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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Minnesota

St. Paul

When you think of Minnesota, your mind probably creates images of gorgeous, diverse scenery, forests, prairies, farmland, welcoming people, and lots of hockey. The state‘s nickname is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," which, ironically, is only an estimate because Minnesota is thought to have at least 14,000 freshwater bodies that cover 10+ acres. In addition, the Mississippi River also flows through the state.

Minnesota, which is the most northern contiguous U.S. state, is considered a part of what was known as the American Frontier and home to eleven Native American Reservations that the government officially recognizes. The state is characterized by extreme temperatures – with hot summers and cold winters- but the state offers.

According to the data from the U.S. census, there were an estimated 5.7 million residents of Minnesota in 2022 - with about 6 in 10 Minnesotans living in and around the greater metro area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul – or The Twin Cities. The rest of the state only has 19 cities with 50,000 residents or more.

Are you interested in moving to the 12 largest states in the U.S. and wondering what your Minnesota options are? Check out the list and how we created our top 20 worst places to live in Minnesota.  

Our Methodology

The methodology to determine the worst places to live in Minnesota began by reviewing and assessing objective data, as this provides targeted metrics concerning the towns and cities of interest. The current population and living numbers used in our analysis of the worst cities to live in Minnesota were gathered from Neighborhood Scout’s most recent data.

Our next step was determining violent and property crime per capita stats for each Minnesota location – with resident populations exceeding 5,000. The FBI's Crime Data Explorer offers analysts a comprehensive database amassed by the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Their latest 2022 Minnesota data include -  

  • There were 14,282 - Violent crimes – defined as rape, robbery, aggravated assault, homicide, etc.
  • There were 114,231  property crime incidents reported in Minnesota.

To finalize rankings, we included crime rates for these worst cities to live in Minnesota from Neighborhood Scout’s Violent Crime list and Area Vibes. Additional living factors used to guide our foundational logic include -  

  • The Area’s Cost of Living.
  • Median Home Values.
  • Employment Opportunities.
  • Poverty Levels, and more. Note that poverty rates noted in the analysis were obtained from Data USA, Census.gov, and World Population Review, with Minnesota’s poverty rate at about 9.6%.  

Before deciding, consider these 20 worst places to live in Minnesota.

The 20 Worst Places to Live in Minnesota

Nowhere is perfect, but a seedy underbelly beneath the outer appearance characterizes some of Minnesota's towns and cities.  So, if you're considering relocating to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, given the opportunity or choice, you may want to avoid these top 20 worst places to live in Minnesota.

20. Jordan

  • Population (2023) – 6,775
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People –1.03
  • Poverty Rate – 14.16%

If you want to live and commute to Minneapolis, you might think that the small suburb of Jordan is a good choice. Located along the Minnesota River, Jordan has seen recent growth, although the poverty rate in the small area is 40% higher than the state average. While the town hosts an amateur baseball team that has won several state championships, there is nothing really else going on in these three square miles of Minnesota. In addition, the rape rate in Jordan is 50% higher than the national average.

19. Albert Lea

  • Population (2023) – 18,396
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 1.47
  • Poverty Rate – 13.2%

Albert Lea is a nice city with various parks, lakes, boutique shopping, dining, the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, and recreational options. Property crime runs rampant, with the small city’s burglary rate exceeding the national average. The crime per square mile statistic for Albert Lea is twenty percent higher than the Minnesota state average. The median household income for Albert Lea in 2020 was $51,047, significantly less than the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580 for the entire country.

18. Anoka

  • Population (2023) – 17,990
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 2.50
  • Poverty Rate – 8.35%

Patch.com ranks Anoka as one of Minnesota's very worst places to live for families, primarily because of the crime rates. While violent crime rates register at state levels, the number of crimes per square mile is nearly twice Minnesota’s state rate. According to the latest FBI data, Anoka has a crime rate that is higher than 68% of the nation’s other cities and towns.

17. Spring Lake Park

  • Population (2023) – 7,079
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 2.68
  • Poverty Rate – 12.1%

Spring Lake Park sounds like a nice place to live, but the poverty rate in the recent past has risen 125% and currently stands 20%+ above state levels. Overall violent crime equates to state averages, although rape cases exceed the national statistics by nearly 50%. Property crime exceeds the rest of the statistics, and the number of crimes per square mile is a staggering 84 – more than four times the state average.

16. Duluth

  • Population (2023) –86,619
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 2.87
  • Poverty Rate – 17.5%

According to onlyinyourstate.com, the city has one of the highest crime rates of the largest cities located in Northern Minnesota biggest cities, with Neighborhood Scout noting that this city is more dangerous than 91% of all other U.S. neighborhoods. Property crimes are even quite prevalent, with 29.38 incidents per 1,000 residents. In addition, Duluth’s residents have a median household income in 2020 of $58,014, less than the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580, and a poverty rate that is nearly twice the state limit.

15. Maplewood

  • Population (2023) – 40,000
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 3.43
  • Poverty Rate – 10.3%

Maplewood is a suburb that has been recognized by Road Snacks to be named among the worst suburbs of Minneapolis in 2023. Violent crime exceeds state levels, with robberies happening nearly twice the rate of the national average. Property crime in Maplewood is astoundingly high and equivalent to more than twice Minnesota state levels, with Maplewood residents having a 1 in 22 chance of becoming a victim. Robberies and burglaries happen with a frequency that surpasses national levels. There are 111 crimes per square mile in Maplewood – five times the level for the rest of the state.

14. West St. Paul

  • Population (2023) –21,794
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 3.58
  • Poverty Rate – 15.6%

St. Paul might be ranked among the worst places to live in Minnesota, but nearby West St. Paul is not a lot better. With boundaries of about five square miles, this city has violent crime rates surpassing state levels and property crime rates that register at twice the Minnesota state average. According to Neighborhood Scout, West St. Paul is only safer than 4% of all other American neighborhoods.

13. Roseville

https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-inside-mall-2954405/

  • Population (2023) – 36,119
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People –3.68
  • Poverty Rate – 7.04%

Roseville is a moderately sized northern suburb of the Twin Cities. The city is home to the state lottery and offers many shopping areas. It is home to the first Target store, which was built in the early 1960s, and the first Barnes & Noble built outside NYC. With all the shopping, it is not surprising to learn that the property crime rate in Roseville is three times the state average. Rapes and robberies both exceed national averages.

12. Columbia Heights

  • Population (2023) – 22,243
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 4.0
  • Poverty Rate – 11.1%

Columbia Heights is a small city that is situated north of the Minneapolis border. Neighborhood Scout notes that 85% of the neighborhoods in the country were safer than this northern Minneapolis suburb. The number of crime incidents in Columbia Heights is 161, which is a remarkable eight times the Minnesota state average. The incidence of rape in this small suburb exceeds the national rate by about 30%.

11. South St. Paul

  • Population (2023) – 20,506
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 4.05
  • Poverty Rate – 10.5%

The St Paul suburb of South St Paul is located in Dakota County, along the banks of the southern Mississippi River. South St. Paul is known for its meat packing industry. The violent crime rate identified in South St. Paul is about 40% above state levels and exceedingly high rape statistics surpass national averages by more than 50%. Property crime is higher than state and national rates, with a chance of being a victim at 1 in 44.  

10. St. Cloud

  • Population (2023) – 69,568
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 4.50
  • Poverty Rate – 12.1%

Several years ago, the Wall Street Journal recognized St. Cloud among Minnesota's worst places to live. Since then, things have not improved as much as city leaders have hoped. The poverty rate is still above the state and national levels. Violent crime, particularly rap,e is staggeringly high, while you have a chance of being a property crime victim in St. Cloud of 1 in 24. Theft rates in St. Cloud are 2.5 times the theft rate for the entire country, with burglary statistics not far behind.

9.  Fridley

  • Population (2023) – 30,289
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 4.82
  • Poverty Rate – 11%

Fridley is about 8 miles from Minneapolis’s downtown area. And with property values below the state average, you may be tempted to consider relocating here. In addition, the residents of Fridley have a median household income in 2021 of $68,910, less than the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580 for the entire nation. Violent crime far surpasses the state average, while property crime is more than twice the rate for the entire state. The number of incidents of crime per square mile is 132 – 6.5 times the Minnesota state average.

8. Brainerd

  • Population (2023) – 14,580
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 5.01
  • Poverty Rate – 19.49%

Brainerd refers to a small city located in Crow Wing County, Minnesota. While it has charm and some natural scenery, violent crime, especially rape (3+ times the national average), is a problem in Brainerd. Residents have a 1 in 200 chance of being victimized violently, which is far more dangerous than the state average of 1 in 356. Brainerd residents have a median household income in 2021 of $59,647, far less than the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580 for the entire nation.

7. Waite Park

  • Population (2023) – 8,366
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 5.14
  • Poverty Rate – 22.9%

Waite Park may have a tiny population of just 7,623, but its crime numbers are huge. A massive 1 in 10 residents reported a property crime in 2020, putting the small city in contention for the most dangerous place in Minnesota. If that wasn't bad enough, the low property prices and low median income levels smack of an overall low standard of living. Waite Park residents have a median household income in 2021 of $47,018, only about 63% of the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580 for the entire nation.

6. Virginia

  • Population (2023) – 8,332
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 5.28
  • Poverty Rate – 25%

Virginia is clearly a city needing some urban improvement, with an exceptionally high poverty rate. The violent crime for the small city is nearly twice the state average, with assault incidents ridiculously high – 40% above national rates. Virginia, Minnesota residents have a median household income in 2021 of $44,014, dramatically lower than the U.S. Census 2021 estimate of $74,580 for the entire nation. Median property values at $117,000 are well below state and national averages.

5. Brooklyn Center

  • Population (2023) – 32,217
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 6.21
  • Poverty Rate – 12.2

How Brooklyn Center, to the north and west of Minneapolis’s downtown, has become a rough neighborhood in terms of crime. Neighborhood Scout notes that Brooklyn Center is only safer than six percent of all other American towns and cities. Both robberies and rape statistics exceed national levels, making it quite dangerous – especially for women. The number of crimes per square mile in Brooklyn Center exceeds seven times the Minnesota state level.

4. Bemidji

  • Population (2023) – 15,946
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 6.27
  • Poverty Rate – 21.8%

Bemidji is best known as the setting for the movie/book - 'Fargo,' but crime and poverty have begun to overtake this medium-sized city. Bemidji is the hometown of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox; however, it now ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the state. Violent crime is more than twice the Minnesota level, and residents have a 1 in 13 chance of becoming a Bemidji property crime victim.         

3. St. Paul

  • Population (2023) –303,176
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 7.02
  • Poverty Rate – 17.56%

St Paul has been recognized as “The Most Livable City in America,” but recent data suggests otherwise. Violent crime rates are among the worst in the state. Becoming a property crime victim in St. Paul happens at a relative frequency of 1 in 23. All major crime categories in St. Paul exceed national levels. Rape and robberies in St. Paul are more than twice the national rape crime levels. Even murder rates surpass the national murder stats.

2. Glencoe

  • Population (2023) – 5,678
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 9.9
  • Poverty Rate – 5.7%

 According to zippia.com, Glencoe ranks as the worst city for women in Minnesota due to women’s elevated chances of living in poverty and being uninsured. While poverty rates are currently positive, there was a 21% increase year over year. Glencoe residents have a median household income in 2021 of $57,410, far less than the U.S. Census 2021 national estimate of $74,580.

1. Minneapolis

  • Population (2023) – 425,096
  • Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 People – 12.45
  • Poverty Rate – 17%

Minneapolis might be the most populous city in Minnesota, with stunningly beautiful lakes and parks and various cultural events and venues. Minneapolis is the city that has become the first-place winner of the top 20 worst places to live in Minnesota – not the ideal honor. Minneapolis ranks at #1 for violent crime, with 793 violent crimes per 100,000 people. With violent crime rates more than four times the state average and a 1 in 19 chance of being a property crime victim, Minneapolis has become quite dangerous for residents and visitors. The number of crimes per square mile in Minneapolis is 490, compared with the state average of 20.

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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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