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


We used science and data to determine the places in Southern 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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Southern 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 Southern 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 225 cities with a population over 5,000, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Southern California:

  1. Desert Hot Springs (Photos)
  2. Wasco (Photos)
  3. Adelanto (Photos)
  4. Arvin (Photos)
  5. Hemet (Photos)
  6. San Bernardino (Photos)
  7. Coachella (Photos)
  8. Victorville (Photos)
  9. Barstow (Photos)
  10. Perris (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 Southern 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 5,100 people were considered — leaving 225 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 225 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 Southern California — Desert Hot Springs. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Southern California.

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

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1. Desert Hot Springs

Desert Hot Springs, Southern California

Public domain

Population: 28,092
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $143,300 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (46th worst)
According to science, Desert Hot Springs is by far, the worst place in the state of Southern California. For those who are familiar with this desert city in Riverside County, is might not be much of a surprise, considering it’s a hot, empty place with nothing to do.

For those who live there, consider these facts: The crime rate in DHS is almost the highest in Southern California, per capita. Nearly 1 in 4 homes is vacant. And residents earn a paltry 32 grand a year. Which goes nowhere on a Southern California budget. Plus, summers are miserable.

While other cities in the greater Palm Springs area might be considered ‘posh’ such as Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs remains one of many sore spots in the region. And now that there are water rations in place, residents who live here can’t afford to water their cactus and succulent landscaping.

Seriously, this place is filled with homeless people and smells like a combination of Mexican food and tumbleweeds.

2. Wasco

Wasco, Southern California

Population: 26,061
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $152,300 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.8% (7th worst)
If you’re looking to live in Southern California, Wasco might not be the best choice as it places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Golden State for 2015.

The average family earns $39,559 a year out here, and 2950.0% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 17.8% of the population is out of work.

And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Wasco, every year, you have a 1 in 15.4 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 4th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.

3. Adelanto

Adelanto, Southern California

Population: 32,311
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $129,900 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.0% (1st worst)
Adelanto has the exact same problems that Lucerne Valley has, and it’s located only a half hour away. Except, the crime in Adelanto is far worse than it is in Lucerne Valley. Its residents most likely work in nearby Victorville or make the trek through the Cajon Pass to shlep into San Bernardino or Riverside.

Most people have only been to Adelanto while driving on 395 on their way up north, or because they got talked into attending a baseball game at Maverick Stadium.

Or, they were desperate because Apple Valley’s Del Taco was closed.

4. Arvin

Arvin, Southern California

Public domain

Population: 20,562
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
Home Values: $116,900 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (31st worst)
Arvin, CA needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.

Additionally, crime is 34th worst in the state, which is very high considering Arvin is so far removed from the rest of Southern California.

If you know anyone in Arvin, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.

5. Hemet

Hemet, Southern California

Population: 82,748
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Values: $139,400 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.0% (3rd worst)
Another Riverside County desert city cracks the top 10. For those in the know, Hemet is a really?challenged city to put it lightly. It has a high crime rate, residents earn far less than they should to live comfortably, and 1 in 10 doesn’t have a job at all.

Moreover, 1 in 10 homes sits vacant, and there’s not a lot to do for fun. If you live in Hemet, this ranking might be a slight to your pride. Because, deep down, you know it’s bad there, but you always felt like you had it better than the people next door in San Jacinto. Well, you are wrong. Barely. See number 5.

6. San Bernardino

San Bernardino, Southern California

Public domain

Population: 214,581
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $176,800 (39th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (21st worst)
Perhaps the only thing surprising about San Bernardino being 9th is that it wasn’t higher. Crime here is horrible, more than 1 in 10 residents are without jobs (and that’s conservative), and well?we could go on and on about San Bernardino’s issues.

You’ve heard it all before. When considering the data, the only reason San Bernardino is only 9th is that there are some areas of the city in which residents earn professional salaries, and, frankly, there’s a lot more to do in the San Bernardino region than there is in the desert. And no, dodging bullets isn’t one of them.

But as professionals continue to flee into the nearby enclaves of East Highlands, Yucaipa and Redlands, the city of San Bernardino, which saw its glory days spike in the late 1970s, will continue to head down the drain and unfortunately, become an area only for those who have no aspirations to exceed in life.

7. Coachella

Coachella, Southern California

Population: 43,826
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Home Values: $161,400 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.2% (10th worst)
Coachella is the 63rd most dangerous place in the state of Southern California. That’s part of the reason it’s the 7th worst place in Southern California.

The fact remains, that when you’re within Coachella city limits, you have a 1 in 33.7 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?

Did you know Coachella also has the 10th highest unemployment rate in the state at 17.2%? Or that homes are only valued at $161,400?

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Coachella.

8. Victorville

Victorville, Southern California

Population: 121,320
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Home Values: $158,900 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (13th worst)
While numbers in Southern California are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Southern California cities against one another, you see big differences.

Home values in Victorville average $158,900, which is the 24th lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Victorville.

Plus, 2500.0% of the population here lives below the poverty line.

Plus, the crime rate is the 47th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Victorville city limits, you have a 1 in 34.4 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.

9. Barstow

Barstow, Southern California

Population: 23,438
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 10)
Home Values: $96,000 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.1% (17th worst)
Barstow has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 8th-highest in the state of Southern California. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 15.1%.

Additionally, 3670.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.

10. Perris

Perris, Southern California

Population: 73,718
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Home Values: $211,400 (50th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (20th worst)
Here in Perris, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Southern California. That’s not a good combination.

Located in Riverside County, you have a 1 in 34.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Perris city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (14.2%). That’s good for the 20th highest unemployment rate in Southern California.

Wrapping Up The Worst In Southern California

If you’re looking at areas in Southern California 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, Desert Hot Springs ranks as the worst city to live in Southern California for 2018.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Southern California:

  1. Aliso Viejo (Pop. 50,219)
  2. Coronado (Pop. 24,852)
  3. Mission Viejo (Pop. 96,178)

For more Southern California reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Southern California

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Desert Hot Springs 1 1 28,092 11.7% $143,300
Wasco 2 2 26,061 17.8% $152,300
Adelanto 3 3 32,311 22.0% $129,900
Arvin 4 10 20,562 13.3% $116,900
Hemet 5 7 82,748 19.0% $139,400
San Bernardino 6 8 214,581 14.1% $176,800
Coachella 7 12 43,826 17.2% $161,400
Victorville 8 9 121,320 15.5% $158,900
Barstow 9 19 23,438 15.1% $96,000
Perris 10 17 73,718 14.2% $211,400
Commerce 11 18 12,997 11.4% $343,200
Calipatria 12 19 7,511 17.4% $93,200
Huntington Park 13 25 58,921 11.1% $322,300
San Jacinto 14 11 46,375 13.2% $159,700
Dinuba 15 16 23,465 15.2% $157,000
Selma 16 27 24,228 11.6% $164,500
Shafter 17 15 17,801 13.3% $153,600
Calexico 18 23 39,750 18.9% $165,300
Lindsay 19 47 13,052 10.3% $122,300
Delano 20 44 52,538 14.8% $160,700
Parlier 21 34 14,953 14.5% $123,300
Hesperia 22 22 92,664 13.6% $172,800
South Gate 23 48 95,219 11.7% $329,000
Compton 24 46 97,740 13.9% $264,300
Orange Cove 25 65 9,566 17.9% $118,800
Blythe 26 24 19,675 13.0% $126,300
Brawley 27 45 25,776 20.6% $150,100
Jurupa Valley 28 58 100,737 12.7% $270,700
Moreno Valley 29 57 202,061 12.3% $231,400
Bell 30 59 35,927 11.4% $322,900
El Centro 31 53 43,699 15.2% $164,900
Palmdale 32 31 156,823 11.6% $207,400
Lynwood 33 73 71,233 10.2% $312,100
Pomona 34 67 151,807 11.0% $310,100
Reedley 35 80 25,273 15.5% $170,300
Woodlake 36 39 7,567 15.8% $121,300
Lancaster 37 52 159,651 9.6% $186,000
Banning 38 56 30,643 14.0% $177,000
Corcoran 39 53 22,917 16.3% $111,700
Montclair 40 92 38,294 9.3% $281,100
Colton 41 43 53,856 9.8% $189,500
Paramount 42 74 54,941 9.1% $283,400
Porterville 43 64 58,472 11.6% $157,900
Calimesa 44 80 8,379 13.4% $168,700
Taft 45 50 9,128 5.9% $150,700
Farmersville 46 69 10,699 13.4% $124,400
Rialto 47 60 102,418 13.8% $236,100
Mcfarland 48 40 13,391 17.5% $136,700
Apple Valley 49 82 71,455 12.9% $194,100
Bell Gardens 50 106 42,805 10.6% $318,700
South El Monte 51 89 20,566 7.0% $363,100
Sanger 52 90 24,741 13.0% $168,000
Lake Elsinore 53 63 60,230 12.8% $259,700
Palm Springs 54 78 46,714 10.8% $303,100
Riverside 55 101 318,678 11.0% $286,600
Inglewood 56 84 111,012 13.3% $355,300
Cudahy 57 86 24,106 11.9% $285,900
Hawaiian Gardens 58 97 14,468 10.5% $288,200
Yucca Valley 59 28 21,362 13.2% $151,300
Ontario 60 79 169,389 9.3% $293,000
Maywood 61 133 27,672 9.5% $325,600
Indio 62 72 85,401 11.8% $230,300
El Monte 63 104 115,665 9.2% $374,900
Big Bear Lake 64 91 5,149 9.4% $384,100
Tulare 65 71 61,664 9.1% $163,100
Bakersfield 66 102 367,555 10.2% $214,600
Hawthorne 67 114 86,938 9.8% $419,600
Montebello 68 152 63,416 8.1% $413,900
Fontana 69 109 205,228 10.2% $289,400
Fowler 70 100 6,083 9.8% $201,000
Los Angeles 71 122 3,918,872 9.2% $496,300
Highland 72 112 54,490 11.4% $269,000
Holtville 73 96 6,230 13.6% $150,900
Hanford 74 111 54,912 11.8% $174,300
Long Beach 75 141 469,793 9.4% $448,800
Wildomar 76 139 34,775 12.1% $266,900
Santa Fe Springs 77 127 17,436 4.9% $371,400
Twentynine Palms 78 165 25,848 17.9% $118,400
Signal Hill 79 130 11,404 7.0% $446,000
Baldwin Park 80 132 76,511 8.8% $333,500
Menifee 81 144 84,978 11.3% $244,700
El Cajon 82 157 102,894 12.5% $369,000
Oxnard 83 149 204,752 8.4% $362,900
Tehachapi 84 126 13,179 8.8% $180,300
Visalia 85 148 128,738 8.1% $190,500
Pico Rivera 86 154 63,724 8.6% $351,300
Exeter 87 119 10,504 9.0% $175,000
San Fernando 88 162 24,396 8.6% $343,500
Escondido 89 155 149,912 7.2% $368,500
Stanton 90 143 38,594 8.0% $322,200
Bellflower 91 158 77,687 8.3% $367,300
Chino 92 164 83,670 9.0% $365,500
Rosemead 93 159 54,507 8.2% $455,100
Santa Ana 94 163 333,605 7.1% $383,900
La Puente 95 181 40,384 8.1% $343,000
Azusa 96 160 48,498 8.1% $342,000
Yucaipa 97 165 52,886 9.2% $241,700
Duarte 98 188 21,792 10.4% $385,600
Gardena 99 170 59,898 8.3% $372,500
Anaheim 100 174 346,776 8.1% $457,600

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