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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Missouri

St. Louis

Missouri is a great place to live. It's got a little something for everyone. There are huge, buzzing cities for those who like to be where the action is. There are bucolic backwaters for those who prefer to take things nice and slow.

There's sun, there's snow, there's outstanding natural beauty and equally outstanding culture. The food scene is vibrant, the cost of living is tiny, the property is cheap, and there are job opportunities aplenty.

Sound's great, right? But before you pack up and head to the mid-west, you might want to turn that shiny coin over and examine the rust on the back. Because for all its perks, life in Missouri ain't all that... not for everyone, anyway.

Depending on where in the state you live, you might stand a better chance of being robbed than getting a job. And enjoying all that culture becomes a sight more difficult when you don't have two cents to rub together.

If you're planning on moving to Missouri in the near future, take our advice and do your research first. And whatever you do, think twice about settling down in any of these 20 worst places to live in Missouri.


20. Normandy

If you value having enough money in your bank account to stretch to the occasional luxury, do yourself a favor and avoid Normandy. According to the data from, many Normandy residents are struggling to put food on the table, let alone treat themselves to the occasional pay-day splurge.

By the latest reckoning, 27.8% of residents live below the poverty line, a full 51.6% higher than the average for Missouri. Oddly enough, having an education puts you at even more risk: 42.2% of high school graduates and 37.1% of non-high school graduates live in poverty. Whatever kind of spin you put on it, those aren't great stats.


19. Berkeley

Berkeley doesn't have a lot to recommend it. Sure, it might seem peaceful and quiet on first inspection, but dig just a little beneath the surface and you'll soon discover why. Simply put, there's nothing there.

Other than a few basic amenities, residents have almost no recreational outlets. Even worse, they've barely got any jobs either: of a population of 8991, 10.7% are unemployed. Those that do have a job are barely making ends meet on a median income of just $33,874 a year.


18. Sullivan

There might be worse places to call home than Sullivan, but you'll struggle to find many in Missouri. The education system is underfunded; the unemployment rate is growing yearly; the crime figures are one of the worst in the state (and quite possibly the entire country), and most residents are barely scratching a living. If you have a choice in the matter, find somewhere else to live.


17. Caruthersville

Considering its tiny population of just 5,760 residents, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Caruthersville was the kind of charming small town where everyone knew each other by name and were happy enough to leave their cars unlocked. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Far from being some cozy little backwater, Caruthersville is a town in dire straits. The unemployment figure of 15.3% is one of the worst in the state, while the median income is so low, you wonder why people bother going to the office at all.

The crime rate is just as distressing: move here, and your chance of being the victim of a property crime rises to a staggering 1 in 21.3.

De Soto

16. De Soto

If you're a woman who values career opportunities and a decent income, don't make the mistake of moving to De Soto. According to, the city ranks as the very worst city for women in the whole of Missouri.

For every dollar that men make, women make just 29 cents. Only 30.7% of management positions are held by women. A distressing 25.7% of the city's female residents live in poverty and 9.8% are uninsured. So much for progress.


15. Branson

According to, Missouri has the sixth highest violent crime rate in the country. While big cities like St. Louis and Kansas City are responsible for a large part of the problem, smaller towns and cities have their own part to play.

As per FBI data, non-metropolitan and rural areas reported 65 murders in 2017 alone. So, when you see that Branson has just 11,589 residents to its name, don't make the mistake of thinking it's all small-town charm and friendly neighbors.

In 2018, the city reported 85 violent crimes, 65 of which were aggravated assaults, 10 of which were robberies, and 10 of which were rapes. The property crime rate is just as high: 1244 incidents were reported in 2018, 999 of which were larceny/theft. Crime aside, the picture's still not pretty: unemployment is the 33rd highest in the state while the median household income is an unappealing $40,343.


14. Jennings

Jennings has an unemployment rate of 10.5%. And when people have no job and very little chance of ever getting one, you can count on one thing. Skyrocketing crime rates. According to FBI data, Jennings has the 4th highest crime rate in the state.

What does that mean in reality? It means that residents have a one in 22 chance of being the victim of a violent or property crime. Based on's analysis, that gives a crime rate of 45 per one thousand residents, a figure that not only makes Jennings one of the most dangerous places to live in Missouri, but one of the most dangerous places to live in the US, period.

Park Hill

13. Park Hill

Park Hill has an unemployment rate of 7%. If that wasn't bad enough, 21% of its 8568 residents live below the poverty line. Sure, the property might be cheap (you can snap up a decently sized family home here for the bargain-basement price of just $70,800) and the cost of everyday essentials is astonishingly low. But that doesn't mean a whole lot for the families who are still struggling to put bread on the table.

Kansas City

12. Kansas City

The fact that Kansas City is not, as some people might be inclined to think, in Kansas is extraordinary enough. But that's far from the only thing that's 'off' about Missouri's biggest city.

While poverty isn't too much of a major problem here, crime most definitely is. In 2018, the city recorded a record number of homicides. Firearm violence is on the rise, and property crime is faring equally badly. If that wasn't enough, ranks Kansas City as one of the very worst places in America to live with disabilities.


11. Aurora ranks Aurora as one of the worst places to live in Missouri. It's hard to disagree. Not only is it one of the most dangerous places to live (the current figures put it as the 19th worst in the state for crime, with residents standing a 1 in 21.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime), but it's also one of the poorest.

The unemployment rate stands at 10%, while even those in employment are only pulling in around about $38,601 a year per household. The school system is just as woeful as the job market, with students benefiting from some of the lowest funds per head in the state.


10. Kennett

Kennett may have a decent enough sized population of 10,225, but what those 10,225 people find to do with their time is anyone's guess. Entertainment and cultural pursuits are almost nonexistent, while job opportunities are similarly thin on the ground. Even those that do manage to find work are drawing too little ($33,853) to boast about it.

The state school system, meanwhile, is one of the most underfunded in the state. The picture's no prettier when it comes to crime, with residents having a 1 in 15.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime.


9. Lebanon

Lebanon is home to 14,637 people. Of those people, 20% of the adults have never graduated high school. 6.7% are unemployed. Very few make more than $37,896 annually. Around 12.3% of families and 15.2% of the population live below the poverty line. Of those, 17.4% are under the age of 18 and 18.0% are aged 65 or over. Uncomfortable reading, maybe, but probably a whole lot more uncomfortable to live with.

Vinita Park

8. Vinita Park

According to, Vinita Park is not the ideal place to head if you've any concern for the safety of either your person or your property. Last year, the city of 11,003 residents experienced 144 violent crimes. Breaking that down further, that's 44 robberies, 13 murders, and three rapes. Property crime rates are even higher, with 592 incidents (375 of which were larceny/theft) reported last year alone.


7. Centreville

Move to Centreville and your chances of earning a living wage instantly take a huge hit. Residents lucky enough to even have a job (16.4% don't) can expect a median income of just $18,955, a figure that pales in comparison with the national average of $68,703.

On the plus side, buying a property here is remarkably cheap. A decently sized family home should set you back no more than around $52,800... although whether you'll be able to heat, light, or decorate it is another matter entirely.

Elsewhere, the situation is no prettier: entertainment options are just as limited as the job opportunities, while the state of the public school system is abysmal.


6. Venice

Venice won't be winning any prizes for desirability anytime soon. Located around 4.8 miles from St Louis, this tiny suburb of 2,128 residents has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state - according to the latest figures, 17.4% of its population doesn't have a job. No wonder homeowners are struggling to get more than $35,000 for their properties.

Poplar Bluff

5. Poplar Bluff

Poplar Bluff might occupy an enviable position in the Ozark region of Missouri, but that's about the only positive thing you can say about it. Crime is among the highest in the state, unemployment is currently a dire 8.8%, and the average property price of just $101,900 paints an uncomfortable picture of the town's desirability.

According to Wiki, poverty is among the worst in Missouri: the median income is just $22,068 for a single person and $28,744 for a family. About 19.3% of families and 24.4% of the population live below the poverty line, including 34.4% of those under age 18 and 17.6% of those age 65 or over.

Washington Park

4. Washington Park

Washington Park has plenty to offer. There's a huge Kmart, an equally significant Big Lots, and plenty of fast-food joints. Unfortunately, what it doesn't have are many residents who can afford to shop at any of those places.

The median income is one of the lowest in the state (most households are earning just $22,107), while the unemployment rate stands at an uncomfortable 18%. Unless you're happy to get by on a shoestring budget, steer clear.


3. Madison

According to, Madison ranks as the very worst suburb of St Louis to live in. Of a population of 3,714, 16% are unemployed. Even those lucky enough to have a job aren't exactly doing much better: the average income is a tiny $24,845. On the plus side, it's incredibly cheap. Buy a family home here, and you can expect change from $42,000. Just why the property is so affordable may, however, be something you want to consider.


2. Springfield

Springfield has a healthy population of 168,537. Unfortunately, a very high percentage of those people are at risk of burglary, theft, assault, or something even worse. According to, the home of Missouri State University, Drury University, and Evangel University has a crime rate three times higher than the state average. In an attempt to curb the problem, Springfield Police have teamed up with the FBI to form the “Career Criminal Task Force."

“We’re going to go after the bad guys and we’re going to put them in jail. People deserve to feel safe,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has said. Considering the city has a violent crime rate of 1316 per 100 thousand residents and a property crime rate of 7019 per 100 thousand residents, let's hope it doesn't take too long to take effect.

St. Louis

1. St. Louis

According to, St Louis isn't just the worst places to live in Missouri, it's one of the very worst places to live in the entire US. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out why.

The average household makes just $38,664 a year, way below the US average. Crime is through the roof, with a violent crime rate of 1,927 per 100,000 people. Last year alone, 194 people were murdered in the city. In fairness, the unemployment rate isn't terrible: current estimates put it around 5.8%. But that aside, it's hard to think of many positives. Little wonder the population has shrunk by 1.1% since 2012.

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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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