9. Baltimore, Maryland
> Population: 614,664
> Median home value: $153,500
> Poverty rate: 21.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.8%
Baltimore’s median annual household income of $47,350 is the lowest of any city in Maryland. The city’s poor households face additional strain because of the high cost of living. Goods and services are about 12% more expensive in Baltimore than they are nationwide on average.
Long commutes cut into personal time and can diminish overall quality of life. In Baltimore, a city with some of the most congested roadways in the country, the average commute time is over half an hour, longer than in the vast majority of American cities.
8. Springfield, Missouri
> Population: 167,313
> Median home value: $115,900
> Poverty rate: 24.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.7%
Along with St. Louis, Springfield is one of two Missouri cities to rank among the worst cities to live in. As is also the case in St. Louis, crime detracts considerably from overall quality of life in Springfield. There were 1,345 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2016, more than triple the U.S. violent crime rate. Additionally, there were 8,518 property crimes in the city for every 100,000 people in 2016, the third highest property crime rate in the United States.
A large share of Springfield residents struggle financially. About one in every four city residents live below the poverty line, the largest share of any large city in the state.
7. Albany, Georgia
> Population: 74,904
> Median home value: $88,800
> Poverty rate: 32.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.1%
The populations of several cities on this list are shrinking, but few are losing residents as fast as Albany, Georgia. In the last five years, Albany’s population declined by 4.8%, even as the U.S. population expanded by 3.7%. The falling population is likely attributable in part to bleak economic conditions. Some 32.5% of city residents live in poverty, more than double the state poverty rate of 16.0% and the U.S. rate of 14.0%. More jobs in the city would likely go a long way to ease serious financial hardship. Some 7.0% of workers in Albany are out of job, the highest unemployment rate of any Georgia city.
6. Wilmington, Delaware
> Population: 71,455
> Median home value: $145,600
> Poverty rate: 27.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.6%
Low incomes and a high cost of living likely detract from overall quality of life for many in Wilmington, Delaware. The typical household in the city earns just $36,435 a year — well below the median income of $57,617 nationwide — and 27.7% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line, nearly double the U.S. poverty rate. Meanwhile, goods and services in Wilmington are about 17% more expensive than they are on average nationwide.
Wilmington also ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. There were 1,798 violent crimes in Wilmington for every 100,000 residents in 2016, more than all but four other cities and more than quadruple the national violent crime rate.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
> Population: 385,810
> Median home value: $66,800
> Poverty rate: 35.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.3%
One of the poorest cities in the country, Cleveland’s 35% poverty rate is more than double the U.S. poverty rate and higher than that of all but one other city in the state. Cleveland’s 6.9% jobless rate is also the second highest of any city in the state. The city is also dangerous. There were 1,633 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2016, more than in all but eight other U.S. cities and quadruple the national violent crime rate.
Widespread poverty, a high crime rate, and a bleak jobs picture likely partially explain the declining population. In the last decade, Cleveland’s population fell by 2.4% even as the country’s population as a whole grew by 7.1%.