Special Report

The Worst City to Live in Every State

Virginia: Petersburg
> Population: 31,362
> Median home value: $108,100 (state: $273,100)
> Poverty rate: 24.1% (state: 10.6%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.7% (state: 4.5%)

Petersburg, a city of about 31,000 in southeastern Virginia, is the worst place to live in the state. Petersburg residents are more than twice as likely as the typical Virginian to be unemployed and live below the poverty line. Dangerous substance misuse is often more common in economically disadvantaged areas, and in Petersburg, there are 45.9 accidental drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people annually, well above the 22.5 per 100,000 national average.

Due in part to a near-nation leading murder rate — 12 times higher than the national average — Petersburg is also a relatively dangerous city. There were 748 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the city in 2019, more than double the 367 per 100,000 national rate that year.

Washington: Tukwila
> Population: 20,196
> Median home value: $315,000 (state: $339,000)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (state: 10.8%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 7.6% (state: 4.9%)

Tukwila, Washington, ranks as the worst place to live in the state, largely because of how unaffordable it is for so many of its residents. The typical home in the city is worth $315,000, 5.4 times higher than the local median household income of $58,097. Nationwide, the typical home is worth 3.5 times more than the median income. Likely partially as a result, the local homeownership rate is just 36.6%, well below the 64.0% national rate.

Tukwila is also a relatively dangerous place. There were 773 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the city in 2019, more than double the 367 per 100,000 national rate that year.

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West Virginia: Huntington
> Population: 46,667
> Median home value: $98,200 (state: $119,600)
> Poverty rate: 32.3% (state: 17.6%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.8% (state: 6.5%)

Huntington, located in western West Virginia along the Ohio border, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. Huntington is the seat of Cabell County, which is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic nationwide. There are 155.4 accidental drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people in Cabell County annually, the most of any U.S. county and nearly seven times the 22.5 per 100,000 national drug fatality rate.

Like many parts of the country struggling with substance misuse, many in Huntington are struggling financially. Nearly one out of every three of the city’s 46,700 residents live below the poverty line, and 22.1% of households rely on government assistance in the form of SNAP benefits to afford basic necessities.

Source: LawrenceSawyer / Getty Images

Wisconsin: Beloit
> Population: 36,836
> Median home value: $89,900 (state: $180,600)
> Poverty rate: 23.1% (state: 11.3%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.8% (state: 3.6%)

Beloit is a city of about 37,000 in southern Wisconsin along the Illinois border and ranks as the worst place to live in the state. Beloit residents are more than twice as likely as the typical Wisconsin resident to be unemployed and live below the poverty line.

Beloit residents also have relatively limited access to key amenities. For example, nearly 30% of area residents have limited access to fresh, healthy food — meaning those living in urban areas are over a mile away from a grocery store, and those in rural areas are over 10 miles away.

Wyoming: Rawlins
> Population: 8,820
> Median home value: $171,700 (state: $220,500)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (state: 11.0%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 5.3% (state: 4.4%)

Of the dozen cities and towns in Wyoming with sufficient data, Rawlongs ranks as the worst place to live. The city, located in the south-central part of the state, has reported a 4.1% population decline over the last five years. The city is also shedding jobs as total employment in the area fell by 12.5% over the same period.

Rawlins residents also have relatively limited access to key amenities. For example, over half of area residents have limited access to fresh, healthy food — meaning those living in urban areas are over a mile away from a grocery store, and those in rural areas are over 10 miles away.