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 5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Maryland:
- Cambridge (Photos)
- Bladensburg (Photos)
- Baltimore (Photos)
- Salisbury (Photos)
- Cumberland (Photos)
- Hagerstown (Photos)
- Elkton (Photos)
- Riverdale Park (Photos)
- Hyattsville (Photos)
- Mount Rainier
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 Maryland 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 5,100 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 — Cambridge. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Maryland.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 12,552Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $157,400 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (4th worst)
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 2015. 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 10.9%, which is the 4th highest in Maryland. And the household income levels are $36,600 a year, which are the 3rd lowest. Additionally, crime is far above the state average. You have a 1 in 19.9 chance of being robbed out here.
That’s a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and Ray Rice jerseys.
Population: 9,505Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Home Values: $179,800 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.0% (11th worst)
Bladensburg is one of the poorest cities in the state of Maryland. This city has 8.0% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $44,236 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Bladensburg has the 11th highest crime rate in Maryland. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Maryland 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 Old Line State.
Population: 621,000Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $153,000 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (3rd worst)
Baltimore takes the 3rd worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Baltimore its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 3rd worst in the whole state.
Population: 32,338Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Home Values: $154,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (14th worst)
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 7.7%, which is the 14th worst in Maryland. And households earn a combined $37,780 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Salisbury is merely $154,000.
Salisbury is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
Population: 20,290Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Values: $87,700 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (5th worst)
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 $31,855 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 1st cheapest in the entire state at $87,700. 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 2nd worst in the state. You have a 1 in 16.7 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 114 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Population: 40,325Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $149,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (7th worst)
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.’
Population: 15,687Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Home Values: $197,500 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (20th worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maryland, Elkton ranks 7th 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 1st highest in the state, and 1 out of 14.4 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 98 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 10th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Elkton undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 20th highest in Maryland, at 6.7%. 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.
8. Riverdale Park
Population: 7,221Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $248,100 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (16th worst)
Riverdale Park needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Riverdale Park. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Riverdale Park. Of the 37 cities considered in this ranking, Riverdale Park had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Riverdale Park have Maryland’s 21st lowest home value rank, but it also had the 16th and 20th 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 Riverdale Park, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
Population: 18,262Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Home Values: $265,600 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (23rd worst)
What the heck is going on in little Hyattsville? The crime is the 5th highest in the state of Maryland. Here, residents have a 1 in 17.9 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 6.5% of Hyattsville residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 23rd highest in the state.
10. Mount Rainier
Population: 8,364 Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Values: $275,900 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (13th worst)
While the median household income in Mount Rainier is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of ‘worst cities’, Mount Rainier still has the 13th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 15th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Mount Rainier household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
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, Cambridge ranks as the worst city to live in Maryland for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maryland:
- Hampstead (Pop. 6,352)
- Rockville (Pop. 65,171)
- Bowie (Pop. 57,633)
For more Maryland reading, check out:
- 10 Small Towns In Maryland Where You’d Never Want To Live
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Maryland
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Maryland
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Maryland
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