The 10 Worst Small Towns In New York For 2023

We used Saturday Night Science to determine the worst small towns in New York.

Most Americans have never been to small town New York. However, as the New Yorker who live there know, small town New York is an awesome place to call home.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, New York has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Empire State. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.

After analyzing more than 456 of New York’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in New York where you’d never want to live:

So what is the worst small town to call home in New York for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Whitehall is the worst small town to live in New York.

While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Whitehall home. Everyone

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 New York or the worst places to live in New York.

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

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Small Towns In New York For 2023

1. Whitehall

Whitehall, NY

Source: Wikipedia User Doug Kerr from Upstate New York | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,407
Median Home Value: $88,500 (38th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (50th worst)

2. Yorkshire

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,061
Median Home Value: $21,900 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (145th worst)

3. Wolcott

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,299
Median Home Value: $74,700 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (110th worst)

4. Loch Sheldrake

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,499
Median Home Value: $1,000 (1000th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (55th worst)

5. Whitney Point

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,087
Median Home Value: $115,800 (94th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 31.8% (worst)

6. Great Bend

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,348
Median Home Value: $111,700 (82nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.6% (3rd worst)

7. Cohocton

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,068
Median Home Value: $73,500 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (56th worst)

8. Gouverneur

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,667
Median Home Value: $84,200 (25th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (62nd worst)

9. Little Valley

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,094
Median Home Value: $69,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (194th worst)

10. Fort Plain

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,833
Median Home Value: $64,400 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (103rd worst)

Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in New York is lousy or not?

To rank the worst small towns to live in New York, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. Assuming that people like low crime, solid education, things to do, and a stable economy isn’t a stretch.

We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.

Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2017-2021 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 many – 456 to be exact.

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

We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in New York.

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In New York

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Empire 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 New York, according to science:

  1. Roslyn Estates (Pop. 1,382)
  2. Saddle Rock (Pop. 1,142)
  3. East Williston (Pop. 2,637)

For more New York reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In New York

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Whitehall 2,407 9.0% $88,500
2 Yorkshire 1,061 6.1% $21,900
3 Wolcott 1,299 7.0% $74,700
4 Loch Sheldrake 1,499 8.9% $1,000
5 Whitney Point 1,087 31.8% $115,800
6 Great Bend 1,348 21.6% $111,700
7 Cohocton 1,068 8.9% $73,500
8 Gouverneur 3,667 8.6% $84,200
9 Little Valley 1,094 5.1% $69,400
10 Fort Plain 1,833 7.1% $64,400
11 Liberty 4,956 7.4% $117,700
12 Cattaraugus 1,056 7.3% $62,500
13 Delevan 1,312 7.7% $86,700
14 Philadelphia 1,057 6.4% $127,700
15 Montour Falls 1,888 6.6% $96,900
16 Clyde 2,033 12.1% $74,000
17 Stamford 1,163 6.8% $156,700
18 Little Falls 4,634 6.6% $69,400
19 Boonville 1,971 7.9% $121,700
20 Shokan 1,308 18.5% $217,000
21 Plattsburgh West 1,208 5.0% $90,200
22 Sherburne 1,261 5.3% $106,400
23 Carthage 3,398 7.8% $113,900
24 Granville 2,291 4.3% $105,500
25 Sodus 1,798 11.0% $77,200
26 Brocton 1,467 4.7% $87,600
27 North Collins 1,058 10.2% $102,800
28 Munsons Corners 2,782 12.0% $120,400
29 Ticonderoga 3,427 6.6% $131,700
30 Mineville 1,159 5.4% $78,200
31 Addison 1,880 8.0% $79,900
32 Newfane 3,419 5.5% $105,500
33 Tupper Lake 3,126 6.5% $85,500
34 Rouses Point 2,319 6.1% $139,800
35 St. Bonaventure 2,087 6.8% $110,800
36 Williamson 2,620 6.7% $108,500
37 Dundee 2,140 2.3% $83,600
38 Angola On The Lake 1,550 7.0% $135,200
39 South Fallsburg 1,066 2.2% $216,500
40 Walton 3,186 3.9% $88,600
41 St. Johnsville 1,838 7.7% $74,200
42 Sidney 3,744 7.4% $82,000
43 Watkins Glen 1,844 8.3% $137,700
44 Nunda 1,124 4.9% $89,100
45 Lake Katrine 2,465 5.8% $171,000
46 Kerhonkson 2,328 9.0% $204,500
47 Cobleskill 4,350 6.7% $146,700
48 Deposit 1,389 3.3% $93,800
49 Ellenville 4,209 1.6% $148,700
50 Riverside 3,360 11.2% $1,000
51 Oxford 1,392 6.4% $92,500
52 Holland 1,226 7.3% $152,700
53 Weston Mills 1,270 13.7% $108,200
54 Mount Morris 3,427 5.8% $79,200
55 Green Island 2,957 10.9% $134,300
56 Wayland 1,670 4.0% $83,900
57 Northampton 1,302 10.4% $327,700
58 Bainbridge 1,021 5.5% $98,100
59 Philmont 1,403 15.1% $163,600
60 Lake Erie Beach 3,266 3.5% $102,900
61 Phoenix 2,600 8.4% $110,600
62 Elmira Heights 4,265 4.4% $85,600
63 Catskill 3,841 5.9% $171,100
64 Franklinville 2,019 7.0% $78,900
65 Port Byron 1,013 0.9% $91,800
66 Alexandria Bay 1,097 7.1% $119,900
67 Sand Ridge 1,189 12.4% $151,900
68 Falconer 2,301 7.7% $75,300
69 Middleburgh 1,346 2.5% $147,300
70 Richfield Springs 1,256 0.5% $99,900
71 Waverly 4,329 6.9% $107,200
72 Canisteo 2,281 8.8% $90,700
73 Middleport 1,824 6.4% $90,400
74 Mcgraw 1,331 5.7% $88,300
75 Seneca Knolls 1,949 8.6% $105,900
76 Cuba 1,677 7.7% $74,300
77 Akron 2,901 9.1% $169,700
78 Arcade 2,168 5.7% $125,400
79 Hillburn 1,110 6.0% $349,400
80 Jordan 1,527 8.1% $114,100
81 Lincoln Park 2,371 9.5% $206,100
82 Dryden 2,004 7.5% $192,500
83 Black River 1,754 19.8% $187,700
84 Lowville 3,592 7.1% $142,200
85 Morrisville 1,885 2.3% $115,900
86 Dolgeville 2,402 1.7% $85,100
87 Dannemora 4,016 5.2% $104,900
88 West Carthage 1,468 0.9% $135,700
89 Stottville 1,196 1.8% $164,600
90 Elbridge 1,313 7.4% $130,000
91 Pine Bush 1,674 20.7% $227,600
92 Wellsville 4,741 3.2% $72,400
93 Verona 1,644 24.9% $153,000
94 Greene 1,653 6.4% $123,900
95 Canajoharie 1,608 5.0% $88,000
96 Apalachin 2,149 4.5% $124,100
97 Arlington 2,651 9.5% $214,800
98 Marion 1,210 2.0% $124,800
99 Coxsackie 2,765 11.9% $179,700
100 Springville 4,218 4.7% $147,000
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

13 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Small Towns In New York For 2023

  1. Living in the suburbs of Panama (#5), not in the town proper, I’d say the stretch comes in measuring a town by a few numbers. You would be hard pressed to find a more caring community filled with hard working people. Least densely populated? Maybe the over 1000 of acres of state lands has something to do with that, along with the farms, and larger land plots owned by residents. I’d be tempted to check out the other towns on this list if I ever have to move on from here.

  2. Boy, you missed the boat on many of these. And there are several smaller towns that never made this list. You probably all live in high rise apartments in the city. Snobs.

  3. Panama is in fact, a village, not a town. Charted in 1861. We are located in the Town of Harmony. Panama is also zoned…meaning that no farms can be located in the village unless they existed before zoning, as they were grandfathered in. (The exception being 4-H animal projects) If the farms are sold out of the family that currently owns them, they will not be able to be farmed without a variance. There are large farms in the surrounding area, many have been in families for generations. “Not much inside entertainment to be had.” Our school has one of the top music programs in the area. The auditorium is filled to standing capacity for concerts, musicals and plays. The area churches come together to present a spring musical. Basketball, volleyball, swim meets are attended by everyone, young and old. Our boys basketball team was recently ranked 3rd in the state, our girls basketball team, 2nd in the state. Not bad for a school of 750 students, preK-12. We have a dodge ball tournament that is second to none each year. The kids love it! And if you can’t find much ‘inside entertainment’, that’s a good thing, seeing that we are surrounded by thousands of acres of state lands, which contain hiking trails and in the winter cross country ski trails, as well as having an extensive network of seasonal roads. Miles of groomed and maintained snowmobile trails are found around the village also. We are about 13 miles from Peek and Peak Ski Resort. And let’s not forget Panama Rocks. A geological wonder. An ancient ocean floor which can be hiked and climbed. It is the pride of Panama. Our volunteer fire department is top rate. Their call response time is one of the (fastest) top in the county. In fact, it is being included in a study as to how this is possible…easy….when the siren goes off, many volunteers drop what they are doing and head to the call. Many have an agreement with their employer to do so. Being a volunteer, you don’t get time off from your job after you’ve been out all night fighting a fire. I’ve seen many men and women walking bleary-eyed into work after being out all night trying to save someone’s property. When responding to a call, there is a very high possibility that you know that person, are good friend of that person or even related to that person. Numerous fund raisers and dinners have been given by the people in and around this village for those that have had house fires, injuries or illnesses that have kept them from work. You can always count on the people to just ‘show up’ and help out if you need it, and haven’t even asked for it! Just passing the hat at a basketball game for someone who recently lost their house to a fire collected more than $500..I am proud to say that I am a third generation Panamanian. If I was ever to move, I would check out the other towns that made your infamous list. They sound just like the paradise that I live in and have raised my children in. If you would like to read about the history of our village, please purchase the book, Remembering Panama, Glimpses of the Past by Pamela A. Brown and Heather J. Schneider. You’ll know why we stay here.

    1. Sounds just like all our small towns especially when it comes to the volunteers . Let them have the city .

  4. “Than you’d better get in shape. ” **Then** How am I supposed to trust a journalist that can’t even write?
    I live in Brushton. Low crime rate, fresh air, and quiet…and no, I don’t go to any of the churches around here.

  5. Although I have never lived in Altmar, I have visited there on several occasions and except for the world-class salmon and steel head fishing, the presence of the best snow mobile trail system in the eastern U.S. and an annual snowfall that requires that the trails be groomed every other day, I would pretty much agree with your rating.

  6. I’ve lived in the Utica area for 70 years and never heard of Nelliston. I go north and south of Utica a lot, and never saw any Nelliston south of Utica. When I looked it up it’s actually 35 miles to the East of Utica. As a scientist I’d say that isn’t a very accurate depiction.

    Further, the assumption that low population density is a bad thing, is clearly unscientific and illogical. Would you rather have a thousand people living within a block of your home, or ten?

  7. So people packed together in high density with crazy high home prices, would give a higher score? I think that is a value judgement that some may like, others of us would totally reject. I understand the crime and the unemployment measures.

    But come on, in these towns you can buy a decent home for well under 100k, and in some really pretty areas of NY. Physical beauty should also have been taken into account. Just some thoughts.

  8. How ignorant is all u, if u was og u know Hempstead is the most dangerous, og, gang filled town in all of NY. We gots the crips, blood, bdk, gdk, bd, gd, ms13, 18 st, vatos locos, and alot of other gangs u ain’t heard of. I rep no set, but Ik the seriousness of gangs & I’m warning all of u that ain’t from the ‘Stead & fk Uniondale. U all wannabes, u ain’t never gonna be Hempstead.

  9. How is hooville(Hoosick falls) not on this list? With our poison water, crooked ass judges, failing infrastructure, and lack of employment.

  10. I actually love small town living and upstate NY has a lot of beauty I would take any of these towns over Elmira NY any day.. these places seem beautiful and affordable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *