Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround St. Paul.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which St. Paul ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the St. Paul area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to St. Paul proper, although Victoria certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of St. Paul are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 78 biggest suburbs of St. Paul to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Minnesota lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of St. Paul in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around St. Paul for 2018:
- Brooklyn Center (Photos)
- Columbia Heights (Photos)
- Anoka (Photos)
- Fridley (Photos)
- South St. Paul (Photos)
- West St. Paul (Photos)
- Minneapolis (Photos)
- Spring Lake Park (Photos)
- Brooklyn Park (Photos)
- Richfield (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around St. Paul that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around St. Paul too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Minnesota reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Minnesota
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- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Minnesota
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around St. Paul for 2018
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of St. Paul.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 78 suburbs to evaluate around St. Paul.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 78 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near St. Paul.” We’re lookin’ at you, Brooklyn Center.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
1. Brooklyn Center
We’ll get the ball rolling with Brooklyn Center, the absolute worst place to live around St. Paul according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Brooklyn Center beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the St. Paul area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Brooklyn Center.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
2. Columbia Heights
Welcome to Columbia Heights. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 9.8 miles to St. Paul. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $48,791 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst St. Paul suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Anoka on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other St. Paul suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Fridley, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 12th lowest St. Paul suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 11th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near St. Paul. Remember, we looked at 78 cities for this study.
Fridley is about 12.1 miles to downtown.
5. South St. Paul
South St. Paul has the distinction of being a St. Paul suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, South St. Paul has the 5th lowest home values in the metro St. Paul area, where the median price is $160,800. To put that into perspective, in Victoria, the median income is $143,191, which is the best in the area.
South St. Paul has an unemployment rate of 6.3% which ranks 7th worst.
6. West St. Paul
West St. Paul has 19,779 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 10.1%.
Ah, Minneapolis. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around St. Paul.
It’s the place with the 6th most out of work residents in the St. Paul metro area (6.9%).
8. Spring Lake Park
Spring Lake Park is a city about 13.4 miles from St. Paul, but St. Paul probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Spring Lake Park has the 17th most uninsured people, 15th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (7.3%) in the entire St. Paul metro area.
Homes only cost $160,400 for a reason. That’s cheap for St. Paul standards.
9. Brooklyn Park
If you absolutely have to live near St. Paul, then Brooklyn Park might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst St. Paul suburb.
About 5.7% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst St. Paul suburbs to call home is Richfield.
Located 10.1 miles outside the city, Richfields is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 15th highest unemployment rate (5.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around St. Paul where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding St. Paul with Brooklyn Center casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around St. Paul aren’t all bad. Victoria takes the cake as the best place to live around St. Paul.
For more Minnesota reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Minnesota
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- 10 Worst Places To Live In Minnesota