The 10 Worst Places To Live In New York For 2021

We used science and data to determine which cities in The Empire State are the real pits.

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The state of New York. You can’t possibly attempt to summarize the entire state in a couple of paragraphs. Except we can tell you, the people there are fiercely protective of where they live. And, like most other people in the northeast, they’d most likely you stay out. Even when you’re on vacation.

If you’ve ever been to the state of New York (besides NYC), you’d know why it’s a gem. If you haven’t been, and actually venture out beyond the confines of downtown, you’d see it’s one of the most beautiful places in the country.

But is it all good in The Empire State? Of course not. Just like every other state, New York has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities are the worst you could possibly live in if you make New York your home.

After analyzing 163 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 the state of New York:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In New York For 2021

  1. Monticello
  2. Rochester
  3. Lockport
  4. Newburgh
  5. Utica
  6. Poughkeepsie
  7. Binghamton
  8. Endicott
  9. Brockport
  10. Syracuse

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 New York? That would be Monticello.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more New York reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In New York For 2021

Monticello, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,433
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $106,900
Unemployment Rate: 10.8%
More on Monticello:  Data | Photos

The famous Monticello is in Virginia and represents Thomas Jefferson’s former home. This Monticello has much less going for it. In fact, it stands as the number 1 worst town in all of New York.

A bad economy explains why Monticello is such a drag for its 6,433 residents. The median income is only $31,723. With so little cash coming in, it’s no wonder that the poverty rate sits at 27.8%. Weak schools and safety concerns also present challenges.

Still, there are things to do in this southern New York town. For instance, you can check out harness racing at the Monticello Gaming and Raceway. Or, for more gambling action, head to the nearby casino, Resorts World Catskills.

Rochester, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 206,848
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $83,100
Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
More on Rochester:  Data | Photos

Rochester is home of a culinary delicacy known as a garbage plate. Turns out, that dish provides a good metaphor for the town’s economic situation, making it the number 2 least appealing spot in New York.

The 206,848 residents of Rochester struggle with major economic issues. The unemployment rate comes in at 10.2%, with 31.3% of people making due below the poverty line. Safety is a major problem in the area as well, with a crime rate more than 70% above the national average.

The city has some bright spots. It borders Lake Ontario, providing access to beaches. It also contains the George Eastman Museum, one of the great collections of photography in the world.

Lockport, NY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,490
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $93,000
Unemployment Rate: 6.0%
More on Lockport:  Data | Photos

Lockport gets its names from the locks of the Erie Canal. When that waterway was completed in the 1820s, Lockport became an instant boom town. The good times haven’t lasted into the 21st century, however. Nowadays, the community represents the number 3 most miserable place in New York to call home.

The economy in the area is less than robust. The median income hovers at $45,018 and the unemployment rate stands at 6.0%. Lockport has a few top-flight schools, but most score a 6/10 or worse on Great Schools.

There are perks to life in Lockport. The Erie Canal still runs through town, creating a scenic waterway. You can also check out the Lockport Caves.

Newburgh, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 28,255
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $159,000
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
More on Newburgh:  Data | Photos

Located along the Hudson river in the southern part of the state, Newburgh has a scenic view and many historical connections. Presidential buffs can visit Washington’s Headquarters, among other preserved buildings from the past.

Unfortunately, in the present, life in Newburgh offers many challenges. High crime, an expensive cost of living, and a weak economy make the community one of the most dreadful places in New York.

The crime rate stands nearly 40% above the national average. The mean income reaches $41,769, not enough for the region’s high cost of living. As a result, 25.4% of people live below the poverty line. Education is spotty as well, with even the best schools only ranking a 6/10 on Great Schools.

Utica, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 60,320
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $95,900
Unemployment Rate: 8.2%
More on Utica:  Data | Photos

If you live in Utica, you’re either going to come to the defense of your city and tell us that we’re idiots, or you secretly hoped you wouldn’t see your city mentioned here. The fact is, Utica isn’t necessarily a very desirable place to live, no matter how you look at it. And you probably know it.

Crime is the 13th highest in the whole state, per capita. Income levels are just about as low as you can expect, and homes are just about as cheap as you’ll find within 300 miles.

Poughkeepsie, NY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,381
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $196,800
Unemployment Rate: 9.4%
More on Poughkeepsie:  Data | Photos

Poughkeepsie is built on the shores of the Hudson River, about 2 hours north of New York City. Often referred to “Queen City of the Hudson,” the town’s 30,381 residents hardly pursue a royal lifestyle. In fact, the community ranks as the number 6 most terrible place to put down roots in New York.

A lack of jobs is the main problem for the town. The unemployment rate hangs at a lofty 9.4%. The median income is $43,794.

There are benefits to life in Poughkeepsie. For instance, you can take the scenic Walkway over the Hudson. It also serves as a vibrant college town, home of the famed Vassar College.

Binghamton, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 45,140
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $91,000
Unemployment Rate: 10.4%
More on Binghamton:  Data | Photos

Binghamton used to serve as a crucial hub in the south-central part of New York. It’s location at the intersection of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers, plus the presence of key railroad lines, made it an economic centerpiece. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. These days, Binghamton serves as the number 7 least appealing location in New York.

In the 21st century, the community faces significant economic woes. The unemployment rate sits at a whopping 10.4% and the median income hovers at $34,487. As a result, 32.6% of Binghamton’s 45,140 residents need to struggle in poverty. Crime is also a concern in town, with a crime rate more than double the national average.

You can find bright spots in town, of course. Check out the scenic areas near the rivers, or head over to the Bundy Museum of History and Art or the Roberson Museum and Science Center.

Endicott, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,771
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $88,300
Unemployment Rate: 8.6%
More on Endicott:  Data

Endicott began life as a company town. It was created for the Endicott Johnson Corporation, a major shoe manufacturer during the early part of the 20th century. Those jobs are long gone at this point. Now, a stagnant economy makes Endicott one of the worst place in New York to put down roots.

Finding a job represents a difficult chore for the 12,771 inhabitants of the area. The unemployment rate sits at a dreary 8.6%. The median income comes in at $41,339.

There is upside to living in Endicott. Built along the Susquehanna River in south-central New York, the community offers plenty of waterside parks. If you want to know more about old-time Endicott, you can head over to the Endicott History and Heritage Center.

Brockport, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,292
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $113,800
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
More on Brockport:  Data | Photos

Brockport has an official nickname: “The Victorian Village on the Erie Canal.” It gets this title from its proximity to the canal and a beautification process that includes a brick walkway. Too bad the rest of the town isn’t quite that nice.

A weak economy makes Brockport one of the least inviting places in New York. The 8,292 residents have to suffer with a 8.8% unemployment rate and a 25.7% poverty rate. The median income comes in at $40,083.

It’s a shame because other aspects of the town are quite pleasant. Many of the schools are decent and the cost of living is low. And, of course, you’ve got those lovely canal walks, plus a short drive to Lake Ontario, about 20 minutes north.

Syracuse, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 142,874
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $94,400
Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
More on Syracuse:  Data | Photos

On the surface, Syracuse has a lot going for it. It houses the famed Syracuse University. History buffs can check out the Erie Canal museum, one of many such learning institutions in town. And you’ve got a lovely lakefront along Onondage Lake.

But all this comes with a dark side. High crime and a depressed economy make the community one of the worst places to reside in all of New York.

Just look at the crime rate: it runs about 50% above the national average. This doesn’t come as a surprise, given the economic conditions. The town of 142,874 people has to deal with an unemployment rate of 9.3%. The median income sits at $38,276.

How we determined the worst places to live in New York for 2021

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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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 163 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 163 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 New York — Monticello. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in New York. 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 New York

If you’re looking at areas in New York 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, Monticello ranks as the worst city to live in New York for 2021.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in New York:

  1. Cedarhurst (Pop. 6,642)
  2. Great Neck Plaza (Pop. 6,957)
  3. Malverne (Pop. 8,517)

For more New York reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In New York?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Monticello 6,433 10.8% $106,900
2 Rochester 206,848 10.2% $83,100
3 Lockport 20,490 6.0% $93,000
4 Newburgh 28,255 6.6% $159,000
5 Utica 60,320 8.2% $95,900
6 Poughkeepsie 30,381 9.4% $196,800
7 Binghamton 45,140 10.4% $91,000
8 Endicott 12,771 8.6% $88,300
9 Brockport 8,292 8.8% $113,800
10 Syracuse 142,874 9.3% $94,400
11 Schenectady 65,334 9.2% $108,700
12 Watertown 25,622 7.5% $133,400
13 Wappingers Falls 5,648 7.0% $228,200
14 Buffalo 256,480 7.1% $89,800
15 Albion 5,479 7.1% $75,400
16 Monroe 8,586 4.1% $324,800
17 Jamestown 29,504 7.5% $63,200
18 Niagara Falls 48,252 6.9% $77,400
19 Goshen 5,344 3.4% $305,600
20 Gloversville 14,878 7.5% $76,100
21 Troy 49,458 6.8% $149,800
22 Elmira 27,402 9.0% $74,500
23 Hudson 6,235 7.8% $220,800
24 Lackawanna 17,831 5.9% $94,700
25 Spring Valley 32,295 7.4% $295,500
26 Haverstraw 12,065 8.8% $255,200
27 Malone 5,659 8.6% $83,600
28 Sleepy Hollow 10,122 7.1% $693,500
29 Ogdensburg 10,635 6.8% $67,900
30 West Haverstraw 10,250 8.3% $265,900
31 Kingston 23,070 6.8% $177,500
32 Salamanca 5,497 6.5% $64,100
33 New York 8,419,316 6.3% $606,000
34 Albany 97,478 7.0% $179,100
35 Oswego 17,470 10.0% $87,500
36 Rensselaer 9,259 6.6% $143,300
37 Mastic Beach 12,610 5.2% $225,100
38 Webster 5,606 1.8% $152,500
39 Elmsford 5,085 7.0% $433,300
40 Port Chester 29,342 8.2% $446,900
41 Massena 10,091 9.2% $76,400
42 Bath 5,543 4.8% $85,300
43 Washingtonville 5,746 4.1% $256,300
44 Amsterdam 17,836 9.0% $86,100
45 Fulton 11,300 6.5% $80,700
46 Dunkirk 11,865 7.4% $67,300
47 North Syracuse 6,767 5.9% $114,500
48 Newark 8,914 6.2% $94,400
49 Solvay 6,323 4.0% $113,800
50 Kiryas Joel 24,571 4.5% $517,400
51 Olean 13,670 5.4% $80,200
52 Chestnut Ridge 8,057 7.3% $494,800
53 Mount Vernon 67,896 6.6% $362,200
54 Auburn 26,601 6.3% $102,000
55 New Hempstead 5,385 4.8% $514,400
56 Potsdam 9,154 9.2% $113,100
57 Baldwinsville 7,645 5.8% $139,700
58 Mount Kisco 10,866 4.0% $429,900
59 Peekskill 24,075 5.6% $294,100
60 Medina 5,847 6.7% $76,300
61 Geneva 12,787 6.3% $96,200
62 Port Jervis 8,595 4.8% $145,000
63 Ossining 25,086 4.0% $360,300
64 Hornell 8,281 8.8% $67,500
65 Norwich 6,718 6.6% $93,800
66 Walden 6,724 2.4% $212,100
67 Fredonia 10,464 9.1% $130,700
68 Oneida 10,948 5.0% $114,600
69 Warwick 6,785 2.9% $340,500
70 Yonkers 199,968 6.6% $403,900
71 Patchogue 12,384 4.8% $319,300
72 Airmont 8,770 4.5% $508,800
73 Pleasantville 7,221 6.7% $628,500
74 Suffern 10,943 5.4% $310,900
75 New Paltz 7,165 10.1% $274,800
76 Watervliet 10,050 4.7% $145,200
77 White Plains 58,137 5.1% $568,400
78 Rye Brook 9,487 8.3% $725,400
79 Hudson Falls 7,114 8.2% $123,700
80 East Aurora 6,184 3.8% $221,400
81 Rome 32,253 4.0% $98,400
82 Depew 15,102 4.6% $120,200
83 Hilton 5,832 5.3% $140,400
84 New Rochelle 79,067 6.1% $575,300
85 Johnstown 8,277 4.0% $94,400
86 Harrison 28,135 6.1% $850,500
87 Nyack 7,173 4.5% $475,500
88 Croton-on-Hudson 8,155 4.6% $546,500
89 Batavia 14,578 4.3% $96,900
90 Oneonta 13,893 7.2% $153,200
91 Middletown 27,963 4.3% $182,000
92 Mamaroneck 19,217 4.0% $623,400
93 Saranac Lake 5,700 5.0% $156,500
94 Wesley Hills 5,885 4.8% $666,000
95 East Rochester 6,563 3.7% $104,300
96 Scotia 7,667 3.4% $142,700
97 Fairport 5,349 3.2% $183,400
98 Herkimer 6,615 5.7% $78,000
99 Lancaster 10,144 3.3% $123,700
100 Geneseo 8,095 3.3% $159,900

How Is The Area In ?

Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in New York.

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.