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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 Prineville.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oregon For 2020
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.
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.
If you live in Madras, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 24th highest crime rate, per capita in the state of Oregon. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 26.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 13 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 513 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 5th lowest salaries in Oregon At $34,966 a household, that's simply not enough to get by for most folks.
Seaside, OR needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 8.5%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 10th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 19.7 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
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 13.8% unemployment rate.
Additionally, 21.4% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Medford 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 Medford than in the cities we mentioned above, so at least folks here can take their mind off of these statistics. Medford has the 24th 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 2019, and residents have a 1 in 17.9 chance of being robbed. Since the average person has 300 Facebook friends, if everyone you were friends with lived in Medford, 6 of them would have had something stolen from them last year.
You might have passed through Woodburn once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Woodburn needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 5.6%, residents earn about $46,690 a year, and home prices are just over $179,400. 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 Woodburn.
Out of all the places to live in Oregon, Cottage Grove ranks as the 8th worst -- not something to brag about.
Cottage Grove's unemployment rate stands at 9.2%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $47,316 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 18th cheapest in the entire state at $180,200. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Cottage Grove. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 18th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 24.3 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 373 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Klamath Falls, where there's absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 9th worst city in Oregon.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Klamath Falls has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 10.3%, and families earn around $39,738 a year. It's also the 26th highest in Oregon for crime, where 1 in 28.4 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Redmond doesn't have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 6.7%, and people average less than $55,679 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $242,200, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Oregon.
And again, in terms of the overall 'enjoyment' factor, it's not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
How we determined the worst places to live in Oregon for 2020
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 -- Prineville. 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, Prineville ranks as the worst city to live in Oregon for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oregon:
- Sherwood (Pop. 19,337)
- West Linn (Pop. 26,511)
- Lake Oswego (Pop. 38,705)
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Oregon
- Richest Cities In Oregon
- Safest Places In Oregon
- Best Cities For Singles In Oregon
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Oregon?