos)
- Wichita (Photos)
- Pittsburg (Photos)
- Atchison (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. And the worst place to live in Kansas? That would be Bonner Springs.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Kansas reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Kansas
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Kansas
- 10 Most Dangerous Places In Kansas
How we determined the worst places to live in Kansas 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 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 — Bonner Springs. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Kansas.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Bonner Springs is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Bonner Springs residents earn the 34th-lowest salaries in the state. At $56,164 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $154,800, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 6th highest in Kansas per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 3rd highest in the state, at 8.2%.
If, by some reason, you were driving through De Soto, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($51,461) and they can’t get good jobs (6.4% unemployment rate).
De Soto ranks as the 2nd wost place in Kansas.
When you’re looking at science and data, Coffeyville is the 3rd 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 13th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 21.1 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $52,900, which is the 1st 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 $36,080, the 4th 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.
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 4th cheapest in the state, and at $66,000, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (6.1%) is the 14th highest in Kansas, and income levels are far below the state average. And 23.1% 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.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Great Bend is the 5th worst place you can live in the state of Kansas. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 16th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Great Bend had a 1 in 23.2 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Great Bend, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Great Bend’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (4.4%) and income levels of its residents ($42,130).
Back to SEK we go. The unemployment rate in Independence is the 28th 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.
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 17)
Median Home Value: $76,000 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (12th worst)
More on Wellington: Data
The city of Wellington is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of Kansas in 2019.
It’s unlucky for Wellington, which has the 12th highest unemployment rate (6.2%), the 12th lowest household incomes ($42,350) and the 6th lowest home prices in the state ($76,000).
Basically, a lot of people in Wellington are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it’s not one of the most dangerous places we’ll look at, it’s in the top 20%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Kansas.
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.
The residents in Pittsburg have just about the lowest incomes in the state of Kansas. The households bring in an average of $31,000 a year, and nearly a quarter of the population here is below the poverty line.
Pittsburg isn’t too far from Parsons, and as we noted earlier, crime is abnormally high in this area. Every year, you have a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a theft when you’re within Pittsburg city limits. Plus, this little city had a murder in 2019.
Additionally, the schools are below average, in terms of funding levels.
You might have passed through Atchison once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Atchison needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 8.9%, residents earn about $41,268 a year, and home prices are just over $82,900. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Atchison.
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, Bonner Springs ranks as the worst city to live in Kansas for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kansas:
- Derby (Pop. 23,712)
- Bel Aire (Pop. 7,422)
- Leawood (Pop. 34,195)
For more Kansas reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Kansas
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Kansas
- 10 Safest Places In Kansas
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Kansas
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Kansas