Most Americans have never been to Kansas. However, as the people who live there know, Kansas is an awesome state.
But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Kansas has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Sunflower State. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is all using data.
After analyzing more than 316 of Kansas’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Kansas where you’d never want to live:
- Neosho Falls
Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Kansas 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.
How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Kansas, 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 crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 316 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.
Population: 122Median Income: $19,286
Median Home Price: $27,500
We begin our tour of small places in Kansas that you’d probably dislike with Belpre, a speck of a place along Route 50, a bit east of Kinsley. If you moved here, just about all of your neighbors would be broke, and many (14%) wouldn’t have a job.
Part of the high jobless rate is because half this community is a school dropout. However, that’s no excuse for being jobless – there are many hard working Kansas farmers who can attest that a formal education is merely a formality.
2. Neosho Falls
Population: 160Median Income: $23,750
Median Home Price: $30,000
Now, we’re not here to knock small Kansas towns without paved roads. We’re sure some of these places have some really humble, honest folks. But there are far better places in the state to make home than in Neosho Falls, where crime is just about as high as you’ll see in the state, and almost a quarter of the population is unemployed.
Plus, for fun, you’d have to drive a long, long ways to Iola, KS. And if you’ve ever been to Iola, you’d know that isn’t exactly a rip roarin’ good time, either.
Population: 140Median Income: $22,500
Median Home Price: $21,100
Here in Ramona, crime is also pretty high, and most folks live in poverty. And the home prices indicate there is absolutely no demand to live here. In fact, you might have enough money in your checking account to run down and snap up a home in Ramona tomorrow morning.
Buyer beware: Besides the stats listed above, you’d have to truck up to a place called Herrington (Pop. 2,449) to stock up your fridge or get a decent meal once in a while.
Population: 464Median Income: $31,167
Median Home Price: $23,400
If you moved to Longton, there would be some good news and bad news.
The good news: There’s actually a few things to do in town. They have a Drive-In and the reviews are pretty good at Rick & Debbie’s Cafe in town.
The bad news: Crime is high, and 14% of residents don’t have jobs. And not even one of Debbie’s famous sandwiches would be enough to take your mind off of how bad the local economy is here.
Population: 143Median Income: $22,813
Median Home Price: $22,900
From the looks of the images captured by Google Street View a couple of years ago, poor little Kincaid could sure use some TLC. If you moved here, you might be dragged down by the poverty levels and high crime yourself.
But if you had $22,000, and wanted to move way out along Route 59 near Missouri, than there are likely a few dozen homeowners in Kincaid who would like to talk to you pronto.
Population: 144Median Income: $17,083
Median Home Price: $12,500
Don’t let the photo above fool you. There are actually real houses along Main Street in Manchester. But based on the absurdly low prices ($12,000), you might not think so.
Just about all 144 people in town live far below the poverty line, and 1 in 5 hasn’t worked in years. The most surprising part is Manchester is halfway between Salina and Manhattan, meaning it’s not too far away from large swaths of people.
Population: 152Median Income: $27,917
Median Home Price: $19,000
The home prices in Hepler aren’t much higher, nor are the incomes. But at least most folks here (95%) have a job, and that’s sayin’ something about people’s character.
To get there, take Route 54 west from Fort Scott and ask for directions. You can’t miss it.
Population: 286Median Income: $32,917
Median Home Price: $23,400
Walnut is just about the next town over from Hepler. If you thought this place sounded desirable, and you weren’t a farmer, your two choices for work would be at the Walnut Express or the Farmers National Bank of Kansas, right along Main St.
When you look at the average incomes in Walnut, there probably aren’t many job openings at the bank, so you might want to brush up on your cashier skills.
Population: 250Median Income: $24,375
Median Home Price: $30,800
About 30 minutes east of Wichita along Route 400 is a blip of a town called Severy. Judging on how the local economy has been doing lately, and the fact that many residents are dropouts and/or out of work, we’re guessing most Kansans would take a pass on living here, thank you very much.
There aren’t really any pictures of this place online, and Google Street View didn’t even take a pass down their way. Maybe there’s a reason for that.
Population: 124Median Income: $21,471
Median Home Price: $31,300
We finish up our tour of small Kansas towns you probably wouldn’t want to move to with Westphalia, which is somewhere at the end of that road in the picture above. Again, no Google view. What a diss!
The only bright side to living in Westphalia is that you’d certainly qualify for government assistance, and there’s a place in town called Kettle & Keg, which has one actual (5 star) review online.
“It’s a great getaway place for being in a small township.”
There you have it folks.
There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In Kansas
If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Sunflower 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 Kansas, according to science.
Best: Mission Woods
2nd Best: Assaria
3rd Best: Westwood Hills
For more Kansas reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In Kansas
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Kansas
- These Are The 10 Most Stressed Out Places In Kansas
Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Kansas
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