50 Worst Cities to Live In

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30. Knoxville, Tennessee
> Population: 184,292
> Median home value: $119,500
> Poverty rate: 31.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 28.8%

Knoxville is a city full of social amenities. There are about 406 restaurants, cafes, and eateries for every 100,000 people, far more than the national rate of 238 such establishments per 100,000 Americans. In addition, the city has far more museums, movie theatres, and fitness and recreation centers per capita than the nationwide average concentration. However, such entertainment and cultural venues may be too costly to enjoy for many Knoxville residents’ budgets. The typical area household earns only $31,048 a year, about $22,600 less than the typical American household. In addition, the city’s 31.2% poverty rate is more than double the national poverty rate.

Knoxville residents also have to worry about property crime such as burglary and arson more often than the typical American. There are 6,524 property crimes a year for every 100,000 city residents, more than double both the statewide and national property crime rates.

29. Springfield, Illinois
> Population: 116,649
> Median home value: $117,700
> Poverty rate: 20.4%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.5%

Cities with a more educated population typically have higher incomes and a lower violent crime rate. However, this is not the case in Springfield, Illinois. In Springfield, 34.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the 30.1% of American adults. Despite the larger share of educated residents, the typical area household earns only $48,896 a year, less than the $53,657 the typical American household earns. In addition, more than a fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty line, a larger share than the 15.5% national poverty rate.

Violent crime is also far more common in Springfield than it is across the United States. There are 1,065 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents, nearly three times the national violent crime rate.

28. Lansing, Michigan
> Population: 113,659
> Median home value: $75,700
> Poverty rate: 26.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.3%

The median household income in Lansing is nearly the lowest in the country. The typical area household earns only $36,567 a year, far less than the $53,657 the typical American household earns. With lower-than-average incomes, the city also has a high poverty rate. More than one quarter of area residents live below the poverty line, well above the 15.5% national poverty rate.

While the U.S. population has grown by 10.6% in the last decade, Lansing’s population has actually declined by 5.0%. A likely consequence of a shrinking population is declining property values. The median home value in Lansing is only $75,700, less than half the $181,200 the typical American home is worth.

27. Lawrence, Massachusetts
> Population: 78,192
> Median home value: $221,900
> Poverty rate: 26.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.6%

Lawrence’s economy is dominated by industries that tend to pay low wages — industries such as manufacturing, social assistance, and retail trade. As a result, the city’s median household income is only $38,186 a year, far less than the $53,657 median income nationwide and even further from the $69,160 statewide median income. A high cost of living further exacerbates residents’ financial challenges. Located in the Boston metro area, goods and services are roughly 25% costlier in Lawrence than they are on average across the country.

Lawrence also has a problem with violent crime. While the city’s property crime rate is roughly in line with the national rate, the violent crime rate is far higher. There are 1,094 violent crimes in Lawrence for every 100,000 residents, far more than the national violent crime rate of 366 reported incidents per 100,000 people.

26. Baltimore, Maryland
> Population: 622,793
> Median home value: $150,800
> Poverty rate: 23.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.0%

Baltimore residents struggle with several negative economic and social conditions. While the cost of living is close to 12% higher in Baltimore than it is on average across the country, incomes are not high enough to offset the higher cost of living. In fact, a typical household in the city earns only $42,665 a year, roughly $11,000 less than the national median income. Baltimore has a higher than average poverty rate of 23.6%, more than double the corresponding statewide rate.

A high violent crime rate also significantly detracts from quality of life in Baltimore. There are 1,339 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents a year, more than three times the national violent crime rate.