Missouri, a state known for its beautiful farmland, the iconic Gateway Arch, and mouthwatering barbecue, has much to offer. However, just like every other state, there are some areas that are less desirable to live in. In this article, we will take a tour of the worst places to live in Missouri, as determined by data and the opinions of Missouri residents themselves.
Poplar Bluff: A Tough and Challenging Life
Our journey begins in Poplar Bluff, a small town located in Butler County in the Ozark region of the state. Despite its picturesque location, life here can be tough. With a poverty rate of 33% and an unemployment rate of 10%, many residents struggle to make ends meet. The median income is just $30,000, contributing to the second-worst home values in the state.
Crime is also a concern in Poplar Bluff, with the area experiencing the ninth highest crime rate in Missouri. Residents here have a one in 15 chance of falling victim to property crime, including theft and arson. Some residents complain about the lack of entertainment options, rundown homes, and the presence of drug addicts wandering the streets.
Lebanon: A Town Struggling to Thrive
Next on our list is Lebanon, located in Laclede County in the scenic Ozarks of south-central Missouri. While the town is known as the aluminum boat-building capital of the world, economic struggles persist. The manufacturing jobs available here often provide low wages, with a median income of just $37,000. Poverty affects 15% of the population.
Lebanon also faces a growing problem with property crime, including burglary and car theft. The lack of entertainment options, fights breaking out at the local Walmart, and a perceived lack of cultural diversity contribute to residents’ dissatisfaction with their hometown.
Berkeley: An Economic Struggle
Berkeley, a St. Louis suburb, is next on our tour. With an unemployment rate of 12% and low wages, residents here face economic challenges. About 18% of the population lives below the poverty line. Education and housing are also concerns in Berkeley.
Safety is another issue, with the city experiencing a higher crime rate than the national average. With just 9,000 residents, the city averages under two violent crimes and more than one property crime each day. While Berkeley has its peaceful parks, caution is advised when exploring them alone or after dark.
Aurora: A Struggling Small Town
Located in Lawrence County in the southwestern part of the state, Aurora is a town facing economic hardships. The job market offers limited opportunities, and many people make around $40,000 per year. Poverty affects 12% of the population, and the school system struggles due to low funding levels.
Crime is also a concern in Aurora, with a crime rate 120% above the national average. Residents here have a one in 21 chance of falling victim to property crime each year. Despite its challenges, Aurora offers a Walmart and a Price Cutter, as well as a drive-in theater, adding some charm to the town.
Carruthersville: A Safety Challenge
Crossing the Mississippi River, we arrive in Carruthersville, a small town in Pemiscot County. Carruthersville’s location at the intersection of two major highways contributes to its crime problem. The town has one of the highest burglary rates in Missouri and ranks fifth in violent crime per capita.
With a median income just above $31,000, many residents struggle financially, and one in four depends on food stamps. The closure of Walmart in 2017 further emphasized the town’s economic challenges. However, the local casino offers a different type of entertainment, although not a solution to the town’s problems.
Branson: A Tourist Town with Downsides
Branson, known as the “live entertainment capital of the world,” attracts tourists from far and wide. However, life for its 12,000 residents can be challenging. Traffic congestion, high cost of living, and taxes are among the downsides of living in this tourist hotspot.
Crime is also a significant issue in Branson, with property crime rates four times higher than the national average. While unemployment is low, finding a year-round job can be difficult due to seasonal fluctuations. The town’s school system also faces struggles, with over half of the students considered economically disadvantaged.
Sullivan: Economic and Social Struggles
Situated in Franklin County, Sullivan is a town of about 7,000 people. Like many places on our list, Sullivan faces economic difficulties. While jobs are available, they often provide low wages, with a median income of around $35,000. The crime rate in Sullivan is more than double the national average, with property crime being a significant concern.
Residents also express dissatisfaction with the lack of activities, drug problems, and a perceived lack of community interaction. Despite its challenges, Sullivan offers access to outdoor activities in Merrimack State Park.
Springfield: A Troubled City
As the third-largest city in Missouri, Springfield’s presence on this list may come as a surprise. However, the city faces numerous issues. One in five residents relies on welfare, and Springfield is considered the most dangerous place in Missouri, even more so than St. Louis.
Springfield’s crime rates, including murder, robbery, and drug-related offenses, are alarmingly high. It also had the highest rate of rape cases in the state. Lack of diversity, poor treatment of women, and a growing homeless population add to the city’s challenges. However, Springfield’s downtown area shows signs of revitalization and provides some hope for the future.
Charleston: A Struggling Country Town
Located in Mississippi County, Charleston is a small country town with approximately 6,000 residents. Economic struggles are evident here, with the highest unemployment rate in the state. Many residents earn less than $30,000 annually, contributing to low home prices.
Charleston’s schools suffer from limited funding, resulting in high dropout rates. While crime is not as severe as in other places on our list, poverty and drug use remain significant issues within the community.
St. Louis: A City in Crisis
Finally, we come to St. Louis, a city known for its many challenges. With a high crime rate, including over 5,700 reported cases of rape, murder, robbery, and assault in one year, St. Louis stands as one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Car thefts and property crimes are rampant, making safety a concern for residents.
Social and economic issues, including segregation, poverty, and drug use, plague the city. However, ongoing efforts to improve areas near downtown provide a glimmer of hope.
Conclusion: Working Towards a Better Future
As we conclude our journey through the worst places to live in Missouri, it is essential to remember that communities can improve with hard work and determination. Missourians should come together to demand change, support those in need, and actively contribute to making their communities better.
Missouri is a great state with much to offer. By addressing the challenges and striving for a safer, more prosperous future, these areas can transform themselves into vibrant communities that residents can be proud to call home.