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Top 10 Worst Cities in America To Live In

Many factors go into “worst cities for living”. But we can mostly agree on some, high rates of crime, low employment rate, low salaries, and not many education options. For the most part, what makes a city good or bad for living is the rate of crime. And costs of living. For example, while New York has many job openings, it is also one of the most expensive cities to live in.

There is no such thing as the perfect city. What feels perfect for one person, might feel bad for another. But at the end of the day, we all want to feel safe at home. That doesn’t mean your town or neighborhood is too dangerous.

But today’s high current of civil unrest makes these questions more vital than ever. In this article, we will look at some of the worst cities for living in America. For the purpose of the article, the term dangerous refers explicitly to crime rates calculated by FBI crime data.

What Makes a City Dangerous for Living?

There is actually an index with measures that help identify the worst cities for living. That applies to the worst cities in the US as well.

Some of the factors include areas with lower educational attainment. Crime statistics are another part of the puzzle. How safe or dangerous do you consider your city? Other factors include median income, poverty data, high school graduation rates, redlining practices, household access to high-speed internet, city budget allocations, and unemployment rates.

Comparing these standards, you can find a correlation between socioeconomic factors and reported crime rates.

How To Make Your Home Safer?

No matter if you live in a dangerous or a safe city, you can always act proactively about protecting your home and family. Adding a home security system is a great way to make your home safer and protect it from burglary.

There are home security options for nearly every budget. Some monitoring systems start as low as $10 per month. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the worst cities for living in America.

Safety is just one of the factors for these cities.

Mendota, California


A small city with a population of 11,396, Mendota has a high poverty rate of nearly 50%. That is one of the reasons why it is on our list. According to USA Today, Mendota is the least desirable place to live.

Fair enough, nearly every city in the California Central Valley falls into the category of least desirable places to live. This area has some of the worst and poorest cities, no matter the flashy Los Angeles.

In Mendota, only 2% of the adult population have a BA degree, making it the smallest share of any other city in the US. That results in one of the poorest populations in the country.

Detroit, Michigan


Unlike Mendota, Detroit is a large city. In fact, it is the largest city in the Midwestern state of Michigan. So, what puts Detroit on this list? For years and years, Detroit earned a population as one of the most dangerous places in the US.

The violent crime rate in Detroit is 1,965 incidents per 100,000 residents, putting the city on top of the list. In 2019, 275 people lost their life due to murder. The city has the third-highest murder rate among major cities in the US.

The city has long ties with the auto industry, but in the past several years, it is an industry in a down trend. That results in lower-income rates and higher unemployment rates.

Florida City, Florida


Most people put the state of Florida on their list of favorite places in the US to visit. That is for most travelers and tourists. But Florida has its downsides. Florida City is a small town with a population of 12,149, and a high poverty rate of 41.2%. That puts the city in the Top 10 percent poverty rate in the US.

The southernmost city in the US not on an island is the last stop on the mainland north of the Florida Keys. The city also has a high crime rate. In 2017, statistics showed 2,276 violent crimes per every 100,000 residents.

Located just 35 miles south of Miami, Florida City residents experience burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. It is the most violent city in the state of Florida. So, not all is sunny in Florida.

St. Louis


This major city in Missouri along the Mississippi River is the home of the iconic, 630-ft Gateway Arch. But it is also the home of many violent crimes.

In recent years, we have seen decreasing crime and rates of violent crime in St. Louis. But the city still ranks high in that regard, with a violent crime rate of 1,927 per 100,000 people.

California City, California


Home of 13,495 residents, California City suffers from a similar problem like Florida City. Located near a popular city, California City has a high poverty rate of 29.9%.

The residents of this city fall to the group of “most likely to be unemployed”. Over the past several years, the employment rate in the city fell by 11%. Lack of jobs contributes to the high poverty rate of the city.

And at the same time, home values in California remain among the highest in the nation. For comparison, home values in California are at $443,400 median value, statewide. But in California City, that number is at just $102,000.

Only half of the households in the city earn more than $46,000 per year.

Golden Valley, Arizona


This small city in Arizona has a population of only 8,673 residents. You would think the city would produce enough jobs for so few residents. But that doesn’t happen. The unemployment rate is at 14% with a poverty rate at 24%.

Consider this for a second, the median home value in Golden Valley is $79,000. This small unincorporated town ranks as the worst city in Arizona. A weak job market, coupled with food insecurity and low access areas, makes the city hard to live in.

One-third of residents live in areas where they have to go at least a mile to the grocery store in urban areas and 10 miles in rural areas.

Makaha, Hawaii


You probably ask how can a city in Hawaii make its way on the worst cities list? Well, it is all due to the high poverty rate of 30%.

This city has poor people because of the high cost of living and low affordability. Tourist destinations usually have high prices, but locals do not earn as much money.

For example, in Makaha, goods, and services cost 64% more than on average nationwide. Housing is almost unaffordable.

The typical home in the city costs nearly half a million, which is eight times more than the annual household income in the city, 53,833.

The city is just 34 miles away from Honolulu, making it a popular destination for travelers. But it is a poor, and crime-ridden city.



Baltimore, a major city in Maryland, had a long history as an important seaport. Fort McHenry is the birthplace of the US national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

Today, the harbor offers shops and attractions. But the city has an infamous reputation due to its high crime rate.

Baltimore also has the highest poverty rate in Maryland at 21.8%, despite the conditions allowing for high-paid jobs.

Highland Park, Michigan


The poverty rate in Highland Park is just awful. At a 49% poverty rate, the city’s residents can hardly afford anything more than low-quality food.

The annual household income at $15,699 sits nearly $42,000 lower than the US median. It is the only city in the US where most households earn less than $20,000 per year.



Springfield is a popular city in the US thanks to the fame of The Simpsons. One of the most famous American fiction families lives in Springfield.

But the city is far from glamour and luxury. Springfield has a high violent crime rate of 1,519 per 100,000 residents. Years ago, the city offered a nice and safe place to live. But in recent years, the city has turned into a place of crime and criminal behavior.

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