Official Ranking of the Most Miserable Cities in America

Moving to a new place is exciting and stressful for everyone. If you are looking to live in a new city, you might want to scroll through and check out this list. According to the US census data, the cities we’ve compiled are America’s most miserable places to live.

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That “honor” is given to these cities based on factors like traffic times, crime rates, and median household income. Continue reading so that you don’t end up moving to the most miserable places in America! You can thank us later.

40. Plainfield, NJ

At the beginning of our list is Plainfield, New Jersey. This city hosts a population of 50,000 people, and we guess that an overwhelming majority of them are not super pumped about the fact that they live there.

Source: cinematreasures.org

About 70% of the Plainfield population is employed, and yet 20% live in poverty. Additionally, about 33% do not have any health insurance coverage or plan. It is also still considered a pretty dangerous city, despite violent crime rates having drastically improved.

39. West New York, NJ

Let’s just say what everyone is already thinking: Why would anyone in New Jersey name a city “West New York”? Isn’t there a rivalry there? Anyway, putting a pause on the jokes, West New York got itself a spot on the list for legitimate reasons.

Source: nj.com

West New York earned its spot on the list due to its general dirtiness and high poverty rate. As if those reasons wouldn’t be enough, the average commute time for those coming from West New York is 37 minutes – about 10 minutes longer than the national median commute.

38. Miami Gardens, FL

The good, the bad, and the too weird for words – what should be the new Florida tagline. Because this wouldn’t be a finished list of the most miserable cities in the United States without mentioning Florida, now would it?

Source: communitynewspapers.com

Lesser known than Miami, for multiple reasons, Miami Gardens earned the nickname “Stop and Frisk Capital of America” in 2014. And if that wasn’t convincing enough to be put on this list, water costs more than average with a 25% tax.

37. Cleveland, OH

One of the biggest cities in Ohio with some pretty big issues. Cleveland’s accurate nickname is “Mistake by the Lake,” and it’s not too tough to understand why: 35% of the population lives under the poverty line, despite half of the people in poverty being fully employed.

Photo By Getty Images/ Douglas Sacha

Besides the high number of people in poverty, the city is also notably bad when it comes to gun violence statistics. Each by themselves is unfortunate, but together in the same place does not add up to an ideal place to live.

36. Youngstown, OH

If you thought Cleveland had issues to work through, wait until you learn about Youngstown. Back in the day, Youngstown was the third-largest steel producer in America. In 1977, the steel industry out of Ohio started downsizing.

Source: britannica.com

Since the downsizing, the city steadily went downhill and has not been about to recover fully. From 2010 through 2018, Youngstown lost 3% of its population. We think it probably had something to do with the steep poverty rate and abysmal air pollution.

35. North Miami Beach, FL

Florida has its own odd reputation, and North Miami Beach doesn’t do much to combat that. Let us clear a little nuance up, North Miami Beach is totally separate from Miami, both geographically and in essence. The city of North Miami Beach has a large issue with flooding, no matter if it is raining or not.

Source: Wikipedia

As the sea levels continue rising, it messes with the city’s sewage system. The septic tanks would not work right, end up flooding, and finally result in gross wastewater in neighborhood backyards. Disgusting does not even begin to describe the situation.

34. Huntington, WV

When Americans think of the loveliest states, it would be bizarre if someone suggested West Virginia. Of all of the cities in West Virginia, Huntington has a particularly horrible reputation. It is considered the least healthy city in the United States of America.

Source: denverpost.com

This is grossly impressive, especially considering how many options there are in the country to take that title home. In addition, there was an awful opioid crisis which would help explain how the city lost 6% of the population from 2010 through 2018.

33. Charleston, WV

While the average income for the population of Charleston, West Virginia, isn’t too low at $47,000 per year, the people are still pretty upset with the environments that they have to work in. In addition to that, Charleston has the second-highest rate of depression diagnoses in the United States.

Source: Pinterest

By the numbers, this comes out to about 27% percent of the city’s population having been given a depression diagnosis by a professional. Charleston also isn’t doing too well on the physical health rankings, with a large portion of the residents living with both high blood pressure and diabetes.

32. Hammond, IN

Hammond, Indiana, is a city outside the southern side of the Chicago metropolitan area. The city of Hammond is one more city that has experienced substantial economic losses in the past couple of decades. Between 2010 and 2018, the city’s population decreased by 6%.

Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The city used to be bustling since it was in such proximity to a big city. Back in the day, it used to be a leading industrial town. As with many other industrial towns, the emissions led to water and air pollution as well as lead contamination.

31. El Monte, CA

El Monte, California has a long commute time of 30 minutes as it’s nestled between Angeles National Forest and East Los Angeles, along the 605 highway. What was once home to a bustling and flourishing automobile industry, the city is no longer thriving as it once did.

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Several of the auto dealerships have been forced to close their doors, which has left more and more people without a job. In the city of El Monte, California, the amount of the population that is living below the poverty line is approximately 22%.

30. Lynwood, CA

Lynwood is located in Southern California, one city over from Compton. At one point in time, Lynwood’s town motto was “The Best Place to Live Best,” which knowing what we know now means it did not age well.

Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The state of California was adding new highways, like Interstate 105. When construction began, it was clear that the interstate was to go right through the middle of the city. This resulted in about 1,000 businesses and houses being demolished and was the reason why many people moved.

29. Huntsville, TX

In the state of Texas, the death penalty is legal and continues to carry out those sentences today. All of the state’s executions are carried out at the Huntsville penitentiary, which is the building included in the photograph.

Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

The Department of Criminal Justice is the biggest employer in Huntsville. That fact would probably be enough to convince people not to live in Huntsville. But somehow, the unemployment rate is still sky high, and 35% of the city are living in poverty, making it that much worse.

28. Paterson, NJ

New Jersey, yet another entry on our list. The city of Paterson has not been fortunate over the past number of years. Back in the 19th century, it was a ridiculously successful silk town. However, since then, it has gradually gone downhill and has yet to recover.

Source: Wikipedia

In more recent history, in 2011, Paterson was hit by Hurricane Irene, which resulted in citywide flooding. The hurricane resulted in almost 1,300 homes being abandoned. The city has a population of 145,000 people. Of that total, nearly 57% of them are employed, and 30% are living in poverty.

27. Albany, GA

The state of Georgia has so much to offer, less so if you’re headed to Albany. The weather is pretty humid as it is in the South, and the city has one of the worst violent crime rates in the United States, landing itself in the top 10.

Source: albanyherald.com

Joblessness is a big issue for the residents of Albany, as the unemployment rate is more than twice the national average, so it is not that surprising that the city falls in the top 10% of the worst poverty rates in the United States.

26. Trenton, NJ

New Jersey has truly outdone itself on this list, and if you had even a thought that we had finished with New Jersey cities, you would be incorrect. However, this entry is unique because this is our first capital city of a state on our list.

Source: Reddit

Back many moons ago, Trenton, New Jersey, was quite the booming industrial town. Today, however, that success is no longer seen. Trenton is dealing with a plethora of problems ranging from gang relations and gun violence, in addition to their poverty rate of 27%.

25. Cicero, IL

The city of Cicero is located directly west of Chicago, on the other side of Interstate 50. Cicero was famous in the 1920s, during the Mafia’s heyday, and many referred to the town as the private playground of Al Capone.

Source: industrialscenery.blogspot.com

Unfortunately, the city still has lingering aspects of that reputation because it still has its fair share of crime related to the city’s gangs. In addition to all of that, the median commute time is painfully long, and they have a high poverty rate.

24. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA

Besides having an impoverished economy, Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, is also one of the unhealthiest cities in the United States of America. When surveyed about personal health, less than half of the city’s population said that they regularly for at least half an hour.

Source: Pinterest

The average income per household in Shreveport-Bossier City is barely over $36,000 per year, putting it on the lower end of the national spectrum. Of the entire city’s population, about 15% live below the poverty line.

23. Union City, NJ

Surprise! Another entry from the state of New Jersey! Union City, New Jersey, is one of the United States’ most densely populated cities. The size of Union City is only 1.28 square miles and has a sizable population of about 70,000 residents.

Source: lagranvianj.com

When moving to a different city or state, one would hope to have plenty of room to go about their life. The addition of this city to our list makes sense when we think how miserable it would be to live somewhere where everyone lives packed in like sardines!

22. Columbus, GA

Residents of Columbus, Georgia, are some of the most depressed people in the United States. Reports say that almost 25% of people residing there have been given a diagnosis of depression by a medical professional.

Source: Pinterest

It does not take a super genius to understand why, when considering the 23% of residents living there that don’t care for the city. On top of that opinion, statistics and numbers show us that many residents lack access to basic needs – specifically food and medications.

21. Bell Gardens, CA

Bell Gardens, California, is located south on the Long Beach Freeway from East Los Angeles, alongside the Los Angeles River. The city is a smaller one size-wise but makes up for it with steep population statistics.

Source: Pinterest

Overpopulation is a pressing issue for Bell Gardens, and the city depends on one specific casino for the overwhelming majority of its tax revenue. Back in 2002, the casino provided more than 50% of it. Almost a third of the city lives in poverty.

20. Hialeah, FL

Just north of Miami sits the city of Hialeah, Florida. Hialeah has an immense majority of its residents being Latino. It is considered one of the least diverse cities in the United States. For those looking to move in search of a healthier lifestyle, this is not the place for you.

Source: Imgur

Hialeah has been ranked as the least active place in the United States. 56% of people living there are employed, 26% live under the poverty line, and more than 30% are without health insurance.

19. Reading, PA

Reading, Pennsylvania, sits northwest of Philadelphia. Back in the day, it was a factory town and prosperous with all that the factory brought to the town. Since then, the factory has closed and has snowballed into economic struggles and massive layoffs.

Source: Pinterest

Reading has a population of 88,495 residents. Of that total, 36% are living under the poverty line, 44% are dependent on food stamps, and 62% are employed. In 2011, The New York Times named Reading as the poorest city in the United States.

18. Palmdale, CA

Opposite Los Angeles, on the other side of the Angeles National Forest sits Palmdale, California. Palmdale has a total population of slightly more than 150,000 residents. Of that total, 59% are employed, and 19% are living under the poverty line.

Source: Pinterest

With glowing statistics like that, could it possibly get worse? It turns out it can. Palmdale boasts one of the most extended travel times in the country, totaling 42.7 minutes. At one point, the city’s nickname was “The Foreclosure Capital of California.”

17. Makaha, HI

Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for many Americans. Sadly, not every Hawaiian town is a paradise, like pictures would lead you to believe. Consider Makaha, Hawaii, for a moment. This town only has 8,800 residents but a poverty rate of 30.1%.

Source: Instagram

Despite this poverty rate, Makaha has an absurdly high cost of living; the average home value sits at $407,200, placing it in the top 25% of the nation. About 10% of the town’s population has been unemployed for the past five years.

16. Saginaw, MI

South of Saginaw Bay, the city of Saginaw, Michigan, is often “lovingly” referred to as “Sag-nasty” by residents living there because of the high amount of crime – although, in the past few years, the crime rate has dropped.

Source: Pinterest

In the past, General Motors factories gave the city about 25,000 manufacturing jobs, but similar to several other cities on this list, that didn’t last forever. Nowadays, 55% of Saginaw residents are currently employed, while almost 34% are living below the poverty line.

15. Bessemer, AL

Alabama is known for its obsession with its own college football program and is less known for the city of Bessemer. Bessemer, Alabama, is right outside of Birmingham. This city is known for its 29.7% poverty rate.

Source: epicwaterfilters.com

Bessemer is also known for being in the top 10% of the United States when it comes to violent crimes. In addition, 30% of the people living there live below the poverty line, and more than 33% don’t have easily accessible supermarkets or grocery markets.

14. Mobile, AL

A couple of statistics stand out about Mobile, Alabama. Nearly 25% of the people in Mobile are smokers. The city has one of the highest rates of cancer diagnoses in the United States. Finally, it’s in the top 10% nationwide for the number of residents suffering from high blood pressure.

Source: Instagram

In addition to all of the health aspects, residents of Mobile aren’t happy in their jobs. The city has one of the highest percentages of residents who report that they were angry within the past 24 hours.

13. Brownsville, TX

Brownsville, Texas, sits right on the border of the United States and Mexico. They are constantly dealing with problems having to do with immigration. Violent crimes take place on both sides of the border, with crimes against tourists being fairly common.

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As a result of this, it is tough for homeowners to sell their homes, and it’s considered one of the most patrolled areas in the United States. In addition, nearly 33% of residents who live in Brownsville are living in poverty, and 35% don’t have health insurance.

12. Redding, CA

Redding, California, has a population of about 90,000 residents. Of the total city population, 6.8% of them describe their own situations as suffering through life. This percentage is the highest recorded statistic of any downtown area.

Source: Pinterest

The city has high rates of violent crime and unemployment. In a citywide survey, 87% of residents reported that they had been met with respectful treatment in the past 24 hours. Keeping this in mind, it’s unsurprising that Redding ranks so high nationally for depression rates.

11. New Brunswick, NJ

Alongside the Raritan River and Interstate 18 is the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey. New Brunswick has a notable high crime rate. The crimes that involve guns have been especially present, with these crimes growing by 64% in 2017 alone.

Source: localrehabreviews.org

New Brunswick has a current estimated population of 55,272 residents. Of that total number, only a little over half of them are currently employed, and slightly more than a third of the population is living below the poverty line.

10. Huntington Park, CA

Huntington Park, California, has plenty of affordable housing, but there are more factors to consider. The high poverty rate essentially means that Huntington Park residents still run into obstacles despite the housing availability when trying to sell or purchase homes.

Source: redfin.com

The city has an estimated population total of 200,259 residents. A sizable number of the city’s population lives there illegally. The city is located south of the city of Los Angeles and the city’s average commute time is longer than average, clocking in at 31 minutes.

9. Warren, OH

Warren, Ohio, sits northwest of Youngstown and used to home to a General Motors plant. Ever since 2010, when General Motors closed the doors to one of its biggest plants in Warren, the city’s population has declined by a shocking 7.7%.

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This plant closure and an exodus of residents took employment opportunities with it. If only that is where the sad statistics ended. Warren, Ohio, also ranks second in the United States for having major issues with finding enough food to eat.

8. Camden, NJ

If you’ve heard of Camden, New Jersey before, that is something else because looking at it on a map looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere. But if you’re an adrenaline junkie type person who lives for danger, then Camden might be the perfect city for you!

Source: Reddit

Camden, New Jersey, has been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States because of its violent crime rate, which is more than twice the average nationwide. Camden also has the lowest median household income on this list.

7. Flint, MI

The city of Flint, Michigan, sets at the juncture of Interstates 69, 75, and 475. Flint has made the national news in the last few years due to the uncovering that the city’s water supply is heavily contaminated with lead. Despite a national spotlight, the issue has yet to be fixed.

Source: flintfirebirds.com

In only five years, Flint has seen 5% of its population leave, which has had severe ramifications on the housing values. A little less than 50% of Flint residents live in poverty, and half of the households are making less than $26,000 annually.

6. Pine Bluff, AR

Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as down Interstate 530 from the state capital of Little Rock. The population of Pine Bluff has dropped by a mind-blowing 14% since 2010. As of 2019, the population totaled 43,091, and with that much of a steep drop the previous decade, we can only imagine how big it used to be.

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Just during the year 2016, over 3,000 manufacturing jobs were cut, which resulted in thousands qualifying for unemployment. If that wasn’t enough, the whole city of Pine Bluff was completely flooded in 2019 by the Arkansas River.

5. Newark, NJ

Most people outside of this city only know Newark for its airport as a layover stop for an international trip. But there is more to this city besides its airport! Newark, New Jersey, is another place with a long median commute time and high violent crime rates.

Source: jjie.org

To make a bad situation even worse, there have been additional issues with the city water supply and lead contamination poisoning the water. Newark, New Jersey, has a population of 282,000 people. 62% of the residents are currently employed, while 28% are living below the poverty line.

4. Passaic, NJ

At this point, New Jersey looks like it’s not winning anything any time soon. Yet another New Jersey entry, Passaic, can be found north of Newark and northwest of New York City. The city of Passaic has built a reputation built on violent crime and substance abuse.

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Passaic, New Jersey, boasts an estimated population of 70,019 residents as of 2020. Of the over 70,000 people, 58% of them are currently employed, while just about 33% of residents are living below the poverty line.

3. Detroit, MI

Detroit, Michigan, is one of the state’s biggest and most well-known cities. Unfortunately, it’s most well-known for its poor reputation for multiple pretty solid reasons. The city used to be a bustling center for manufacturers but has since gone downhill as a result of the industry collapse.

Source: Pinterest

It isn’t so far of a stretch to see why 6% of Detroit’s population left from 2010 until 2018, leaving 70,019 residents as of 2019. There are currently 43,000 abandoned houses, and its startlingly high crime rate has left it known as one of America’s most dangerous places.

2. Port Arthur, TX

Sitting along the Gulf of Mexico, Port Arthur, Texas, has had very little luck throughout the years. To start it off, it’s surrounded by oil refineries, making the views not as beautiful as one would hope. In addition, the city is known to be plagued by poverty.

Source: environmentalintegrity.org

Perhaps most notably, Port Arthur has endured numerous hurricanes, the most recent being Hurricane Harvey in 2017, causing over $1 billion in damages. So many residents have moved that officials fear that they will lose federal grants if the population plummets any further.

1. Gary, IN

The MOST miserable city in the United States of America is none other than Gary, Indiana. At one point in time, Gary was known as the murder capital of America. More than 50% of the residents are employed, and 36% live below the poverty line. Officials are going to try and sell all of the abandoned homes for only $1 to try to revitalize the area.

Source: nwitimes.com

If you learn anything from our list, just don’t move to New Jersey or California if you want to live a happy life. Oh, and let’s add Florida in there to cover our bases too!