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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 377 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:
So what is the worst small town to call home in Illinois for 2022? 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.
The 10 Worst Small Towns In Illinois For 2022
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $28,100 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (56th worst)
More on Wamac: Data
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $48,100 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.0% (3rd worst)
More on Venice: Data
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $45,000 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.2% (worst)
More on Alorton: Data
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $32,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.7% (5th worst)
More on Washington Park: Data
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $62,600 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (30worst)
More on Fairmont City: Data
Rank Last Year: 39 (Up 30)
Median Home Value: $63,700 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.7% (6th worst)
More on Sheldon: 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 2022
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 2016-2020 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 - 377 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:
- Kenilworth (Pop. 2,356)
- Third Lake (Pop. 1,160)
- Prestbury (Pop. 1,978)
For more Illinois reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Illinois
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