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.
If you’re looking to live in Kansas, Bonner Springs might not be the best choice as it places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2017.
The unemployment rate here is 8.2%, and households bring in a combined $56,164 a year in income. That’s not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Kansas.
Crime is the 6th highest in the state in Bonner Springs as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
De Soto is one of the poorest cities in the state of Kansas. This city has 6.4% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $51,461 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. De Soto has the 6th highest crime rate in Kansas. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Kansas is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Sunflower State.
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.
Out of all the places to live in Kansas, Great Bend ranks as the 5th worst — not something to brag about.
Great Bend’s unemployment rate stands at 4.4%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $42,130 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 12th cheapest in the entire state at $87,500. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Great Bend. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 16th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 23.2 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 191 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
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
According to science, Wellington is the 7th worst place you can live in Kansas.
Let’s see why. Wellington has the 9th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Wellington is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($76,000), and the 12th-highest unemployment rate in the state (6.2%), and across the board, Wellington doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
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 2017.
Additionally, the schools are below average, in terms of funding levels.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Kansas, Atchison came in 10th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Kansas residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Kansas, you can see some really big differences. In Atchison, the number of people out of work is 8.9%
In Kansas, that’s the 1st highest in the state.
The residents in Atchison have the 10th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Atchison average $41,268 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $82,900 on average. That’s the 10th lowest in the state.
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