Worst Small Towns In New York For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in NY 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 New York.

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

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

After analyzing more than 415 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 2020? According to the most recent census data, Whitehall is the worst small town to live in New York.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since New York 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 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.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In New York For 2020

Whitehall, NY

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 2,274
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $84,100 (35th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (27th worst)
More on Whitehall:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,694
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $75,500 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (76th worst)
More on Wolcott:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,374
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $114,400 (123rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (26th worst)
More on Stamford:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,538
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $207,900 (255th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (90th worst)
More on South Fallsburg:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,070
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $101,800 (85th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (84th worst)
More on Hancock:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,370
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $74,100 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (197th worst)
More on Plattsburgh West:  Data

Liberty, NY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 4,136
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $101,600 (84th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.5% (7th worst)
More on Liberty:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,359
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $164,500 (215th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (55th worst)
More on Stottville:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,169
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $45,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (16th worst)
More on Friendship:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,319
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 17)
Median Home Value: $73,600 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (68th worst)
More on Brocton:  Data

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

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in New York, 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 New York 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 - 415 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 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. Kensington (Pop. 1,184)
  2. Katonah (Pop. 1,895)
  3. Munsey Park (Pop. 2,719)

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 2,274 10.6% $84,100
2 Wolcott 1,694 8.2% $75,500
3 Stamford 1,374 10.6% $114,400
4 South Fallsburg 2,538 7.7% $207,900
5 Hancock 1,070 7.8% $101,800
6 Plattsburgh West 1,370 5.1% $74,100
7 Liberty 4,136 13.5% $101,600
8 Stottville 1,359 8.8% $164,500
9 Friendship 1,169 12.0% $45,400
10 Brocton 1,319 8.4% $73,600
11 Little Valley 1,180 7.5% $69,100
12 Marion 1,373 9.9% $109,400
13 Delevan 1,007 8.5% $100,900
14 Deposit 1,685 7.7% $87,400
15 West End 1,887 6.1% $124,000
16 Norwood 1,624 10.5% $76,700
17 Catskill 3,861 12.0% $149,800
18 Ellenville 4,043 4.9% $120,800
19 Canajoharie 1,863 9.8% $90,900
20 Sodus 1,687 12.0% $72,900
21 Clyde 2,111 9.6% $68,300
22 Westfield 2,982 6.6% $80,600
23 Newfane 3,764 9.3% $87,000
24 Warsaw 3,300 8.9% $104,800
25 Gouverneur 3,751 11.0% $91,000
26 Philadelphia 1,115 10.5% $132,400
27 Richfield Springs 1,075 9.0% $113,600
28 Mount Morris 2,757 7.4% $68,200
29 St. Johnsville 1,907 11.2% $69,900
30 Cuba 1,534 12.7% $66,300
31 Kerhonkson 2,373 12.7% $190,100
32 Little Falls 4,735 10.0% $77,700
33 Pulaski 2,093 9.4% $110,100
34 Oxford 1,430 10.9% $102,400
35 Waverly 4,214 10.5% $89,800
36 Livingston Manor 1,223 3.6% $84,500
37 Montour Falls 1,774 5.1% $100,700
38 Munsons Corners 2,998 10.8% $119,900
39 Yorkshire 1,191 6.9% $26,600
40 Champlain 1,018 3.7% $113,000
41 Sidney 4,009 5.4% $82,800
42 Boonville 2,063 8.5% $92,000
43 Fort Plain 1,739 5.7% $64,400
44 Gowanda 2,820 5.7% $82,100
45 Cairo 1,015 11.9% $141,000
46 Nunda 1,231 12.1% $84,400
47 Holley 1,743 6.3% $84,000
48 Tivoli 1,100 7.0% $220,100
49 Watkins Glen 2,016 8.5% $126,200
50 Wellsville 4,466 4.6% $59,000
51 Fort Covington Hamlet 1,530 10.3% $77,700
52 Sherburne 1,414 5.4% $114,900
53 Unadilla 1,074 7.8% $97,300
54 Camden 2,570 5.8% $98,100
55 Dansville 4,572 8.5% $87,300
56 Phoenix 2,440 6.0% $89,100
57 Warrensburg 3,193 3.2% $135,700
58 Mohawk 2,578 9.1% $76,700
59 Nedrow 2,316 9.6% $85,100
60 St. Bonaventure 1,947 9.1% $90,900
61 Angola On The Lake 1,819 8.1% $104,600
62 Penn Yan 4,818 5.0% $100,400
63 Dolgeville 2,581 8.7% $83,900
64 Carthage 3,473 8.0% $118,000
65 Addison 1,753 8.5% $75,900
66 Sloan 3,584 7.8% $76,200
67 Lake Erie Beach 3,740 7.3% $99,600
68 Arlington 3,556 10.3% $186,500
69 Fort Edward 3,307 6.9% $109,300
70 Owego 3,827 5.8% $92,600
71 Walton 3,160 4.6% $103,500
72 Cobleskill 4,540 5.9% $136,700
73 Lake Katrine 2,533 11.9% $176,100
74 Arcade 2,182 2.6% $107,900
75 Great Bend 1,100 8.2% $128,300
76 Palmyra 3,383 8.7% $101,100
77 Pine Bush 1,462 3.5% $205,800
78 Dundee 1,624 3.7% $84,800
79 Granville 2,450 5.0% $103,700
80 Adams 1,661 10.1% $157,200
81 Corinth 2,515 5.8% $144,200
82 Jordan 1,435 12.3% $100,200
83 Philmont 1,165 5.6% $153,100
84 Bainbridge 1,442 5.7% $100,200
85 Greenport 1,945 11.2% $486,500
86 Lincoln Park 2,147 10.5% $179,300
87 Delhi 3,178 4.8% $151,500
88 Norfolk 1,441 4.8% $74,800
89 Port Byron 1,006 2.2% $84,300
90 Ontario 1,817 1.3% $123,300
91 North Collins 1,226 6.8% $87,600
92 Blasdell 2,629 6.7% $103,000
93 Mayville 1,412 7.1% $111,600
94 Naples 1,033 3.4% $110,100
95 Groton 2,050 5.5% $125,300
96 Tupper Lake 3,710 7.2% $91,400
97 Perry 3,594 9.0% $83,500
98 West Carthage 1,511 4.3% $129,200
99 Lorenz Park 2,150 8.4% $143,700
100 Lyncourt 3,856 5.1% $91,900

How Is The Area In ?

13 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In New York, 2020

  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.

  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

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