Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

40. Oakland, California
> Population: 413,782
> Median home value: $499,400
> Poverty rate: 20.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.3%

The typical Oakland household earns $56,188 a year, slightly more than the $53,657 the typical American household earns. However, the benefits that come with higher incomes are largely offset by a high cost of living. The cost of goods and services in Oakland is 27.4% higher than it is across the country on average. The area’s higher cost of living only increases the economic woes of the most vulnerable city residents. Slightly more than 20% of Oakland residents live below the poverty line, a considerably higher share than the 15.5% national poverty rate.

As in many cities with higher than average poverty, crime is a major problem in Oakland. There are 1,685 violent crimes a year in the city for every 100,000 residents, one of the highest violent crime rates of any U.S. city.

39. Toledo, Ohio
> Population: 281,014
> Median home value: $80,700
> Poverty rate: 26.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.1%

Individual prosperity is relatively uncommon in Toledo. More than one in four city residents live in poverty, one of the highest poverty rates of any U.S. city. On top of its economic woes, Toledo is also a relatively dangerous place to live. There are 1,091 violent crimes a year for every 100,000 city residents, roughly three times the national violent crime rate of 366 incidents per 100,000 people. The city’s population has shrunk by 11.1% over the last five years, yet another indication of economic and social problems.

One positive aspect of living in Toledo is the city’s relatively low cost of living. Area residents pay roughly 9% less for goods and services than the typical American.

38. Cincinnati, Ohio
> Population: 298,162
> Median home value: $116,200
> Poverty rate: 30.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.6%

Educational attainment is considerably higher in Cincinnati than it is across the country as a whole. Nearly 35% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to only 30% of American adults. While higher educational attainment typically leads to higher incomes, incomes in Cincinnati are strikingly low. The typical city household earns only $32,688 a year, roughly $21,000 less than the typical American household.

Cincinnati’s birth rate has slowed, and people have left the city in droves. The Ohio city’s population dropped by 10.5% in the last five years.

37. Tucson, Arizona
> Population: 527,948
> Median home value: $126,500
> Poverty rate: 25.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.6%

For desert lovers, outdoor adventurers, and natural art enthusiasts, Tucson may be an ideal city. Looking at economic and social measures, however, Tucson’s population is worse off than those in most American cities. More than 25% of the population lives in poverty, for example, well above the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

Property crimes, such as auto theft and burglary, are relatively common in Tucson. The city’s property crime rate of 6,582 reported incidents per 100,000 people is more than double the national property crime rate and higher than in all but five other U.S. cities.

36. Peoria, Illinois
> Population: 117,288
> Median home value: $124,300
> Poverty rate: 21.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.0%

Like a number of the worst cities to live in, Peoria’s workforce once relied heavily on manufacturing. As early as 1990, 37,000 area workers were employed in the industry. As of April 2016, the industry employee count was 23,700. Despite its decline, the city still relies on the industry for employment. The sector still employs 13.9% of the workforce, a higher proportion than the national share of 10.3%. Like other cities with relatively large manufacturing industries, Peoria’s economy is struggling. The unemployment rate peaked at 13.7% in July 2009. Still at 7.4% as of this past April, the city’s job market has not completely recovered.