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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Ohio

Youngstown

Ohio has a lot to offer, and while there are some beautiful cities with top attractions for residents and tourists alike. If you plan to live in Ohio, you’ll find world-class attractions across many cities. However, it’s important to do your research as some cities have quite a few safety concerns, ranging from drug abuse to aggravated assault statistics.

We’ve identified ten cities in Ohio that you’ll want to avoid if you’re planning to move to the state. These include some of the most dangerous cities and those that are the worst places to live for other reasons.

Don’t let Ohio scare you. As long as you know what places to avoid, you can enjoy the beauty of the state and the many charming small towns.

Methodology

The 20 worst places to live in Ohio weren’t decided accidentally. Rather, we took the time to look at the violent crime rate and property crime rate across the many cities while also looking at such things as the income ratio, whether a city is known to have a sluggish economy, and more.

We established the cities in Ohio based on a few factors:

Unemployment rates: We pulled state data to look at what counties have the highest unemployment rates in Ohio.

Crime: We explored the most dangerous cities, as identified by Property Club, to learn not only what cities are dangerous but also what crime looks like.

Cost of living: We explored the various cities of Ohio in terms of the cost of living using LivingCost.org to see which ones were the most expensive and which cities had their residents barely scraping by.

Lifestyles: We used an array of blogs to learn more about the different cities to determine entertainment and other offerings that can add or detract from the overall lifestyle that Ohioans can experience.

Once we had all the data, we ranked the 20 worst places to live in Ohio and provided reasons why you may want to stay clear of them.

20. New Carlisle

New Carlisle might be small, but it’s got big problems. For a start, there’s the fact that most households are struggling to make ends meet on a median income of just $44,583. The population is only about 5533, which is slowly shrinking. It looks like people have caught on that the city within Bethel Township isn’t all that it cracked up to be.

Then there’s the fact that 17.5% of the population is living below the poverty line. Factor in a crime rate that’s out of control, where Neighborhood Scout ranks it as a 36 (100 is the safest). There’s also

an unemployment rate that’s creeping close to 7%, and the fact that there’s very little to do, and it’s easy to understand why people aren’t flocking to live here.

19. West Union

If the idea of living in a small town appeals to you, you might like the idea of living in West Union. With a population of just 3,231, it certainly passes the size test. But think twice before you start eyeing up its property market. With a poverty rate of 31.4%, an unemployment rate of 10.8%, and a median income that’s just a little above the poverty line, it’s not exactly oozing charm.

The nearest city is Cincinnati, and that’s an hour away. So, the only attractions involve spending time outdoors, such as in the nearby Prairie State Nature Preserve. If you’re looking for golf, movie theaters, a vibrant nightlife, or anything else, you’ll be left wanting.

18. Cincinnati

Cincinnati is one of the bigger cities of the state, with an impressive population of 308,900. There’s a prime location on the Ohio River, an incredible cityscape, Findlay Market, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and plenty of other attractions.

However, this is not the kind of city you want to live in, let alone raise a family in.

According to Home Snacks, Cincinnati has a poverty rate of 26.3 percent. If that wasn’t bad enough, its median income is just $40,640. But crime is where Cincinnati really falls down: as well as having the fifth-highest murder rate in Ohio (shockingly, one person is murdered in the city each week), it’s got one of the worst property crime rates in Ohio, with 4302 crimes reported per 100 thousand residents. If you value your safety, steer clear.

17. Wellston

Wellston might not be the worst place in Ohio to live, but it’s far from ideal. Its real problems aren’t its unemployment rate (although at 10.1%, that’s bad enough) nor its crime rate. Neither is it the underfunded state of its schools, its desperately low median home value of $88,800, or its equally low median income of $39,318. It’s more the fact that there’s almost nothing to do here. Although none of those other things are exactly helping either.

The only good news is that the school has a decent education system. US News shows that while they only have two elementary schools, one middle, and one high school, the graduation rate is an impressive 87.2%

16. Pomeroy

Small-town Pomeroy is in need of a lot of love right now. With a population of just 2000, it lacks all the essential ingredients to attract any more numbers to its ranks. Jobs are woefully short on the ground (hence an unemployment rate of 14.3% and a poverty rate of 34.8%)

Amenities are even scarcer in this village along the Ohio River. No wonder homeowners are struggling to reach home values of more than $70,000 – about a third of what the national average is.

15. Drexel

Drexel is tiny. By the last count, only 1,991 people live here. Why aren’t more people choosing to live in this little corner of Ohio, you ask? Take your pick. First of all, there’s the astronomically high unemployment rate of 20.3%.

Then there’s the fact that 21.4% of the population lives in poverty. The median income might seem tiny at $28,850, but that’s nothing compared to how little the median home value is… $35,300, in case you were wondering.

The job market is lifeless, as is the town itself – no matter how friendly the people are, it doesn’t mitigate the complete dearth of amenities and recreational opportunities. If you value a well-paid job, decent prospects, and something to see and do on the weekend, hedge your bets, and move somewhere else.

14. Toledo

Toledo has a population of 268,512. Why, who knows? It is slowly dwindling, though. With a crime rate that’s almost triple the US average, a poverty rate of 26.3%, high unemployment and poorly performing schools, it’s certainly not the kind of place most of us would be desperate to move into… something that may well explain why its current population has already shrunk by 2.6% in the last five years alone.

Even the chance of snapping up a single-family home for just $110,000 isn’t enough to convince people to move here.

US News shows that there’s a significant amount of diversity. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help the education system as test scores are low, and the high school graduation rate is an abysmal 68%.

13. Youngstown

Typically, low-income areas all have one thing in common: low property values. In this, Youngstown is no exception. As the only US city where over 50 percent of all households are earning less than $25,000 a year, it comes as no surprise to learn that its median home value of $43,300 is one of the lowest in the state.

To put this in perspective, the average US median home value is $205,000. Only 12 percent of the city’s population have a bachelor’s degree, while its public schools are woefully underfunded. The poverty rate is an eyebrow-raising 38 percent. The crime rate, while not the worst in the state, is still startlingly high.

12. Port Clinton

Port Clinton is the largest city in Ottawa County. While it is home to the scenic Lake Erie as well as countless historic landmarks, there aren’t as many job opportunities as there used to be. According to state data, Ottawa has one of the highest unemployment rates, sitting at 5.5% as of December 2023.

While the town may be known as the Walleye Capital of the World and even offers some incredible beaches, island ferries, and shopping, there’s not a lot to love if you want to live here. According to the Census, only about 18% of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. With a median home value of about $131,900, it’s about half of what the national average is.

If you do want to explore this beachside town, do it as a tourist – save yourself the pain and avoid moving here.

11. Warren

Warren, Ohio is found in Trumbull County. It’s found on the Mahoning River and is only a short drive to Youngstown. It also sits about an hour outside of Cleveland. The city was founded all the way back in 1798, and when you drive through the town, it will still look as though you’re in the 1700s. there aren’t a lot of new developments, so you won’t find much in terms of attractions unless you like touring historic properties.

The population of 39,000 is plagued with a poverty rate of just over 34%. Many people had depended on manufacturing jobs for their livelihood. However, over time, factories have relocated – and many people weren’t able to follow.

The city also suffers from the drug and opioid epidemic, which also explains why crime is high. It’s been ranked as #8 in terms of the most dangerous cities in Ohio, so if you are looking for a place to live, you might want to cross Warren off your list right now.

10. Mansfield

Those in Mansfield deal with both a low quality of life as well as high crime. Additionally, the cost of living is relatively high when you look at rent and utilities. Transport is affordable, though, which is likely why some people stick around for as long as they do. The city suffers from a low population of 47.5k, which means that there’s not much new being built within the city.

Mansfield is found within Richland County and is a halfway point between Cleveland and Columbus. Many would think that, based on location, it’s the perfect location because of being part of the foothills of the Allegheny Plateau. However, the crime is high – and Neighborhood Scout ranks it as a 7 on the total crime index with 100 being the safest. That means that it’s only safer than about 7% of the other neighborhoods in the US.

9. Portsmouth

How does the sound of living somewhere with an unemployment rate of 11.2% strike you? Not much? What about a place with a median home value of $78,400? Still no? In that case, how about somewhere with the third-lowest median income in the Buckeye State and where you have to travel miles to find anything to do? Is it still a hard pass? In that case, you might want to avoid Portsmouth so that you don’t experience the low poverty rate and what that looks like firsthand.

Portsmouth hit the top 10 most dangerous cities of Ohio list recently on PropertyClub. While the location may seem nice because it’s on the north bank of the Ohio River, there are 53.6 crimes per 1,000 residents. This means that it’s about 128% more dangerous than other cities in the US.

8. Dayton

Dayton has 140,569 residents and almost as many problems. The median annual household income of $28,894 is one of the lowest in the entire US, as is its median home value of $134,389 according to Zillow, which is on the rise – but that doesn’t mean that you want to move there.. Almost 11% of the population is unemployed, while a worryingly high number live below the poverty line.

Crime is way above average, with the likelihood of being the victim of a crime being 1 out of 21. There are a lot of drug problems within Dayton, and the number of drug overdose deaths has been on the rise – it’s now one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths in the US. Meanwhile, standardized test scores in the city’s public schools are way below both the state and US average. All in all, it’s not the kind of place you want to spend an afternoon, let alone a lifetime.

7. Athens

At first glance, Athens looks like it has it all, especially with the Hocking River nearby. It even has a fairly decent population of 23,000 for being one of the small towns. However, that’s where it ends. There are very few attractions, the job opportunities are slim, and crime is relatively high.

Athens was recently ranked as #3 in terms of the most dangerous cities in Ohio according to Property Club. About 22.8 crimes are committed per 1,000 people. You’ll find everything from property crimes to rapes and murders being among the crimes committed.

To make matters worse, it’s also one of the poorest cities. The poverty rate is high – about three times more than the US national average. Many average an income of only $32,000 – and that’s because very few people have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

6. Chillicothe

According to Road Snacks, Chillicothe ranks as one of the most dangerous places to live in Ohio. In fairness, its violent crime rate isn’t terrible (although with 465 incidents reported per 100 thousand residents, it’s not great either).

The real problem is its property crime rate, which ranks as the second worst in the state. With a crime rate of 7268 per 100 thousand, residents stand a 1 in 13 chance of having their personal belongings stolen. Fancy taking your chances with those kinds of stats? Us neither.

5. Cleveland

What’s so bad about Cleveland? To say everything would be facetious… but not entirely inaccurate. Its unemployment rate of 3.6% is one of the worst in the state, but it’s actually improving. Its median income of $21,507 is so far below the national average it’s almost a joke.

The median home price of $97,000 is an indication of how little people want to live here, and the crime rate is growing each day. Its numbers, on the other hand, are doing the opposite: while the rest of the country’s population has expanded by 7.1 percent, Cleveland’s has shrunk by 2.4 percent. It might boast the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but that’s about the only thing Cleveland can boast about these days. It’s also known for its ghost tours…and that should be everything we need to know about this city.

4. Springfield

In 2012, The Globe and Mail described Springfield as the ‘unhappiest city’ in the US. A major part of the problem was attributed to a shrinking economy and growing job losses. In the eight years since not a lot has changed.

Unemployment is still high, the poverty rate is still unpalatable, and crime is becoming increasingly problematic. It might not be the worst place in Ohio, but it’s certainly one of the most miserable. It’s also one of the most dangerous, with over 700 violent crimes and over 2600 property crimes taking place every year.

3. Moraine

Moraine is a hard city to tolerate, let alone love. As well as having one of the worst crime rates in the state (in 2019, it reported more murders than any other city in Ohio), its schools are some of the worst-funded, its median income is one of the lowest, and its unemployment rate is one of the highest.

Considering that property values are usually a good indicator of general desirability, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to learn the median home value in Moraine is a tiny $97,700.

2. Whitehall

Only In Your State ranks Whitehall as the most dangerous place to live in Ohio. Little wonder. According to the latest data, it has a crime rate of about 8.59 reported violent crimes per one thousand residents. It also manages to boast the third-highest murder rate in the state, with an average of one murder reported per month… a bad number for any city, but particularly shocking in one that only has 19121 residents.

It’s just outside of the state capital, so there’s a lot of ruckus. However, you’d think because it’s so close to where the politicians are, they’d do something about it. Sadly, they don’t do much – and if you want to participate in any fun, you’ll have to travel at least six miles to head into the bigger city.

1. Canton

Newton County News identified that Canton is the most dangerous city across the state of Ohio – and this is as a result of FBI crime data. With a poverty rate of 31.5 percent, an unemployment rate of 11.15 percent, and a relentlessly bleak job market, Canton ranks as one of the poorest cities in the US. Unsurprisingly, the bottom fell out of the property market a long time ago.

Today, homeowners struggle to fetch more than $71,100 for their houses. The cost of living is low, but the quality of life is also low, as shown on LivingCost.org. The bad news doesn’t stop there. With 1398 violent crimes per 100 thousand residents and 5292 property crimes per 100 thousand residents, it’s one of the most crime-ridden cities in the state.

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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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