Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

Source: Djembayz / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana
> Worst cwity to live: Missoula
> Population: 71,024
> Median home value: $239,500
> Poverty rate: 17.4%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 46.5%

Relatively low incomes in Missoula make the city unaffordable for many residents. The median household income in Missoula is $37,444, well below the statewide median income of $49,509. At the same time, the typical area home is worth $239,500 — or $30,000 more than the typical home in Montana. Indeed, the typical American home is worth about 3.5 times the typical household income, while Missoula’s comparable affordability ratio is 6.4.

Missoula is more expensive and also more dangerous than the state as a whole. There were 527 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2015 — well above Montana’s violent crime rate of 350 incidents per 100,000 residents that same year.

Source: Thinkstock

27. Nebraska
> Worst city to live: Omaha
> Population: 443,887
> Median home value: $143,200
> Poverty rate: 16.8%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.8%

Although it ranks as the worst city in Nebraska to live in, Omaha is still among the top choices in the Plains region among major cities. Goods and services are about 7% less expensive in Omaha than they are nationwide. After adjusting for the city’s low cost of living, the median household income in the area is $55,300 — roughly in line with the typical U.S. household. Additionally, most people in Omaha who want jobs, have them. Only 2.5% of the area’s labor force is unemployed, a smaller share than in all but three other cities nationwide.

A slightly higher than usual violent crime rate is one issue Omaha residents struggle with. There were 515 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2015, well above the statewide rate of 275.

Source: Thinkstock

28. Nevada
> Worst city to live: Las Vegas
> Population: 623,769
> Median home value: $209,400
> Poverty rate: 16.3%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.0%

Las Vegas is the most dangerous city in Nevada and one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. There were 921 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in the city in 2015 — well above the 696 figure statewide and the 373 figure nationwide.

While the city is iconic for its gaming and entertainment establishments, it is decidedly lacking in other cultural venues. The city has less than half the number of libraries, museums, movie theaters, and nature parks than the nation as a whole on a per capita basis.

Source: Thinkstock

29. New Hampshire
> Worst city to live: Manchester
> Population: 110,223
> Median home value: $209,200
> Poverty rate: 14.4%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.2%

Though it ranks as the worst large city in New Hampshire and one of the worst cities in the New England region, Manchester is faring better than much of the rest of the country. The city’s 14.4% poverty rate, though greater than the state’s 8.2% rate, is slightly lower than the nationwide rate of 14.7%. The city also boasts a range of cultural amenities and entertainment venues. There are 250 restaurants, 13 recreation centers, and four museums for every 100,000 city residents — well above the comparable 165 restaurants, 10 rec centers, and two museums adjusted for population nationwide.

As is the case in much of New England, living in Manchester is not cheap. Goods and services are about 14% more expensive on average in the city than they are nationwide.

Source: Den Spiess / Wikimedia Commons

30. New Jersey
> Worst city to live: Paterson
> Population: 147,757
> Median home value: $226,300
> Poverty rate: 30.1%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 9.1%

A college education can greatly increase an individual’s earning power, and in Paterson, only 9.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree — less than a fourth of the 37.6% share of New Jersey residents. The low educational attainment partially explains the low incomes in the area. The typical Paterson household earns only $31,552 a year, less than half the statewide median income of $72,222. Further, goods and services are on average about 28% more expensive in the Paterson area than they are nationwide, and when accounting for the high cost of living, the city’s median household income is only worth about $24,650. Area residents face an additional financial burden of high taxes. Homeowners pay 3.8% of their home value on average in taxes annually, more than three times the 1.2% share the typical American homeowner pays in taxes.

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