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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 has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 7th-highest in the state of Kansas. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 4.3%.
Additionally, 20.4% of the population lives below the poverty line.
While numbers in Kansas are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Kansas cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Bonner Springs average $157,900, which is the 34th 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 Bonner Springs.
Plus, 11.3% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 14th highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Bonner Springs city limits, you have a 1 in 27.1 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.
If, by some reason, you were driving through Iola, 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 ($31,218) and they can't get good jobs (6.1% unemployment rate).
Iola ranks as the 7th wost place in Kansas.
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 (5.1%) and homes are the 17th cheapest in the state ($100,000).
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.
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:
- Best Places To Retire In Kansas
- Richest Cities In Kansas
- Safest Places In Kansas
- Best Cities For Singles In Kansas
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Kansas?