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 5,100 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Oregon:
- Madras (Photos)
- Prineville (Photos)
- Seaside (Photos)
- Cottage Grove (Photos)
- Coos Bay (Photos)
- Sweet Home (Photos)
- Klamath Falls (Photos)
- Medford (Photos)
- Umatilla (Photos)
- Gresham (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. 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 2019.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Oregon
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Oregon
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Oregon
How we determined the worst places to live in Oregon 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 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.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
While the median household income in Madras is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Madras still has the 2nd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 30th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Madras 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.
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.
Seaside is one of the poorest cities in the state of Oregon. This city has 9.9% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $38,680 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Seaside has the 4th highest crime rate in Oregon. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Oregon 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 Beaver State.
Cottage Grove ranks as the 4th worst city in Oregon. Located in Lane County, Cottage Grove has the 17th lowest income levels in the state of Oregon ($40,436), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 10.6%.
Welcome to Coos Bay, where criminals go to make a living. Coos Bay has the 1st highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Coos Bay city limits, you have a 1 in 12.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 60 violent crimes here in 2019. For a city of 16,070 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 267 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Coos Bay every year as well.
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 13.6% unemployment rate.
Additionally, 22.6% of the population lives below the poverty line.
There’s probably not many people in Oregon that would be surprised to see Klamath Falls on this list. In fact, if Klamath Falls wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Klamath Falls has the 31st worst crime rate in Oregon. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 106 violent crimes in Klamath Falls in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 199 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Klamath Falls are the 7th cheapest in the state ($148,900), the unemployment rate is the 3rd highest (11.5%), and the annual household income is 14th lowest in Oregon, at $38,847. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
According to science, Medford is the 8th worst place you can live in Oregon.
Let’s see why. Medford has the 2nd-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Medford is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($229,200), and the 32nd-highest unemployment rate in the state (7.1%), and across the board, Medford doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
Umatilla is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $114,000. That means it ranks as the 2nd lowest in Oregon.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Umatilla has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 72nd worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in Oregon.
Gresham needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Gresham. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Gresham. Of the 72 cities considered in this ranking, Gresham had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Gresham have Oregon’s 46th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 24th and 34th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in Oregon.”
If you know anyone in Gresham, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oregon:
- Milwaukie (Pop. 20,627)
- Sherwood (Pop. 19,107)
- Lake Oswego (Pop. 38,212)
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Oregon
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Oregon
- 10 Safest Places In Oregon
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Oregon
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Oregon