Special Report

America's 50 Worst Cities to Live

5. Irondale, Georgia
> Population: 8,578
> Median home value: $93,300
> Unemployment rate: 8.1%
> Poverty rate: 26.8%

In Irondale, Georgia and across the broader county, there were 498.1 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2018. Meanwhile, the national violent crime rate that year was 380.6 incidents per 100,000 people.

High crime rates can make any area a less desirable place to live and have a negative effect on real estate values. In Irondale, the typical home is worth just $93,300, less than half the national median home value of $204,900.

Source: Courtesy of Google Maps 2019

4. Beecher, Michigan
> Population: 9,128
> Median home value: $28,600
> Unemployment rate: 23.1%
> Poverty rate: 38.4%

Beecher is a small unincorporated community in Michigan’s Rust Belt, located less than 10 miles north of Flint. As is the case in most areas that have suffered from industrial decline in recent decades, joblessness is widespread in Beecher. The area’s five year unemployment rate of 23.1% is nearly quadruple the comparable 5.9% national rate.

With a lack of available jobs, many in Beecher are struggling financially. The area’s poverty rate of 38.4% is far more than double the 14.1% national rate, and the majority of households in Beecher live on an income of less than $27,000 a year.

Source: Larry Felton Johnson, Cobb County Courier / Wikimedia Commons

3. Fair Oaks, Georgia
> Population: 9,173
> Median home value: $100,900
> Unemployment rate: 8.1%
> Poverty rate: 32.6%

Access to fresh, nutritious food is relatively limited in Fair Oaks. Over 80% of area residents live far from a grocery store — defined as 1 mile in an urban area and 10 miles in a rural area — nearly double the 42.1% share of Americans who live in low access areas. For many in Fair Oaks, food insecurity is worsened by poverty. The poverty rate of 32.6% is more than double the comparable 14.1% national rate. A high cost of living increases the financial strain on low-income residents, as goods and services in the county are about 4% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average.

As is often the case in the communities on this list, people are leaving Fair Oaks faster than they are coming in. In the last five years, the local population fell by 1.1%.

2. Donaldsonville, Louisiana
> Population: 8,090
> Median home value: $110,800
> Unemployment rate: 14.3%
> Poverty rate: 39.4%

Donaldsonville ranks as the worst city to live in in Louisiana and the second worst in the United States. A poor city, Donaldsonville’s median annual household income is just $22,716. Additionally, a staggering 39.4% of city residents live below the poverty line. The area’s low incomes are likely attributable in part to a weak job market. Over the last five years, overall employment in the city declined by 4.9%. The city’s 14.3% five year unemployment rate is well more than double the comparable U.S. unemployment rate.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1. Yazoo City, Mississippi
> Population: 11,076
> Median home value: $68,300
> Unemployment rate: 20.7%
> Poverty rate: 42.6%

Yazoo City, Mississippi, located in the state’s delta region, ranks as the worst place to live in the country largely due to economic conditions. One of the poorest places in the country, Yazoo City has a 42.6% poverty rate. Additionally, more than one in every five area households live on an income of less than $10,000 a year. The large share of poor residents is partially the result of a lack of jobs. According to the Census, unemployment in Yazoo City stands at 20.7%, well more than triple the comparable 5.9% national rate.

City residents are also less likely than the majority of Americans to have easy access to grocery stores or places like parks and recreation centers. Like many other cities and towns on this list, people are leaving Yazoo City faster than they are coming in. In the last five years, the city’s population fell by 3.5%.