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30 Saddest Cities in the U.S.

Baltimore, Maryland

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

It’s no secret that Baltimore has had an image problem in the past few years. A high per capita violent crime rate and an above average unemployment rate (5.7% compared to the national rate of 4.1%) don’t combine for community selling points.

(image via Flickr)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Worst Scoring Areas: Community Pride

In recent years, population grown in Baton Rouge has stagnated. After a trying 2016 marked by civil rights protests and a devastating flooding, it may not be surprising that community pride throughout the area has taken a hit. That being said, its #10 ranking is a marked improvement from being #2 on the list last year.

(image via Flickr)

Reading, Pennsylvania

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

Reading is a great hobby, but not such a great city. Reading, Pennsylvania has next to no community pride. It’s consistently ranked as one of the worst cities to live in. Only a third of adults own their own homes and even less are married. Education is also below average.

Image via: Wikipedia.

Flint, Michigan

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

Flint, Michigan isn’t all bad. The people there are great. They’re just in a rough spot. They made the national news in recent years because they don’t have clean water. The people can’t sell their homes and they can’t afford to exclusively buy bottled water. The earliest this water problem would be fixed is 2020.

Image via: Pinterest.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Worst Scoring Area: Physical Activity

As many areas around the nation were seeing their crime rates drop in recent years, Little Rock’s increased in 2017 (after already having a disproportionally high violent crime rate for its size). Much of that is concentrated in specific areas where residents don’t feel supported by effective local representation. However, the city has come down from a high ranking of #3 last year.

(image via Flickr)

Toledo, Ohio

Worst Scoring Areas: Physical Health

As the home of Chrysler and GM, the auto bust spelled bad news for the city of Toledo and its residents. The unemployment rate has since rebounded to near national averages, but the city as a whole still has a particularly high poverty rate. But if there’s a silver lining to the story, Toledo has greatly improved in the rankings! Just last year, it ranked #1.

Providence, Rhode Island

Worst Scoring Area: Personal Purpose

We’re not saying that if you move to Providence then the city gives you sleepless nights, but the city happens to be in the top 10 for sleep-deprived metro areas. Perhaps people are worried about their real estate since home appreciation in the past 10 years has been -26.4%.

(image via Flickr)

Detroit, Michigan

Worst Scoring Area: Personal Purpose

Detroiters have seen their fair share of hard times recently. The city has lost 60% of its population since peaking at almost 2 million people, and in 2013 the city government filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country. Estimates place the number of abandoned houses at around 10,000 throughout Detroit, but here's to hoping there are some creative solutions ahead for this troubled town. They mended their community pride problem in recent years; now it's time to focus on jobs for personal fulfillment.

Fresno, California

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

Unfortunately, the residents of Fresno, California, aren’t experiencing the record low unemployment of much of the country. While the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 4.1% at the end of 2017, Fresno’s was double that at 8.2%. That number doesn’t bode well for economic stability.

(image via Flickr)

Akron, Ohio

Worst Scoring Area: Personal Purpose

Like other Rust Belt cities, Akron has seen its population drop, though not as dramatically as Cleveland. Still, 3,000 properties remain vacant throughout the city, which doesn't contribute to a vibrant-looking neighborhood. Akron's unemployment rate is also greater than the national average, peaking at a high of almost 14% during the Great Recession.

Buffalo, New York

Worst Scoring Area: Personal Purpose

In the all too important manufacturing jobs sector, Buffalo has seen half of those jobs disappear since the 1980s. This probably contributes to the city’s poorest metric ranking of personal purpose. Without the meaningfulness and drive that a stable career offers, many people feel unfulfilled, which is detrimental to overall mental well-being.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

The New Orleans poverty rate of 27% is nearly twice the national average. Additionally, according to Bloomberg, the city is the third-most unequal in the country. Pair that with an economy dominated by low-paying tourism service-sector jobs, and the conditions for a robust middle class are hard to come by.

(image via Flickr)

Springfield, Massachusetts

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

While the rest of the U.S. was seeing record low unemployment rates, Springfield, Massachusetts, was experiencing its highest unemployment numbers in nearly two years. At the end of 2017, the number stood at 6.3%– well above the national 4.1% rate—do to a downturn in the manufacturing-heavy economy.

(image via Flickr)

Wichita, Kansas

Worst Scoring Area: Physical Activity

Unfortunately, a number of poor health choices knock Wichita, Kansas, down to the saddest cities list for the first time in a couple of years. Drug and smoking usage rates contribute to overall poor health and can be seen in a rise of the premature death rate. Teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections are also on the rise.

(image via Flickr)

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

Even the upbeat nature of The Office couldn't save Scranton from the saddest cities list. The fictional home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is falling behind other cities in the nation when measuring community pride. For the last 70 years, residents have been slowly leaving, and Scranton's government was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy in 2012.

Fort Smith, Arkansas

Worst Scoring Area: Physical Health

Fort Smith is regarded as the least healthy city in the nation. It’s not a place where your neighbors will encourage you to run a 5k, eat healthily, or quit smoking. Looking at the Wellbeing Index, it’s close to being the worst in every category studied.

 Image via: Pinterest.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Worst Scoring Area: Physical Health

OKC begins a double dose of Oklahoma cities on the list, tied for 2nd most of any state. Like many Southern and Mid-South communities, the population struggles with low rates of physical activity and high rates of obesity. Out of 50 of the United States’ largest cities, Oklahoma City fell near the bottom of the pack for walkability at a lowly 43. It’s no wonder people don’t get out and move around.

(image via Facebook)

Bakersfield, California

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Unfortunately, Bakersfield ranks highly in some less than desirable areas. It is one of the least educated major metropolitan areas in the country, with only 14.7% of residents having a bachelor’s degree. It also has high rates of obesity, unusual for an area outside of the Southeast, and high rates of smoking (21%).

(image via Flickr)

Memphis, Tennessee

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

During the recession, the unemployment rate in Memphis soared above national averages but in recent years has come back down. What doesn't help, however, is the second-highest violent crime rate in the nation. That negative community aspect has contributed to the city rising from #9 to #1.

Columbia, South Carolina

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

If there's one thing for Columbia, South Carolina, to focus on, it's the economic situation of its residents. Nearly 20% of the population has income under $15,000 (compared to 12.6% nationally and 15.4% in the state of South Carolina). The city's unemployment rate is also 6.6% compared to a national average of 5.2%. Meanwhile, home appreciation over the last 10 years based on the median home cost in Columbia is a -1.2%.

(image via Instagram)

Youngstown, Ohio

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

Youngstown's rate of vacant houses is nearly twenty times that of the national average, and the city has lower than average wages and percentages of residents with college-level degrees. All in all, these residents could use some cheering up. If there is a silver lining for Youngstown, it's that the city stood atop this list only 2 years ago. A 4-place drop in the rankings is a positive welcome sign.

(image via Blue80, CC)

Dayton, Ohio

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Like many other places in Ohio, Dayton has consistently been losing residents though this has finally seemed to taper off in the last couple of years. The city scores well in happy workers, the happiest in the state thanks to a diverse economy, however, problematic lifestyle choices lead to poor health. Let's hope Dayton turns that particular frown upside down and makes the jump to the happy cities list.

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Worst Scoring Area: Community Pride

North Carolina may be a beautiful state, but the people of Fayetteville aren’t too proud of the city they’ve built. In fact, Gallup and Healthways have ranked them the absolute worst in this category.

Image via: Pinterest.

Montgomery, Alabama

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

Montgomery, Alabama sits at the center of our recent history books thanks to everything that happened during the 60s civil rights movement. Sadly, the city struggles when it comes to their physical health, finances, and community pride. Their personal purpose doesn’t rank too well either, but they have fostered a city built of supportive relationships.

Image via: Pinterest.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Just down the road from Oklahoma City, Tulsa has similar problems with obesity, physical activity, and car-centric design. Part of the problem is a lack of infrastructure for pedestrians and bikes, though the area along the Arkansas River has made improvements.

Springfield, Missouri

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Springfield, Missouri is a very “meh” city. It sits right smack in the middle of the road in most categories. Supportive Relationships, however, is at the bottom of the barrel. Unless you’re looking for a bland city with a bunch of isolated neighbors, this is not a city you want to live in.

 Image via: Pinterest.

Shreveport, Louisiana

Worst Scoring Area: Economic Stability

Shreveport, Louisiana’s biggest struggle is their lack of money. Their economy is just not thriving the way you’d want a city’s to. They’re also being in poor physical condition, due in part to their lack of resources to pay for proper healthcare. You don’t need money to find purpose though. Shreveport is 44th as far as Personal Purpose is concerned.

Image via: Pinterest.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Fort Wayne, Indiana is the type of place you move to if you get a job offer that you’re not super excited about. The only way this city stands out from anywhere else is the lack of interpersonal relationships amongst the residents. It’s the type of place where the weekend is much better than Monday morning.

Image via: Pinterest.

Medford, Oregon

Worst Scoring Area: Personal Purpose

You may not have heard of the city of Medford, Oregon. The city’s 80,000 residents wish they hadn’t either. Personal purpose and the city’s financial instability are ranked as some of the worst in the nation. It’s a beautiful place, and we hope it starts an upswing soon.

Image via: Pinterest.

Roanoke, Virginia

Worst Scoring Area: Supportive Relationships

Unlike many of our nation’s saddest cities, Roanoke, Virginia isn’t bad across the board. Financially, they’re okay. Their biggest issues stem from the way the community interacts with each other. It’s not the type of city you move to hoping to make friends.

Image via: Pinterest.