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 53 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,200 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Kansas:
- Coffeyville (Photos)
- Parsons (Photos)
- Iola (Photos)
- Great Bend (Photos)
- Atchison (Photos)
- Liberal (Photos)
- Bonner Springs (Photos)
- Chanute (Photos)
- Topeka (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Kansas for 2018
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 5,200 people were considered — leaving 53 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 53 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.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 9,796Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $52,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (2nd worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Coffeyville is the 1st 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 4th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 18.2 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $52,600, 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 $33,204, the 2nd 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.
Population: 9,084 Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Home Values: $68,100 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (10th worst)
Back to SEK we go. The unemployment rate in Independence is the 10th highest in the state (7.1%). 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.
Population: 10,111Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $61,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (11th worst)
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 2nd cheapest in the state, and at $61,300, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (6.9%) is the 11th highest in Kansas, and income levels are far below the state average. And 2320.0% 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.
Population: 5,560Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Values: $77,000 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (23rd worst)
Iola is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Iola is the 5th most dangerous place you can live in Kansas.
Residents in Iola have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Iola, where average homes are valued at only$77,000. That’s the 8th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
5. Great Bend
Population: 15,741Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Values: $83,000 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (13th worst)
Great Bend doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 6.8%, and people average less than $41,174 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $83,000, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Kansas.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
Population: 10,798Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $84,700 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (3rd worst)
Atchison is the 18th most dangerous place in the state of Kansas. That’s part of the reason it’s the 6th worst place in Kansas.
The fact remains, that when you’re within Atchison city limits, you have a 1 in 28.3 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Atchison also has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.2%? Or that homes are only valued at $84,700?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Atchison.
Population: 20,709Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Values: $90,600 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (6th worst)
Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Liberal has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (8.7%) and homes are the 16th cheapest in the state ($90,600).
Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Liberal.
8. Bonner Springs
Population: 7,567Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 12)
Home Values: $157,700 (39th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (5th worst)
Bonner Springs ranks as the 8th-worst place in Kansas due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 11th-worst commute of any place in the state.
Population: 9,216Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 8)
Home Values: $64,700 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (33rd worst)
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.
Population: 127,472Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Values: $99,400 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (15th worst)
Topeka has a 6.7% unemployment rate (15th in KS), below average income levels and the 3rd highest crime rate in the state.
This random City-Data comment sums up Topeka.
‘I visited Topeka over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.
‘I saw lots people around Topeka who looked…well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.
‘And what’s with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes?
‘Just looked sad.’
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Kansas:
- Leawood (Pop. 33,763)
- Bel Aire (Pop. 7,214)
- Overland Park (Pop. 183,775)
For more Kansas reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Kansas
- A Hilarious Look At The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Kansas
- A Hilarious Look At The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Kansas
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Kansas