This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it on 4-9-2018 with better images.
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Ah, Texas. The Lone Star State. The state where secession is talked about on a daily basis. A place for rebels, pick-up trucks, sexy cheerleaders, and the hardest-working Americans of all time.
But, is it all roses in Texas? Of course not. For every good, there has to be a bad. And that’s where this post aims to investigate. Even in one of the best states in the union, there have to be bad spots. The dead zones. The bruises on the apple, if you will.
After analyzing almost 328 of the most populous cities, we came up with this list as the absolute worst 10 places in the state of Texas:
- Cleveland (Photos)
- Port Arthur (Photos)
- Donna (Photos)
- Robstown (Photos)
- Hempstead (Photos)
- Mercedes (Photos)
- Elsa (Photos)
- Raymondville (Photos)
- Progreso (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.
For more Texas reading, check out:
How we determined the worst places to live in Texas 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 5,000 people were considered — leaving 328 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 328 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 Texas — Cleveland. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Texas.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 7,879Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $72,300 (42nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.3% (7th worst)
Cleveland has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 12th-highest in the state of Texas. 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 15.3%.
Additionally, 26.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Cleveland.
2. Port Arthur
Population: 54,913Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $64,300 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (32nd worst)
Port Arthur has 702 people per square mile. In comparison, Dallas has a population density of 3,500 per square mile. That means there’s a lot of open space here. Say what you want about ‘open spaces’, but in terms of feeling like you’re part of a community, it’s hard to do when everyone is spread out.
In addition, homes in Port Arthur only cost $64,300 which is 22nd lowest. Meaning…more open spaces. Unemployment here is 10.4%.
On the bright side, spending on students in Port Arthur is the second-highest in Texas at an astounding $16,494.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Port Arthur.
Population: 16,349Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 7)
Home Values: $55,700 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (25th worst)
Donna, located at the far southeastern tip of the state, is one of the more dangerous places in Texas. In fact, that entire region ranks very high on our most dangerous cities in Texas study.
Household incomes are very low here as well. Basically, Donna is a small town with a high unemployment rate where there’s not a lot to do in the general vicinity except listen to police sirens.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Donna.
Population: 11,622Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $55,000 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.2% (6th worst)
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Robstown is the 4th worst place in the state of Texas.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Robstown is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Robstown are the 11th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Texas.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Robstown.
Population: 6,727Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Home Values: $98,200 (128th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (2nd worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Hempstead is one of the worst places you can live in Texas. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 19.7%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $98,200, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 41.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Hempstead.
Population: 16,501Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $57,900 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (20th worst)
Mercedes, located right next door to Donna at the tip of Texas, has a very low household income and a very high unemployment rate. And, the weather here is really lousy as well. The comfort index, a measurement used by BestPlaces.Net as a way to factor in temperature, rainy days and humidity, puts Mercedes toward the bottom of the list in Texas in terms of overall weather likeability.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Mercedes.
Population: 6,542Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 12)
Home Values: $47,000 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (5th worst)
Elsa is one of the poorest cities in the state of Texas. This city has 16.7% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $22,693 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Elsa has the 52nd highest crime rate in Texas. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Texas 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 Lone Star State.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Elsa.
Population: 11,165Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Values: $47,600 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.9% (4th worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Texas, Raymondville came in 8th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Texas residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Texas, you can see some really big differences. In Raymondville, the number of people out of work is 16.9%
In Texas, that’s the 4th highest in the state.
The residents in Raymondville have the 5th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Raymondville average $24,167 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $47,600 on average. That’s the 5th lowest in the state.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Raymondville.
Population: 5,826Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 6)
Home Values: $51,100 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (118th worst)
Progreso, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 9th worst city in Texas.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Progreso has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 7.3%, and families earn around $43,355 a year. It’s also the 10th highest in Texas for crime, where 1 in 18.8 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Progreso.
Population: 5,644 Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Values: $82,700 (74th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (72nd worst)
Palmview is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Palmview is the 11th most dangerous place you can live in Texas.
Residents in Palmview have a 1 in 18.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Palmview, where average homes are valued at only$82,700. That’s the 74th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Did we get it wrong? Write your take on Palmview.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Texas
If you’re looking at areas in Texas 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, Cleveland ranks as the worst city to live in Texas for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Texas:
- West University Place (Pop. 15,318)
- University Park (Pop. 24,346)
- Bellaire (Pop. 18,140)
For more Texas reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Texas