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 73 cities with a population of 5,100 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Oregon:
- Madras (Photos)
- Ontario (Photos)
- Prineville (Photos)
- Sweet Home (Photos)
- Klamath Falls (Photos)
- Cottage Grove (Photos)
- Milton-Freewater (Photos)
- Springfield (Photos)
- Umatilla (Photos)
- Woodburn (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.
How we determined the worst places to live in Oregon 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
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 5,100 people were considered — leaving 73 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 73 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.
Population: 6,504Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $105,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.2% (3rd worst)
Madras needs some tough love as it ranks as the 1st worst city to live in Oregon for 2015. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Madras is the 21st highest in the state, where 1 in 27.1 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Population: 11,045Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $108,500 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (17th worst)
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.
Population: 9,419Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Home Values: $133,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.2% (7th worst)
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.
4. Sweet Home
Population: 9,171Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Home Values: $118,500 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.3% (2nd worst)
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 15.3% unemployment rate.
Additionally, 2590.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.
5. Klamath Falls
Population: 21,322Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Home Values: $139,300 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (4th worst)
Klamath Falls needs some tough love as it ranks as the 5th worst city to live in Oregon for 2015. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Klamath Falls is the 22nd highest in the state, where 1 in 27.2 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
6. Cottage Grove
Population: 9,889Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Home Values: $161,000 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (16th worst)
The unemployment rate in Cottage Grove is a sky high 10.7%, which is the 16th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Cottage Grove is $38,994. That means 2190.0% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 18.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
Population: 7,059Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Home Values: $108,800 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (23rd worst)
Milton-Freewater, part of Umatilla County, is the 7th worst place to live in Oregon for 2015.
. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $40,495, and crime 35th worst in Oregon.
Additionally, the poverty level is 3050.0% in Milton-Freewater.
Population: 60,611Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 5)
Home Values: $166,300 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (24th worst)
Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Oregon when we get to Springfield. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 9.8% (which is really high), and the median income is $39,670. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.
Population: 6,986Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Home Values: $114,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (4th worst)
Umatilla, part of Umatilla County, is the 9th worst place to live in Oregon for 2015.
. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $41,771, and crime 72nd worst in Oregon.
Additionally, the poverty level is 2050.0% in Umatilla.
Population: 24,765Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Home Values: $157,900 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (27th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Woodburn is the 10th worst place you can live in the state of Oregon. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Oregon. Woodburn is the 40th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 37.4 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $157,900, which is the 16th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Woodburn.
Income levels are just about $44,228, the 31st lowest in Oregon.
When you add it all up, Woodburn really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug 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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Oregon:
- Lake Oswego (Pop. 38,065)
- Sherwood (Pop. 18,965)
- Brookings (Pop. 6,390)
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Bona Fide Happiest Cities In Oregon
- These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Oregon
- Study: These Are The 10 Best Oregon Cities For Playing The Lottery
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Oregon