The 10 Worst States In America For 2021


We used science to determine which of these United States are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst states in America.

Worst States In America Map

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.

After analyzing all 50 U.S. states, we came up with this list as the 10 worst states in America for 2021:

What’s the worst state in America for 2021? 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 2021.

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 positive news, feel free to check out the best places to live in the country and the the best states in America.

For more reading, check out:

The 10 Worst States To Live In America For 2021

1. New Mexico

New-Mexico|Nm, NM

Source: Public domain

Population: 2,092,454
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $49,754 (Fifth worst)
Median Home Value: $171,400 (18th worst)
More On New Mexico: Photos | Rent

New Mexico is, by far, the worst state in the entire country for 2021, according to this scientific analysis. Sorry to break the news to you folks out there in the Land of Enchantment. This is the fifth 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.

2. Louisiana

Louisiana|La, LA

Source: Public domain

Population: 4,664,362
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $49,469 (Fourth worst)
Median Home Value: $163,100 (15th worst)
More On Louisiana: Photos | Rent

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, third in uninsured residents, third in poverty, fourth in income levels, and Louisianans are the third 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…

3. Arkansas

Arkansas|Ar, AR

Population: 2,999,370
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $47,597 (Third worst)
Median Home Value: $127,800 (Third worst)
More On Arkansas: Photos | Rent

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.

4. South Carolina

South-Carolina|Sc, SC

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,020,806
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Income: $53,199 (Ninth worst)
Median Home Value: $162,300 (14th worst)
More On South Carolina: Photos | Rent

South Carolina, the butt of North Carolina, has pretty big problem when it comes to crime. That’s the leading cause of its fourth place ranking for 2021. Surprisingly, South Carolina has the third 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.

5. Alabama

Alabama|Al, AL

Population: 4,876,250
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $50,536 (Sixth worst)
Median Home Value: $142,700 (Seventh worst)
More On Alabama: Photos | Rent

Not so Sweet Home Alabama! The state finds itself ranking as the fifth worst state to live in America this year.

Alabama it the eighth 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 eighth for total number of crimes committed each year.

In terms of opportunities, there aren’t many here; at 5.92%, Alabama has the nation’s 11th 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.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma|Ok, OK

Population: 3,932,870
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $52,919 (Eighth worst)
Median Home Value: $136,800 (Fourth worst)
More On Oklahoma: Photos | Rent

You knew we were going to mention Oklahoma SOONER or later, right? The sixth worst state for 2021 goes to Oklahoma. Where do we begin, Oklahoma? First off, the population of Oklahoma isn’t insured – this state ranks seventh 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 sixth 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.

7. Alaska

Alaska|Ak, AK

Population: 737,068
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 9)
Median Income: $77,640 (45th worst)
Median Home Value: $270,400 (38th worst)
More On Alaska: Photos | Rent

Alaska finds itself as the seventh worst place to live in America for 2021. The northern most, and western most, state in the country has higher than average crime, unemployment, and poverty. The schools aren’t great and the cost of living is actually pretty high given that everything has to be shipped up north.

And while we don’t analyze the weather for this analysis, it’s safe to say that the state as a whole doesn’t fair on to well on that metric either. That poor weather and lack of sunshine probably has something to do with the highest rate of violent crime in the US.

So any way you slice it, it takes a certain kind of person to want to live in The Last Frontier state. And, for the most part, you’d probably want to live somewhere else in America.

8. Tennessee

Tennessee|Tn, TN

Population: 6,709,356
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $53,320 (Tenth worst)
Median Home Value: $167,200 (17th worst)
More On Tennessee: Photos | Rent

You know the saying. There’s Nashville and there’s the rest of Tennessee. According to science, both are undesirable. Incomes are the tenth 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.

9. Missouri

Missouri|Mo, MO

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,104,910
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Median Income: $55,461 (13th worst)
Median Home Value: $157,200 (13th worst)
More On Missouri: Photos | Rent

Well, I guess I shouldn’t have moved from North Carolina to Missouri. And while I definitely live in the best part of Missouri right outside of St. Louis, it’s pretty clear to see in the data that the state as whole isn’t all that great.

From a numbers perspective, the poverty level is 13.68%, good for ninth worst in the country. Violent crimes are relatively sky high at the ninth worst, especially in St. Louis proper and north St. Louis. And while I love living close to the city, much of the population lives in the rural parts of the state with not much in the way of anything to do.

On the plus side, home prices aren’t too bad and the cost of living is pretty good, althought I guess you get what you pay for.

10. Mississippi

Mississippi|Ms, MS

Population: 2,984,418
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 7)
Median Income: $45,081 (First worst)
Median Home Value: $119,000 (First worst)
More On Mississippi: Photos | Rent

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.

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 2021

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 2015-2019 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 2021, 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.

Worst Places By State

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.