Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: Thinkstock

25. Miami Beach, Florida
> Population: 91,905
> Median home value: $479,400
> Poverty rate: 13.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 46.2%

Miami Beach — one of three cities on this list in Miami-Dade County — is one of the least affordable cities in the United States. The median home value is just under half a million dollars, about nine times the median household income in the city of $53,685. In comparison, the typical home nationwide is worth just 3.6 times the median household income. High crime rates often drive down property values, but not in Miami Beach. There were 1,023 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly triple the national violent crime rate.

Unlike most cities on this list, Miami Beach’s population is well educated. More than 46% of adults in the city have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to just 31.3% of American adults.

Source: Terrance Emerson / Shutterstock.com

24. Stockton, California
> Population: 307,057
> Median home value: $243,700
> Poverty rate: 17.7%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.7%

Stockton has one of the highest unemployment rates of any American city. Some 8.7% of the city’s workforce is out of a job, far higher than the 4.9% U.S. annual unemployment rate. The high jobless rate contributes to the city’s relatively low median income. The typical household in the city earns just $49,271 a year — less than three-quarters of the median income of $67,739 across the state. Low-income residents face further financial strain as the cost of living is relatively high in Stockton. Goods and services are about 7% more expensive in the city than they are on average nationwide.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

23. Daytona Beach, Florida
> Population: 66,649
> Median home value: $132,300
> Poverty rate: 20.1%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 21.6%

Daytona Beach is one of the poorest cities in the country, with a median annual household income of just $31,273. The city’s low median income is likely due in part to a lack of jobs. Some 6.3% of the Daytona Beach workforce is out of a job, well above the 4.9% annual U.S. unemployment rate.

The lack of jobs may be partly due to the city’s high crime rate, which may drive potential employers and small business owners away. There were 1,221 violent crimes and 6,297 property crimes for every 100,000 Daytona Beach residents in 2016, each nearly triple the comparable national crime rates.

Source: Thinkstock

22. Charleston, West Virginia
> Population: 50,210
> Median home value: $150,300
> Poverty rate: 20.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.7%

Though the median household income in Charleston of $46,720 a year is considerably lower than the national median of $57,617, a dollar goes further in West Virginia’s capital city. Goods and services are 17% less expensive in Charleston than they are on average nationwide.

However, the city’s low cost of living is likely indicative of its low desirability as a place to live. The city has high crime rates with both violent and property crimes more than three times more common in Charleston than they are nationwide. The city’s air quality is also among the worst in the country. Hazardous air quality is reported on about 18% of days per year, compared to just 6% of days on average nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

21. Shreveport, Louisiana
> Population: 194,472
> Median home value: $150,000
> Poverty rate: 30.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.3%

The violent crime rate in Louisiana of 566 incidents for every 100,000 residents is the fifth highest among states. In Shreveport, violence is even more prevalent. There were 959 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly double the corresponding state rate. Violence is often more common in poorer areas, and a large share of Shreveport residents face serious financial hardship. Some 30.8% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line compared to the 20.2% of the state’s population and 14.0% of the U.S. population.

Like many cities on this list, Shreveport is losing residents. In the last five years, Shreveport’s population fell by 3.7%, even as the U.S. population grew by 3.7%.

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