A welcome sign at the South Carolina state line.

It can be tempting to pack up and move when you see prices skyrocketing. Or with so many individuals having the option to work from home, maybe you want a change of pace. If you’re looking for a place to move then you may want to stay clear of the cities on this list. WalletGenius compiled a list of “12 American Cities To Avoid Living In”. One South Carolina city was mentioned on the list, though it’s not one I’d say you necessarily need to avoid.

If you’re thinking of moving to a new city or state there are several things to consider. The biggest priorities will obviously depend on what is important to the individual(s) moving. Some important things to consider however are home values, crime rates, poverty rates, as well as recreational and other activities. Many of the cities on this list have high poverty and unemployment rates as well as crime. That doesn’t mean they are all inherently bad however, many of these cities have some great things to offer and if you live there or enjoy the towns then that’s wonderful! Like I mentioned previously I disagree with the South Carolina city WalletGenius says to avoid living in.

The majority of the cities listed are in the south or southwest regions of the US, though Alaska did also get a shoutout. This is not much of a surprise as there are some definitely poorer regions in the south. WalletGenius used data compiled by 24/7 Wall St.Data USA, and U.S. News & World Report to select the featured cities.

  • Douglas, AZ

    Population: 16,307

    Poverty Rate: 30.1% (state 15.1%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.4% (state 5.9%)

    Median Home Value: $100,000 (state $225,500)

    Douglas is a shrinking city on the Arizona-Mexico border. It’s experienced a declining population perhaps due to the high poverty and limited opportunities. It’s not all bad in Douglas though, it’s still a quaint small town that offers a budding art scene, plenty of museums, and some intriguing ghost tours.

  • McKeesport, PA

    Population: 19,225

    Poverty Rate: 31.4% (state 12.4%)

    5-year avg. unemployment: 21.1% (state 5.3%)

    Median home value: $48,000 (state $180,200)

    That home value price definitely gets your attention, but unfortunately it’s a reflection of the limited economic opportunities for residents of McKeesport. Just under 1/3 of the city lives below the poverty line. However, McKeesport is fairly close to Pittsburg so the option to commute and work in the big city is present.

  • Mayfield, KY

    Population: 9,867

    Poverty rate: 34.7% (state 17.3%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.6% (state 5.5%)

    Median Home Value: $100,000

    Mayfield is still trying to recover from the destruction caused by a tornado in December of 2021. The disaster left a trail composed of $3.5 billion in damages and 15,000 trailers and buildings destroyed. The city is resilient however and residents believe despite these setbacks and the high poverty rate the can come back better than ever.

  • Lancaster, SC

    Population: 9,143

    Poverty rate: 35.5% (state 15.2%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 18.0% (state 5.7%)

    Median home value: $141,600

    The low homeownership rate is what lands Lancaster on this list- only 44.2% of residents own their homes. The median household income is also $30,122. That being said Lancaster prides itself on southern charm. Just a short drive from Charlotte down 521, this small town is home to many historic homes and other buildings. I wouldn’t call it one of the worst places to live at all, in fact, I’ve visited before and enjoyed my time there!


  • McAlester, OK

    Population: 18,045

    Poverty rate: 19.5% (state 15.7%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.9% (state 5%)

    Median home value: $101,600

    A common theme on this list is the economy of the cities. McAlester is no different though the difference between the city and the rest of the state isn’t as stark. Unfortunately, MacLester also has a crime rate 95% higher than that of the state of Oklahoma. Like any city it’s not all bad though, the city is home to several wineries and the Old Town Historic District.

  • Helena-West Helena, AR

    Population: 10,749

    Poverty rate: 45.2% (state 17%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.8% (state 5.1%)

    Median home value: $73,400

    Residents of Helena have a dismal average household income of just $22,177. So it’s no surprise the poverty rate is just under half of the population. Most residents of Helena rely on government assistance programs to get by. Despite this Helena is full of history as the city was a desirable location for both sides during the Civil War.

  • Fairbanks, AK

    Population: 31,551

    Poverty rate: 11.0% (state 10.7%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 7.7% (state 6.8%)

    Median home value: $211,500

    Though the poverty rate and unemployment are similar to the rest of the state they are still below the national average. There is also only a 35% homeownership rate. That number is 64.1% nationally. The other issue Fairbanks has is crime, the crime rate is 34% higher than in the rest of Alaska. Still, you are in the midst of the Alaska scenery so it can’t be all bad. Though that winter I’ll take a pass on.

  • Atmore, AL

    Population: 9,495

    Poverty Rate: 34.6% (state 16.7%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 15.7% (state 5.9%)

    Median home value: $94,300

    Atmore is shrinking at a large rate- the city lost 18% of its population from 2010 to 2020. The city’s average unemployment is three times that of the rest of Alabama and the poverty rate is double.

  • Huntington, WV

    Population: 46,667

    Poverty Rate: 32.3% (state 17.6%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.8% (state 6.5%)

    Median home value: $98,200

    Huntington was hit hard by the opioid crisis and is still working to get things turned around. Like many cities on this list it has a high poverty rate and a low median income. That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to the city. These include an amusement park- Camden Park, and a year-round farmers market.

  • Gallup, NM

    Population: 21,854

    Poverty rate: 28.4% (state 19.1%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 7.4% (state 6.6%)

    Median home value: $132,000

    The upside of Gallup is most certainly the scenery. The city is surrounded by a gorgeous red rock backdrop. However, in addition to the poverty, most of the residents don’t have easy access to a grocery store or food. Access to parks and recreation is also limited.

  • Yazoo City, MS

    Population: 11,063

    Poverty rate: 44.8% (state 20.3%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 20.5% (state 7.4%)

    Median home value: $70,900

    Mississippi has the highest poverty rates in the country and Yazoo is high even for the magnolia state. Just under 40% of residents receive SNAP benefits. Highlights of Yazoo include a quaint Main Street full of shopping and restaurants. High on the tourist agenda? The historic cemetery.

  • Opelousas, LA

    Population: 16,234

    Poverty rate: 43.3% (state 19.2%)

    5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.8% (state 6.4%)

    Median home value: $98,100

    Opelousas has a sky-high crime rate as well as a 43.3%  poverty rate. The crime rate is 182% higher than the state of Louisiana as a whole. However, Opelousas is also known for it’s Cajun cuisine, Victorian homes, and antique shopping.

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