Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: Hot Furnace / Wikimedia Commons

45. Bellmead, Texas
> Population: 10,315
> Poverty rate: 26.6% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 2,305 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $70,000 (bottom 10%)

Bellmead is a small city in the Waco, Texas, metro area in between Dallas and Austin. The city has some of the highest crime rates anywhere in the country. There were 2,305 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017, six times the national violent crime rate. Additionally, there were 6,509 property crimes for every 100,000 people in Bellmead, more than double the national property crime rate.

The area’s high crime may be suppressing property values. The typical home in Bellmead is worth just $70,000 — far less than the national median home value of $193,500.

Source: michaelrperry / Flickr

44. Desert Hot Springs, California
> Population: 28,298
> Poverty rate: 36.8% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,017 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $154,600

Desert Hot Springs is one of two cities within the San Bernardino metro area to rank among the worst cities to live. Like other communities in the metro area, Desert Hot Springs is dangerous. There were 1,017 violent crimes in the city in for every 100,000 people in 2017 — more than at least 90% of other American cities for which data was available.

The typical household in Desert Hot Springs earns $34,251 a year, well below the national median of $57,652. Low incomes in poorer areas tend to be somewhat offset by a low cost of living, but not Desert Hot Springs. Goods and services are 3.5% more expensive there than average nationwide.

Source: 54177923@N05 / Flickr

43. Ecorse, Michigan
> Population: 9,321
> Poverty rate: 36.8% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,533 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $37,900 (bottom 10%)

Ecorse is one of three cities in the Detroit metro area to rank among the worst places to live. One of the poorest cities in the country, Ecorse’s poverty rate of 36.8% is more than double the national poverty rate of 14.6%. For area residents that have disposable income, local entertainment options are limited. Ecorse has a far smaller concentration of places like bars and restaurants than the U.S. as a whole.

Property values are typically a reflection of what area residents can afford, and in Ecorse, half of all homes are worth less than $38,000. For context, the typical American home is worth $193,500.

Source: Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons

42. Taft, California
> Population: 9,224
> Poverty rate: 24.1% (top 25%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 884 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $150,100

The typical home in California is worth $443,400. While the state has some of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, Taft is not one of them. The median home value in Taft is just $150,100 — well below the median home value nationwide of $193,500. The area’s high violent crime rate may be suppressing property values. There were 884 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Taft in 2017, more than double the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000 people.

Many who live in Taft are financially insecure. Nearly one in every four residents live in poverty, one of the higher poverty rates of any U.S. city.

Source: Phototreat / Getty Images

41. Douglas, Arizona
> Population: 16,576
> Poverty rate: 31.9% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 249
> Median home value: $88,200 (bottom 10%)

Douglas, a small city in southern Arizona along the Mexican border is the only city in the state to rank among the worst places to live. A relatively poor city, half of all area households earn less than $31,000 a year, and nearly 32% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. While Douglas has a relatively low violent crime rate, property crimes like larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft are far more common in Douglas than the U.S. as a whole.

In recent years, jobs in the city have been disappearing. Employment in Douglas declined by 37.5% between 2012 and 2017. Over the same period, the number of people living in Douglas fell by 4.4%.