Worst Small Towns In Illinois For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in IL are the pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Illinois.

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Most Americans have never been to Illinois. However, as the people who live there know, Illinois is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Illinois has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Prairie State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 358 of Illinois's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Illinois where you'd never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in Illinois for 2020:

  1. Madison (Photos)
  2. Wamac
  3. Cairo (Photos)
  4. Alorton
  5. Ramsey
  6. Venice
  7. Ford Heights (Photos)
  8. Fairmont City
  9. Washington Park
  10. Chatsworth

So what is the worst small town to call home in illinois for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Madison is the worst small town to live in Illinois.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Illinois has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Illinois or the worst places to live in Illinois.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Illinois For 2020

Madison, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,714
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $41,600 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.0% (7th worst)
More on Madison:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,178
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $27,700 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (10th worst)
More on Wamac:  Data

Cairo, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,528
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $30,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (83rd worst)
More on Cairo:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,965
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $46,300 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 29.1% (2nd worst)
More on Alorton:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 1,063
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $55,300 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (32nd worst)
More on Ramsey:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,128
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $35,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.4% (5th worst)
More on Venice:  Data

Ford Heights, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,755
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $50,400 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 32.6% (1st worst)
More on Ford Heights:  Data | Photos

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,519
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $66,200 (40th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (156th worst)
More on Fairmont City:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 3,962
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $39,800 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.0% (3rd worst)
More on Washington Park:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,196
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $62,600 (31st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (89th worst)
More on Chatsworth:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Illinois, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in Illinois for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 358 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

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

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In Illinois

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Prairie State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Illinois, according to science:

  1. Germa (Pop. 3,478)
  2. Third Lake (Pop. 1,133)
  3. Leland Grove (Pop. 1,457)

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Illinois

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Madison 3,714 16.0% $41,600
2 Wamac 1,178 14.4% $27,700
3 Cairo 2,528 8.5% $30,300
4 Alorton 1,965 29.1% $46,300
5 Ramsey 1,063 11.1% $55,300
6 Venice 2,128 17.4% $35,000
7 Ford Heights 2,755 32.6% $50,400
8 Fairmont City 2,519 6.2% $66,200
9 Washington Park 3,962 18.0% $39,800
10 Chatsworth 1,196 8.2% $62,600
11 Vienna 1,490 11.6% $77,700
12 Cobden 1,161 12.0% $85,500
13 Cambria 1,248 9.4% $70,900
14 Odin 1,089 7.9% $53,700
15 South Roxana 2,172 13.4% $74,600
16 Sandoval 1,269 12.6% $48,600
17 Grayville 1,728 11.0% $62,500
18 Hodgkins 1,967 6.1% $33,200
19 Dixmoor 3,657 12.2% $46,500
20 Carrier Mills 1,938 7.8% $61,500
21 Greenup 1,705 8.8% $82,400
22 Sheldon 1,305 11.2% $63,200
23 Greenfield 1,323 7.0% $67,600
24 Eldorado 4,240 15.6% $42,700
25 Sumner 3,192 13.1% $38,100
26 St. Elmo 1,297 14.0% $69,700
27 Ina 2,495 6.4% $67,100
28 Zeigler 1,836 11.9% $55,000
29 Phoenix 2,020 12.8% $73,000
30 Anna 4,232 10.6% $81,600
31 Louisville 1,096 8.6% $63,900
32 Cuba 1,285 10.5% $54,200
33 Martinsville 1,289 10.5% $69,600
34 Barry 1,552 9.6% $67,400
35 Benld 1,616 17.9% $64,900
36 Tilton 2,621 5.2% $66,400
37 Carbon Cliff 1,893 8.9% $104,800
38 De Pue 1,651 4.6% $51,500
39 Havana 3,232 10.8% $71,900
40 South Chicago Heights 4,105 12.1% $97,000
41 Palestine 1,191 14.4% $58,800
42 Loami 1,037 9.8% $99,300
43 Savanna 2,977 7.0% $71,900
44 Flora 4,842 6.2% $76,300
45 Roodhouse 1,792 5.4% $47,600
46 Oakland 1,053 6.5% $72,100
47 Galva 2,565 6.7% $72,600
48 Bellevue 1,847 7.2% $83,000
49 Christopher 2,725 8.2% $65,400
50 Albion 2,034 8.0% $66,300
51 Newton 2,766 3.5% $68,900
52 Griggsville 1,465 8.6% $67,200
53 Hartford 1,688 6.0% $72,100
54 White Hall 2,321 4.1% $54,900
55 Marissa 1,641 7.1% $75,100
56 Oblong 1,313 10.6% $60,000
57 Johnston City 3,485 7.7% $62,000
58 Colchester 1,481 9.4% $65,800
59 Onarga 1,079 3.3% $89,800
60 Stockton 2,027 12.6% $87,000
61 Altamont 2,260 8.9% $87,900
62 Milford 1,320 8.8% $65,300
63 Burnham 4,189 16.6% $98,700
64 Bunker Hill 1,684 8.3% $92,300
65 Pleasant Hill 1,080 3.7% $60,100
66 Lawrenceville 4,417 4.4% $63,200
67 Shelbyville 4,527 7.1% $84,400
68 Sparta 4,384 4.1% $79,600
69 Grandview 1,453 11.0% $73,000
70 Oquawka 1,558 5.4% $71,800
71 Central City 1,259 7.2% $48,100
72 Norris City 1,216 7.5% $60,500
73 Warsaw 1,482 8.9% $83,000
74 Westville 3,288 7.6% $70,800
75 Mount Morris 2,841 9.8% $94,100
76 Shawneetown 1,292 8.1% $60,200
77 Polo 2,168 9.3% $87,400
78 Casey 2,518 4.0% $69,900
79 Wayne City 1,009 2.1% $81,400
80 Bushnell 2,776 10.4% $69,100
81 Wenona 1,026 9.7% $98,500
82 Beckemeyer 1,024 9.0% $97,300
83 Gillespie 3,045 9.6% $87,900
84 Caseyville 4,018 3.4% $79,500
85 Jonesboro 1,935 0.8% $81,800
86 Ingalls Park 3,200 13.1% $102,400
87 Capron 1,483 11.9% $110,900
88 Preston Heights 2,565 4.8% $94,200
89 Arcola 2,680 4.5% $92,200
90 Kincaid 1,596 6.7% $79,900
91 Milledgeville 1,072 12.3% $86,900
92 Gilman 1,824 4.7% $109,900
93 Georgetown 3,316 10.0% $72,300
94 Gibson City 3,328 7.1% $109,300
95 Richmond 1,880 13.1% $183,800
96 Toledo 1,322 4.3% $72,000
97 Fairmont 2,641 5.6% $98,100
98 Rome 1,664 8.9% $123,500
99 Washburn 1,097 8.0% $78,800
100 Toulon 1,276 3.7% $75,500

How Is The Area In ?

9 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Illinois, 2020

  1. See how many empty homes you can find in Grand Tower today(good luck- extremely few); it is a very tight-knit community where we go above and beyond to help our neighbors. It is beautiful, the people are great, and while we may not be wealthy, we have it a dozen times better than anyone living in a bigger town.

  2. Bud Tappan, your opinion is bs. You don’t know anything about what your talking about. Sure every town has their drunks , unemployed, and dropouts. But you took this to the next level with your disrespect. I know personally 6 of these towns on your list of 10 and they are great places and I was born and raised in one further down on your list. I’m guessing that you either live in Chicago or some other miserable city. These towns you call horrible places, are really quiet farm towns, that provide crops on a major scale for this state and country. We don’t get large grants every year or every decade. So yeah there are no jobs. But Chicago sure does they get all the handouts.
    Take your opinion and shove it up your ass city bitch.

  3. I bet you guys think everything south of Chicago is crap because it’s not glamorous. Everyone in Illinois knows Chicago is a FAR different place from downstate, or anywhere outside of Cook County for that matter. I live in Chicagoland and I’d hazard a guess Chicago has more drug dealers, prostitutes, and criminals than any one of these communities. Maybe if you knew the people of the communities you write arbitrarily about you’d think about what you write.

    Oh, and “opinions based on data”? That’s a load of steaming bull.

  4. I am proud of the little town of Gorham, from which I graduated from High School. I have shown many people where I came from, on google maps. A lot of people I have had the privilege of meeting over the years told me how lucky I was to grow up in a farming community. The area landscape is one of the most beautiful I have seen. Neighbors were not close by but they were awesome people, and they treated my Grandparents with respect and love. I have lived within City limits, but I would take the Country Road any day.

  5. I don’t live in any of these towns/villages/burgs, but have been to most of them…and EVERYONE of them would be 10 times better to live in than ANYWHERE in Crook, oops, Cook county!!!!

  6. I personally consider low population density to be a major positive. This usually means larger lots and fewer people around! Most of these are actually rather nice places to live, and those low property values mean a normal person can actually own a nice home and still afford to eat. I myself live in a slightly larger small town and love it. By the way, there is no such place as Old Shawne. I assume you mean Old Shawneetown, one of the oldest communities in the state which has the unfortunate habit of flooding occasionally, which is why they established a new Shawneetown a couple of miles west on higher ground.

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