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:
- Cambridge (Photos)
- Bladensburg (Photos)
- Elkton (Photos)
- Mount Rainier (Photos)
- Cumberland (Photos)
- Salisbury (Photos)
- Baltimore (Photos)
- Hagerstown (Photos)
- Riverdale Park (Photos)
- New Carrollton (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 Maryland? That would be Cambridge.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Maryland reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Maryland
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Maryland
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Maryland
How we determined the worst places to live in Maryland 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 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.
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 2019. 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 9.2%, which is the 8th highest in Maryland. And the household income levels are $38,908 a year, which are the 4th lowest. Additionally, crime is far above the state average. You have a 1 in 14.6 chance of being robbed out here.
That’s a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and Ray Rice jerseys.
Bladensburg, part of Prince George’s County, is the 2nd worst place to live in Maryland for 2019.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $43,109, and crime 12th worst in Maryland.
Additionally, the poverty level is 19.0% in Bladensburg.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maryland, Elkton ranks 3rd 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 2nd highest in the state, and 1 out of 16.0 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 85 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 8th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Elkton undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 13th highest in Maryland, at 7.5%. 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.
Welcome to Mount Rainier, Maryland, where 1 in 10.6 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $50,707 a year.
Crime is the 7th highest in Maryland, where you have a 1 in 17.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 202 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered when you’re within Mount Rainier city limits.
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 $32,825 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 $89,600. 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 3rd worst in the state. You have a 1 in 16.2 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 133 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
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 7.3%, which is the 15th worst in Maryland. And households earn a combined $37,416 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Salisbury is merely $153,700.
Salisbury is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
Baltimore is another place in the Old Line State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Baltimore is a staggering 10.0%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($46,641 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $153,200, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Baltimore is bad, but not horrible.
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.”
If you live in Riverdale Park, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 9th worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 26th highest crime rate in Maryland, which saw 39 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 47.4 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 185 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Riverdale Park.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Riverdale Park sports the state’s 22nd highest unemployment rate (5.9%), and families bring in a combined $70,036 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $254,100.
You might have passed through New Carrollton once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why New Carrollton needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 11.2%, residents earn about $64,659 a year, and home prices are just over $245,000. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in New Carrollton.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maryland:
- Rockville (Pop. 66,420)
- Glenarden (Pop. 6,128)
- Bowie (Pop. 58,290)
For more Maryland reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Maryland
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Maryland
- 10 Safest Places In Maryland
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Maryland
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Maryland
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