Special Report

America's 50 Worst Cities to Live

Samuel Stebbins

10. Shady Hills, Florida
> Population: 12,435
> Median home value: $120,000
> Unemployment rate: 9.3%
> Poverty rate: 22.8%

Shady Hills, Florida, is a small unincorporated place about 40 miles north of downtown Tampa. As is the case in many communities on this list, access to medical care in urgent situations may be difficult for those living there, as the nearest hospital is located 9.1 miles from the town. Town residents are also more likely than most Americans to have limited access to fresh, nutritious food as 60.0% of the population live far from a grocery store, compared to 42.1% of Americans nationwide.

Every corner of the country has been affected by the opioid epidemic, but Shady Hills has been affected more than most places. From 2015 to 2017, there were an annual average of 29.7 drug poisoning deaths per year in the community for every 100,000 people, well above the 20 per 100,000 national fatal overdose rate.

Source: Courtesy of Google Maps 2011

9. La Homa, Texas
> Population: 12,054
> Median home value: $66,400
> Unemployment rate: 18.1%
> Poverty rate: 38.5%

La Homa is a small unincorporated town near the southern tip of Texas. One of the poorest towns in the United States, La Homa’s poverty rate stands at 38.5%, far more than double the U.S. poverty rate of 14.1%.

Joblessness is widespread in La Homa as 18.1% of the area’s labor force are unemployed, based on Census bureau five year estimates. A lack of available jobs may be driving people out of the area. Over the last five years, the number of people living in La Homa declined by 14.5%. As is often the case in areas with weak economic conditions and population decline, property values are low in the town. The typical area home is worth just $66,400, a fraction of the $204,900 the median home value nationwide.

Source: Photo taken by Steve Karg / Wikimedia Commons

8. Conyers, Georgia
> Population: 15,882
> Median home value: $122,200
> Unemployment rate: 10.8%
> Poverty rate: 30.5%

Conyers, Georgia, is one of the poorest cities in the United States. The majority of households earn less than $40,000 a year, and over 30% of residents live below the poverty line. The low incomes are partially attributable to a lack of available jobs, as the city has a five year unemployment rate of over 10%.

Homeownership is not only one of the most practical ways to build wealth, but it also gives residents a more deeply rooted stake community affairs and an interest in positive developments. As is the case in many cities on this list, the homeownership rate in Conyers is low, standing at just 28.8%, well below the 63.8% national rate.

Source: oscity / Getty Images

7. Golden Valley, Arizona
> Population: 8,673
> Median home value: $79,100
> Unemployment rate: 14.1%
> Poverty rate: 24.1%

Golden Valley, a small unincorporated town in Mohave County, ranks as the worst place to live in Arizona and seventh worst nationwide. The town’s ranking on this list is due in large part to a weak job market, with annual five year unemployment standing at 14.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Food insecurity is also a problem for most Golden Valley residents. More than three-quarters of residents live in low access areas, meaning they live at least a mile from the nearest grocery store in urban areas and at least 10 miles in rural areas. Another hurdle for many residents is affordability. The poverty rate in Golden Valley stands at 24.1%, well above the comparable 14.1% national poverty rate.

6. Poinciana, Florida
> Population: 67,169
> Median home value: $164,500
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%
> Poverty rate: 17.4%

Poinciana is an unincorporated town in central Florida. The area ranks poorly on this list due in part to a smaller than average concentration of community amenities. There are fewer restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and museums on a per capita basis in Poinciana and the surrounding county.

Those who are working in the area are more likely to spend more of their day getting to and from work than the typical American. The average commute time in Poinciana is about 44 minutes, well above the 27 minute national average. Over the course of a typical work week, this adds up to over an hour of additional commute time.