When most people think of Nevada, the first cities that likely come to mind are Reno and Las Vegas. Vegas is often referred to as Sin City, and Reno really isn’t that far behind, but the truth is there are many more cities in this state, so don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed or limited if you have Nevada in your sites. If you are living alone or raising children there is much to be aware of when relocating, especially to a state like Nevada, where the cities seem to have a really bad reputation. If a gorgeous vista is important to you though, you will not have a difficult time finding something there that is both safe and beautiful. But where?
The Silver State may not seem to have a lot of options but believe us when we say that there are many fine towns and cities to live in with safety ratings that are above average. If you’re thinking of moving to Nevada or are actually in the middle of looking for the ideal place for yourself and your family, the key is to dodge the dangerous, costly, and negatively influential areas that could prove to be of detriment. How do you do that, though, if you don’t know what’s available that meets your standards? Well, the first thing you do is discover exactly which places DO NOT fall into this category and eliminate them. That’s what our intention is today: To provide you with the knowledge necessary to narrow down the appropriate options for both your desires and your lifestyle. Below is a list of twenty of the worst places to live in Nevada, from the worst to the very worst. We list them using many factors, such as crime, cost of living, housing, and other such ratings in comparison to national averages. But we will also make sure to list some good points so you can get as close to the whole picture as possible.
Mesquite is located in Clark County, Nevada, and has been listed as one of the most ‘up and coming’ cities; as a matter of fact, it was number one on the list compiled by Only In Our State. With a beautiful retirement community and a golf course that people like to brag about, plus more, there are some good points to being a resident of Mesquite. However, it has it’s downsides, which were enough to get it into the #20 spot on our list today. On a scale of one to ten, most of its categorical ratings run just slightly above average (most at number six or seven), and when it comes to crime, well, it’s lower than the national average. But the issue for Mesquite involves the job market, well, they’re a bit hard to come by, especially for women seeking employment according to sources. Also, housing is expensive and scarcer than in many areas. While this is a safe city overall, it can be difficult to pull things off financially, which unfortunately earns it this place as one of the worst.
Considered ‘Cowboy Country’ by the city itself, Winnemucca does have quite the western flavor to it. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy things like meals at the four Basque restaurants there, several cultural establishments, and an abundance of jobs in the many mines located in the area. But when it comes to education, you’re looking at some fairly low numbers, and the cost of living is a bit higher than the national average. Also, even with mining jobs there is a fairly high unemployment rate, and housing is in the slightly expensive range. Not a lot to complain about maybe, but it’s enough to get it knocked onto a few ‘worst places to live’ lists, including ours.
With a population of around 30K, you can imagine that Winchester has everything one could want or need without that overwhelming big city feel. It has a slightly lower cost of living, with an average income around $40K, and reasonable housing prices for the area. The problems occur when it comes to poverty, unemployment, and crime. First of all, crime rates in Winchester are 40% higher than the national average, unemployment is at 10%, and the poverty level is at more than 20%. All very sufficient reasons why Winchester, Nevada is on our list.
17. Spanish Springs
Overall, Spanish Springs appears to be an okay place to live, but there are definite flaws. First, it is located only ten miles outside of Reno, which puts it in close proximity to some very high crime rates. It is also listed as one of the worst cities for women due to a very competitive, and what some consider unfair, job market. According to Zippia, the reason it’s considered worst for women is because there are less women in management positions, they tend to make less than males in the same positions, and more of them seem to be impoverished on average. Well, it’s enough for us, and manages to land Spanish Springs at number seventeen.
16. Lemmon Valley
Lemmon Valley, which is located in Washoe County, has a number of things residents can boast about. There is a lot to do for families and individuals, like visiting the National Automotive Museum or the Sierra Nevada Zoological Park, and for a town with just over 5,000 people it has plenty to offer adults looking for a bit of nightlife entertainment. But there are definitely down points. Even though this is a smaller town the crime rate is a bit high when compared to the national averages for violent and property crimes. The cost of living is also high here, and though there’s not really an issue finding housing, affording it is another matter. Nearly 10% of the population is living in poverty there, so with the high housing prices, it can be a less-than-feasible option unless someone in the family comes from money…but then the crime rate can be enough to scare some away.
Fallon boasts a fairly high diversity level, and the rating for education is definitely higher than average, two points that are very important to many. The town has a population of more than 8,000, and with a cost of living that is lower than average, its residents will likely be staying. But when it comes to crime it should be said that with each passing year since 2005 at least, the crime rate has continually risen, a major point of concern for any newcomers, and certainly those who already live there. It can also be difficult to find employment locally, so chances are you will be commuting if you pitch your tent.
Paradise is basically a suburb of Las Vegas, being only 6.5 miles away, but it takes about 25 minutes to commute there. This is a city, with a population of 233,689, so it has the area and people to be difficult to afford, and it has an unemployment rate that stands at more than 17%, which definitely contributes to the problem. But all of that can seem really small when standing in the shadow of the crime rate. Be warned because a name like ‘Paradise’ can obviously be deceiving. The overall crime rate in this town was 68% higher than the national average, with violent crime rates coming in 98% higher (wow!). Yes, it’s true. In fact, residents have a one in twenty-four chance of being the victim of a violent crime there.
13. Moapa Valley
Most things considered, Moapa Valley has some pretty good points that need to be mentioned. When it comes to housing the city of 6,843 measures up well, and the cost of living is lower than the national average. But this town isn’t a safe and secure as many may think when on the outside looking in. In 2019 they went through an attempted terrorism attack, which was thankfully unrealized, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. According to various sources, it’s a bit high for the population, with 438 violent crimes per 100K people. This isn’t great when you consider the fairly low population. The bottom line is that the crime rate is 16%+ higher than the national average, and those are numbers no one can afford to ignore.
Sparks is another Washoe County city, this one with a population of more than 101,000. Located just east of Reno, it is not only a city with a bit of everything, but it’s right close to anything it could be missing. There are plenty of parks and recreational activities in the area, as well as arts and culture, so it’s a place with much to keep both adults and children occupied. Sound good? Well, there is a problem. While housing, diversity, jobs, and even education are rated fairly high, safety and affordability are embarrassingly, and frighteningly low. The crime rate in Sparks is 12.14% above the national average, making it a shoe-in on our list and a place to think twice about when moving.
A suburb of Vegas, Henderson has neighborhoods that are highly coveted and terribly difficult to assimilate into. This is considered great news by some, along with the fact that the actual crime rate is more than 12% below national average, so you can rest assured that victimization isn’t really something one needs to particularly worry about in this high-end little villa. Crime isn’t the problem…settling down there is. Henderson considers itself to be very exclusive, and though it is highly diversified, the natives there seem to have problems with newcomers, and many state that if you are able to get a place you can afford there at all, you will likely be made to feel so uncomfortable by the long-termers that you don’t even want to stay. A bit of elite bullying is the word when it comes to Henderson, which puts it on our list; lack of crime keeps it out of the top ten.
We’ll start off with the crime rate in Yerington. Anyone moving there, or even considering it, will be happy to know that the crime rate is just about in the average range when compared to the rest of the United States. This may be a problem for some, but overall, it isn’t the main issue that got the city of 3,103 on this list. What makes Yerington a less-than-favorable place to reside is actually the overall ratings it achieved in all the other areas. Out of ten the town scored a four when it comes to job availability, a five in housing, and a meager four when it comes to education. The cost of living is a bit lower than many other towns in Nevada, but with ratings like those it really is a less than ideal place to raise kids in the end. Since we want the best for our kiddos this earns it a number ten spot today.
Being 381 miles from Las Vegas means you won’t have to deal with much of the chaos that comes with close range to the city, but that doesn’t mean that all is peachy keen there. Residents are hard pressed to find many of the big city (or even small city) amenities, which adds frustration to inconvenience, plus the educational resources there are next to nil. Jobs and affordability are high, however, which would likely explain why criminals see it as an easy target. Violent crime in Wells is 15% higher than the national average (though property crimes are lower). Since it’s really the violent crimes that most of us will avoid at all costs, Wells, Nevada slides in at number nine.
Gold, silver, and copper are all mind in this town of 20,247, a population count that makes it the biggest town in Elko county. It is also known for the world-famous Cowboy Poetry Gathering. If it sounds picture perfect to you, think again. It has an average of 538 crimes per year, which comes to about 2,591 per 100,000 people, and puts it over the top of the national average. It also has a safety score of only five out of ten, and an educational rating of only six out of ten. If you have to move to Nevada, there are simply much wiser places to choose.
When it comes to Fernley’s crime rate, it is actually lower than 56% of other Nevada communities, but it is running right along side the national average. In a town of nearly 20,000 people, those aren’t great numbers. It also boasts a fairly high cost of living, with a 9.5% poverty rate, and an unemployment rate that runs about 8.1%. When the average income there is $63K and an apartment rents for over a thousand bucks on average (and homes that run nearly $200K) it really isn’t affordable for the average family. To top it off, the educational system isn’t the best, which is really the icing on the collapsed cake, so to speak. These facts helped push Fernley into the #7 spot.
The first well-known city to make the list is Reno, the ‘Biggest Little City in the World’. With a population of 242,633, it definitely falls into the city category, and as can be expected, it has all a city in Nevada is expected to have, both for fun and for misery. The safety rating is a miserable four due to a crime rate that is 18.64% higher than the national average, and it is expensive to live there, to boot. However, there are jobs to be had in Reno, and the housing is a tad bit more affordable. To counter those positive points, though, is the nearly 15% poverty level. Reno comes in at number six easily for these reasons, though a single individual might find it quite luring indeed.
As the seat of Pershing County, Lovelock has a population of 1,806…real small town, right? Well, that doesn’t mean that you could live in perfect peace for the rest of your life there. The fact of the matter is that Lovelock has a fairly steady crime increase, though some years have seen it go down slightly. It has a violent crime rate that is 25% above average, with property crime running around 3% higher. While this may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, the fact is it is extremely high for such a small town. And to be honest, things aren’t much better in the other areas that matter either. Everything from employment to education are expectedly low, but it is considered affordable. If you think you can trade the big stuff for the smaller price tag, Lovelock might be for you, but otherwise you should likely steer clear.
This small community, located just over 20 miles from Elko, takes up only 9 square miles, and is found right along Interstate 80, if you are looking to commute. It has a population of just over 2,000, and it does, indeed, have a much better crime rate than even Carlin. So, how did Carlin find its way into the number four spot on our list? With this town it’s all in the ratings. Rents and housing prices for a town of this size are astronomical, and income levels are shabby as could be. And regardless of the crime rate they scored only a six for safety; sadly, enough education scored the same. Because Carlin has so many unappealing characteristics when it comes to the cost of living, and because it is SO unaffordable, it makes our list.
3. West Wendover
Also located in Elko County, West Wendover is best known for being a railroad town, which serviced a variety of railroad companies at one time. With a population of 4,410 it is just big enough to have opportunities, and small enough to avoid crime…or is it? Well, education is an extremely low point here, only earning 3 points out of ten, which is enough to make us put it at number three (appropriate, right?), and housing is low as well, as are conveniences and amenities. Sounding even worse? We’re not done. West Wendover has a crime rate that is 8% above average, which is like the rotten little cherry on a sour milkshake. This may be a great town for older folks, but it really falls easily into its spot for all the reasons listed here.
2. Las Vegas
You expected to see this at number one, didn’t you? Well, don’t get in such a hurry; it didn’t quite make it. The City that Never Sleeps didn’t gain that reputation because of its slow pace. No, it is filled with every last amenity you could imagine, and some you certainly don’t want. Sure, diversity is high, and you can find anything you want, but it is expensive to live there, and the habits you can develop will break you. As for crime, it’s a whopping 34.07% higher than the national average, which by itself is reason to only visit, and that very briefly. Sure, Vegas is like a sparkling jewel in the middle of a wasteland, but all that glitters surely isn’t gold.
1. North Las Vegas
Finally, in the number one spot, earning the title of Worst Place to Live in Nevada, is North Las Vegas. Technically, North Las Vegas is its own entity, and is situated in Las Vegas Valley. It has a problem with prostitution drug use, addiction, poverty, and crime. It’s expensive, has poor public schools, a low safety rating (4), It is also expensive. Like its bigger sister you can find anything you want, from jobs to shelter (to drugs and worse). The crime rate in North Las Vegas is staggeringly 20% higher than average, making it unsafe, dirty, and scary, to say the least. We don’t need to expand…North Las Vegas speaks for itself, and it spoke itself right into the number one place on the list.