- If you’re thinking about moving to a new city, then you should consider several factors to determine if you’ll be happy there.
- In addition to economic indicators like the poverty rate and median household income, consider things like the crime rate.
- To help get you started, we’ve done the legwork and found 10 cities from all over the country that offer a low quality of life.
Where you live can significantly impact your quality of life. Some places struggle with high crime and poverty rates. Others deal with long commutes and expensive prices. That’s why you should read up before moving to a new city.
While quality of life is subjective, there are several measurable factors that influence whether a city has a high or low quality of life. For example, there’s the poverty rate, median household income, median property value, and crime rate — to list just a few factors.
We used data compiled by Data USA and AreaVibes to research those stats and select cities where it’s harder to attain a high quality of life. Here are 10 cities to avoid if you want a higher chance of leading a happy and comfortable life.
Poverty Rate: 32.7%
Median Household Income: $32,053
Median Property Value: $71,100
Crime Rate: 165% higher than the state average
Cleveland’s struggles include widespread poverty. For instance, its poverty rate is more than double the statewide poverty rate of 14%. And it’s almost triple the national poverty rate of 11.4%, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Considering the city’s high poverty rate, it isn’t a surprise that its median household income is nearly half the statewide figure of $58,642. And given its staggering crime rate, the city is more dangerous than many parts of the state.
St. Louis, MO
Poverty Rate: 21.8%
Median Household Income: $47,176
Median Property Value: $150,700
Crime Rate: 155% higher than the state average
According to MoneyGeek, St. Louis is the most dangerous city in the United States. Its crime rate is 155% higher than the statewide average. And NeighborhoodScout says a St. Louisan’s chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 50.
By comparison, the typical Missourian’s chances are 1 in 184. St. Louis is also relatively economically disadvantaged, which isn’t uncommon for a city with a high crime rate. Its poverty rate is almost exactly double the national average.
Poverty Rate: 35%
Median Household Income: $33,965
Median Property Value: $58,900
Crime Rate: 193% higher than the state average
When you think about urban decline, there’s a decent chance that Detroit springs to mind. What was once a bustling hub of American manufacturing has dwindled over the years. According to USA Today, it had 1.8 million residents in the ’50s.
But flash-forward to today, and that number is down to 670,052. The Detroit of today has notably high poverty and crime rates. For instance, Detroiters have a 1 in 44 chance of being a victim of violent crime, according to NeighborhoodScout.
Poverty Rate: 21.2%
Median Household Income: $50,177
Median Property Value: $179,100
Crime Rate: 207% higher than the state average
Much like Detroit, Baltimore is another city with a reputation as dangerous. Unfortunately, the numbers bear that out. Its crime rate is 207% higher than the Maryland average. Beyond crime, residents also deal with long, expensive commutes.
According to WMAR 2 News, the city has the eighth longest commute in the country. And the Baltimore Business Journal says Baltimore drivers spend an average of $9,206 annually to commute. That cuts into free time and the quality of life.
Poverty Rate: 16.9%
Median Household Income: $55,567
Median Property Value: $211,800
Crime Rate: 76% higher than the state average
On the one hand, USA Today says the area surrounding Alburquerque has experienced rapid development, thanks to “cheap land and low taxes.” However, that hasn’t translated into booming population growth.
The source says the city’s population growth is “less than one-third the national population growth rate.” Crime might have something to do with that. According to NeighborhoodScout, residents have a 1 in 75 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime.
Little Rock, AR
Poverty Rate: 16.6%
Median Household Income: $51,485
Median Property Value: $167,600
Crime Rate: 104% higher than the state average
Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is another city with unfortunate economic conditions. Its poverty rate is about the same as the statewide poverty rate of 17%, but that only means that the state as a whole struggles financially.
In addition to Little Rock’s hard economic reality, the city’s crime rate also compromises the quality of life. As a matter of fact, the crime rate is 104% higher than the Arkansas average. So, it’s more dangerous than the rest of the state.
Poverty Rate: 11.6%
Median Household Income: $79,492
Median Property Value: $291,600
Crime Rate: 141% higher than the state average
According to USA Today, goods and services are about 18% pricier than the national average in Trenton. That means money doesn’t go as far in the capital of New Jersey, which is bad for the bottom line of all residents and especially those struggling.
And like many cities dealing with tough economic realities, crime is also an issue. For instance, NeighborhoodScout says Trenton residents have a 1 in 52 chance of becoming a victim of property crime.
Poverty Rate: 25.1%
Median Household Income: $43,794
Median Property Value: $115,900
Crime Rate: 150% higher than the state average
Beale Street’s blues nightclubs might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Memphis, but the city’s reality is less romantic. Both high poverty and crime rates take away from the quality of life for its residents.
Compared to the national poverty rate of 11.4%, the poverty rate is 25.1% in Memphis. That’s even 10% higher than the statewide average. Additionally, the city’s crime rate is 150% higher than the Tennesse average.
Poverty Rate: 28.1%
Median Household Income: $36,278
Median Property Value: $165,300
Crime Rate: 135% higher than the state average
Hartford also contends with poor economic conditions. While the statewide poverty rate is just under 10%, Hartford’s approaches 30%. Similarly, Hartford’s median household income is less than half the statewide median household income of $78,833.
Perhaps that at least partly explains why the population of Hartford is shrinking. According to USA Today, the population shrank 1.3% between 2013 and 2018. During that same time, the national population grew by 3.7%.
Poverty Rate: 30.6%
Median Household Income: $31,936
Median Property Value: $66,100
Crime Rate: 92% higher than the state average
Those familiar with The Music Man might hear the lyrics “my home sweet home” in the voice of little Ron Howard when Gary, Indiana is mentioned. However, the city’s financial situation is less picturesque.
The poverty rate in Gary is more than double the statewide rate of 13.4%. And USA Today says the city’s “low incomes are reflected in the area’s depressed real estate values.” For instance, its median property value is about $90,000 less than the statewide value of $156,000.