Massachusetts: New Bedford
> Population: 95,125
> Median home value: $211,500 (state: $352,600)
> Poverty rate: 23.1% (state: 11.1%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 666 (state: 358)
The typical household in New Bedford earns just $40,626 annually, well below the national median household median of $57,652. At the same time, the typical New Bedford home is worth $211,500, more than the national median home value of $193,500. Not only is housing less affordable in New Bedford, but so is the overall cost of living. Average prices of goods and services are nearly 19% higher in the city than they are nationwide. The high cost of living puts added financial pressure on residents, particularly the 23.1% of the population who lives below the poverty line. Across Massachusetts, just 11.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Michigan: Highland Park
> Population: 10,955
> Median home value: $33,500 (state: $136,400)
> Poverty rate: 49.0% (state: 15.6%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,701 (state: 450)
Highland Park is a small city less than 10 miles from downtown Detroit. Like its larger neighbor, Highland Park has suffered for decades from the decline of the region’s auto manufacturing industry. Nearly half of the city’s residents live below the poverty line. The area’s low incomes are reflected in the depressed real estate values. The typical home in Highland Park is worth just $33,500, over $100,000 less than the typical Michigan home.
Crime is also a problem in Highland Park. There were 1,701 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the city in 2017, more than in over 90% of all American cities.
Minnesota: St. Paul
> Population: 300,820
> Median home value: $187,400 (state: $199,700)
> Poverty rate: 20.4% (state: 10.5%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 651 (state: 238)
Crime, especially violent crime like robbery and homicide, can greatly detract from quality of life in any city. In St. Paul, there were 651 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, more than double the violent crime rate of 238 incidents per 100,000 people across Minnesota as a whole.
Crime is often concentrated in poor areas, and in St. Paul 20.4% of the population lives below the poverty line, nearly double the 10.5% state poverty rate.
Mississippi: Yazoo City
> Population: 11,189
> Median home value: $72,700 (state: $109,300)
> Poverty rate: 49.0% (state: 21.5%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: N/A (state: 286)
With a poverty rate of 21.5%, Mississippi is the poorest state in the country. Still, the statewide poverty rate is preferable to the poverty rate of 49.0% in Yazoo City, the worst city to live in in the state. The widespread financial hardship is likely partially attributable to the area’s high joblessness. The unemployment rate in Yazoo City stands at 11.8%, more than double the 5.0% state unemployment rate.
Like many cities with similarly bleak economic conditions, Yazoo City is shrinking. The city’s population declined by 2.9% over the last five years.
Missouri: St. Louis
> Population: 314,867
> Median home value: $123,800 (state: $145,400)
> Poverty rate: 25.0% (state: 14.6%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 2,082 (state: 530)
St. Louis is the most dangerous city in Missouri and one of the most dangerous in the United States. There were 2,082 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in St. Louis in 2017, compared to 530 per 100,000 across Missouri and 383 per 100,000 nationwide. Low incomes also detract from quality of life in St. Louis. The typical household in the city earns just $38,664 a year, well below the median household income of $51,542 across the state as a whole.
Most large American cities have grown in recent years. But St. Louis, the worst city to live in in Missouri, is not one of them. Of all the 64 U.S. cities home to 300,000 people or more, only five — including St. Louis — are smaller now than they were five years ago. Since 2012, St. Louis’s population declined by 1.1%, even as the U.S. population grew by 3.8% over the same period.