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:
- Desert Hot Springs (Photos)
- Wasco (Photos)
- Adelanto (Photos)
- Arvin (Photos)
- Hemet (Photos)
- San Bernardino (Photos)
- Coachella (Photos)
- Victorville (Photos)
- Barstow (Photos)
- 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.
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
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.
1. Desert Hot Springs
Population: 28,092Rank 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.
Population: 26,061Rank 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.
Population: 32,311Rank 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.
Population: 20,562Rank 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.
Population: 82,748Rank 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
Population: 214,581Rank 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.
Population: 43,826Rank 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.
Population: 121,320Rank 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.
Population: 23,438Rank 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.
Population: 73,718Rank 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:
- Aliso Viejo (Pop. 50,219)
- Coronado (Pop. 24,852)
- Mission Viejo (Pop. 96,178)
For more Southern California reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Suburbs In Southern California For 2018
- 10 Safest Places In Southern California
- 10 Snobbiest Cities In Southern California
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Southern California
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|South El Monte||51||89|
|Big Bear Lake||64||91|
|Santa Fe Springs||77||127|