Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: Thinkstock

29. Dayton, Ohio
> Population: 140,478
> Median home value: $66,900
> Poverty rate: 32.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.3%

The median annual household income in Dayton, Ohio, of $28,894 is the sixth lowest among all large U.S. cities. Low-income areas often also have low property values, and Dayton is no exception. The typical home in the city is worth $66,900, also the sixth lowest median home value of any similarly sized city in the United States.

Dayton may be an especially bad place for families with school-aged children. Standardized test scores in Dayton’s public schools are well below the comparable results across Ohio as a whole.

Source: Thinkstock

28. Springfield, Massachusetts
> Population: 154,079
> Median home value: $154,300
> Poverty rate: 24.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.0%

Springfield is the only city in Massachusetts, and one of only three in the broader New England region, to rank among the worst cities to live in. Springfield’s 6.9% unemployment rate is the highest of any Massachusetts city and well above the 4.9% U.S. unemployment rate. The high jobless rate exacerbates financial hardship in the city. About one in every four Springfield residents live below the poverty line, the highest poverty rate of any city in the state.

As is the case with most cities on this list, real estate is relatively inexpensive in Springfield. The typical home is worth $154,300, the lowest median home value of any city in the state and less than half the median home value of $366,900 across Massachusetts.

Source: trekandshoot / iStock

27. Oakland, California
> Population: 419,987
> Median home value: $649,700
> Poverty rate: 18.9%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 41.1%

Oakland’s median household income of $68,060 a year is the highest of any city on this list and higher even than the median income nationwide of $57,617. However, the city’s high incomes are largely offset by a high cost of living, as goods and services are about 27% more expensive in Oakland than they are nationwide, on average. Housing is particularly expensive. The typical home in Oakland is worth nearly $650,000, or about 10 times the city’s median income. Nationwide, the median home value is worth only about 3.6 times the median income.

A high violent crime rate can often drive down property value, but this has not been the case in Oakland. The city has the highest violent crime rate of any California city at 1,443 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2016.

Source: Amadscientist / Wikimedia Commons

26. Merced, California
> Population: 82,573
> Median home value: $215,400
> Poverty rate: 28.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.4%

Merced is one of several California cities on this list struggling with high unemployment. About one in every 10 workers in the city are out of a job, the sixth highest unemployment rate of any American city. The high jobless rate may contribute to the city’s high poverty rate. More than one in every four Merced residents live in poverty, well above the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate.

Most American cities have a relatively high concentration of restaurants and bars and places for entertainment, but Merced is an exception. There is a slightly lower than typical concentration of restaurants and eateries in the city, and the concentration of bars is about half the average concentration nationwide.

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