Quality of life in an American city often depends on the neighborhood one lives in, as abject poverty and crime can be found just blocks away from prosperity. Still, as much as a city can be judged on the whole, some cities face widespread problems that detract from their residents’ overall quality of life.
Americans take into consideration a number of factors when deciding where to live, including the quality of schools, the strength of the local economy and job market, the area’s safety and culture, as well as its climate. Cities that perform well by these measures are more likely to attract new residents, and those that do not tend to drive residents away.
To determine America’s worst cities to live in, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the 551 U.S. cities with a population of 65,000 or more as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. Based on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants and attractions, educational attainment, and housing affordability, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s 50 worst cities to live.
# 22 Buffalo, NY
Median home value: $75,800
Poverty rate: 33.0%
Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.9%
Buffalo is the second largest city in New York, and by many measures the most economically and socially distressed. The typical Buffalo household earns only $32,509 a year, and about one in three area residents live below the poverty line. In comparison, the median annual household income across the state is $60,850, and about 15.4% of state residents live in poverty. Financial prosperity is undercut by a lack of employment opportunities. The city’s 7.1% unemployment rate is the highest of any city in the state and well above the 5.3% statewide rate.
An economic turnaround may be in the city’s near future, however. In a joint venture with Tesla, Panasonic invested several hundred million dollars in a South Buffalo solar cell manufacturing plant. Once the plant hits production capacity in 2019, the venture is anticipated to add some 1,400 new jobs. The deal is one of several major investments that have been announced in the last few years.
#34 Rochester, NY
Median home value: $76,900
Poverty rate: 33.2%
Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 21.6%
The typical Rochester household earns only $31,946 a year, slightly more than half the statewide median income of $60,850. In addition to very low incomes, serious financial hardship is relatively common in the western New York City. About one in three Rochester residents live in poverty, a higher poverty rate than in all but 14 other U.S. cities.
Property values in Rochester are very low on average. More than half of all homes in the city are worth less than $77,000, one of the lowest median property values in the country. High property taxes saddle area residents with additional financial burdens. Homeowners pay 3.3% of their home value in property taxes on average on an annual basis, far higher than the 1.2% the typical American homeowner pays.