Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: Thinkstock

44. Jackson, Mississippi
> Population: 169,141
> Median home value: $88,500
> Poverty rate: 22.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 28.6%

By a number of metrics assessing economic opportunity, education, public safety, and infrastructure, Jackson is one of the worst cities to live in in the country. The typical Jackson household earns just $39,742 a year, far less than the national median household income of $57,617. Even adjusted for the area’s low cost of living — goods and services cost 13.9% less in Jackson and the surrounding Hinds County than they do nationwide — incomes in Jackson are still far below the U.S. median. Jackson is also one of the more dangerous Southern cities. There were 856 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in 2016, more than twice the national violent crime rate.

Like many areas with low incomes and high violent crime, Jackson has been losing residents. While the U.S. population grew 3.7% between 2011 and 2016, the number of Jackson residents declined by the same amount — the largest population decline in Mississippi and the 14th largest decrease of any major city in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

43. Syracuse, New York
> Population: 143,378
> Median home value: $92,900
> Poverty rate: 32.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.6%

Syracuse is one of two upstate New York cities to rank among the worst cities to live in nationwide. A third, Rochester, nearly made the list as well. A relatively poor city, the typical household in Syracuse earns $33,695 a year, only slightly more than half the median income of $62,909 statewide. Additionally, 32.1% of city residents live below the poverty line, well more than double the state poverty rate of 14.7%.

As is often the case in cities with similarly negative economic indicators, Syracuse is losing residents. In the last five years, the city’s population declined by 1.2%, even as the U.S. population climbed by 3.7%.

Source: Thinkstock

42. Miami, Florida
> Population: 453,584
> Median home value: $277,700
> Poverty rate: 24.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.6%

Miami is one of the most expensive cities in the country. Goods and services in Miami-Dade County are about 15% more expensive than they are on average nationwide. Housing is particularly expensive. The typical home in Miami is worth $277,700 compared to the median home value of $205,000 nationwide. Despite this, the typical household in the Miami area earns $34,901 a year, well below the median income of $57,617 nationwide.

The city is also relatively dangerous. Violent crime is about twice as common in Miami as it is nationwide as there were 879 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2016 compared to 386 per 100,000 nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

41. North Charleston, South Carolina
> Population: 112,147
> Median home value: $152,000
> Poverty rate: 25.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.1%

More than one in every four North Charleston residents live in poverty, compared to 15.3% of South Carolinians and 14.0% of Americans. Poorer cities are often relatively dangerous, and North Charleston is no exception. There were 885 violent crimes in North Charleston for every 100,000 residents in 2016, compared to state’s violent crime rate of 502 per 100,000 and the nationwide rate of 386 per 100,000.

While many cities on this list are losing residents, North Charleston is growing rapidly. In the past decade, the city’s population expanded by 34.4%, more than all but a dozen other U.S. cities over the same period.

Source: Cntrlaltdel33t / Wikimedia Commons

40. South Bend, Indiana
> Population: 102,442
> Median home value: $77,400
> Poverty rate: 24.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.1%

South Bend, Indiana is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. There were 1,012 violent crimes in South Bend for every 100,000 residents in 2016, more than double both the state and national violent crime rates of 405 incidents and 386 incidents per 100,000 people, respectively. As is often the case in high crime areas, property values in South Bend are depressed. The typical home in the city is worth just $77,400, less than half the national median home value of $205,000.

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