Virginia is a really beautiful place, and it’s almost four states in one. On one hand you’ve got your politically motivated and super rich, and then down the coast, a large swath of middle class Americans. Then, you’ve got the largest portion, a mix of self-admitted rednecks who still identify with the south.
And then you’ve got D.C. and its burbs. That’s just another story all together.
But is it all great in the “Old Dominion”? Of course not. Just like every other state, Virginia has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Virginia are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, you’ll most likely disagree if you see your town atop this list. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Virginia your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 62 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Virginia:
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 Virginia? That would be Emporia.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Virginia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Virginia For 2019
Emporia is one of the poorest cities in the state of Virginia. Located on the North Carolina border, this city has 20.4% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $27,426 a year.
Small towns can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Emporia has the 8th highest crime rate in Virginia. While the numbers aren’t staggering (Virginia 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 Old Dominion.
you’re looking to live in Virginia, Petersburg might not be the best choice as it places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.
Petersburg 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, Petersburg may not be your first choice for a vacation.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 3rd worst in Virginia.
Danville residents had a 1 in 23.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Danville is through the roof, as more than 10.1% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $90,900, Danville has the 4th-lowest home prices in the state of Virginia.
Franklin, part of Franklin city, is the 4th worst place to live in Virginia for 2019.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $38,760, and crime 2nd worst in Virginia.
Additionally, the poverty level is 16.6% in Franklin.
The city of South Boston is east of Danville on Route 58 in Halifax County. In looking at the scientific reasons South Boston ranks so high on this ‘worst’ list, we see most of the same factors we’ve seen before. Besides a decent public school system, the economy here is really in the pits.
South Boston has some of the same economic factors that we saw in the Appalachian towns listed above. Except it’s not in the sticks.
People on City-Data have said South Boston is ‘boring and without culture’ and a ‘crack head town.’ We’re not going to assume they speak for everyone, but it wasn’t possible to find anyone who had something nice to say about this place on the internet.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Martinsville is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Virginia. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Martinsville, located in Martinsville city, have the 18th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $90,100, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Virginia, that is.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Virginia, Portsmouth came in 7th. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (1st worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 9.7%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
According to science, Front Royal is the 8th worst place you can live in Virginia.
Let’s see why. Front Royal has the 26th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Front Royal is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($193,100), and the 20th-highest unemployment rate in the state (7.7%), and across the board, Front Royal doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
Here in Pulaski, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Virginia. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Pulaski County, you have a 1 in 33.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Pulaski city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (11.2%). That’s good for the 4th highest unemployment rate in Virginia.
While the median household income in Hopewell is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Hopewell still has the 7th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 20th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Hopewell household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
How we determined the worst places to live in Virginia for 2019
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 62 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 62 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 Virginia — Emporia. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Virginia.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Virginia
If you’re looking at areas in Virginia 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, Emporia ranks as the worst city to live in Virginia for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Virginia:
- Falls Church (Pop. 13,843)
- Vienna (Pop. 16,474)
- Bridgewater (Pop. 5,930)
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