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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Indiana

Gary

Indiana is a Midwest state that epitomizes America’s heartland, as a significant majority of its bordered land is dedicated to farmland, woodlands, and forests. The Hoosier State and seven other nearby states make up what is known as the Great Lakes Region.

Indiana’s state capital is Indianapolis, which happens to be its largest city and home to the NFL’s Colts and the NBA’s Pacers. Other large metropolitan areas in the state include Evansville, Fort Wayne, and South Bend.

Our Methodology - How We Determine the Worst Places to Live in Indiana for 2024

Developing a list of the worst places to live in Indiana starts by reviewing independent and impartial data, as this provides relevant metrics about the many places to live in Indiana. The current population numbers utilized to determine the worst places to live in Indiana were amassed from Neighborhood Scout’s most recent data.

The next step is to determine which Indiana cities had the highest violent and property crime levels in the state– with resident populations that exceeded 5,000, as crime stats are often a primary driving force behind living preferences and decisions.

The FBI's Statistics from the Crime Data Explorer offers analysts a comprehensive database amassed by the National Incident-Based Reporting System. To provide some context, the 2022 Indiana crime state-level statistics include - 

  • 16,181 violent crimes, which included rape, robbery, aggravated assault, homicide, etc.
  • 91,836  property crime incidents reported in Indiana.

To finalize our list of the worst places to live in Indiana, we analyzed relevant crime rates for Indiana’s most dangerous places to live as identified by Neighborhood Scout’s Violent Crime list as well as Area Vibes. Note that each relevant poverty rate applied to the analysis were obtained from Data USA, Census.gov, and World Population Review, with Indiana’s current state-level poverty rate at 12.6%.

The following factors that impact housing decisions were also used to guide our final conclusions–

  • The location’s living costs.
  • Median Home Values.
  • Median Income Levels.
  • Job Market in the Local Economy.
  • Poverty Level, and more.

The 20 Worst Places to Live in Indiana

Using data relating to the factors noted above, these are the 20 worst places to live in Indiana-

20. Linton

  • Population – 5,162
  • Violent Crime Rate – 0.77 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 31.0  per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 15.84%

Linton is a small town in southeast Indiana that has a serious property crime rate –more than twice the state average. In addition, motor vehicle theft and other types of theft are twice Indiana’s state levels in Linton, where the most dangerous place is Center City. The median home price in Linton is $112,933, which is significantly below the state and national median home price levels.

19. Connersville

  • Population – 13,292
  • Violent Crime Rate – 1.13 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  5.57 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 22.19%

Connersville is a small city located in the southeastern section of Indiana – in the middle of a large rural section of the state. The small city lacks amenities and leisure options, which is why it lands on our curated list of Indiana’s worst places to live. In addition, since the 1960s, the area has seen a population and employment decline, making it one of Indiana’s least preferable locations in which to live. And poverty levels in Connersville are nearly twice Indiana levels

18. Seymour

  • Population – 21,618
  • Violent Crime Rate – 1.25 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –   17.72 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 16.72%

Seymour is located in southern Indiana in Jackson County and is the hometown of John Mellencamp, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Seymour is also the basis of Mellencamp’s hit song Small Town. While violent crime is not the primary concern, property crime (a resident has a 1 in 56 chance) exceeds Indiana state rates. Poverty levels in Seymour exceed Indiana’s statewide poverty level, and the crime per square mile in Seymour is nearly twice the state average.

17. Clarksville

  • Population – 21,782
  • Violent Crime Rate – 1.70 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 42.65  per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 14.4%

Clarksville is a small city located on the Ohio River. Clarksville, which is included as part of the greater metro Louisville area, lands as a choice for the worst places to live in Indiana due to its incredibly high property crime rate, which is nearly three times the state average. Overall, the crime per square mile in Clarksville is exceptionally high and nearly five times the average for all other Indiana locations.

16. Lake Station

  • Population – 13,096
  • Violent Crime Rate – 1.76 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 17.72 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 18.3%

Lake Station is located in the northwest corner of the state and included as a suburb of Chicago. Although the small city does not rank among the most dangerous places in Indiana, it has other real problems that are less desirable. Home values in Lake Station are depressed, and the school district is not ranked well. Property crime and poverty levels in Lake Station are extremely high.

15. Marion

  • Population – 28,030
  • Violent Crime Rate – 2.00 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –   23.08 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 28.41%

Marion is a small city in northcentral Indiana and home to the largest evangelical Christian institution of higher education in the Midwest. Property crime is a concern for most people living in Marion, which happens to be the birthplace of James Dean. Marion’s school system is ranked below average, which does not make it an ideal place for families with school-age children. And poverty levels exceed 28 percent – nearly 2.5 times Indiana state levels.

14. La Porte

  • Population – 22,198
  • Violent Crime Rate – 2.07 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –   17.02 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 18.55%

La Porte is located in northwest Indiana and is a part of the Chicago - Naperville - Michigan City statistical area.  This small city has many positive features, which, despite its high property crime rate, keep it from dropping lower on our list of the worst places to live in Indiana. It offers above-average schools and a variety of leisure activities to enjoy in the area. Within city limits, La Porte’s crime per square mile is more than 50% higher than state averages.

13. Salem

  • Population – 6,307
  • Violent Crime Rate – 2.22 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 4.44 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level - 25%

Salem is a small community in Washington County, Indiana – in southeastern Indiana, that is mostly agricultural. While crime rates are not exceptionally high, one out of four residents lives at or below the poverty line. Another significant issue is the underfunded schools, as schools in this small community receive minimal support compared to other districts in Indiana. Further, other livability issues that define the area include poor commutability, lack of job opportunities, and a lack of community diversity.

12. Speedway

  • Population – 13,695
  • Violent Crime Rate – 3.14 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  29.94 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 19.7%

Speedway, located in the center of Indiana in Marion County and considered an enclave of Indianapolis, is home to the Racing Capital of the World – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to great speed, there are exceptionally high crime rates and safety concerns – especially property crime statistics – which is about double the state average. Crime per square mile is five times the Indiana average. The public schools are also a significant problem in Speedway, as is above-average poverty.

11. Shelbyville

  • Population – 20,159
  • Violent Crime Rate – 3.57 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  15.23 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 12.9%

Shelbyville is a city in Shelby County – Central Indiana, with a population of just under 19,000 people. It is considered a suburb of Indianapolis but among the worst places to live in Indiana predominantly because of the crime rates – both of which exceed Indiana statewide averages. However, there are many plus points to this location that prevent it from ranking higher on this list. According to Niche, Shelbyville’s public schools are rated as above average, and there are a variety of leisure activities and entertainment options for residents and visitors.

10. Gary

  • Population – 67,972
  • Violent Crime Rate – 4.78 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  31.20 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 32.19%

Gary has always been a rough place but has seen some improvement – moving up several places on our list of worst places to live in Indiana. Gary is home to The Jackson Five and U.S. Steel’s Gary Works. Gary still has high poverty levels and crime rates that significantly exceed national and state levels. The only positive aspect of this city near Lake Michigan is that the public schools are ranked above average.

9. Anderson

  • Population – 55,099
  • Violent Crime Rate – 4.94 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  29.0 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 21.8%

Anderson is in Madison County, in central Indiana. The city is home to the Church of God and some serious crime statistics. 92% of U.S. cities are safer than Anderson, which has violent crime rates nearing two times the Indiana average – including seven murders for this mid-sized city. Residents in this city have a 1 in 34 chance of being victimized by a property crime in Anderson, and the schools are underfunded and poorly rated,

8. Kokomo

  • Population – 59,671
  • Violent Crime Rate – 5.21 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  15.52 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 14.8%

Kokomo in Howard County is a mid-sized city in northcentral Indiana. Kokomo residents face a serious crime issue, which puts them at a 1 in 192 chance of being victimized. Rape, assault as well as property crime rates are higher than national averages in Kokomo. In addition, poverty levels in Kokomo are higher than statewide averages.

7. Lafayette

  • Population – 71,402
  • Violent Crime Rate – 5.95 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –   21.86 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 16.47%

Lafayette is a mid-sized city in Tippecanoe County near the Wabash River, near West Lafayette. Violent crime is quite serious in Lafayette, which causes safety concerns for residents - with rape and assault exceptionally high for the size of Lafayette. Property crime in Lafayette puts residents at a 2 in 46 chance of being victimized. The public schools are decent; however, poverty levels are higher than state and national rates. Columbian Park East and nearby neighborhoods are among the most dangerous.

6. Terre Haute

  • Population – 58,335
  • Violent Crime Rate – 6.07 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –  48.91 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 16.9%

Terre Haute, which is located on the Wabash River, is in western Indiana near the Illinois border. This city ranks among the worst cities in Indiana, as its residents and officials face serious property and violent crime rates. Rape, robbery, and assaults in Terre Haute far exceed national averages, and you are six times more likely to be a victim of burglary in Terre Haute than the combined average of all other U.S. locations.

5. Hammond

  • Population – 76,575
  • Violent Crime Rate – 6.71 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 33.50 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 19.91%

Hammond is a mid-sized city in the northwest corner of Indiana and included in the greater Chicago metro area. Violent crime is out of control, with a murder rate three times the national average. In addition to the excessive crime statistics, Hammond has poorly rated schools. The city offers vibrant nightlife, a diverse community, and tons of entertainment options and leisure activities for those who are single.

4. Evansville

  • Population – 115,749
  • Violent Crime Rate –7.22  per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –   37.74 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 18.6%

Evansville ranks as the state’s third most populous city and the commercial hub for the Indian/Illinois/Kentucky tri-state area. Located on the southern border of Indiana on the Ohio River, Evansville’s excessively high crime rates – both violent and property are off the charts. The schools in Evansville are ranked above average, and there is a lively night scene, for a variety of entertainment interests. The murder rate in Evansville is nearly four times the national average.

3. Elkhart

  • Population – 53,801
  • Violent Crime Rate – 10.69 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate –28.66  per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 19.6%

Elkhart is located in northern Indiana, about fifteen miles from South Bend. This mid-sized city ranks third on our list of the worst places to live in Indiana due to incredibly high violent crime rates – more than three times statewide levels. Property crimes are out of control, with residents having a 1 in 35 chance of becoming a crime victim. Crime per square mile in Elkhart is four times Indiana’s average.

2. East Chicago

  • Population – 25,968
  • Violent Crime Rate – 10.94 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 21.60 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 24.4%

East Chicago, located on the southern shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Indiana, is less than 20 miles from downtown Chicago. With a median home value of $105,640, and a reduced median household income, excessive unemployment rate levels the area is economically depressed, in addition to facing rampant crime and severe levels of poverty for its residents. The Goodman and Callahan Parks are considered among the most dangerous in the second-place entry of the worst cities to live in Indiana.

1. South Bend

  • Population – 103,110
  • Violent Crime Rate – 14.75 per 1,000 residents.
  • Property Crime Rate – 31.40 per 1,000 residents.
  • Poverty Level – 22.5%

Statistics show South Bend, located on the St. Joseph River, to be among the most dangerous places to live in Indiana, according to Road Snacks. Violent crime is out of control – ranking five times the state average! Statistics for property crimes reveal that residents are twice as likely to be victims in South Bend than in the state overall. At 114, South Bend’s crime per square mile is among Indiana’s highest and about six times the national average.

What city has the highest crime rate in Indiana?

South Bend has the highest incidence of violent crime in Indiana. The city with the worst property crime statistics is Terre Haute, Indiana.

What is Indiana ranked in crime rate?

According to U.S. News, Indiana ranks 22nd out of all states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

What areas to stay away from in Indianapolis?

Some of the rougher neighborhoods in Indianapolis include Haughville, Tuxedo Park, and the intersection of Mass. Avenue and E 34th Street.

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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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