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Miserable American Cities: The Places You Shouldn't Move to, Ranked

If you’re in the market for a new place to live, you might want to take a little scroll through this list. According to data from the US. census, the following cities are the most miserable places to live in the country, and that’s based on factors like crime rates, commute times, and median household income. Keep reading in order to avoid moving to the most miserable American cities! You’ll thank us later.

<span>50. </span>Plainfield, New Jersey

Starting off our list of the most miserable cities in America is Plainfield, New Jersey with a population of around 50,000. Although 70% of people who live there work, one-fifth live in poverty and one-third do not have health insurance. Although the rates of violent crime have improved drastically over the years, it’s still a fairly dangerous city.

<span>49. </span>West New York, New Jersey

Let’s just get this out of the way: Why did they name a city in New Jersey “West New York”? All jokes aside, West New York makes our list because of its high poverty rate and general lack of cleanliness. Not to mention, the median commute time for the people of West New York is 37 minutes – about 10 minutes longer than the average commute of Americans as a whole.

<span>48. </span>Miami Gardens, Florida

This wouldn’t be a complete list of the most miserable cities in America without a mention of Florida, now would it? Miami Gardens was deemed the “stop and frisk capital of America” in 2014. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the cost of water is also higher than normal with a 25% surcharge.

<span>47. </span>Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland’s unfortunate nickname is “Mistake by the Lake,” and it isn’t too hard to see why: Thirty-five percent of the population lives in poverty, and half of those living in poverty are working, nonetheless. It’s also particularly bad for gun violence.

<span>46. </span>Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown used to be the third-biggest steel producer in America but it began downsizing in 1977, and since then it’s steadily gone downhill. The city lost 3% of its population between 2010 and 2018, probably at least in part because of its high poverty rate and horrid air pollution.

<span>45. </span>North Miami Beach, Florida

North Miami Beach has a big problem with flooding, even when it doesn’t rain. Rising sea levels could soon lead to septic tanks not working properly, which would result in wastewater in people’s backyards. Gross, to say the least.

<span>44. </span>Huntington, West Virginia

West Virginia already isn’t known as the most wonderful state in the country, but apparently Huntington is particularly bad. It’s been dubbed the unhealthiest city in America. Add on a horrific opioid crisis and you’ve got yourself an explanation as to why it lost more than 6% of its population between 2010 and 2018

<span>43. </span>Charleston, West Virginia

While the median income for the residents of Charleston, West Virginia isn’t too bad at $47,000 per year, people are still quite displeased with their work environments. Additionally, the city has the second-highest rate of depression in the country – 27% said they had been diagnosed by a medical professional. Charleston also ranks poorly for physical health, with a large number of its residents suffering from both diabetes and high blood pressure.

<span>42. </span>Hammond, Indiana

Hammond is yet another city whose population has decreased by more than 6% from 2010 to 2018. It was once a leading industrial town, but that eventually led to air and water pollution, and lead contamination.

<span>41. </span>El Monte, California

El Monte once had a thriving automobile industry, but since some of the auto dealerships have been forced to close, more and more people are unemployed and living in poverty – 22% to be exact. The town also has a longer-than-average commute time of 30 minutes.

<span>40. </span>Lynwood, California

Interestingly, once upon a time Lynwood’s motto was “the best place to live best,” but 1,000 homes and businesses were demolished when Interstate 105 was constructed right through the middle of the city, causing many people to leave.

<span>39. </span>Huntsville, Texas

All of Texas’ executions are performed at the Huntsville penitentiary (pictured), making the Department of Criminal Justice the city’s largest employer. That alone would probably be enough to steer most clear from living in Huntsville, but to make matters worse, the unemployment rate is still very high, and 35% of residents live in poverty.

<span>38. </span>Paterson, New Jersey

The city of Paterson has had some pretty bad luck over the years. While it was once a booming silk town in the 1800s, it has steadily gone downhill since. In 2011 the city flooded after Hurricane Irene, and at one point 1,250 homes had been abandoned. Out of Paterson’s 145,000 residents, 57% are working, while nearly 30% live in poverty.

<span>37. </span>Albany, Georgia

Joblessness is a huge problem for the people of Albany, as the unemployment rate is more than double the national average, so it makes sense that the city makes the top 10% of worst poverty rates in America. The rate of violent crimes is also in the top 10.

<span>36. </span>Trenton, New Jersey

If you thought we were done with New Jersey towns, you’d be wrong. While Trenton was once an industrial town, today it has quite an issue with gangs, gun violence, and a high poverty rate of 27%.

<span>35. </span>Cicero, Illinois

Cicero was once known as Al Capone’s “private playground” in the 1920s, and the city still holds some of that reputation as it still deals with a fair amount of gang-related crime. On top of that, the average commute time is long and the poverty rate is high.

<span>34. </span>Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

Apart from having a particularly bad economy, Shreveport-Bossier City is also one of the least-healthy cities in America. Less than 50% of residents reported that they exercise for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis. Median household income is just over $36,000 per year, and 14.8% of the population lives below the poverty line.

<span>33. </span>Union City, New Jersey

Union City is one of the most densely populated areas in the United States; it’s only 1.28 square miles, but has a population of nearly 70,000 residents. It makes sense why one wouldn’t be ecstatic about having virtually no personal space!

<span>32. </span>Columbus, Georgia

Columbus residents are some of the most depressed people in the country – reportedly nearly one-quarter of everyone living there has been diagnosed with depression by a medical professional. It’s not too hard to see why when you consider that 23% of people living there do not like the city, and many do not have access to basic needs – namely medication and food.

<span>31. </span>Bell Gardens, California

Overpopulation is a major issue for Bell Gardens, California, and the city depends on a single casino for the majority of its tax revenue. In fact, in 2002, said casino provided more than half of it. Unsurprisingly, 30% of the city lives in poverty.

<span>30. </span>Hialeah, Florida

Hialeah is one of the least diverse cities in America, with the vast majority of its population being Latino. It has also been rated the worst place in the country for anyone with an active lifestyle. Fifty-six percent of people are working, 26% live in poverty, and more than 30% do not have health insurance.

<span>29. </span>Reading, Pennsylvania

Reading is yet another city whose economy has struggled immensely after factories closed down or downsized, leading to mass layoffs. Out of its 88,495 residents, 36% are living in poverty and 44% are on food stamps, while 62% are working. Reading was named the poorest city in America in 2011 by The New York Times.

<span>28. </span>Palmdale, California

Palmdale has a population of a little more than 150,000 people, out of which, 59% are working and 19% live in poverty. Perhaps most noteworthy is that it has one of the longest commute times in the nation at 42.7 minutes. Additionally, at one point its nickname was “The Foreclosure Capital of California.”

<span>27. </span>Makaha, Hawaii

Unfortunately not everywhere in Hawaii is a paradise like photos would have you believe. Take Makaha, for example, a town with just over 8,800 residents and a 30.1% poverty rate. Ironically, it has a high cost of living; the median home value is in the top 25% in the country at $407,200. Slightly less than 10% of the town’s population has been out of work for the last five years.

<span>26. </span>Saginaw, Michigan

Saginaw is sometimes “affectionately” referred to as “Sag-nasty” by those who live there, due to the high amount of crime – although the crime rate has dropped in recent years. At one point General Motors supplied the city with 25,000 manufacturing jobs, but like many other places on this list, that didn’t last. Currently 55% of people there are working, while nearly 34% live in poverty.

<span>25. </span>Bessemer, Alabama

Bessemer is known for its high poverty rate (29.7%), and for being in the top 10% for violent crimes nationwide. Additionally, 30% of its residents live in poverty and more than one-third have limited access to a grocery store or supermarket.

<span>24. </span>Mobile, Alabama

A few things stand out about Mobile, Alabama: Almost a quarter of its residents are smokers, it has one of the highest rates in the country for cancer diagnoses, and it’s in the top 10% in the nation for the number of people who suffer from high blood pressure. Apart from the health aspect, Mobile residents also hate their jobs, and the city has one of the highest percentages of people who say that they have been angry within the past 24 hours.

<span>23. </span>Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville is right on the border of Mexico and the United States, so issues with immigration, and violent crimes on either side of the border committed against tourists are common. Because of this, it is difficult for homeowners to sell their properties, and it’s regarded as one of the most patrolled areas of the country. Additionally, one-third of people who live in Brownsville are in poverty, and 35% are without health insurance.

<span>22. </span>Redding, California

Redding has a population of around 90,000 people, out of which 6.8% (the highest of any metropolitan area) describe themselves as “suffering.” The city has high unemployment and violent crime rates, respectively, and only 87% percent of survey respondents reported that they had been treated with respect in the prior 24 hours. With all of this in mind, it makes sense that Redding has some of the highest rates of depression in the country!

<span>21. </span>New Brunswick, New Jersey

New Brunswick has a particularly high crime rate, with gun-related crimes growing by 64% in 2017 alone. Only about 54% of people are working, and 35% live in poverty.

<span>20. </span>Huntington Park, California

Huntington Park has ample affordable housing, but its high poverty rate means that residents still struggle to buy or sell homes. On top of that, the city’s median commute time is long at 31 minutes, and a large portion of the population resides there illegally.

<span>19. </span>Warren, Ohio

Warren has lost a staggering 7.7% of its population since 2010 when GM shut down one of its major plants, taking jobs with it. Warren also ranks second in the country for struggling to find enough food to eat.

<span>18. </span>Camden, New Jersey

If you’re the kind of person who lives for danger, then Camden, New Jersey might be right for you! That’s because Camden is considered one of the most dangerous cities in America due to its shocking violent crime rate, which is well over twice the national average. Camden also happens to have the lowest average household income on this list.

<span>17. </span>Flint, Michigan

Flint has made repeated national news in recent years for its lead-contaminated water supply that has yet to be fixed. In just five years, the city has lost more than 5% of its residents and severely depressed real estate values. Additionally, half of households earn less than $26,000 per year, and more than 40% of people live below the poverty line.

<span>16. </span>Pine Bluff, Arkansas

The population of Pine Bluff has decreased by a staggering 14% since 2010. In 2016 alone, 3,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, and on top of that, the entire city was flooded by the Arkansas River in 2019.

<span>15. </span>Newark, New Jersey

Newark is another city with a long average commute time, violence, and poverty. To make matters worse, there have also been problems with lead poisoning in its water supply. Newark has 282,000 residents, 62% of whom are working while 28% live in poverty.

<span>14. </span>Passaic, New Jersey

New Jersey just can’t catch a break, can it? Passaic is known for substance abuse and violence. Fifty-eight percent of its residents are working, while a third are living in poverty.

<span>13. </span>Danville, Virginia

Danville, Virginia, currently has a population of 40,000 people, but between 2010 and 2018, the population decreased by a staggering 5.5 percent. Fifty-five percent of residents are currently working, while 21 percent are in poverty. Interestingly, Danville used to be one of the wealthiest cities in the Piedmont area, but it began struggling when its tobacco and textile mills shut down. The city seems to be on the rebound though, as its downtown is currently being fixed up for new industries to come in.

<span>12. </span>Hemet, California

Hemet, California, has a population of 85,000 people, and although the city has struggled quite a bit since the 2008 recession, the population still grew by an impressive 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2018. But unfortunately, 23 percent of people in Hemet live in poverty, and crime rates are high; in 2016, police recorded 398 aggravated assaults – a record for the century. Additionally in 2016, more than 600 cars were stolen, and 170 robberies were reported.

<span>11. </span>San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino, located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, has a population of 222,000, 57 percent of whom are employed, while 30 percent live in poverty. At one point the city closed down an Air Force base and a steel plant, decreasing the number of jobs. Despite having several unfortunate attributes, San Bernardino also has quite a bit to offer, including the McDonald’s Museum (and the site of the world’s first McDonald’s location); California State University, San Bernardino; and the largest outdoor amphitheater in the country,

<span>10. </span>Compton, California

Compton, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, has a population of 96,000 people. A staggering 40 percent of residents do not work, and 23 percent live in poverty. Although Compton very much still struggles with its poverty and crime rates, it’s become far less dangerous than it was in recent decades. The city also has produced its fair share of successful people, including a plethora of professional athletes and rappers like Coolio and Dr. Dre.

<span>9. </span>Harlingen, Texas

Harlingen has a population of 65,000 and a growth rate of 12.5 percent since the 2000 census. Fifty-six percent of residents are currently working, while 30 percent live in poverty. The city’s economy is primarily held up by transient “Winter Texans,” or retirees from Midwestern states who reside in Texas during the cold winter months. The median household income in the city is just over $30,000. To add on to everything else, the city has been dealing with flooding.

<span>8. </span>Hallandale Beach, Florida

Hallandale Beach, Florida, has a population of 37,000 people, 60 percent of whom are working, while 20 percent live in poverty. Nearly 30 percent of residents are living without any kind of health insurance. Despite all of this, Hallandale Beach is actually one of the fastest-growing populations in the Miami metropolitan area, due to the number of retirees who settle there. The city has a fairly large financial district and many restaurants. It has been nicknamed “Hound-Ale Beach.”

<span>7. </span>Anderson, Indiana

According to the 2010 census, Anderson, Indiana, had a population of just over 56,000, whereas there were 70,000 people living there in 1970. General Motors was once Anderson’s biggest employer, with 24 factories in the city, but once the factories were shut down, 23,000 people lost their jobs. Nowadays, 56 percent of residents are employed, while one-quarter live in poverty. To make matters worse, the city has also been victim to blight, which is a disease that affects plants.

<span>6. </span>Jackson, Mississippi

Currently Jackson has a population of about 165,000 people, but it lost more than five percent of its residents between 2010 and 2018. Sixty-two percent of people are working, while nearly 29 percent live in poverty. Jackson’s water infrastructure has been in dire straits since the severe winter weather of 2014 and 2015, and in February of 2019, the city threatened to cut off the water for 20,000 households, due to $45 million of bills that hadn’t been paid.

<span>5. </span>Sumter, South Carolina

As of the 2010 census, around 40,000 people reside in Sumter, South Carolina. Fifty-six percent of Sumter residents are working, while 17.8 percent are living in poverty, and the median household income is $31,590. The city has quite a problem with crime, with 426 violent crimes in total having been reported in 2018. In the same year, 1,740 property crimes in total were reported. But fortunately, the rate of homicide specifically was relatively low, with just three reported that year.

<span>4. </span>Farmington, New Mexico

The city of Farmington, New Mexico, has a current population of 44,372, and it’s estimated that the city has seen a population decrease of about 3.3 percent since 2019. Sixty percent of the city’s residents are currently in the workforce, whereas 17.4 percent are living in poverty, and 13.2 percent of people under the age of 65 do not have health insurance. Farmington has a semi-arid climate, meaning that it is too dry or barren to grow vegetation there.

<span>3. </span>Detroit, Michigan

Detroit has a poor reputation for several pretty good reasons. The city has been going downhill ever since its booming manufacturing industry collapsed, so it isn’t too hard then to see why 6% of its population left between 2010 and 2018. There are currently 43,000 abandoned homes, and it’s also known as one of America’s most dangerous cities.

<span>2. </span>Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur has been one unlucky city throughout the years. For starters, it’s surrounded by oil refineries, rendering the scenery less than ideal. Secondly, it’s plagued by poverty. Thirdly, and perhaps most notably, it has been hit by several hurricanes, the most recent being Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused over $1 billion in damage. So many of its residents have left the city that officials fear that they will lose federal grants should the population decrease any further.

<span>1. </span>Gary, Indiana

And coming in at number one on our list of the most miserable cities in America is Gary, Indiana. Gary lost 6% of its residents between 2010 and 2018, and was once the murder capital of America. Just over half of the population works, and 36% live in poverty. There are so many abandoned homes there that the authorities have come up with a scheme to sell them for $1 to try to revitalize the area.

In summary, don’t move to New Jersey or California if you want to be happy. Oh, and let’s throw Florida in there for good measure too.

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