10 Places in Missouri You Should Avoid Moving To: A Comprehensive Guide

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Missouri, known for its farmland, the Gateway Arch, and mouth-watering barbecue, offers a lot to its residents. However, like any other state, there are certain areas that are less desirable to live in. In this article, we will explore the top 10 places in Missouri that you should avoid moving to based on data and opinion. From high crime rates to economic struggles, these cities have their fair share of issues. So, if you are considering a move to the Show Me State, keep reading to find out which places to stay away from.

1. Poplar Bluff: A Beautiful Location with Tough Living Conditions

Our tour of the worst places to live in Missouri begins in Poplar Bluff, located in the Ozark region of the state. Despite its picturesque surroundings, life in Poplar Bluff can be challenging. Approximately 33% of the population lives in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 10%. Low wages contribute to the economic struggles, with residents earning a median income of just $30,000. Additionally, crime is a significant concern, making it the ninth highest in the state, mostly property-related crimes. Residents have a one in 15 chance of experiencing theft or arson, which is 223% higher than the national average. Many complain about the lack of entertainment options, rundown homes, and the presence of drug users in the streets.

2. Lebanon: Manufacturing Jobs, Low Graduation Rates, and Crime

Located in Laclede County, Lebanon is known as the aluminum boat building capital of the world. While this brings some employment opportunities, it also comes with its share of drawbacks. Out of the 15,000 residents, a significant portion never graduated high school. Only a few individuals earn more than $37,000 a year, resulting in 15% of the population living below the poverty line. Lebanon also faces growing property crime rates, with a one in 21 chance of being a victim of theft. Drug addiction is another problem, as it plagues the streets of this small town. Despite these challenges, locals can still enjoy trout fishing and happy hour at Applebee’s.

3. Berkeley: Economic Struggles and High Crime Rates

Berkeley, a suburb of St. Louis, faces economic difficulties and high crime rates. With an unemployment rate of 12% and low wages, around 18% of residents live below the poverty line. Education and housing are also concerns for Berkeley’s 9,000 inhabitants. The violent and property crime rates are above the national average, with residents having a one in 101 chance of experiencing car break-ins. While there are parks to enjoy, it is advised not to explore them alone or after dark due to safety concerns.

4. Aurora: A Struggling Economy and Crime Rates Above the Norm

Aurora, located in Lawrence County, was once booming thanks to the mining industry. However, it faces several challenges in the present day. The job market is limited, resulting in a high unemployment rate and approximately 12% of residents living below the poverty line. The school system also struggles due to low funding levels, with one in five individuals not finishing high school. Crime rates in Aurora are 120% above the national average, with a one in 21 chance of experiencing property crime. Additionally, the lack of diversity and housing options poses further problems for the community.

5. Caruthersville: High Crime Rates and Economic Struggles Along the Mississippi

Situated in the southeast corner of Missouri, Caruthersville faces significant issues with crime and poverty. With an unemployment rate of 10% and a median income barely above $31,000, many residents struggle to make ends meet. The crime rate in Caruthersville is well above the national average, with the state’s highest burglary rate and fifth-highest violent crime rate per capita. Despite the economic challenges, a casino operates in the area, providing a source of income for some individuals.

6. Branson: A Tourist Town with Social and Economic Problems

Branson, dubbed the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” attracts tourists from all over. However, as a place to call home, it presents several challenges. The cost of living is high, and taxes are a burden for the locals. Although the unemployment rate is under 4%, many jobs in Branson are seasonal, leading to a significant portion of the population relying on welfare. Crime rates, particularly property crimes, are the highest in the state, making it four times higher than the national average. The town also struggles with education, with over half of the school children considered economically disadvantaged.

7. Sullivan: Economic Struggles and Limited Entertainment Options

Located in Franklin County, Sullivan is a small town along I-44. Like other cities on this list, Sullivan faces economic struggles, low wages, and high poverty rates. While the unemployment rate is not exceptionally high, the problem lies in the quality of jobs available, with a median income of approximately $35,000. Crime rates are more than double the national average, with property crimes being a significant concern. The lack of cultural diversity, entertainment options, and public transportation further contribute to the challenges faced by the community.

8. Springfield: An Unsafe City with Alarming Crime Rates

Springfield, the third-largest city in Missouri, is known for its high crime rates and economic difficulties. Shockingly, even worse than St. Louis in terms of safety, Springfield has the highest combined rate of murders and robberies per capita. Car thefts, burglaries, and drug use are prevalent here. Additionally, the city has the highest rate of reported rape cases in the state, averaging about one per day. Its residents have a one in 12 chance of being a victim of robbery. Lack of diversity, mistreatment of women, and homelessness are prevalent issues, resulting in an unfavorable living environment for many.

9. Charleston: Poverty and Limited Opportunities in a Tiny Town

Situated in Mississippi County, Charleston is a small country town with economic struggles. With the highest unemployment rate in the state, poverty is a pervasive issue among its 6,000 residents. Lack of job opportunities and low household incomes contribute to the challenges faced by the community. Education is also affected, as the schools receive significantly lower funding compared to the national average. While crime rates are not exceptionally high, the sense of hopelessness caused by poverty and limited opportunities can have a lasting impact on the residents.


While Missouri has much to offer, it is crucial to be aware of the areas that face economic difficulties, high crime rates, and limited opportunities. From the tough living conditions in Poplar Bluff and the economic struggles in Lebanon to the crime-ridden streets of Springfield, it’s important to carefully consider your options if you plan to move to Missouri. By understanding the challenges these cities face, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal preferences and priorities. Remember, not all places in Missouri are created equal, and it’s crucial to choose a location that suits your needs and aspirations.

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