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Think Twice Before Living in These Miserable US Cities

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Ever thought about living in a city that makes you question your life choices? Well, hold onto your hats because we’re about to explore some of the most surprisingly miserable cities out there. Forget the glossy brochures and Instagram filters; these places have a knack for hiding their less-than-ideal living conditions behind a façade of mundane. From perpetually gloomy weather to living costs that seem to have a magnetic attraction to the sky, these cities have quirks that will make you wonder if the universe has a twisted sense of humor. So, buckle up as we take you through these miserable cities where the grass may not just be greener but downright bewildering.

Washington, D.C.

Much like its peers around the world, our nation’s capital is known for many attractions but mostly for its governance issues. While it serves as a critical space for those hoping to advance in politics, Washington D.C. is plagued with a number of issues ranging from racial justice, public health to public safety. To add to the misery of its residents, these issues percolate into their everyday lives in terms of employment opportunities, healthcare access, and social isolation.

Denver, Colorado

Known for its unpredictable weather, Denver experiences rapid temperature changes and sudden snowstorms, making it challenging to plan outdoor activities and travel. But that’s not all. Denver Healthcare system is facing a critical failure in light of the migrant crisis, with more patients coming in than the state has infrastructure for. Many consider a breaking point for the city and a point of worry for its residents.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is notorious for its exorbitant housing prices and steep commuting costs. The high demand for housing, coupled with limited space, drives up rental and real estate prices, easily making it one of the most miserable cities in the US. You would think that’d be it, but here’s another thing about San Francisco. The residents of the city are often considered very rude and obsessed with trendy internet fads, making it considerably difficult for new residents to adjust and settle in.

Chicago, Illinois

While Chicago offers a diverse range of housing options, the cost of living in desirable neighborhoods can be particularly steep. It is also home to an exorbitantly expensive private school system and an evidently failing public education system. So, if you are someone who is looking to start a family here, you might have more to worry about than just housing.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City has cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. But that’s not all, it also has light rainfall in the transitioning months of these seasons. While weather is a serious concern, perhaps safety is another concern for its residents. The city is known for its rather grim history as one of the places where Ted Bundy, an infamous serial killer of the 70s, victimized young women and remains a relatively challenging place for women to navigate to date.

New York City, New York

As one of the most overcrowded cities in the world, New York City is known for its sky-high rents and expensive transportation. To make matters worse, the overcrowding percolates into its school systems. More than 300,000 students in NYC sit in overcrowded classrooms. It is quite ironical that even though the city is bustling, over half the residents claim that they feel lonely most of the time and consider the city to be socially isolating, particularly for older adults.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

MINNESOTA, USA – MAY 30: A view of a building, burnt down within protests against the death of an unarmed black man George Floyd, who was killed as he was pinned down by a white Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer on May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis, United States. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Minneapolis experiences harsh winters with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, in general requiring residents to combat extreme weather conditions. To add to the misery of its residents, the city experiences a crime rate, in particular murder, that is over 300% higher than the state average and over 200% higher than the national average. Once dubbed ‘Murderapolis’, the city is now making significant efforts to bring down its crime rate but if you are planning to move there, this might be worth considering!

Kansas City, Missouri

From harsh unpredictable weather to dwindling employment rates, Kansas City is place that seems to keep its residents in unrest. The city has been notorious for limited job opportunities for its residents and a healthcare system that seems to show continued disparities in its coverage for diverse populations and working adults. Several residents from Black and Hispanic communities in particular have reported facing such difficulties navigating these state systems.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta’s weather is characterized by an increasingly humid climate and green spaces all round. While residents may have mixed responses to these conditions, depending mostly on what they prefer, there is one thing they all seem to agree on. Atlanta has one of the worst bug problems. It is most notorious for the palmetto bugs, or American cockroaches, that often grow into alarming sizes and make homes nearly everywhere. But that’s not all, residents also complain of visible ant mounds and termites. While it may not be considered uncommon to keep windows open without screens in other parts of the country, Atlanta residents consider it quite unthinkable!

Amarillo, Texas

Apart from facing extreme temperature variations that require them to make constant adjustments to cope with the fluctuating conditions, Amarillo residents are often forced to navigate unsafe environments. Ranked as the fifth worst city for women, Amarillo also has a healthcare system that seems to be failing its female residents. So, if you’re planning to start a family here, you might want to consider these aspects before the move.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston’s historical significance and thriving economy have contributed to its high living expenses but this is especially true for students today. The rising rents have led to overcrowding in off-campus apartments for university students and, combined with the unreliable train commute, living in Boston has become increasingly challenging for its young residents. While these challenges may still be tackled over time and with planning, there is a much larger concern of crime around campuses that has plagued Boston. In recent years, nearly 150 incidents were reported involving student safety in such off-campus areas, ranging from robberies and burglaries to stalking and aggravated assaults.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City is prone to several oscillations in weather daily as well as seasonally, but it is the summers that are incredibly hot in this humid subtropical city. But that might not be your only concern. Oklahoma’s healthcare system ranks near bottom nationwide and is a significant concern for its residents. This is especially alarming because Oklahoma has the 18th highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the country and is ranked among the top 10 most dangerous states to drive in nationwide by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo receives heavy snowfall during the winter months, leading to frequent snowstorms and icy conditions that can make driving and commuting hazardous. While this may not be the case across region, the fluctuations make it much worse for the residents living in pockets where it may be extreme. These extremities also lead to critical delays in emergency and rescue services reaching to locations that are snow-choked. It might be worth considering these conditions if you are planning to move to an area affected by extreme weather.

Portland, Oregon

Portland’s weather is known for its unpredictability, with frequent rain showers, cloudy skies, and occasional snowfall, which might make you reconsider frequent outdoor activities and commuting. While you can cope with these conditions with enough planning, there are a few things worth considering before you move to Portland. Due to the recent influx of residents, housing prices have soared sky high and the job market is super competitive in Portland but the salaries are lower compared to peer regions like Salt Lake City. This has led to significant urban discontent among the residents, with many of them either choosing to take to streets to express themselves and demand action or ultimately choosing to leave Portland.

Los Angeles, California

While Los Angeles is infamous for sky high housing costs and long commute times that contribute to its reputation for being financially burdensome for residents, there is a greater concern enveloping its residents recently. The epidemic of social alienation and loneliness, particularly among youth, continues to rage on in LA. This alienation evidently also extends to economic and linguistic spaces, where many residents have shown discontent toward certain policies and overall lack of opportunities due to established systems that are deemed incapable of accommodating LA’s highly multicultural population. Amidst all the glitz and glamour of the city, the divide between such spaces seems stark and concerning for many. If you are planning to move to LA, it might be worthwhile to consider how you would want to navigate such dynamics.

Detroit, Michigan

Once a thriving industrial hub, Detroit is facing economic decline and severe urban decay, leading to high crime rates, unemployment, and poverty. Residents of the city often struggle with limited job opportunities and deteriorating infrastructure. So, unless your heart is set on Detroit, it may be wise to continue searching for the most suitable city to live in.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s booming tech industry and picturesque surroundings have driven up all kinds of costs such as housing, tolls, public transit fares and the overall expense of living in the city. But these pale in comparison to the natural threats that the city’s residents have to bear. Yes, we are talking about the earthquake threats to Seattle that keep its residents up at night. While the city is working to implement seismic upgrades to its buildings, the progress is not at a pace that makes its residents too happy. For anyone living in Seattle or hoping to move there, these conditions are likely to create significant issues with secure living and livelihood.

Flint, Michigan

Flint gained national attention due to its water crisis, which exposed residents to lead contamination, back in 2014. A decade later, the city is continuing to grapple with public health issues, economic hardship, and a lack of trust in local governance. Many residents of the city have expressed concern about communities, particularly Black and Brown, in less affluent neighborhoods suffering the impact of the lead contamination disproportionately. It is, therefore, not lost on anyone that settling here would inevitably make necessary resources less accessible to you and your loved ones.

Camden, New Jersey

Camden consistently ranks among the most dangerous cities in the US, plagued by poverty, crime, and drug-related problems. In fact, in 2012, it was ranked as number one by the FBI for violent crimes for all cities with populations more than 50,000. This ranking effectively made it much worse in crime rate compared to other notorious cities like Flint, Detroit and Oakland. To this day, residents of the city routinely face challenges with crime as well as accessing quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Since living in Camden inevitably comes with a lot of challenges, you might want to carefully consider how you plan to navigate these spaces.

Gary, Indiana

Once a thriving steel-producing city, Gary is now a ghost town experiencing significant population decline and economic stagnation. High crime rates, vacant properties, and limited resources contribute to residents’ dissatisfaction with living conditions. This, in turn, has created another problem for the city to tackle, i.e., the rebuilding of abandoned housing. But the decaying infrastructure is not the only problem plaguing Gary. Deemed a Rust Belt city now, the city is facing unemployment rates that average higher than the national average which has forced many of its residents to leave the city. Many believe that what was once a booming city was brought down by violence and economic decline from which it still struggles to recover.

Stockton, California

Unlike other well-known regions in California, Stockton is facing considerable challenges related to crime, poverty, and financial instability. To add to the misery, the city residents regularly breathe in some of the worst air in the country. The air pollution in Stockton is significant enough to impact those with asthma all year round but especially during the winter. The residents have also reported dwindling support for several healthcare issues, including mental health. The city also grapples with homicides and has already reported its first one this year which led to the death of a man in his early 20s shot in broad daylight. If you are planning to move here, it would undoubtedly be challenging to gain adequate access to critical resources.

San Jose, California

As the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose boasts a thriving job market but also sky-high housing prices. How high, you wonder? Home prices here start at 1.2 million dollars and are, without a doubt, quite a strain on the most lucrative purse strings! While this is one aspect of living in San Jose, another is the crime rate. Particularly, east side San Jose that is notorious for high crime rates and personal danger. Many residents living in the city have also expressed concern about an all-time high in crimes and homelessness. So, if you’re serious about your savings and safety, this might be the right time to put San Jose on the ‘maybe list’. 

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis wrestles with high crime rates, poverty, and economic disparities, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Many residents have shared their discontent claiming that the city is notorious for constant danger and is fairly dangerous with little to do and see around. Memphis reportedly witnesses considerably higher number of violent crimes compared to any other location in Tennessee. It also seems that the city has fallen short in many ways compared to its peers, particularly in what it offers its residents in terms of fundamental as well as luxury services. So, if you’re planning to focus on a more accessible lifestyle, living in Memphis might not be ideal.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland struggles with poverty, unemployment, and a declining population, leading to socioeconomic challenges and urban plight. But that’s not all. Cleveland is infamous for one of the highest crime rates in America, with a resident’s chance of becoming a victim of either murder or car theft being 1 in 17. While general security and well-being are significant concerns for the residents, they have also expressed discontent about the legacy of neglect when it comes to school education and lack of affordable housing in the city that has led to overcrowding, lost utilities, homelessness and the risk of loss of lives in the absence of critical necessities like food and medication. It might be worthwhile then to consider these aspects before moving to Cleveland and how you plan to navigate living here.

Miami, Florida

Like many residents will tell you, Miami’s vibrant culture and sunny weather come at the price of exorbitantly high housing costs. The crisis of housing unaffordability has reached its peak in the city, leading to mass exodus of 79,535 residents migrating to other parts of Florida or other states between 2020 and 2022. Reportedly, six out of ten employed adult residents in the city are spending more than 30% of their incomes on housing. This is highest rate of any large metro in America. While the city is tackling this crisis, another issue seems to be gaining ground. Miami’s trash problem that led to massive landfills containing up to 3 million tons of garbage are reportedly set to run out of space by 2026. Government and residents alike are expecting a landfill crisis to follow soon after. So, if you decide to keep Miami on your ‘places to visit’ only, we will understand why. 

Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown, the poster child for post-industrial America, has faced significant economic decline following the collapse of its steel industry, leading to population loss and urban decay. Residents of the city routinely grapple with poverty, crime, and limited economic opportunities. Youngstown reports a poverty rate of nearly 33%, which is higher than any other city in America. Crime, too, has a stronghold in the city with Youngstown’s total crime rate averaging higher than the national and state averages specifically for violent crimes like murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault as well as property crimes like arson and theft. It is perhaps worthwhile to consider some of these things if you decide to live in Youngstown, Ohio.

East St. Louis, Illinois

East St. Louis ranks among the poorest cities in the US, with high rates of crime, unemployment, and poverty. Lawlessness and gun violence are commonplace in East St. Louis, a shockingly corrupt city that routinely grapples with gang wars and shootings based on accounts of its residents. There is also a stark lack of access to basic life-saving amenities for the city’s residents who live in an East St. Louis that has nearly 18 times the national average for per capita homicide rate. So, if this city is on your list, it might be worth considering some of these things.

Newburgh, New York

Newburgh struggles with poverty and economic decline, particularly in its urban core. About 25% of households in Newburgh had an income below the poverty level in 2022, which was nearly 44% greater than the poverty level across the entire state. But that’s not all. In the struggle of sustaining access to basic livelihood, residents also grapple with issues related to housing instability, substance abuse, and limited job prospects. So, in case you are planning to move here, it might help to keep some of these issues in mind.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is entrenched in poverty, crime, and racial disparities that have contributed to residents’ dissatisfaction with their living and working conditions. Challenges related to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity further exacerbate the city’s struggles. In a rather alarming observation, residents from predominantly Black communities also express concern around poor sewage infrastructure. This, in turn, has meant that living in Baltimore is especially challenging if you hail from socially and economically marginalized communities.

Life sure has a knack for throwing us curveballs. From dodging rainstorms to navigating sky-high rents and socioeconomic issues, the residents of these cities have definitely been able to find ways to live through the chaos!

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