You might think people across the nation love where they live. After all, you wouldn’t spend your life somewhere that you truly didn’t love. Right?
Not always. In fact, a Pew Research Center study not too long ago determined that almost half of Americans would rather live somewhere else than they do now.
Well, if you’re in one of the states we’re about to highlight, we don’t blame you for wanting to move.
Or, if you live in the south, for wanting to run away as fast as you possibly can.
What’s the worst state in America for 2020? It turns out New Mexico is the worst state to live in the country. New Mexico is having a rough week since we also just named it one of the most dangerous states in America for 2020.
The purpose of this study is to use science to determine which of our great American states are the absolute worst. While unbiased, this research does take into account factors that almost all Americans would agree are undesirable.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city ranked. Or check out more on the worst cities to live in America.
For more reading, check out:
The 10 Worst States To Live In America For 2020
New Mexico is, by far, the first state in the entire country for 2020, according to this scientific analysis. Sorry to break the news to you folks out there in the Land of Enchantment. This is the fourth year in a row New Mexico took the “top spot”. That’s not great for those playing at home.
New Mexico sees more break-ins, armed robbery, and theft than anywhere else. There’s a saying there, “If it’s not bolted down, someone’s going to take it, unless you put a sign that says FREE on it.” With a staggering 66% of children finishing high school in New Mexico, their education system suffers year after year. 16% of New Mexicans age 16 and older have a reading level of 1 out of 5, which is equivalent to barely being able to read a book meant for grade school kids. There’s a huge wealth gap in New Mexico, and wages are really low, meaning there aren’t a lot of opportunities.
When you look at the numbers, overall, New Mexico ranks toward the bottom in just about every statistical category you can measure . Are there any good things about living in New Mexico? Probably.
Folks in Louisiana are really singing the blues these days. That’s because things aren’t going so well for many of them. It’s a mess down here, to be honest. Louisiana ranks in the bottom ten in 8 of 11 categories measured. It’s third in crime, 13th in uninsured residents, third in poverty, fourth in income levels, and Louisianans are the sixth least educated people in America. Factor in the worst sales tax structure and some of the highest local sales taxes in the entire country, and it’s whoo whee hard to make ends meet here.
Now before you get all down on Louisiana, you should know that the Pelican State is actually full of some REALLY friendly and giving people. The Cajun Navy is a bright spot here – whenever something goes wrong in Louisiana, you can bet the first people on the scene will be neighbors and strangers. Plus, there’s crawfish everywhere here! You can get crawfish jello, crawfish beer, crawfish peanut butter, crawfish cereal, crawfish ice cream, crawfish spice lattes…
Mississippi is a real work in progress. This really pretty state ranks as the worst, or close to it, in five categories including: college graduates, income levels, home prices and jobs. The education system in Mississippi is pretty lousy. Did you know 32% of the population over the age of 18 in Mississippi cannot spell their state’s name and another 27% don’t know the name of the river that shares the same name as the state? Well, that’s what we read on the internet at least.
Much of Mississippi also has a big shortage of medical doctors, too. The state has the nation’s highest obesity rate and highest rates for women dying of heart disease and breast cancer.
Now, people in Mississippi are pretty proud to be from Mississippi, and they admit their state has flaws, but they love it nonetheless.
While Arkansas doesn’t place last in a number of categories like Mississippi does, it’s worse off in more of them overall. They’re just about as poor as folks in Mississippi, but it’s even more dangerous in Arkansas than it is in Mississippi. Like other southern states on our list, it’s a poor place with little opportunity. Although, to be fair, some of the gun shots that ring out in Arkansas every day may not be due to crime.
Now, what’s interesting about Arkansas is that the Natural State ranked 10th in the nation for happiest states, according to a national poll that was conducted last year. So, statistics aside, people here don’t really seem to care a lick. There are some bright spots here. For fun, you could join an outhouse racing league, or join in on some spontaneous hog calls.
Not so Sweet Home Alabama! The state finds itself ranking as the fifth worst state to live in America this year.
Alabama it the seventh poorest place in the nation. While not having money doesn’t necessarily mean a place is lousy, having a lot of crime does. Alabama ranks ninth for total number of crimes committed each year.
In terms of opportunities, there aren’t many here; at 6.648278391769151%, Alabama has the nation’s seventh highest number of people out of work – and the population isn’t educated enough to demand raises, either. Across the board, there isn’t actually a single category where Alabama excels.
Now on paper, Alabama may not have southern charm, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye. There’s a low cost of living here, and a ton of outdoors to explore, where you can learn how to get unstuck from the mud with all your buddies. Did you know more people go to church in Alabama than anywhere else? Alright. It’s also true that more people die of strokes in Alabama than in any other state, too. Aww man.
South Carolina, the butt of North Carolina, has pretty big problem when it comes to crime. That’s the leading cause of its sixth place ranking for 2020. Surprisingly, South Carolina has the fourth worst property crime in the nation. You have a 1 in 70 chance of being the victim of a property crime for every year you spend in the Palmetto State. South Carolina is also the 4th worst place in America for online dating – so if you’re looking for love here, swipe at your own risk.
Other factors that were a problem – very high poverty rates and America’s ninth lowest income levels. This state ranks first for number of mobile home parks per capita, too. Which is really bad news during hurricane season.
But there are reasons to be proud of living in South Carolina. Clemson has won the college football title several times in the past years – congrats to the Tigers. Then there’s the boiled peanut stands on every highway offramp. Boiled peanuts are like regular peanuts, but they’re boiled. And lastly, the beach communities are some of the best on the east coast, where people come from all over the world to play golf and vacation.
You knew we were going to mention Oklahoma SOONER or later, right? The seventh worst state for 2020 goes to Oklahoma. Where do we begin, Oklahoma? First off, the population of Oklahoma isn’t insured – this state ranks third lowest in number of people with medical insurance. Considering that 43% of Okies carry guns, it might be surprising that this state has America’s eighth highest property crime rate. Robbers must just like taking their chances here.
Now, while people might say they love the cost of living in Oklahoma, the fact that this state has America’s fourth lowest home values is a sign that there isn’t a lot of desire to live here, plain and simple. Another interesting fact: Oklahoma has the most women in their prison system than any other state. Some tough broads in the Sooner state. And, to top if off, Oklahomans eat the least number of fruits and veggies of anywhere else.
Now, Oklahomans aren’t ALL all bad. Oklahomans are actually known as awful friendly folk who love living in wide open spaces.
You know the saying. There’s Nashville and there’s the rest of Tennessee. According to science, both are undesirable. Incomes are the eighth lowest in America, which means lots of Tennesseans are living in poverty, and many struggle to find decent jobs outside of the booming capital of Nashville. Part of that is due to a population that ranks in the bottom 10 for education.
Tennessee is top in the nation for number of immunize dresidents, which is good – or bad, depending on if you’re an anti-vaxxer. But most importantly, in Tennessee, crime is remarkably bad. Did you know Tennessee has the nation’s third highest violent rate? Memphis, in particular, is a real mess. It consistently ranks as one of the most destitute, dangerous dives in the country. Memphis is so bad, that even Google Street view doesn’t go down many of its streets, many of which are near Graceland.
But, have you ever had a Goo Goo Cluster? They were invented in and manufactured in Tennessee. They’re delectable, and there’s even Goo Goo Ice Cream. Once you have some, you’ll be goo goo for goo goo.
The first of several states out west, Arizona has several things going against it. Besides the fact that the summer months can be downright sickening, heat wise, Arizona has a surprisingly high crime rate and very poor support in its school system for its students. Sure, were well aware that places like Sedona, Prescott, Chandler and Gilbert are awesome cities to visit and live, and that there’s pretty deserts and lots of space. Fact is though, there are far better places to call home.
Statistically, Arizona has a lot to boast about. The Copper State ranks in the bottom 10 in five different categories, folks. Total crime, including violent and property crimes is 8th highest and the number of people without health insurance is 12th. Arizona has the nation’s ninth highest number of residents who live in poverty, too. Alcoholism is a big deal here – booze poisoned the 4th highest number of drinkers in America here.
What’s good about Arizona? Well it might be really really really hot for long stretches, but you get 300 days of sunshine here – the highest number of sunny days in the US. That’s great news for sun enthusiasts. They also have a cool flag – perhaps the BEST state flag in America. And, if you like Mexican food, well, your choices are limited to the greater Phoenix area.
Coming in as the tenth worst state in America for 2020 is Nevada. Why is Nevada so second-rate? First off, Nevada has the nation’s fourth highest violent crime rate in the country. Part of that might be due to the state’s poor worker pool – outside of Las Vegas, there aren’t many employed people. In fact, Nevada has America’s 25th highest unemployment rate, and our nation’s 12th least number of college graduates.
And to top it off, Nevada has one of the highest rates of domestic violence by men against women in all of the US.
Now, let’s be fair and look at the bright side of living in Nevada. Well, for starters, you could go and watch Britney or Gaga every night if you wanted to. That’s cool. And you don’t have to pay income tax in Nevada – instead, the state pays for all of THIS with gambling money! 71% of Nevada’s state budget comes from people like you and me. And if you own a business here in Nevada, you don’t have to pay corporate tax, either. That means you can cook the books all you want and no one will ever know.
So, while Nevada might be a hot, boring place with no real soul (sorry, Nevada), there are a handful of advantages to living here if you look closely.
How do you decide if a state is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst states to live in the United States, 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, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we researched the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers for the worst states in the nation 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 most recent 2014-2018 American Community Survey , this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Low Median Income
- Low Home Values
- Low Levels of College Education
- A lot of uninsured people
- High Crime
- High poverty
We then ranked each state from 1 to 50 for the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria. Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Index”.
Finally, we ranked every state on the “Worst Place To Live Index” with the lowest index being the Worst State To Live in America for 2020, New Mexico. You can download the data here.
If you’d like to see the complete list of states, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.
Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the states themselves. This list is based on data. It’s also not a testament to the effectiveness of local law enforcement.
There You Have It — The Worst States In The Country
Like we said earlier, trying to determine the worst states in the US is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing states with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and bad weather, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best states in the USA, according to science. Apparently, things are ‘all that’ when it comes to northeast America:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
For more reading, check out:
What Are The Worst States In America For 2020?