If you ask someone from Minnesota what they love about their state, you’ll get a lot of answers. Friendly people, beautiful scenery, and hockey. Lots and lots of hockey.
It’s not an easy life for most of the year. But if you ask people who live there, they are fiercely protective of their state. They stick together up there, and would probably rather you stay out. Unless you’re on vacation.
But is it all great in The Land of 10,000 Lakes? Of course not. Just like every other state, Minnesota has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Minnesota are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, many of the cities on this list would rank highly if they were in other states. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Minnesota your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 143 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Minnesota:
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 Minnesota? That would be Bemidji.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Minnesota reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Minnesota
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Minnesota
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Minnesota
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Minnesota For 2019
Bemidji is way out at the intersection of Highways 2 and 71. And you may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 1st-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Bemidji had a 1 in 11.7 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Bemidji, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Bemidji’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (7.9%) and income levels of its residents ($33,260).
It might seem really odd to hear that little Waite Park has the worst crime, per capita, in Minnesota. A suburb of St. Cloud, this little city’s issues are with property crimes. A staggering 1 in 12.7 residents here was the victim of some type of reported theft in 2019.
That’s just about as high as it gets, nationwide. And yes, we’re aware that there is a huge amount of retail here, which might skew the numbers. But if you live in a place where people are stealing from stores and breaking into parked cars left and right, is that enjoyable?
Besides very low household income and home values, everything else is average.
Just remember to lock your doors when you go there. It’s simply not a safe place at all.
Little Virginia, Minnesota could use a big hug right now. The crime is the 19th highest in the state, income levels and home values are in the bottom half, and the unemployment rate is far above average. Virginia, which has seen its population shrink 5% over the last 10 years, is about an hour’s drive north of Duluth.
Famous winemaker Robert Mondavi was born in Virginia. Unfortunately, the town has some sour grapes to contend with these days.
On the bright side, the public schools in Virginia are some of the highest rated when it comes to the amount of spending and 1-on-1 student support.
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Red Wing. The only real difference is Red Wing is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Red Wing is at 6.6%, which is the 10th worst in Minnesota. And households earn a combined $50,746 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Red Wing is merely $163,200.
Red Wing is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
Brainerd is way up on 371, north of Little Falls. You can’t blame them for living up here, since it’s really beautiful. But there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 83rd highest in the state here (3.5%), the residents in Brainerd earn the smallest household income in the state of Minnesota. At a combined income of $34,358, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Minnesota. Brainerd has the 18th highest crime rate in the state.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Minnesota, Brooklyn Center came in 6th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Minnesota residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Minnesota, you can see some really big differences. In Brooklyn Center, the number of people out of work is 5.7%
In Minnesota, that’s the 21st highest in the state.
The residents in Brooklyn Center have the 30th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Brooklyn Center average $50,618 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 $151,500 on average. That’s the 32nd lowest in the state.
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, St. Paul is the 7th worst place in the state of Minnesota.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. St. Paul is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in St. Paul are the 68th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Minnesota.
Fridley, MN needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 6.4%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 29th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 26.7 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
St. Cloud is one of the poorest cities in the state of Minnesota. This city has 6.4% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $46,601 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. St. Cloud has the 23rd highest crime rate in Minnesota. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Minnesota 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 North Star State.
When you’re looking at science and data, West St. Paul is the worst place you can live in Minnesota. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 6.3%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $183,300, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 20.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
West St. Paul is a far drive south from Louisville.
How we determined the worst places to live in Minnesota 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 143 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 143 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 Minnesota — Bemidji. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Minnesota.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Minnesota
If you’re looking at areas in Minnesota 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, Bemidji ranks as the worst city to live in Minnesota for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Minnesota:
- Waconia (Pop. 11,751)
- Eden Prairie (Pop. 63,660)
- Edina (Pop. 50,603)
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