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 38 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,400 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Maryland:
Where are these places, you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small towns in Maryland, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in Maryland is Manchester.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Maryland? The worst place to live in Maryland is Bladensburg.
Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2023.
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 2023
Part of the web of communities that surround Washington, DC, Bladensburg sits close to the border, in the southwest part of Maryland. This isn’t a haven for rich lobbyists and high-powered politicians, though. Instead, a weak economy, high crime, and terrible public schools make this one of the worst hometowns in the state.
You’d expect the nearby national capital to give Bladensburg an economic boost. Nope. The unemployment rate sits at 13.5% and the median income comes in at just $54,208. Meanwhile, the town’s crime rate hovers more than 50% above the national average. Its schools top out at a 4/10 on Great Schools.
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 2023. 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 8.1%, which is the 7th highest in Maryland. And the household income levels are $40,094 a year, which are the lowest. Additionally, crime is far above the state average. You have a 1 in 24.0 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 10.6%, which is the 4th worst in Maryland. And households earn a combined $48,310 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Salisbury is merely $170,200.
Salisbury is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maryland, Elkton ranks 4th 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 18.3 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 119 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 13th highest in Maryland, at 7.2%. 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.
Ever seen the TV show The Wire? If so, you probably don’t have a high opinion of Baltimore. Well, the show’s depiction of a community plagued by crime, drugs, and corruption was based on reality. Even now, well after The Wire ended its run, Baltimore ranks as the number 5 least attractive spot in Maryland.
With 592,211 residents, Baltimore is the most populous city in the state. As such, it comes with its share of amenities. The National Aquarium is located in town, or you can grab crab cakes down by the waterfront.
But get away from the tourist sections of town and life gets hard. The unemployment rate comes in at 7.4% and the poverty rate hovers at 20.3%. Crime ranks nearly 150% above the national average, with 354 murders in a year.
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.”
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 $43,699 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 $105,700. 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 9th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 34.7 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 139 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Sitting right along the border of the District of Columbia, Mount Rainier acts as a suburb of the national capital. Still, sitting within a 20-minute drive of the White House doesn’t save this community from dealing with significant problems. A lack of jobs, high crime, bad schools, and a challenging cost of living all make it difficult for the town’s 8,290 residents.
Jobs in the region are relatively well paying, with a median income of $59,268. Still, these positions can be hard to find. As a result, the unemployment rate sits at 6.7%. At the same time, schools in the area fall short of expectations. At their best, they score just a 4/10 on Great Schools.
Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in Maryland for 2023
To figure out the worst places to live in Maryland, 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 more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 38 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 38 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 — Bladensburg. Read on for a detailed look at the ten worst cities in Maryland.
Summary: 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 little to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Bladensburg ranks as the worst city to live in Maryland for 2023.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maryland:
- Havre de Grace (Pop. 14,625)
- Mount Airy (Pop. 9,621)
- Manchester (Pop. 5,350)
For more Maryland reading, check out:
Worst Places To Live In Maryland?
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