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The 20 Worst Places to Live in New York

Monticello

New York is a desirable state for many because they see it as the land of the free. It offers the quintessential American experience when you think of it because of landmarks like The Statue of Liberty, Broadway, and the Empire State Building. While there are a lot of areas that are amazing, some New York cities make up the worst places to live in New York state because of such things as crime rates, low employment opportunities, poor public schools, and a lack of entertainment options.

It’s also important to note that New York state has the reputation of being the “tax me” state, which can make the cost of living in some New York cities nearly unbearable.

If you’re thinking of moving to New York State, we have the 20 worst places to live in for one reason or another.

Methodology

To establish the 20 worst places to live in New York State, we looked at areas with high crime, high house prices, not a lot of attractions, poor public school performance, and more. While many cities have at least something positive, many are outweighed by the negative things that exist. After all, while a city may have great or weak schools, does that matter if health insurance is through the roof and the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the country?

In order to rank the cities, we used a few different sources.

State Data: We used state data from various sources to look at weak schools, unemployment rates, and more.

Blogs: Blogs allowed us to learn more about the worst cities to live in based on not only crimes of a violent nature but also a weak job market. It also told us about some of the exciting stuff happening in the different cities.

Cost of Living sites: Various cost of living sites, including RentCafe.com, allowed us to identify how a city ranks against the state and national average while also looking at the cost of rent and/or the cost of a home.

Crime data: Sites like Movoto.com and others were used to obtain crime statistics to understand the safety concerns of the most dangerous cities in New York State.

If you want to live in New York State, we advise staying away from these 20 places.

20.  New York City

New York City, according to Google Maps, actually encompasses several boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. So, when people refer to NYC, they’re referring to any one of these places. We’re going to lump them together because it’s easier that way. It makes it to the list of the 20 worst places to live for a few reasons. Crime has risen dramatically over the past few years, partly because of the influx of illegal immigrants.

The cost of living in New York City has skyrocketed. Many residents have roommates simply to shoulder the high cost of rent. It’s 74% more expensive to live here than the state as a whole – and 127% higher than the national average. According to RentCafe.com, the average monthly rate in Manhattan is $4,768. If you plan on buying a place in the city, you’ll need about $2.4 million.

The city does have its perks. You’ll have all the entertainment and nightlife that you could ask for, as well as a long list of restaurants to choose from. You won’t need a car because public transportation is so readily available. However, if you really want to live here, you’ll need to make a lot of money and be prepared to deal with both property crime rate and violent crime.

19.  Goshen

Goshen is a town in Orange County with a population of 13,894, and it is famous for being home to the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. The town has also achieved fame for being the place where outlaw Claudius Smith was hanged.

One of the biggest issues in this town is the weak economy and the cost of living, which is high, considering that incomes are below the state average, and many people cannot afford health coverage. Prices have continued to rise, and the cost of living is now about 33% higher than the national average. The main expenses include housing, food, and transportation.

However, there are plenty of things about which Goshen residents can feel proud, as the public schools are highly rated, the job market is strong, and there are plenty of things for people to enjoy in their leisure time. This includes York's LEGOLAND theme park as well as many parks to spend time walking, biking, and roller-blading.

18.  Jamestown

Jamestown is one of the most dangerous places to live in New York, which is a statistic that is enough to put many people off living in the area. Another deterrent is the weak job market and weak economy, as there are limited job options in many sectors, so you may not necessarily find employment in your preferred sector.

On the other hand, there are very good schools and lots for families to enjoy in the area. Therefore, there is a combination of both pros and cons to life in this city. Jamestown is in Chautauqua County, and its population is 29,799. The city sits between Allegheny National Forest and Lake Erie.

While it’s relatively affordable to live in Jamestown, and homes are cheaper than many throughout the state, you will have to deal with it being a dangerous city. Annually, there are over 800 crimes against property and 200 violent crimes committed across Jamestown. The chances of being a victim of a violent crime are 1 in 124, so many would prefer not to take that kind of risk.

17. Monroe

When choosing where to live in New York, Monroe is a location that you may prefer to avoid. It has high rates of violent crime for such a small city, as Monroe is home to only 19,781 residents. This city’s cost of living is also high, which is a deterrent for some people. It’s higher than the nation’s average, and most of this has to do with housing and food.

On the other hand, this Orange County city has highly rated public schools, and there are many family-oriented activities, so the city has some features that appeal to families. Trip Advisor lists such things as Warwick Valley wineries, Fitzgerald Falls, and more as top attractions.

16. Albion

Albion is a town in Orleans County with a population of 5,439, and this town has a sparse suburban feel. The weak economy in this area is the primary reason that Albion is on the list of the worst places to live in New York.

The median home value is low, and there is a lack of job options. These are both factors that deter people from living in the area. Despite the economic issues in Albion, the town has some positives, such as decent schools and a choice of activities for residents to enjoy in their free time. Some of Albion’s top attractions include Bullard Park, Cobblestone Church Museum, and Salamanca Estate Winery.

The crime is another reason why Albion is on the list. According to Neighborhood Scout, it gets a crime index number of 11 (based on 100 as the safest), so it’s not one of the safest cities in the country. Residents will have to deal with both violent and other crimes throughout the year.

15. Wappingers Falls

As crime is not a huge area of concern in Wappingers Falls, this Dutchess County town’s appearance on the list may seem questionable. However, other problems have led to this area being considered undesirable. A dwindling population of only about 6,000 people means that there aren’t a lot of attractions.

Some of the most notable issues include limited employment opportunities and a high cost of living compared to relatively below average income. Approximately 5.9 percent of the population is living in poverty, according to Census data.

On the flip side, the public schools in Wappingers Falls are highly rated. Beyond that, you’ll find that there are plenty of greenspaces to enjoy your time, including farms, Bowdoin Park, and the Meadowbrook Farm Market.

14. Brockport

Those who live in Brockport may argue that it is a great place to live as the schools are rated above average, the community is diverse, and there are plenty of things to do. Some of the area’s most popular attractions include Sweden Town Park, Northampton Park, Kirby’s Farm Market, Five Sons Winery and RG Brewery, and Snick Hawkins Park. The population is only 6900, so it’s likely that you’ll know who your neighbors are.

However, the statistics show that there are serious problems in this location. More than a quarter of the population is living below the poverty line, which is a worrying figure. The unemployment rate is also above the state average, at 4.8 percent. The median household income is an unimpressive $48,579.

PayScale also identifies that the cost of living is about 1% higher than the national average. You’re likely to spend most of your money on rent, healthcare, and groceries.

13. Endicott

Endicott is a village in Broome County, just west of Binghamton, that has a population of 13,392 people. An interesting fact about this location is that it is named after Henry B. Endicott, who was a founding member of the Endicott Johnson Corporation, a shoe manufacturing company.

One of the most notable statistics relating to this location is the median home value, which is the second-worst in the state at $88,300. The median household income is also low compared to the average for the state.

There aren’t too many job options in Endicott, so many people have to work elsewhere. This can make commute times longer – and it also explains why the population is dwindling. Many people are moving to be closer to better economic opportunities.

12. Poughkeepsie

While crime wasn’t always a problem in Poughkeepsie, it may surprise you to see it on the list now. In fact, FBI crime data pulled by Neighborhood Scout shows that it’s not one of the safer communities in the US. However, the economic problems in this area are so significant that it has now become one of the most undesirable locations in New York.

A staggering 19.4 percent of the city’s population is living below the poverty line. This statistic is partly due to the high unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, which is the sixth-worst in the state.

The town has a population of 31,800, which is growing just a bit. It’s located in Dutchess County and is only about 40 miles from the Resorts world Catskills and Catskill Mountains. In terms of location, it’s in a beautiful part of the state. However, you’re likely to encounter a number of economic downfalls by living here, so you might want to skip this area entirely.

11. Monticello

According to Road Snacks, the worst place to live in New York is Monticello. Many factors contribute to Monticello’s ranking at the top of this, and economic problems play a significant part. It has the worst unemployment rate in New York, at 6.7 percent – significantly higher than the state average of 3.6 percent.

Those who do work have a median household income that is barely above the poverty level, and if the residents of this town had more money, entertainment and leisure options would be limited. Even Trip Advisor fails to come up with many exciting things to do in Monticello beyond a ski resort, a casino, and various historical attractions.

Surprisingly, crime is not a big issue in Monticello and does not contribute to why this location tops the list. With a population of only 7300, there just isn’t much going on. You’re also essentially in the middle of nowhere, so you’ll have to drive a few hours to get to any major city – two hours to Albany or to New York City.

10. Binghamton

Many people may find it surprising that Binghamton does not appear higher in the listings, as it is often identified as New York’s most dangerous place in which to live. Binghamton also has serious economic problems, as it has a high unemployment rate in New York at 3.8 percent.

What has prevented Binghamton from ranking higher are the city’s positive features. These include above-average schools, a wide range of activities to enjoy, and community diversity.

According to RentCafe.com, the average rent is about $1572 for a 1-bedroom apartment. The city, which is also the county seat of Broome County, is relatively affordable, but you’ll pay more for health than in many other places around the US.

9. Watertown

Watertown is a city in Jefferson County with a population of 25,290. Overall, Watertown is the fifth-most dangerous place to live in the whole of New York. Two other causes for concern in this city are the poorly rated schools and the lack of job opportunities.

Most of the jobs fall into such industries as engineering, arts and entertainment, or business and finance. As such, for those without a college degree, the job market is severely lacking. It’s also why the median household income is only $46,051 – considerably lower than many other parts of New York.

However, there are also some positives that counteract the negatives. These include the city’s vibrant nightlife, multiple outdoor activities, good transport links, a reasonable cost of living, and a diverse community.

8. Utica

One of the many reasons for Utica appearing in the eighth position on the list of the worst places to live in New York is safety, as the Utica google maps location is the seventh-most dangerous city to live. The unemployment rate is higher than the state average at 8.2 percent.

The house prices are an interesting subject for the city that sits in the Mohawk Valley, as the median home value is $170,900. While this is only the 30th worst in the state, they are the cheapest houses in a 300-mile radius. Although the low house prices may seem advantageous, it reflects the lack of demand for housing in the area and is a sign that this location is considered undesirable.

A population of 64,500 is lower than in previous years, so many people are choosing to move out of Oneida County. It does offer some decent attractions, including a center for the arts, a zoo, and several breweries. However, it’s just not enough to pique the interest of people looking for someplace to move in New York because of the weak job market and the high number of crimes.

7. Albany

Albany is the capital of the state, which is where you’ll find not only a large concentration of government buildings but also corporations. The Breeze 103.9 identifies Albany County and the capital region to be one of the three most dangerous counties to live in, mostly because of the high crime rates. Neighborhoods such as Second Avenue are characterized by over 4700 crimes of a violent nature per 100,000 residents.

With a population of 98,000, there are plenty of people – and that’s not even including those who visit to take advantage of such attractions as The Egg, The Albany Institute of History and Art, or the stunning views of the Hudson River and Hudson Valley.

While you’ll enjoy a lower cost of living than the state average, you will also find that the school district doesn’t have the best opportunities. While graduation rates are getting better, the overall percentage of those graduating from high school is at 82 percent.

6. Newburgh

There is a combination of factors that make Newburgh an undesirable place in which to live, including an above-average unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. A lack of safety is a further issue in Newburgh, as it is the 17th most dangerous place to live in New York. While crimes involving property are not a major problem, Newburgh violent crime rates are another matter, as it has more incidents of this type than any other city in the state.

You wouldn’t expect there to be that much drama in the city of Orange County, with a population of only 28,800. Yet, its location along the Hudson Valley and its distance from any decent job opportunities are just enough to cause residents to turn to a life of crime.

BestPlaces.net also shows that it’s more expensive to live in Newburgh than in other parts of Hudson Valley or the state and country. It’s about 22.5% more expensive than the US average. Rent for a two-bedroom unit averages $1480 – more than what your average American city would cost.

5. Schenectady

There is a huge difference in the number of crimes against property versus the number of crimes of a violent nature in Schenectady. The crime sits at #5, according to Movoto’s list. It’s where we rank it, too, because of such crimes as murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults taking place on an annual basis.

According to Niche, Schenectady also has public schools that are rated as performing poorly, and there is a lack of diversity in terms of the local job markets. On the other hand, Schenectady has great nightlife, the community is diverse, and there is a good choice of leisure activities to enjoy.

The population is 66,000, and that’s dwindling slightly year after year. Much of that is likely because the city is growing in crime but not in attractions. The only real benefit is that the cost of living is actually a bit lower than in many parts of the country, although you’ll pay more for such things as healthcare and groceries.

4. Niagara Falls

If the ranking for the worst place to live in New York were based on crime rates alone, then Niagara Falls would appear much higher on the list. This city is the second-most dangerous place to live in the state, with the third-most violent crime rate and the sixth-highest rate of crimes involving people’s property.

If one of your main criteria when choosing where to live is not safety, then Niagara Falls has a lot to offer residents. There are lots of bars and restaurants within only a stone's throw, families have good leisure options, and the schools are above-average.

Many tourists travel from all over the world to see the true natural wonders of the Niagara Falls. However, the better side of the falls is on the Canadian side. What’s left on the Western New York side are less-than-impressive attractions and an astonishing number of property crimes. You’d be better off visiting Niagara County as a tourist and choosing a different place in New York to call home.

3. Syracuse

Syracuse’s inclusion in the top ten worst places to live in New York is primarily because of the high crime rates. Crimes involving violence are the greatest area of concern, as Syracuse ranks as having the sixth most crimes of this type, compared to the 12th most crimes involving people’s property. Another shocking statistic is the number of people living below the poverty line, which is alarming at 31 percent.

Syracuse has a growing population of 146,000 people, and a number of companies call this city home. There are plenty of job opportunities to be had – though not everyone wants to work in manufacturing or service-focused sectors.

When you compare Syracuse to other cities of its size, it comes up short in terms of many great local attractions. The city boasts farmer’s markets and golf courses, but if it had some more excitement, residents may be willing to overlook the high crime.

2. Rochester

Rochester is within the top ten worst places to live in Western New York in terms of crime rates involving both property and physical attacks. Sadly, the lack of safety for people’s property is far from Rochester’s only area of concern.

A lack of employment opportunities is a big problem, and 10.2 percent of the residents are unemployed. The average household income is also below average for the state. It’s also why RentCafe.com shows that the cost of living is 24% lower than the state average – people simply cannot afford anything more than that.

On the other hand, the public schools in Rochester are rated as above average, so there are some positive aspects to life in this location. As a great college city, there are also plenty of higher education opportunities, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Museums and parks are also in abundance.

1. Buffalo

Unfortunately, Buffalo’s good points don’t allow it to be listed higher on the list. It has made it to the #1 spot because of violent crimes, the snowfall that is seen in upstate New York, and the poor education system. The fact that it is the home of the Buffalo Bills and chicken wings is not going to save it.

Even some of the outlying areas are dangerous. Lockport, on Google Maps, is full of crime and has a high poverty rate, as does Hartland, Newfane, Clarence, and more. That’s why it may be better to avoid the Buffalo crime rate by skipping over the entire metropolitan area.

The public schools’ performance is another notable concern in the city of Western New York, as they are rated as below-average. NY state data shows that the graduation rate is a low 82% — and that drops to 73% for just males.

Life is not all bad in Western New York Buffalo, though, as there are plenty of entertainment and leisure options in this Erie County city. Some of Buffalo’s most popular attractions are The Buffalo Zoo, the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery credit, and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

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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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