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Oregon is one of those states that quietly flies off the radar. The one in the corner, quietly doing its work without much of a peep. No one can deny that it's a beautiful place filled with lots of progressive people who enjoy their little nook of the country.
But, is it all roses? Not at all. Just like other states, Oregon has its share of issues just like everyone else. And the purpose of this post is to use science to see where those places are.
So, after analyzing all 72 cities with a population of 5,200 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Oregon:
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 Oregon? That would be Madras.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oregon For 2021
Madras is the 19th most dangerous place in the state of Oregon. That's part of the reason it's the worst place in Oregon.
The fact remains, that when you're within Madras city limits, you have a 1 in 27.1 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Madras also has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 10.4%? Or that homes are only valued at $182,500?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Madras.
Ontario might as well be in Idaho, it's so far away from everyone else. Folks here suffer through high crime, low wages and a very high number of homes aren't occupied.
On the bright side, the public education system here is 6th highest in Oregon.
The good news is, according to a story we recently did, Prineville is the 10th luckiest city in Oregon, based on lottery winnings per capita.
The bad news is if you hit it big, someone might steal your money here. Prineville doesn't have the worst crime in the state, but it's sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, this town on the desert side of Bend may not be your first choice for a vacation.
You might have passed through Klamath Falls once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Klamath Falls needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 9.3%, residents earn about $41,444 a year, and home prices are just over $159,500. 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 Klamath Falls.
Welcome to Cottage Grove, which might be one of the poorest areas in Oregon. Residents average $47,752 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 19.2% of Cottage Grove residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $192,600 and the unemployment rate hovers near 8.7%.
Sweet Home doesn't sound too sweet when you add up the numbers. This town in the middle of nowhere (north of Eugene) has a low household income and a long commute time, meaning even less time with the family. That is for folks who have a job -- residents here have a 8.8% unemployment rate.
Additionally, 20.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Hermiston is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Hermiston residents earn the 34th-lowest salaries in the state. At $54,123 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $164,300, which means there isn't a lot of demand.
Crime is the 29th highest in Oregon per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 11th highest in the state, at 7.9%.
When you're looking at science and data, Seaside is the worst place you can live in Oregon. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 5.6%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $309,700, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 13.6 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Gresham is by far, the largest place that's lousy to live in the state of Oregon. In fact, it's one of the largest cities in the Beaver State.
There's a lot more entertainment in Gresham than in the cities we mentioned above, so at least folks here can take their mind off of these statistics. Gresham has the 25th highest unemployment rate in the state, and homes are valued far below the rest of the state average.
Plus, crime is sky high here, in comparison to the rest of Oregon. There were four murders here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 32.1 chance of being robbed. Since the average person has 300 Facebook friends, if everyone you were friends with lived in Gresham, 6 of them would have had something stolen from them last year.
While the median household income in Coos Bay is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of "worst cities", Coos Bay still has the 5th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 12th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Coos Bay household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn't help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
How we determined the worst places to live in Oregon 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
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 72 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 72 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 Oregon -- Madras. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Oregon. 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 Oregon
If you're looking at areas in Oregon 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, Madras ranks as the worst city to live in Oregon for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oregon:
- West Linn (Pop. 26,656)
- Lake Oswego (Pop. 39,127)
- Sherwood (Pop. 19,625)
For more Oregon reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oregon?