50 Worst Cities to Live In

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10. Gary, Indiana
> Population: 71,180
> Median home value: $70,500
> Poverty rate: 37.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.5%

Gary’s population is shrinking faster than that of any other U.S. city. The number of people that call Gary home has dropped by 26.7% in the last decade and by 25.5% in the last five years. A declining population is not especially surprising given the city’s bleak economic conditions. The typical household in the city earns only $26,367 a year, less than half of the American median annual household income. In Gary, 37.6% of people live below the poverty line, the 11th highest poverty rate of any U.S. city.

A disproportionately large share of Gary’s workforce likely lacks the education needed for high-skill, higher-paying jobs. Only 12.5% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half of the 30.1% corresponding education attainment rate nationwide.

9. Cleveland, Ohio
> Population: 389,524
> Median home value: $65,900
> Poverty rate: 39.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 15.1%

The typical Cleveland household earns only $24,701 a year, the second lowest median household income of any U.S. city. The city’s 39.2% poverty rate is the fifth highest of any U.S. city. Likely as a result of poor economic conditions, the city’s population has declined by 9.7% in the last five years alone. The negative population growth is not doing much to help property values in Cleveland. The median home value in the city of $65,900 is worth less than in all but three other U.S. cities.

As in many cities where residents are suffering economically, crime is a major problem in Cleveland. Violent crimes, a category that includes murder and assault, are roughly 3.7 times more common in Cleveland per capita than they are across the country as a whole.

8. Flint, Michigan
> Population: 98,990
> Median home value: $32,300
> Poverty rate: 40.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.5%

What was once a manufacturing hub for General Motors, Flint’s economy has been decimated since the auto giant reduced its presence in the city. About 40% of Flint residents live in poverty, the second highest poverty rate of any U.S. city. At least partly as a result of widespread destitution, Flint is also a dangerous city. The city’s violent crime rate of 1,708 reported incidents for every 100,000 residents is roughly 4.7 times higher than the nationwide violent crime rate.

The city’s population has declined by 11.6% in the last 10 years — and home values are suffering as a result. The typical home in Flint is worth just $32,300, the lowest of any city in the country, and less than a fifth of the national median. Conditions will likely only worsen in Flint before they get better. Recently, lead was discovered in the Flint’s drinking water, and governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in the city.

7. Memphis, Tennessee
> Population: 656,876
> Median home value: $91,800
> Poverty rate: 29.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.4%

Often referred to as the birthplace of rock ‘n roll, Memphis is steeped in rich musical history. Considering the city’s economic conditions, however, many of the city’s best years may be in the past. Roughly 30% of area residents live in poverty, nearly double the national poverty rate. As in many U.S. cities with pervasive poverty, violent crime is a major problem in Memphis. There are 1,741 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents, roughly 4.8 times higher than the nationwide violent crime rate.

The city also faces environmental challenges. In a given year, more than 8% of days in a given year are identified as having hazardous air quality, more than the 5.9% of days across the country on average. As a result, Memphis residents are at greater risk of certain respiratory conditions than most Americans.

6. Birmingham, Alabama
> Population: 212,653
> Median home value: $84,400
> Poverty rate: 30.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.9%

Birmingham’s median home value of $84,400 is roughly $100,000 less than the national median home value. Low home values are often indicative of a poor population and a weak economy, and indeed, many area residents are struggling financially. The typical Birmingham household earns only $30,043 a year, and the city’s poverty rate of 30.5% is nearly double the national poverty rate.

Like many cities with pervasive poverty, Birmingham is a relatively dangerous place. The city’s violent crime rate of 1,588 incidents per 100,000 people is more than four times the national violent crime rate.