These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Northern California For 2018


We used science and data to determine the places in Northern California that are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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Northern California. The American dream. The place where you can get the sun, surf, mountains and deserts. Where dreams are made and movie stars bask in the glory of their own self worth.

Where you have to ration your water. Sit in traffic. Pay too much for your house.

While Northern California is overall, a glorious place, it has some serious, glaring issues, just like most other states. But most of the people reading this live there, and are already aware of this fact, so we won’t dwell on it.

Instead, let’s have some fun and look at only certain areas where things are the absolute worst.

After analyzing all 188 cities with a population over 5,000, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Northern California:

  1. Clearlake (Photos)
  2. Dos Palos
  3. Mendota (Photos)
  4. Avenal (Photos)
  5. Lathrop
  6. Red Bluff (Photos)
  7. Los Banos (Photos)
  8. Chowchilla (Photos)
  9. Oroville (Photos)
  10. Stockton (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.

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

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How we determined the worst places to live in Northern California 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

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 188 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 188 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 Northern California — Clearlake. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Northern California.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

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1. Clearlake

Clearlake, Northern California

Public domain

Population: 15,070
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 5)
Home Values: $84,200 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.5% (5th worst)
Most people have never heard of Clearlake. A Google map search determined it’s on the banks of Clear Lake, in the middle of nowhere north of Sacramento. Apparently, things aren’t too fabulous there, as the incomes here are almost on the poverty level, and 1 in 10 people are unemployed. While it could be considered a bit of a weekend getaway for city slickers (maybe?), almost half of the city’s roads are unpaved. Not a good sign.

And the nearest Del Taco is an hour and a half away.

2. Dos Palos