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Maryland is a pretty fantastic state, overall. There are some of the most underrated beaches on the east coast here. The western side has some awesome mountains and scenery. And Baltimore, is well, Baltimore. At least the Ravens are always contenders, and the O's have proven they can contend in the AL East.
But is it all great in the Old Line State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Maryland has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Maryland are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, you'll most likely disagree if you see your town atop this list. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Maryland your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 37 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 Maryland:
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 Maryland? That would be Elkton.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Maryland reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Maryland
- Cheapest Places To Live In Maryland
- Most Dangerous Cities In Maryland
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Maryland For 2020
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Maryland, Elkton ranks worst. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the crime rate to the rest of the nation, Maryland is above average, but not completely out of line. Here in Elkton, crime is the highest in the state, and 1 out of 15.8 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 78 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.
When you look at adult education in Maryland, the folks in Elkton have the 6th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Elkton undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 10th highest in Maryland, at 7.6%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Maryland has some hard workers.
Elkton is on Route 40 right on the Delaware state line.
In a surprise move to the top, Cambridge, located across the sound on Route 50, takes the top spot for worst places to live in Maryland for 2020. That's not a honor you really want, but let's see why.
There are some real economic issues here as the unemployment rate is at 9.3%, which is the 5th highest in Maryland. And the household income levels are $39,007 a year, which are the 3rd lowest. Additionally, crime is far above the state average. You have a 1 in 20.6 chance of being robbed out here.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and Ray Rice jerseys.
The same problems that plague Elkton affect Salisbury. The only real difference is Salisbury is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students. In fact, Salisbury actually has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the state, which means lots of personal attention for the kids here.
However, the unemployment rate in Salisbury is at 7.6%, which is the 11th worst in Maryland. And households earn a combined $38,645 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Salisbury is merely $154,300.
Salisbury is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Bladensburg is the 10th most dangerous city in Maryland. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 28.5 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That's lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Bladensburg might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Bladensburg are really low. People here earn about $43,257 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Bladensburg are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Maryland than in Bladensburg.
Hagerstown is by far the largest city to make this list. It was the state's 8th highest unemployment rate (7.4%), along with some of the lowest home prices and household incomes. Residents earn about $42,000 a year, and their homes are only valued at $116,000.
The public schools are in the bottom 10% when it comes to resources for the kids.
Apparently there are a lot of ex-cons who have been released from the numerous nearby prisons. On a positive note, the crime here is above the state average, but not horrendous.
As one lifelong resident of Hagerstown said on City-Data: Take a look at the city of Baltimore and it's urban decay and drug problems, and you see the future of Hagerstown. It's sad but at this point I only see Hagerstown going from bad to worst."
Out of all the places to live in Maryland, Mount Rainier ranks as the 6th worst -- not something to brag about.
Mount Rainier's unemployment rate stands at 7.7%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $53,869 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 3cheapest in the entire state at $336,200. 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 Mount Rainier. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 13th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 30.0 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 231 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
You can sure expect that Riverdale Park is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 7th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Riverdale Park has the 17th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 45 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 41.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Riverdale Park, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 5.6% which is the 25th worst in Maryland.
Here in Baltimore, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Maryland. That's not a good combination.
Located in Baltimore city, you have a 1 in 22.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Baltimore city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (9.1%). That's good for the 6th highest unemployment rate in Maryland.
You might assume that the cities out on Maryland's manhandle are a little behind the times economically. That's why several of them rank atop this list.
Sure, it's beautiful up there. But there's a certain lifestyle that comes with it. While Cumberland's unemployment rate is at the national average, it's very low for Maryland. But the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $34,750 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the cheapest in the entire state at $93,000. 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 Cumberland. Plus, what do you do for fun way out there for half the year when it's snowing?
Crime is the 8th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 22.5 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 135 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Greenbelt needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Greenbelt. That's not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Greenbelt. Of the 37 cities considered in this ranking, Greenbelt had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Greenbelt have Maryland's 10th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 19th and 14th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of "Worst City in Maryland."
If you know anyone in Greenbelt, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
How we determined the worst places to live in Maryland 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 37 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 37 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 Maryland -- Elkton. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Maryland. 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 Maryland
If you're looking at areas in Maryland 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, Elkton ranks as the worst city to live in Maryland for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maryland:
- Rockville (Pop. 67,062)
- Bowie (Pop. 58,368)
- Mount Airy (Pop. 9,395)
For more Maryland reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Maryland
- Richest Cities In Maryland
- Safest Places In Maryland
- Best Cities For Singles In Maryland
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Maryland?