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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Alabama

Bessemer

Alabama is a southern state in the Heart of Dixie. From the Gulf Coast’s pristine beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, Alabama offers its residents some incredible opportunities, especially for those who appreciate a slower, more relaxed pace of life.  

Alabama is considered hugely affordable for modern living standards - offering some of the nation’s most budget-friendly home prices. However, behind these headlines that honor the reduced cost of living are some concerning metrics that measure the standard of living for residents in the state–

  • Unacceptable child poverty levels.
  • A crime rate that ranks among the nation’s worst.
  • Poor health care options.
  • Little to no protection is offered by the state for discrimination, which often causes high unemployment and widespread inequality.
  • Poor infrastructure and natural hazards also contribute to the danger.

And while there are plenty of Alabama locations that are nice and chock full of southern charm, there are many to avoid. We have curated a list of the 20 worst cities to live in Alabama – with our approach detailed below.

Our Methodology

Our methodology for determining the worst places to live in Alabama requires the review of objective data available for use in identifying and managing the problems related to criminal behavior. 

As in every other state in the country, some places are more dangerous than others. For instance, poverty rates, population, and violent crimes all play a part in determining which cities or towns are more dangerous than others.

Using Crime Rates to Determine the Worst Places to Live in Alabama

Our analysis began with data obtained from the FBI's Crime Data Explorer, a database managed by the National Incident-Based Reporting System.  This starting point provides insight into a city/neighborhood’s crime rates, which are typically ‘red flags’ for potential buyers.

The FBI’s latest data for 2022 include the following statistics for Alabama -

  • There were 16,095 Violent crimes -- which included rape, robbery, aggravated assault, homicide, etc.
  • There were 81,886  reported property crime incidents, including reporting from agencies that covered nearly 90% of the state’s population.

Other data sources for our analysis include –

  • Population data regarding the worst places to live in Alabama was primarily obtained from Neighborhood Scout’s most recent data.
  • Crime rates from Neighborhood Scout’s Violent Crime list and Area Vibes.
  • Poverty rates were obtained from Data USA, Census.gov, and World Population Review.
  • We only looked at Alabama locations with a population that exceeded 5,000.

Our ranking and analysis also included influential factors - like cost of living, employment options, home values, and overall livability to guide final rankings. The result of our analysis of the worst places to live in Alabama is noted below.

20 Worst Places to Live in Alabama

20. Pell City

  • Population (2023) – 13,638
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 2.93
  • Poverty Rate – 15.3%

According to a 2020 zippia.com report, 23.2 percent of the Pell City women are living in poverty – making it among the worst cities to live in Alabama. Property crime rates (at 22.95/1,000 persons) in this Saint Clair County location were nearly 40 percent higher in Pell City than in the state of Alabama, as well as the national average of 20.  

19. Huntsville

  • Population (2023) – 221,933
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 2.95
  • Poverty Rate – 14.1%

Huntsville is the largest community in Alabama and has been named among "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While the city has found renewed economic growth recently – especially in biotech, aerospace, and defense industries, there are 19 crimes per square mile in Huntsville, which is twice the state average.  

18. Arab

  • Population (2023) – 8,623
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 3.25
  • Poverty Rate – 14.2%

Arab is located in Marshall County in Alabama’s northeastern section. More than 14 percent of Arab's 8,000+ residents live at or below the poverty level, with property crime rates at a staggering 33.63 per 1,000 people – which translates to a 1 in 30 chance of becoming a victim or nearly twice Alabama’s state average.

17. Troy

  • Population (2023) – 17,774
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 4.44
  • Poverty Rate – 27.34%

Troy's status among the worst places to live in Alabama is unlikely to make you smile. According to neighborhoodscout.com, this city is safer than just 9 percent of other cities across the U.S. The violent crime rates exceed state and national averages, and the property crime rate of 27.06 per 1,000 people is about 50% higher than Alabama’s state average. The crime per square mile is twice the state average, and more than ¼ of the population lives at or below the poverty level.

16. Lincoln

  • Population (2023) –7,272
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 4.68
  • Poverty Rate – 17%

Lincoln, which is in the central part of Alabama, is home to the Talladega Superspeedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Despite having some of Alabama’s priciest real estate, violent crime rates (rape, assault, and robbery) for Lincoln surpass the national and Alabama state average. Property crime rates also exceed averages at the state and national level at 22.55/1,000 people.

15. Andalusia

  • Population (2023) – 8,790
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 4.78
  • Poverty Rate – 23.2%

Andalusia is among the worst places to live in Alabama due to its high violent and property crime rates. Violent crimes include rape, murder, robbery, and assault. Residents and visitors have a 1 in 25 chance of being an Andalusia property crime victim – a number that exceeds more than twice the average for the state. There are 20 crimes per square mile – another statistic that is twice the state level. Neighborhood Scout notes that Andalusia is only safer than 4 percent of all U.S. neighborhoods.

14. Lanett

  • Population (2023) – 6,759
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 5.03
  • Poverty Rate – 18.2%

Lanett is a small town in Chambers County on the Chattahoochee River along the Georgia/Alabama line. Its violent crime rate is 20% higher than the Alabama state average. The property crime rate ranks among the worst in Alabama, with 26.78 incidents per 1,000 people – or a 1 in 37 chance of becoming a property crime victim. The number of crimes per square mile (at 35) is 3.5 times the state average.

13. Gadsden

  • Population (2023) – 33,335
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 5.67
  • Poverty Rate – 18.2%

Gadsden, which is located between Birmingham and Chattanooga on the Coosa River, is known for its riverboats; however, the city has a violent crime rate that is 20 percent higher than the Alabama average. The property crime rate at 39.06/1,000 people is staggering and twice Alabama’s average for the state as a whole.  The number of crimes per square mile (at 39) is nearly four times the state average.

12. Talladega

  • Population (2023) –14,674
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 6.81
  • Poverty Rate – 26.79%

Talladega is considered a medium-sized city in Alabama, with a population that has been shrinking over the past decades. Perhaps this is because nearly 27 percent of the population lives at/below the national poverty level. In addition, crime rates are high in terms of violent and property crimes. The murder rate in this city is more than three times the national average. Those in Talladega have a 1 in 39 chance of becoming a property crime victim, compared to the state average of 1 in 58.

11. Selma

  • Population (2023) –17,023
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 7.81
  • Poverty Rate – 29.41%

Selma is a city in south-central Alabama on the Alabama River, with serious crime issues and a large portion of the population living below poverty levels. When a city earns a place on the NCHSS – the National Council for Home Safety and Security's 100 most dangerous American cities list- finding another location to scout is likely a good idea. Selma’s violent crime rate is nearly twice the state average. The murder rate in Selma is nearly seven times the national average.

10. Opelika

  • Population (2023) –32,787
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons - 7.90
  • Poverty Rate – 29.41%

Opelika's motto as a town in east-central Alabama is "Rich in Heritage with a Vision for the Future," which is ironic when you realize that nearly 30% of Opelika’s population lives at or below poverty levels. The murder rate in Opelika is more than three times the national average. Property crimes, led by theft incidents, are about 50% higher than the Alabama state average.

9. Prichard

  • Population (2023) – 18,870
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 8.32
  • Poverty Rate – 30.11%

Prichard is a suburb of Mobile, and when 247wallst.com decided to rank the worst places to live in the United States, the five cities selected from the state of Alabama included Pritchard. With more than 30% of the population living at/below poverty and violent crime rates exceptionally high, it is easy to see why Prichard made the list of the worst cities to live in Alabama. Between the 2010 and 2020 census, the city lost more than 10% of its population – another sign the city is in trouble.

8. Anniston

  • Population (2023) – 21,182
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 8.36
  • Poverty Rate – 22.83%

Like other Alabama towns, the residents of Anniston have also left over the past decade. While violent crime registers at twice the state average, property crime rates at 54.39/1,000 people are more than three times Alabama’s state average. Anniston’s crime per square mile is 29 or approximately three times the state’s average of crimes/per square mile. The murder rate in Anniston is exceptionally high and more than three times the U.S. average.

7. Tarrant

  • Population (2023) – 5,907
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 9.02
  • Poverty Rate – 28.6%

Tarrant borders the north part of Birmingham and is home to the nation's largest single producer of coke. This small suburb performs badly across all major economic criteria - Unemployment, median income, crime, and more. According to Area Vibes, Tarrant’s violent crime rate is 581% above the national average. And with an exceptionally high poverty rate, Tarrant ranks among the worst places to live in Alabama.

6. Mobile

  • Population (2023) – 183,289
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 9.39
  • Poverty Rate – 20%

Mobile, which is the second most populated city in Alabama, is located on the Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay. According to abilities.com, Mobile is also home to one of the worst places to live in the U.S. for people with disabilities. Violent crime rates rise to staggering levels, with 32 murders – a rate three times the U.S. average. Property crime rates are also high in Mobile, registering more than 30 incidents per 1,000 people, more than 50% higher than the state average. Furthermore, the number of crimes per square mile in Mobile is 50 – equivalent to five times Alabama’s state average.

5. Greenville

  • Population (2023) – 7,157
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 12.85
  • Poverty Rate – 20%

Greenville, which is known as Camellia City, has three times the state’s violent crime rate average, and only 4% of U.S. neighborhoods are safer than Greenville, AL. Property crime is high, although not as astounding as the town’s violent crime rates. Between 2010 and 2020’s census, the town’s population dropped from 8,135 by about 1,000 people or more than 10%.

4. Atmore

  • Population (2023) – 8,330
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 15.25
  • Poverty Rate – 38.2%

Atmore refers to a suburb of Mobile with a small population and tremendously high violent crime and property crime rates. Nearly 4 out of 10 residents reside at or below the nationally established poverty line, and the property crime rate is approximately three times the U.S. national average. At 79 reported incidents per square mile, Atmore’s metrics are eight times the state average for crimes per square mile.

3. Birmingham

  • Population (2023) – 196,910
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 16.94
  • Poverty Rate – 25.5%

Birmingham, which has been ranked among the worst cities to live in the United States, is known as “The Magic City.” Located in Central Alabama, Birmingham is home to many higher education institutions but also incredible levels of violence (16.94/1,000 or 4+ times the state average) and property crime – clocking in at 42.85/1,000 or 2.5 times the Alabama average. The murder rate – which was 142 last year, is more than ten times the national average – with poverty hitting more than a quarter of the population.

2. Fairfield

  • Population (2023) – 9,690
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 16.82
  • Poverty Rate - 19.63%

Fairfield is a suburb and is considered part of the Birmingham metro area. This small town has a stunning 16.82 reported violent crime incidents per thousand people – which is more than four times Alabama’s state average. According to Neighborhood Scout, 99% of the U.S. neighborhoods are safer than Fairfield – which has an exceptionally high property crime rate of 52.84, translating to a 1 in 19 chance of becoming a property crime victim.

1. Bessemer

  • Population (2023) – 25,264
  • Violent Crime Per 1,000 Persons – 18.21
  • Poverty Rate – 28.8%

247wallst.com considers Bessemer the worst place to live in the state and one of the worst places to live in the entire nation. While poverty rates are excessive, so is violent crime, with Neighborhood Scout noting that everywhere is safer to live than in Bessemer, Alabama. The murder rate in Bessemer is nearly seven times the national average, with property crime rates nearly 4.5 times the Alabama state average – with burglary and theft registering 4 to 5 times the U.S. average.  

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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