Recently, the census data was used to determine the most miserable cities in the country, based on factors like crime rate, median income, commute time, and more. If you want to know where not to live, take a look at the 50 most miserable cities in America below.
In 2010, Cleveland was dubbed the most miserable city in the U.S. by Forbes. Ten years later, its reputation hasn’t changed at all. Commonly known as “the mistake by the lake” about its proximity to Lake Erie, Cleveland isn’t a place anyone wants to live.
Data revealed that roughly 35% of Cleveland’s population lives in poverty, even though half of those people are employed. People simply don’t make enough to survive in this town, which explains why it’s such a miserable city.
While Cleveland sounds bad, Compton is struggling with its own problems. About 40% of the population in this city is unemployed. With such a high rate of people out of work, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 23% of the population lives in poverty.
Although some data surrounding Compton is still dismal, it has improved over the years. In 1991, the town experienced 87 murders, but that number, fortunately, dropped to just seven in 2014. Even though it’s still a dangerous place to live, the city is slowly improving with time.
Texas still supports the death penalty, and that decision has a profound impact on Huntsville. All executions in Texas are carried out at the Huntsville prison. On the positive side, the Department of Criminal Justice does provide around 7,000 jobs to the Huntsville area, making them the city’s largest employer.
Unfortunately, with such a morbid reputation, not many companies want to move to Huntsville, so the unemployment rates in this city are sky-high. On top of that, 35% of the population lives in poverty.
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton used to be the center of the industrial world. But the city that once thrived has since become somewhat of a wasteland. With the changing times, production in Trenton faced a massive decline.
The shifting landscape greatly affected the city, and it’s now plagued with a high crime rate. Gang activity is every day in the area, as are issues with gun violence. Suffice it to say, Trenton isn’t exactly a safe place to live.
Newark, New Jersey
You may have heard about Flint, Michigan, but you probably haven’t heard about Newark, New Jersey. Unfortunately, Newark is in a similar position. The city struggles with significant problems due to lead in their water, leading to many sick residents.
In addition to the tainted water, Newark also suffers from violence and riots as a result of the extreme racial tension in the city. On top of the lead poisoning and hostility, 28% of the city’s 282,000 residents live below the poverty line.
Passaic, New Jersey
Sex education is incredibly important, and Passaic is proof. The city’s youth council claims that the sex education programs in schools across the city are incredibly inadequate. In fact, many schools provide no sex education at all. The lack of information creates severe problems with teenage pregnancy in Passaic.
On top of that, roughly a third of the population lives in poverty. With little hope for a bright future, drugs and violence have become prevalent problems in Passaic.
Miami Gardens, Florida
When you hear Miami, you automatically think of sun, sand, and party vibes. Miami Gardens, however, is a little different. The water in the city is supplied by a plant owned by the City of North Miami Beach, which pushes water prices in Miami Gardens through the roof. Subsequently, the entire cost of living in the city is sky-high.
The city also implemented a stop and frisk policy that led to about 57,000 people being frisked between 2008-2014. The system creates severe tension in the city, especially from residents who are the targets of stop and frisk.
Hammond is an industrial city. But instead of a thriving economy, residents are plagued with water and air pollution. Like Newark and Flint, Hammond also struggles with lead contamination.
Twenty-two percent of Hammond’s population lives in poverty, and the number of people living in the city declines continuously. Because of the population issues, the community has decreased by 6.2% since 2010.
It’s a bit of a gamble to buy a house in Palmdale. Since 19% of the population lives in poverty, Palmdale was once known as the foreclosure capital of California. It’s hard to make your house payments when you can barely afford to buy food.
Even if you do have a steady job, your life only improves minimally in Palmdale. The average commute time is 42 minutes, much higher than any other city on this list.
Through no fault of its own, the weather in Harlingen makes this city a difficult place to live. Harlingen is known to have very little rainfall and scorching temperatures for most of the year. Of the 65,000 residents in the city, only 56% have jobs. Thirty percent of the population lives in poverty.
Harlingen was put in an even worse position in 2019 when 2,000 immigrants were released in the city. The new residents strained an already struggling population, as Harlingen tried to pull together some help for the immigrants using its limited resources.
Plainfield, New Jersey
Plainfield has been diagnosed as a violent city for decades. In 1990, 719 violent crimes were reported in Plainfield. Over the years, crime has decreased slowly, but it hasn’t disappeared altogether.
The violence in the city might be partially attributed to the dismal conditions of its residents. A fifth of the population lives in poverty, and many others try to survive without health insurance. Even if you do have a job, your average commute is roughly 31 minutes in Plainfield, making it difficult to find any enjoyment in your day.
Bell Gardens, California
Bell Gardens does have a steady source of tax revenue. Unfortunately, it all comes from one source. In 2002, half the tax revenue of the entire city was attributed to one casino. Since the city relies so heavily on one business, many of the services are dependent on how well the casino performs.
Also, Bell Gardens struggles with overpopulation. There are too many people and not enough jobs, so 30% of the city’s population lives in poverty.
Warren, Ohio, heavily relied on a GM plant in town to create jobs for local workers. When the plant closed, a large chunk of the population lost their jobs. The closure marked a severe downturn for the entire city.
Across the entire country, Warren has the second-high rate of people struggling to find food. Because of the many problems plaguing the city, the population has dropped by 7.7% since 2010.
Union City, New Jersey
Union City is only comprised of 1.28 square miles. In that tiny chunk of space, 68,500 residents try to make a living. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the entire country, and the citizens feel the effects.
In Union City, the average commute time is 33 minutes. While some residents spend a large chunk of their days on the road, 23% of the population lives in poverty. Imagine trying to make a living in a city where you barely have room to breathe. It’s no wonder that Union City is so miserable.
El Monte, California
El Monte used to be a thriving city with may auto dealerships that boosted the economy. Unfortunately, relying on those auto dealerships for an income eventually backfired. When three of the largest dealerships were closed, the city never fully recovered.
Today, El Monte still struggles with finances. About 22% of the population lives in poverty, and the people who do work have an average commute time of about 30 minutes.
Many places in Georgia have suffered the effects of natural disasters, but Albany is still struggling to recover. In recent years, the city suffered through both Hurricane Irma and a massively destructive tornado. As a city that relies on crops, the tremendous damage to farmed goods made it difficult for Albany to recover.
About a third of Albany’s population lives in poverty. While its residents struggle to make ends meet, the city also has a massive issue with crime and violence.
Camden, New Jersey
About 37% of Camden residents are living below the poverty line. This is probably because the average household income in Camden is only $26,105. While that might sound like a lot, it’s the lowest average income of every city on this list.
While residents can barely afford to survive, they also have to struggle with the high crime rate in Camden. Although crime is slowly improving, Camden is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the entire country.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Much like Warren, Pine Bluff relied heavily on manufacturing jobs. Between 2016 and 2017, however, the city lost over 3,000 jobs, significantly affecting the workers living in Pine Bluff. While that was bad enough, the city also experienced a flood when the Arkansas River overflowed in 2019.
It seems many citizens have decided that they’re done living in Pine Bluff. Since 2010, the population decreased by an incredible 14%.
Mansfield used to be considered quite a prosperous city. But when the GM factory closed its doors, the town took a took for the worst. Without the ready availability of industrial jobs, many workers were left without an income or an opportunity to earn money.
After the factory shut down in 2010, crime in the city has been steadily on the rise. Since 2012, violent crimes in Mansfield increased by 37%, indicating a population who’s not happy about their situation.
Fort Pierce, Florida
Fort Pierce may be an ocean town, but it’s not the idyllic beach city of your dreams. The city has to replenish the sand on the beaches every few years due to constant erosion. Imported sand probably didn’t enter your mind in your daydreams about living on the beach.
Of the 46,000 residents in Fort Pierce, 36% live in poverty. While the economy in Fort Pierce was once centered on citrus farming, the industry slowly collapsed due to changes in trade deals. Without a primary source of income, the city has steadily declined year after year.
There aren’t many upsides to living in Montebello. Fourteen percent of the population lives in poverty, while 19% don’t have any health insurance. If residents do have a job, they can expect an average commute of around 33 minutes.
Even if you do make a decent living in Montebello, the sky-high housing prices practically guarantee that you’ll never own a home. In 2019, a home-ownership counselor said that the opportunities for first-time homebuyers in Montebello were nearly nonexistent.
Pasadena, California, is known for its wealthy communities, but Pasadena, Texas, is an entirely different story. Pasadena is exceptionally divided. The southern part of the town consists of mostly white individuals, while the north section is comprised of Latino residents.
Despite the hostilities, Latinos kept moving into the city, drawn by its cheap housing and abundant jobs. By 2010, they made up more than 60 percent of the city's population.
Shreveport started its descent into a miserable city in 2015. At that time, the Red River overflowed and flooded the town. Since then, Shreveport has never recovered.
Between 2015 to 2016, the murder rate in Shreveport doubled. The city has also faced growing issues with other violent crime, transforming it into a rather dangerous place to live.
While Hallandale has the potential to be a beautiful beach town, the shabby businesses and lack of opportunities make it quite a miserable city.
Hallandale has so many strip clubs that the locals often refer to it as Hound-ale Beach. Beyond those businesses, however, there aren’t many opportunities for the residents. About 20% of the population lives in poverty, and more than 29% don’t have any form of health insurance.
At one time, Youngstown was one of the biggest steel producers in the United States. In fact, only two other cities produced more steel in Youngstown. In 1977, however, the industry took a hit. The steal factory started downsizing, leading to massive job losses that greatly affected the prosperity of the city.
In 2017, Youngstown was just a ghost of its former glory. It was recorded as having the worst air pollution in Ohio, which was somewhat ironic when reflecting on the considerable decline in the city’s primary industry.
North Miami Beach, Florida
The problems in North Miami Beach largely stem from the city’s corrupt leadership. Two former mayors are currently facing criminal charges for their spending decisions while in office.
Considering the state of politics in the city, 20% of residents living in poverty and 32% of residents who don’t have healthcare isn’t exactly surprising. However, it does explain why the city is just an unpleasant place to live.
Reading was massively impacted by the closure of numerous factories around the city. When these factories shut their doors, many of the residents of Reading lost their jobs. In 2011, Reading was declared the most miserable city in the country by The New York Times.
Today, 36% of Reading’s population lives in poverty. Roughly 44% of all households in the city are on food stamps. It’s hard to make a living when there aren’t many job options available, which is the unfortunate case in Reading.
Danville is yet another town affected by the closure of local factories. This time, the tobacco and textile mills in Danville shut their doors, making it difficult for the once-wealthy residents to earn a living.
It seems people aren’t willing to stick around Danville as it continues to decline. In the past eight years, the city’s population has fallen by 5.5%. Although they’re trying to set up solar farms and open new businesses in the abandoned mills, it’s yet to be determined if Danville can make a comeback.
In Hemet, 23% of the population lives in poverty. The crime rate has also increased dramatically since 2010. In 2016 alone, 170 robbers were reported, 623 cars were stolen, and 398 aggravated assaults took place. Those numbers represent the highest in the century for Hemet.
Despite those issues, the population of Hemet has increased in the past ten years. People either don’t realize how violent the city is, or they simply don’t care.
Brownsville is right on the border of the United States and Mexico, which makes it a hot spot for illegal immigration. Since it’s a public place for crossings, it’s also one of the most patrolled cities in the country.
The issues with immigration and constant patrols make it difficult for any residents to sell property in Brownsville. Thirty-one percent of the population currently lives in poverty, and many are unable to move to a new city since they can’t sell their current home.
Lynwood was once called, “The best place to live best.” Unfortunately, you’d never guess that title today. When Interstate 105 was built right through Lynwood, the town took a turn for the worst.
Not liking the change to the landscape, many Lynwood residents left their homes and moved away. Plus, the actual building of the freeway demolished many homes and businesses. After such a drastic change to the infrastructure of the town, Lynwood never really recovered.
West New York, New Jersey
West New York isn’t exactly a convenient place to live. The average commute in this city is 37 minutes, which means most residents spend a large chunk of their days on the road.
In addition to this, the city is plagued by issues with trash and parking. The streets themselves are dirty and difficult to navigate. On top of that, 22% of the population lives in poverty.
Again, the closure of GM factories has a severe impact on Saginaw. The factories used to employ 25,000 people, but all of them lost their jobs when the factory shut down. Since 2010, the population in Saginaw has decreased by 6%.
In addition to this, Saginaw is plagued with gun violence. Thirty shootings were reported in 2018, lending even more reason for residents to escape this town.
In Jackson, almost 29% of the population lives in poverty. Unfortunately, the city cares very little about the struggle of its residents. Despite the high poverty rate, the city threatened to cut water for 20,000 people who hadn’t paid their bills. The struggling residents hadn’t paid roughly $45 million worth of bills.
Because of the poor living conditions and treatment of citizens, many residents want to get out of Jackson. The city’s population has decreased by 5% since 2010.
At one point, Anderson was home to 24 active GM factories. Unsurprisingly, these factories employed a large chunk of Anderson’s population. But the factories eventually shut down, and 23,000 people lost their jobs. Since then, the town has been on a steady decline.
Rather than living in poverty, most people have chosen to abandon Anderson altogether. In 2015, the city used $2.8 million to tear down 100 abandoned homes.
Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
In Macon-Bibb County, only 56% of the population is working. With so many people unemployed, 26% are also living in poverty. In the past eight years, 2% of the population has left the city.
Macon-Bibb County is home to 3,700 unoccupied buildings, which contributes to the overall run-down look of the town. Although it’s visually unappealing, the city doesn’t have a way to fill the abandoned properties.
California may conjure up images of sunny beaches and sandy getaways, but that isn’t the reality in Lancaster. Well, that’s not true—you will find plenty of sand in this desert town.
Only 51% of Lancaster’s population is employed, while 23% live in poverty. As a town with nothing to do, the city struggles with addiction and a robust racist community. While politicians are trying to bring the city back to life, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for Lancaster.
San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino earns one claim to fame as the home of the first McDonald’s restaurant. It’s also the home of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. Unfortunately, 30% of the 216,000 people who live in Lancaster live below the poverty line.
San Bernardino is struggling through a recession that has severely impacted the jobs available to residents. Despite its notable achievements - it’s not the right place to live today.
Cicero has had significant issues with gangs for decades. In fact, the city’s reputation as a hub of gang violence dates all the way back to the 1920s when it was considered Al Capone’s “private playground.”
In 1999, the city finally decided to make a real stand against gang violence. They put an order in place that forces gang members to leave within 60 days or face a $500 fine for each day they stay in the city. Unfortunately, the order hasn’t done much to improve the violence in Cicero.
Port Arthur, Texas
Port Arthur is suffering in large part due to the frequent natural disasters that plague the city. Since 2005, Port Arthur has suffered through three major hurricanes. The latest tragedy, Hurricane Harvey, hit in 2017 and caused $1.3 billion in damages.
Because of the dismal state of the town, people continue to move away. Now, town officials are nervous that their population will fall too low to receive federal grants, which will make Port Arthur’s position even worse.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis severely struggles with crime, which has negatively impacted the city as a whole. In 2015, there was a 33% increase in murders, totaling 159 deaths. Because of the violence in the city, 5% of the population left between 2010 and 2018.
Right now, the city is primarily focused on fixing crime in St. Louis. If they can get gun violence under control, the city might have a chance to become a beautiful place to live.
Huntington, West Virginia
In the 1990s, Huntington was a coal town with a thriving economy. However, the city is a significant contributor to the country’s opioid crisis. In fact, it has been called the overdose capital of America.
In 2008, Huntington was called the most unhealthy city in America. It seems like people recognize Huntington isn’t a great place to live, as the city has lost 6% of its population since 2010.
North Miami, Florida
North Miami is another beach town, but it doesn’t feel the positive effects of being so close to the water. The city continually floods due to the high tides from the ocean.
However, North Miami is facing an even bigger problem in the coming years. As sea levels rise, the city has predicted that the 2,780 septic tanks will stop working. That means human waste won’t be disposed of properly, allowing it to end up in places it shouldn’t be.
Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson is another city that is an innocent victim of natural disasters. When Hurricane Irene hit the town in 2011, the nearby Great Falls flooded the town. The falls were used to power nearby factories, but the flooded water interrupted both production and resident’s daily life.
After the flooding, people didn’t want to stick around to see what happened next in Paterson. After the flood, officials counted about 1,250 abandoned homes. The hurricane also affected the city’s income. Between 2009 and 2016, the tax revenue in Paterson fell by 38%.
Huntington Park, California
Huntington Park boasts a 97% Latino population, in large part because the town is another popular entry point for immigrants. The high number of illegal immigrants affects the town’s poverty rate and political engagement. Most residents can’t vote in the election due to their immigration status, so voter turnout is meager.
Besides, the high poverty rate makes it difficult to purchase or sell property in Huntington, which makes the entire city rather miserable.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
In New Brunswick, only 54% of the city’s 56,000 residents are employed. Although the town is small, 34% of the population also lives in poverty.
Beyond those dismal statistics, New Brunswich also struggles with crime. In 2017, reported assaults with guns rose by 64%. The violent nature of this town makes it a difficult place to live.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Flint is on this list. After all, most people are aware of the Flint water crises. Beyond the contaminated water, however, Flint also has a 41% poverty rate. It’s one of the poorest cities on this list.
As is dirty water wasn’t bad enough, Flint also struggles with a severe opioid crisis, 20,000 abandoned buildings, and a high rate of violence. Suffice it to say, living in Flint is somewhat of a nightmare for many reasons.
Gary, Indiana, is a town that’s falling apart. At one time, it was the murder and drug capital of the US. Unfortunately, the population has declined so drastically that there are hardly enough people to do anything terrible, much less anything good.
There are few jobs available in Gary and even fewer residents. There’s isn’t much to this town, which is why it’s just a miserable place to live.
Hialeah is considered one of the least diverse cities in the country. It’s comprised primarily of a Hispanic population, and the residents are struggling. Of 239,000 people living in Hialeah, 26% live in poverty, and 31% don’t have health insurance. This is probably since only 56% of the population is working.
While the residents struggle, Hialeah is also considered one of the worst cities to live if you have an active lifestyle. It’s hard to think about taking hikes or going on runs if you can barely put food on the table.
There was a time when Memphis used to be one of the nicest cities in the country. Over the years, things took a turn for the worst and city-wide drug addiction took hold of the once beautiful southern city. With a current poverty rate of about 27 percent, things aren't looking too good.
The soaring crime rate has also made generally day to day life more stressful and impacted on the general aesthetic. It still is the home of the blues.
Out of the entire 37,060 acres land that makes up the city land of Irving, Texas, only a measly 1,920 acres are parks. That is a depressing number. The city doesn't even have a single recreational center. This can make a city pretty grim.
It sounds like this city is in desperate need of a Leslie Knope type hero. Looking to shoot hoops? Move to another city.
What makes this city so miserable is the shocking crime rate. According to Business Insider, the city was rocked with 52 violent crimes per 10, 000 residents. It's also one of the few cities in which the crime rate is rising and not dropping, particularly in the last five years.
The poverty rate in 2017 was 29.5-percent and the unemployment rate hit about 6.3-percent. A big reason behind this depressing number is mental illness and domestic violence, according to Police Chief Mike Yankowski.
San Jose, California
With an overbearing amount of air pollution, San Jose's appeal is not very high and turns away a lot of people.
Living in a smoggy city can make a place pretty miserable. It is still a highly populated city responsible for innovation.
Stockton did not completely recover from the nation's economic decline from a few years ago. Add a rising crime rate to the mix, the city is becoming an increasingly difficult place to live in.
There is also a huge narcotic problem that is gripping the city, which is inevitable considering the unemployment rate. In 2012 the city claimed bankruptcy.
Known as a mini Las Vegas, Reno has its charm. At least at some point. The city has been tanking in recent years, having suffered from many failed businesses. Filled with vandalized abandoned buildings, Reno is now in disarray.
The crime rate is rising like crazy and most of the city is poverty-stricken. It's definitely not the most desirable city these days.
Detroit has long been labeled as one of the ugliest cities in the United States. Businesses that once thrived are now neglected. Derelict buildings fill the city and crime rates are too high.
In 2017 the city’s unemployment reached a staggering rate of 9.3 percent .rate resulting in a poverty rate 39 percent.
Generally, when one thinks of Colorado, the Rocky Mountains and beautiful ski resorts come to mind. Not for Pueblo. For this tiny city, (the tiniest one on the list) things have not been easy. Regarding the violent crime rate, there have been 1, 052 violent incidents per 100,000 people.
That's pretty bad considering the population is about 100,000 people. It ranks number eight on the list of cities with the worst crime rate.
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven might be home to Yale, but it doesn't make the city any better, unfortunately. The crime rate is high, especially when it comes to homicides, and while the immediate surroundings of the Ivy League institution are great, the rest of the city takes a dip.
This makes it a rather miserable city to live in. Unless you're living on campus.
Quality of life in Riverside is not that great. This has a lot to do with the terrible air pollution and the accumulation of unsightly trash that fills certain areas. That can make for a miserable living experience.
Residents are not happy with their city, but sadly, not much action is being taken.
Another city filled with an industrial mess, Milwaukee is not pretty. Additionally, the crime rate is pretty high. While some areas remain safer than others, some more dangerous spots of the city are responsible for a crime rate of 1,597 per 100,000 people.
The city is not helped by a poverty rate of 28.4-percent and an unemployment rate of 4.6-percent. On the upside, the police force may be slowly beating crime.
Bridgeport is not the most aesthetically pleasing city in the country. As a large target for crime, it's not the most desirable city to live in. In fact, many people are seeking to leave the city as fast as possible.
Hopefully, the city will be going through some changes in the near future but for now, it's one of the country's most miserable cities.
Travel and Leisure once rated the Maryland city the fourth ugliest city in the country. And they were referring to the people! That is pretty harsh but could be an explanation as to why this is one of the nation's most miserable cities.
You know what they say, beauty is skin deep. Perhaps if residents for Baltimore felt better, then they would look better. Of course, a major reason behind this could be the awful crime rate which stands at 51 per 100,000.
As the largest city in the state of Kansas, Witchita is home to a lot of economic activity and is even known as being a major aeronautical hub. That said, the city's crime rates have shot up drastically in the last years.
The city is to be a part of the U.S. Department of Justice National Safety Partnership, a national program that strives to push down crime. The three-year program gives training and technical assistance to the Wichita Police Department at no additional cost.
It doesn’t seem as if any place in Cali could be less than gorgeous, but Fresno gets the prize for being the dirtiest city in the country. That’s pretty impressive when you consider just how many people and how many things are in the country that might seem dirtier.
But the truth is that this city has nothing going for it in terms of air quality, and that’s why it wins the role as dirtiest city around.
Bakersfield is filled with power plants and pollution so it's not exactly a paradise to live in. Bakersfield residents have also voted their home as the city with the country's worst food.
It seems that this city has been regressing over some time now.
Nashville's lesser-known city, Chattanooga is another dangerous city in the famous state. The city lands number 23rd in most dangerous cities in the country with 1,065 per 100,000 residents. A lot of the crime is due to terrible gang activity.
While gang violence has slightly declined, general violence in the city has risen.
The Jacksonville real;y sufferers in its lack of parklike. An extremely low percentage of the city’s 869,421 inhabitants reside within a 10-minute walk from a park. Out of a total 467,298 acres, only 64,603 acres are parks.
The city spend as little as $33 on parks.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock not only has the highest crime rate in the state but in the country too. According to Business Insider. Little Rock had 87.4 violent crimes per 10,000 last year.
The current poverty rate sits at 18.5-percent, while the an employment rate is at 3.3-percent, according to USA Today.
Officially the first Springfield in America, this city is making history yet again, this time as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. According to Business Insider (taken from 2017 FBI data), Springfield had 40.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Road Snacks listed it as the single most dangerous city in terms of property offenses with 8,853 per 100,000 people. The poverty rate stands 25.9-percent and an unemployment rate of 3.2-percent.