These Are The 10 Worst Suburbs To Live In America


We looked at the economic conditions of every U.S. suburb so you know which ones to avoid moving to.

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Do you like the suburbs? Most of America lives in either a large city or in a suburb of a larger city.

The suburbs have obvious benefits – less crime, a slower pace of life, and a lower cost of living. But not all American suburbs aren’t created equal. There are some outlying areas that are, frankly, pretty lousy. But which ones?

Instead of relying on public opinion and speculation, we wanted to get the facts straight and dug into the data to find out which suburbs are to be avoided. If you’re in one of the places we’re about to highlight, odds are you know things aren’t a place that you can let your guard down too often.

Turns out Prichard, Alabama is the worst suburb where you can live in this country. The best? West University Place, a Houston burb.

Here are the worst suburbs in America:

  1. Prichard, AL
  2. Adelanto, CA
  3. West Memphis, AR
  4. Bessemer, AL
  5. Moss Point, MS
  6. Sebring, FL
  7. Cahokia, IL
  8. Freeport, TX
  9. Romulus, MI
  10. Mercedes, TX

So basically, large parts of the south (especially Alabama) are the areas you want to avoid if you want to enjoy suburbia in America. At least generally.

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

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the government census, this is the criteria we used:

  • Low college graduates
  • High unemployment rates
  • Low incomes
  • Low home prices
  • Low population densities

There’s a chart at the bottom with a longer list of the worst and best suburbs.
Note: For the cities below, we listed the larger suburbs with populations over 10,000 people.

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1. Prichard, AL

Population: 22,483
College educated: 10%
Unemployment rate: 21%
Incomes: $21,293

The Mobile suburb of Prichard has the unfortunate distinction of having two ‘21s’ in its data set – 21% of the population is out of work, and the average family earns about $21,000 a year. That’s far below what a typical American family of 4 needs to live comfortably each month.

2. Adelanto, CA

Population: 31,273
College educated: 6%
Unemployment rate: 25%
Incomes: $35,393

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Adelanto is considered a Victorville suburb, but is a Los Angeles suburb as well. The fact that more than 1 in 4 people is out of work is an indication of the commitment Adelanto residents have towards earning a decent living. There are plenty of jobs in Southern California.

3. West Memphis, AR

Population: 25,384
College educated: 11%
Unemployment rate: 15%
Incomes: $30,384

Memphis itself is atop lots of lists for being a dangerous, poor place to live. Arkansas’ West Memphis is the worst of its suburbs, where 1 in 6 residents is out of work, and where many families struggle to make ends meet each month.

4. Bessemer, AL

Population: 27,702
College educated: 12%
Unemployment rate: 14%
Incomes: $30,934

The Birmingham suburb of Bessemer had one of the lowest income levels for southern suburbs, but at least 12% of the population has a college degree. That’s high for cities on this list. What was once an ore mining and railroad hub has since gone away, taking jobs and incomes with it.

5. Moss Point, MS

Population: 13,298
College educated: 14%
Unemployment rate: 16%
Incomes: $27,093

This Pascagoula, Mississippi suburb gets low marks for the number of folks out of work and income levels, which are the key reasons why the home prices here are hovering near the $87,000 mark.

There were 16 rapes, 31 robberies, 71 assaults, 411 burglaries, 311 larceny counts and 70 auto thefts per year here. The crime index average for 3 years is 615.8 per 100,000. The U.S. average is 309.2

6. Sebring, FL

Population: 10,364
College educated: 14%
Unemployment rate: 16%
Incomes: $27,203

An Avon Park suburb, Sebring sees about 1 in 6 residents fail to find a job each year, and families simply struggle to make ends meet each year. On the bright side, there are more things to do in the general area here than in many of the cities listed above.

7. Cahokia, IL

Population: 15,000
College educated: 7%
Unemployment rate: 16%
Incomes: $30,294

Parts of St. Louis rank consistently low for high crime and bad economies. Cahokia, a village in Illinois, is one of the lousiest cities in the general St. Louis area, where only 7% of the population has a decent education.

8. Freeport, TX

Population: 12,128
College educated: 8%
Unemployment rate: 11%
Incomes: $36,293

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Freeport is a Lake Jackson suburb in Texas, where things aren’t going very well right now. An 11% unemployment rate is actually not too bad for cities on this list, but about double the national average. Homes here average only about $66,000 each, which is very low, even for parts of the Lone Star State.

9. Romulus, MI

Population: 23,293
College educated: 11%
Unemployment rate: 16%
Incomes: $44,293

Detroit is trying to make a resurgence, but many of the areas surrounding Detroit are in dire straits. Here in Romulus, income levels are higher than most cities on this list, but a lot of folks are out of work, and crime is far higher than the state average.

10. Mercedes, TX

Population: 16,293
College educated: 12%
Unemployment rate: 18%
Incomes: $30,213

We round out the nation’s worst suburbs with Mercedes, another city in Texas where folks are struggling. Nearly 1 in 5 potential workers can’t find a job, and homes are some of the cheapest in the entire state.

That’s certainly a sign that there’s no demand to live here.

There You Have It

When you’re looking at American suburbs that have really bad local economies, this is an accurate list.

Here are the best suburbs in America:

  1. West University Place, TX
  2. Piedmont, CA
  3. Key Biscayne Village, FL
  4. Hoboken, NJ
  5. Bellaire, TX

Detailed List Of The Worst Suburbs In America

City Suburb Of Rank Population College Educated Unemployment Rate
Prichard Mobile, AL Urbanized Area 1 22,475 9.6% 20.9%
Adelanto Victorville–Hesperia, CA Urbanized Area 2 31,773 6.4% 25.5%
West Memphis Memphis, TN–MS–AR Urbanized Area 3 25,767 11.3% 14.9%
Bessemer Birmingham, AL Urbanized Area 4 27,202 12.8% 14.2%
Moss Point Pascagoula, MS Urbanized Area 5 13,690 13.9% 16.7%
Sebring Sebring–Avon Park, FL Urbanized Area 6 10,356 13.8% 16.7%
Cahokia St. Louis, MO–IL Urbanized Area 7 14,905 7.3% 15.9%
Freeport Lake Jackson–Angleton, TX Urbanized Area 8 12,108 8.3% 11.6%
Romulus Detroit, MI Urbanized Area 9 23,721 10.8% 16.5%
Mercedes Harlingen, TX Urbanized Area 10 16,271 12.7% 18.3%
Mercedes McAllen, TX Urbanized Area 11 16,271 12.7% 18.3%
Benton Harbor Benton Harbor–St. Joseph–Fair Plain, MI Urbanized Area 12 10,056 4.5% 28.4%
East St. Louis St. Louis, MO–IL Urbanized Area 13 26,697 8.0% 16.4%
Gary Chicago, IL–IN Urbanized Area 14 79,165 13.1% 18.8%
Lexington Winston-Salem, NC Urbanized Area 15 19,029 14.0% 18.5%
Lake Station Chicago, IL–IN Urbanized Area 16 12,369 5.4% 16.5%
San Benito Harlingen, TX Urbanized Area 17 24,447 8.7% 12.3%
Apache Junction Phoenix–Mesa, AZ Urbanized Area 18 36,965 12.9% 16.3%
Forest Park Atlanta, GA Urbanized Area 19 18,783 8.0% 17.1%
Socorro El Paso, TX–NM Urbanized Area 20 32,623 6.8% 13.1%
Kings Mountain Gastonia, NC–SC Urbanized Area 21 10,743 12.6% 15.5%
Kings Mountain Shelby, NC Urban Cluster 22 10,743 12.6% 15.5%
Lenoir Hickory, NC Urbanized Area 23 18,061 15.3% 16.3%
Spring Lake Fayetteville, NC Urbanized Area 24 13,101 17.9% 16.1%
Trotwood Dayton, OH Urbanized Area 25 24,322 15.3% 12.5%
Anniston Anniston–Oxford, AL Urbanized Area 26 22,749 20.9% 16.3%
East Chicago Chicago, IL–IN Urbanized Area 27 29,387 7.5% 17.0%
Florida City Miami, FL Urbanized Area 28 11,853 5.3% 28.7%
Sunland Park El Paso, TX–NM Urbanized Area 29 14,794 11.5% 12.0%
Kelso Longview, WA–OR Urbanized Area 30 11,837 10.0% 22.5%
Cocoa Palm Bay–Melbourne, FL Urbanized Area 31 17,261 15.9% 16.1%
Leesburg Leesburg–Eustis–Tavares, FL Urbanized Area 32 20,915 19.3% 17.1%
Newton Hickory, NC Urbanized Area 33 12,998 15.1% 12.7%
Muskegon Heights Muskegon, MI Urbanized Area 34 10,807 5.0% 27.0%
Lake Wales Crooked Lake Park, FL Urban Cluster 35 14,665 19.2% 19.1%
Lake Wales Winter Haven, FL Urbanized Area 36 14,665 19.2% 19.1%
Bellmead Waco, TX Urbanized Area 37 10,052 6.1% 10.2%
Burton Flint, MI Urbanized Area 38 29,429 15.0% 16.3%
Orange City Deltona, FL Urbanized Area 39 10,968 15.5% 13.1%
Covington Atlanta, GA Urbanized Area 40 13,342 13.8% 10.8%
Texas City Houston, TX Urbanized Area 41 45,802 12.5% 12.2%
Niles South Bend, IN–MI Urbanized Area 42 11,479 11.9% 13.9%
Pontiac Detroit, MI Urbanized Area 43 59,658 11.0% 21.0%
Fort Pierce Port St. Lucie, FL Urbanized Area 44 42,744 13.9% 16.3%
Union City Atlanta, GA Urbanized Area 45 20,200 20.2% 14.6%
Donna McAllen, TX Urbanized Area 46 16,169 11.9% 11.6%
Cottonwood Cottonwood–Verde Village, AZ Urban Cluster 47 11,358 16.1% 12.2%
Highland Park Detroit, MI Urbanized Area 48 10,951 10.8% 35.0%
Bartow Lakeland, FL Urbanized Area 49 17,766 17.0% 11.3%
Moss Point Pascagoula, MS Urbanized Area 5 13,690 13.9% 16.7%

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