Special Report

The Worst City to Live in Every State

Kansas: Coffeyville
> Population: 9,457
> Median home value: $55,800 (state: $151,900)
> Poverty rate: 29.3% (state: 12.0%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.0% (state: 4.0%)

Coffeyville is a small city of less than 10,000 people in southeastern Kansas. The city ranks as the worst place to live in the state largely because of the share of residents struggling financially. The typical area household earns just $33,750 a year, less than every other city and town with sufficient data in the state. Additionally, nearly 30% of area residents live below the poverty line, more than double the 12.0% state poverty rate. Partially as a result, Coffeyville is the only city in the state where more than 20% of households receive SNAP benefits to afford basic necessities.

Home values can be indicative of an area’s desirability as a place to live. In Coffeyville, the typical home is worth just $55,800. The median home value in Kansas is $151,900, and the typical home U.S. home is worth $217,500.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

Kentucky: Mayfield
> Population: 9,867
> Median home value: $100,200 (state: $141,000)
> Poverty rate: 34.7% (state: 17.3%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.6% (state: 5.5%)

Mayfield, a small city of less than 10,000 located in southwestern Kentucky, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. The average unemployment rate in the city of 11.6% over the last five years makes Mayfield one of only two cities or towns with sufficient data in the state where more than one in every 10 members of the labor force have been out of work.

Limited job availability is contributing to financial hardship and may also be pushing people out of Mayfield. An estimated 34.7% of the local population live below the poverty line, double the state poverty rate. Additionally, over the last half decade, the number of people living in Mayfield has fallen by 2.2%.

Louisiana: Opelousas
> Population: 16,234
> Median home value: $98,100 (state: $163,100)
> Poverty rate: 43.3% (state: 19.2%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.8% (state: 6.4%)

Socioeconomic conditions in the city of Opelousas, Louisiana, make it the worst place to live in the state. One of the most dangerous places in the country, Opelousas’s violent crime rate of 2,455 incidents per 100,000 people is more than six times higher than the 367 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

High crime can discourage economic development, and Opelousas has a far lower than average per capita concentration of businesses like restaurants, bars, and gyms. Additionally, the five-year average unemployment rate of 8.8% in the area is far higher than the 6.4% comparable rate across all of Louisiana.

Maine: Sanford
> Population: 21,073
> Median home value: $183,800 (state: $190,400)
> Poverty rate: 13.9% (state: 11.8%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.4% (state: 4.1%)

Sanford is a small city of about 21,000 residents in southwestern Maine. Due to a number of key socioeconomic indicators, it ranks as the worst place to live in the state. Parts of New England have been hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic, and in York County, where Sanford is located, there are 39.2 accidental drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people annually, well above the comparable 22.5 per 100,000 nationwide. Substance misuse issues tend to be more common in areas with limited economic opportunity, and Sanford residents are more likely to be unemployed and living below the poverty line than the typical Maine resident.

Limited access to emergency medical care further reduces quality of life in Sanford. The nearest hospital is nearly 14 miles away from the city. None of the other cities and towns in Maine with sufficient data are more than 7 miles from a hospital.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Maryland: Baltimore
> Population: 609,032
> Median home value: $160,100 (state: $314,800)
> Poverty rate: 21.2% (state: 9.2%)
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.3% (state: 5.0%)

Due in large part to several social and public health challenges, Baltimore ranks as the worst city to live in Maryland. For one, Baltimore is one of the most dangerous large cities in the United States. There were 1,859 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Baltimore in 2019, five times the national violent crime rate of 367 per 100,000 that year.

Drugs are also taking a serious toll in Baltimore. Across the county, there are 103.5 accidental drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people annually, more than four times the national drug fatality rate of 22.5 per 100,000. Unhealthy substance use is often more common in areas with limited economic opportunity, and in Baltimore, 21.2% of the population live below the poverty line, more than double Maryland’s 9.2% poverty rate.