A lot of people in Alabama love their state. And why wouldn’t they? It might not get a lot of press but this hidden gem is a treasure trove of charming towns, vibrant cities, and gorgeous natural scenery. Better still, it’s hugely affordable – as well as boasting some of the country’s most budget-friendly home prices, it’s got some of the lowest cost-of-living indexes and taxes around. But unfortunately, there’s always a flipside. The flipside in Alabama’s case is deplorable child poverty levels, a crime rate that’s one of the worst in the country, poor health care, zero state protection against discrimination for people with disabilities, widespread racial bigotry, equally widespread inequality, and high unemployment. Obviously, that doesn’t apply to all places. There are plenty of places in Alabama that are nice, respectful, and packed with southern charm. But there’s an equal number that really aren’t. After considering factors like unemployment, poverty, crime rate, household income, and education levels, we’ve ranked the 20 worst places to Iive in Alabama. Unless you’re young, rich, white, male, and straight, your chances of whistling Sweet Home Alabama without irony in any of these places is next to none.
20. Pell City
Women make up more than 50 percent of the population. So regardless of whether a city is a paradise for men or not, it’s going nowhere if it’s cutting women a poor deal. And a poor deal is exactly what women in Pell City are getting. According to zippia.com 23.2 percent of the city’s women are living in poverty, only 29 percent of management jobs are held by women, and for every dollar men make, women earn just $0.47 cents. Time to get with the program, Pell City.
If you want to sleep soundly in your bed at night, you might want to think twice about moving to Huntsville. The National Trust for Historic Preservation may have named the city to its “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010” list, but in the years since it’s become distinctive for all the wrong reasons. Crime is at an all-time high: as the eighth-worst in the state for violent crimes per capita and a poor contender in the property crime category, residents of Huntsville have a 1 in 34 chance of being the victim of a crime. In terms of equality in the workplace, it’s not doing too great, either – while men are drawing a fairly decent median income of $40,003, women are struggling to survive on just $26,085. On the plus side, the biotech industry is booming and by all accounts, the public transportation system is almost faultless.
Tarrant performs badly across all major criteria. Unemployment, median income, crime… none of them are showing a positive outlook. According to neighborhoodscout.com, Troy is safer than just 1 percent of other cities across the US. The median household income is a paltry $29,380, while 4.9 percent of families and 16.2 percent of the population live below the poverty line. By all accounts, its residents have one of the worst commutes in the state as well.
If you want to climb the career ladder, you might want to drop any plans to move to Clanton. With a sky-high unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, a low median income, and an atrocious commute, it’s not the kind of place that welcomes job seekers with open arms. It’s just unfortunate it doesn’t apply the same policy to crime-seekers: with a crime rate that’s higher than 74 percent of the rest of the state’s cities and towns, you almost stand a better chance of becoming the victim of a crime here than you do of landing a job.
Almost 18 percent of Arab’s 8,200 residents are living in poverty. If that wasn’t enough, the violent crime rate is 549 per 100,000 people, placing it in the top 25 percent of dangerous cities in the US. And the bad news just keeps on coming. In the past 5 years alone, unemployment has increased by 9.8 percent, in direct contrast to the rest of the US where unemployment has shrunk by 6.1 percent.
Andalusia isn’t that big (its population stands at around 8,753 by the last count) but it’s not exactly bursting at the seams with small-town charm. When it comes to crime, it’s the 16th worst place in the state for violent crime and the 10th worst for property crime. It’s not faring too well elsewhere, either. According to welfareinfo.city, its poverty rate is way above average, with a startling 20.1 percent of its population living below the breadline.
Over the past 30 years, both the population and the economy of Talladega have shrunk exponentially. Of the few people that haven’t jumped ship, around 25.5 percent live below the poverty line. Most households are having to manage on an income of just $32,449. Crime is rife and other than the NASCAR races held at the Talladega Superspeedway, there’s really not much going on here. If you’re looking for the good life, look somewhere else.
Opelika’s motto is “Rich in Heritage with a Vision for the Future”. Tell that to the 31.1 percent of children living below the poverty line. It’s poor, it’s violent (move here, and your chance of becoming the victim of a crime jumps to 1 in 14), and it’s really not going to be making any ‘Best of’ lists anytime soon.
According to yellowhammernews.com, Selma has the third-highest number of murders per capita in the state and the fourth-highest number of property crimes, making for the fourth-highest number of crimes overall. When a city manages to earn a place on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 100 most dangerous cities in America list, you probably want to steer clear.
If you laugh in the face of danger, you probably won’t be daunted by Troy’s crime stats. If you’re anything like the rest of us, Troy’s status as Alabama’s 7th most dangerous city is unlikely to bring a smile to your face. And unlike most other cities, the problem is getting worse on a year-on-year basis: between 2017 and 2018, violent crime skyrocketed by a frightening 25 percent, leaving residents with a 1 in 63 chance of becoming the victim of assault, rape, or murder. Unless you like your neighbors to be of the mad, bad, and dangerous to know variety, steer clear.
Greenville might not have the worst crime rates in Alabama (although considering it’s still in the bottom 10 percent, it’s not got the best either), but its outlook is still pretty grim. Unemployment sits at a very bleak 8.9 percent, while those lucky enough to have a job are pulling in the miserable income of just $36,472, almost $20,000 less than the national average.
Lanett is a small town of just 6,245 residents. But if you thought small southern towns would come with charm to spare, you’d be mistaken… at least in this case. The property crime rate is the 2nd worst in the state. The violent crime rate is a little better, but with 1409 violent crimes per 100k, it’s still not the kind of place you’d want to walk home alone at night. On the bright side, recent job growth has been positive, and the unemployment rate is currently in line with the national average. Doesn’t excuse those crime figures though…
Last year, Gadsden witnessed three murders. Not great stats, by anyone’s reckoning. Property crime is just as bad… so bad, in fact, it ranks as the 5th most dangerous place to live in the state. Tourist guides like to wax lyrical about the city’s mountain scenery, its civil war history, it’s plethora of museums and galleries. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who live there are too busy trying to scrimp a living to enjoy the attractions – according to city-data.com, 27.2 percent of people in Gadsden live below the poverty line, making it one of the poorest cities in the US.
According to Forbes, Birmingham ranks as one of the worst cities in the US for families. It’s not great for anyone else, either. It might be known as “The Magic City” but there’s nothing magical about its crime stats: 1 in 52 have been the victim of a violent crime while 1 in 15.8 residents can look forward to an annual robbery. If you want to live here, you’d better watch your back.
Atmore is a suburb of Mobile with a small population but a high everything else: the unemployment rate, poverty rate, and crime rate are all way above the national average, while the number of vacant properties in the city is a sure-fire sign of decline. It may have more days of sunshine than anywhere else in Alabama, but we doubt its residents are in any mood to enjoy it.
In fairness, there are worse cities than Mobile in Alabama, especially in relation to crime. According to areavibes.com, Mobile is actually safer than 20 percent of other cities in the state. But considering that still gives you a 1 in 18 chance of being the victim of a crime, don’t start calling the realtor just yet. According to abilities.com, it also ranks as one of the worst places to live in the US for people with disabilities.
According to al.com, 26 percent of the population of Fairfield live below the poverty line. Throw in a violent crime rate of 1,905 per 100,000 people and a median income of just $36,000, and you can understand why no one’s prepared to spend over $96,000 for a property here – less than half as much as they’d pay elsewhere in the US.
When 247wallst.com ranked the worst places to live in the US, 5 cities in Alabama counted among their number. Pritchard was one of them. It doesn’t take too much digging to find out why. In a city of 22,000, 35 percent are living in poverty. Its violent crime rate is 1,826 per 100,000 people, while its median home value of $67,400 is in the lowest 10 percent in the state. Employment is decreasing at a pace of almost 17 percent each year, in direct comparison to the 6.1 percent rise it’s experiencing across the country. The median income, meanwhile, is less than half of the U.S. median at just $25,818. And clearly, people have had enough of the city and its problems – in the past 5 years alone, the population has dropped by 3.4 percent.
Anniston’s residents are on the move. Apparently sick of the poverty (the poverty rate is 30 percent), the crime (the violent crime rate is 3,434 per 100,000 people – the highest of any city in the country), the unemployment (employment has fallen by a mammoth 10.9 percent in the past five years), the low incomes (the average household income is just $32,070), and the ignominy of living in America’s “most dangerous city”, they’re leaving in their droves – in the past five years alone, Anniston’s population has dropped by a significant 4.2 percent.
Not many people have a good word to say about Bessemer these days, not least 247wallst.com who consider it not only the worst place to live in Alabama, but the 6th worst place to live in the entire country. So, what’s stopping people from feeling the love for Bessemer? For a start, the poverty rate, which is frankly alarming at 30 percent. Its violent crime rate of 2,986 crimes per 100,000 residents is almost six times the state violent crime rate of 524 incidents per 100,000 people, and second-highest in the nation (Anniston scoops first place). Its median home value of $84,000 puts it in the bottom 10 percent, while the average home earns less than $32,000 a year – far below the U.S. median of $57,652. But even if they were earning more, they might not have anywhere to spend it – one in three residents have low access to grocery stores or supermarkets. The message is clear: if you want a good income, access to good amenities, good, safe streets, and good prospects, go somewhere else – whatever else Bessemer is, it’s not good.