These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Illinois For 2019


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 . This is our fourth 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 361 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 2019:

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

So what is the worst small town to call home in Illinois for 2019? 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.

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 2019

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 2013-2017 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 – 361 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.

Madison, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,898
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $46,800 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (21st worst)
More on Madison:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,152
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $26,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.9% (10th worst)
More on Wamac:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,865
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $41,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.0% (3rd worst)
More on Alorton:  Data

Cairo, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,516
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $30,500 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (108th worst)
More on Cairo:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 3,989
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $46,400 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.4% (2nd worst)
More on Washington Park:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,972
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $34,200 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.1% (6th worst)
More on Venice:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,508
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $73,500 (76th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.4% (16th worst)
More on Vienna:  Data

Ford Heights, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,765
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $62,900 (34th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 35.3% (1st worst)
More on Ford Heights:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,079
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $64,000 (38th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (80th worst)
More on Chatsworth:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,225
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $56,900 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (51st worst)
More on Ramsey:  Data

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. 3,499)
  2. Third Lake (Pop. 1,233)
  3. Leland Grove (Pop. 1,423)

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Illinois

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Madison 3,898 13.9% $46,800
2 Wamac 1,152 16.9% $26,400
3 Alorton 1,865 24.0% $41,100
4 Cairo 2,516 8.5% $30,500
5 Washington Park 3,989 24.4% $46,400
6 Venice 1,972 18.1% $34,200
7 Vienna 1,508 15.4% $73,500
8 Ford Heights 2,765 35.3% $62,900
9 Chatsworth 1,079 9.5% $64,000
10 Ramsey 1,225 10.9% $56,900
11 Greenup 1,665 12.6% $74,200
12 Fairmont City 2,594 5.9% $67,300
13 De Pue 1,691 6.9% $54,300
14 Sandoval 1,269 13.4% $52,700
15 White Hall 2,463 9.6% $55,100
16 Cobden 1,217 10.8% $82,200
17 Hodgkins 2,014 6.8% $31,600
18 Mounds 1,030 10.1% $32,200
19 Grayville 1,744 11.0% $62,900
20 Greenfield 1,208 15.4% $68,400
21 Dixmoor 3,678 12.1% $29,600
22 St. Elmo 1,307 11.4% $66,000
23 Eldorado 4,151 17.5% $45,900
24 Cambria 1,228 9.6% $70,000
25 South Roxana 2,232 12.2% $71,900
26 Johnston City 3,498 16.1% $59,600
27 Palestine 1,103 14.2% $56,200
28 Zeigler 1,903 14.6% $56,000
29 Sheldon 1,325 16.7% $64,000
30 Odin 1,096 8.2% $53,200
31 Benld 1,568 16.6% $67,600
32 Ina 2,568 10.6% $72,500
33 Phoenix 2,044 16.3% $71,500
34 Fairfield 4,991 6.4% $62,100
35 Carbon Cliff 1,907 10.0% $106,000
36 Cuba 1,353 13.3% $60,000
37 Savanna 2,993 6.9% $65,900
38 Roodhouse 1,807 5.8% $51,000
39 Casey 2,554 7.1% $67,500
40 Sumner 3,285 11.4% $38,900
41 Milford 1,413 9.6% $63,500
42 Martinsville 1,211 12.4% $61,800
43 Onarga 1,146 4.7% $84,400
44 Pleasant Hill 1,210 8.4% $45,700
45 South Chicago Heights 4,139 15.3% $99,200
46 Louisville 1,060 11.5% $69,300
47 Gilman 1,823 6.5% $91,900
48 Barry 1,529 10.9% $67,200
49 Tilton 2,630 5.2% $64,500
50 Hartford 1,646 5.2% $70,000
51 Newton 2,860 4.5% $72,100
52 Central City 1,173 7.7% $52,200
53 Christopher 2,853 9.6% $64,300
54 Havana 3,246 8.7% $69,900
55 Polo 2,105 12.3% $86,600
56 Elkville 1,063 5.5% $63,500
57 Colchester 1,566 10.7% $65,600
58 Norris City 1,338 8.6% $61,800
59 Bushnell 2,787 9.1% $67,000
60 Marissa 1,658 9.0% $73,500
61 Rushville 2,944 8.9% $74,500
62 Sparta 4,398 5.7% $79,700
63 Flora 4,987 5.9% $74,900
64 Caseyville 4,042 4.6% $78,000
65 Carrier Mills 2,085 5.3% $64,600
66 Griggsville 1,501 9.2% $67,300
67 Amboy 2,525 5.0% $86,400
68 Burnham 4,214 19.5% $94,700
69 Toledo 1,426 8.3% $68,800
70 Jonesboro 1,985 1.6% $82,500
71 Anna 4,264 5.6% $79,200
72 Albion 2,212 7.5% $66,600
73 Lawrenceville 4,481 4.3% $61,600
74 Royalton 1,166 4.0% $46,600
75 Oblong 1,405 9.1% $62,400
76 Fairmont 2,595 8.6% $90,800
77 Wyoming 1,328 9.3% $75,800
78 Preston Heights 2,817 8.1% $95,600
79 Kincaid 1,639 8.7% $79,700
80 Mount Morris 3,046 13.7% $93,500
81 Grandview 1,271 11.0% $72,300
82 De Soto 1,633 6.4% $79,600
83 Bunker Hill 1,816 11.8% $92,300
84 Capron 1,749 11.7% $102,700
85 Oquawka 1,568 3.8% $71,700
86 Shawneetown 1,400 17.4% $61,800
87 Galva 2,618 6.6% $73,600
88 Ingalls Park 2,947 12.7% $93,100
89 Westville 3,208 8.9% $72,900
90 Shelbyville 4,650 6.4% $80,600
91 Wenona 1,043 11.1% $100,200
92 Assumption 1,246 6.7% $66,000
93 Wayne City 1,006 3.1% $82,800
94 North Pekin 1,446 10.1% $87,100
95 Gillespie 3,183 9.8% $83,400
96 Sesser 1,723 11.4% $77,200
97 Bellevue 1,610 6.3% $83,700
98 Rossville 1,452 6.3% $63,100
99 Roxana 1,704 3.5% $79,100
100 Stone Park 4,949 6.6% $118,700

9 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Illinois For 2019

  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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