Introduction to Virginia: A State with Advantages and Disadvantages
Virginia, also known as the “Old Dominion,” is a state that offers a variety of attractions and benefits. With its stunning mountains, beautiful beaches, and delicious seafood, it can be an appealing destination for a vacation. However, when it comes to settling down and establishing roots, there are certain cities in Virginia that are better to avoid. In this article, we will explore the ten worst places to live in Virginia, taking into account factors such as crime rates, unemployment rates, poverty levels, and education. These rankings are not solely based on data but also include the opinions of Virginians themselves, as they know their state best. So, let’s dive into the ten cities you should avoid if you’re considering moving to Virginia.
1. South Boston: Struggling Economy and High Crime Rate
Our tour of the worst places to live in Virginia begins with South Boston. With a population of nearly 8,000 people, this city located in Halifax County suffers from a struggling economy. Many residents are finding it difficult to make ends meet, and the future does not appear bright either. Home values in South Boston are the 14th worst in the state, and the city has an unemployment rate of nearly seven percent. Despite its small-town feel and decent public schools, South Boston has a high crime rate, significantly exceeding both the state and national averages. In fact, residents here have a one in 24 chance of being a victim of a crime. Drugs are also a major issue, with instances of individuals passing out in their cars or on the streets. South Boston has the potential to improve, but it needs to address its crime and economic challenges.
2. Richlands: Economic Struggles and Poor Education
Next on our list is Richlands, a small city with a population of about 5,300 people. Located in the mountains, Richlands is suffering economically, with just over eight percent of its residents unemployed. Home values in this region are among the lowest in the state, making it challenging to attract new residents. Unfortunately, education in Richlands is also suffering, as the public schools receive minimal funding. Approximately 25 percent of adults living here have not earned a high school diploma. However, it’s not just the economic struggles and poor education that make Richlands an undesirable place to live; it also has a crime rate that exceeds the state average significantly. Residents here face a one in 22 chance of becoming a victim of crime.
3. Marion: High Crime Rates and Unfavorable Economic Conditions
Nested in the Allegheny Mountains and with a population of around 5,700 people, Marion takes the third spot on our list. Although it has a slightly lower unemployment rate compared to Richlands at about seven percent, the city continues to face economic challenges. Home values in Marion are the fifth worst in the state, and the public schools receive limited funding. However, what truly sets Marion apart is its high crime rate, which is 129 percent higher than the state average and even surpasses the national average. Living here means a one in 22 chance of falling victim to a crime. Although Marion is dubbed “America’s coolest hometown” due to its low temperatures, the city struggles with poverty, crime, and subpar education.
4. Roanoke: Economic Decline and High Crime
Moving on to a larger city with a population of 100,000 people, Roanoke presents another challenging place to live. Outdoor enthusiasts may find Roanoke attractive due to its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the accolades it has received as a mountain biking destination. However, the city’s economic decline is evident, with an unemployment rate of over six percent and approximately one in five residents falling below the poverty line. The crime rate in Roanoke is also a concern, with it being nearly double the national average. Residents face a one in 21 chance of becoming a victim of crime. Therefore, if you plan to move to Roanoke for mountain biking or any other reason, it is crucial to take precautions to secure your belongings.
5. Danville: Economic Struggles and High Crime
Located on the North Carolina border, Danville is home to over 41,000 residents. Once one of the richest cities in the area, Danville has faced economic challenges since its tobacco and textile mills shut down. With a median income of just over $37,000 and a nine percent unemployment rate, the city’s economic conditions are unfavorable. Crime is another significant issue in Danville, with the crime rate being much higher than the state and national averages. Living here means a one in 20 chance of becoming a victim of a crime. Although Danville has a rich history and attempts to revitalize its downtown area, it still struggles with poverty, crime, and underfunded schools.
6. Emporia: Poverty, High Crime Rates, and Speeding Tickets
Situated along the North Carolina border, Emporia is a small city of just over 5,400 people. While it is known for the Southampton Motor Speedway and NASCAR-born, Elliott, and Ernie Sadler, Emporia also faces multiple challenges. The city has one of the highest poverty rates in Virginia, with more than 23 percent of residents unemployed and earning less than $27,000 per year. Crime is a significant concern as well, with the crime rate being nearly double the state average. Residents face a one in 22 chance of becoming a victim of crime. Additionally, Emporia is notorious for being a speed trap due to its location at US-58 and I-95. Despite its low population, the city struggles with high crime rates, poverty, and limited job opportunities.
7. Galax: Low-Income Levels and Crime
As we head into the Appalachian region of the state, we arrive at the small town of Galax, home to approximately 6,500 residents. While Galax may appeal to those seeking a small-town atmosphere and scenic mountain landscapes, it faces significant economic challenges. With a home value average of around $100,000, Galax has one of the lowest household incomes in Virginia. The unemployment rate is 12 percent, well above the state average. Additionally, Galax has a higher-than-average crime rate, primarily consisting of theft and drug-related incidents. Residents face a one in 25 chance of becoming a victim of crime. The city’s limited recreational opportunities and unpleasant weather during the winter months further contribute to its unfavorable living conditions.
8. Portsmouth: Crime-Ridden and Limited Job Opportunities
Located in the coastal region, Portsmouth is home to nearly 94,000 people. While the city is rich in history and natural beauty, it faces numerous challenges that impact its livability. Citizens of Portsmouth have an average annual income of around $23,000, making it difficult to make ends meet. The public school system in Portsmouth ranks among the lowest in the region, and home values are dropping steadily. Many residents complain about the lack of entertainment options in Portsmouth, requiring them to travel to neighboring cities. However, the most detrimental aspect of living in Portsmouth is its high crime rate. The city ranks first in both violent and property crimes, with an overall crime rate three times higher than the state average. Residents have a one in 100 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
9. Petersburg: Unemployment, Bankruptcy, and High Crime
Situated just 20 miles south of Richmond, Petersburg served as a significant battleground during the Civil War. However, the city’s present-day conditions make it one of the worst places to live in Virginia. With a population of about 31,000 people, Petersburg suffers from a declining economy and a staggering unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent. The city barely avoided bankruptcy recently, painting a grim picture of its financial stability. Crime is a significant concern in Petersburg as well, with a crime rate well above the state average. Despite some redeeming qualities like historical landmarks and antique stores, residents often need to leave Petersburg to find entertainment. The city struggles with high crime rates, unemployment, and limited opportunities for growth.
10. Newport News: High Crime Rates and Lack of Amenities
Finally, we come to Newport News, a city with a population of approximately 180,000 people. Located on the peninsula side of the Hampton Roads area, Newport News is known for its military presence and state war museum. However, the city faces significant challenges that make it the worst place to live in Virginia. Newport News has one of the highest murder rates and overall violent crime rates in the state. With a one in 167 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime, residents must be cautious. The city struggles with gang-related activity, drug issues, and a variety of assaults. Furthermore, Newport News has average schools that receive less funding compared to other areas, subpar road maintenance, and traffic congestion. The limited recreational options and overall lack of appeal make Newport News an unfavorable place to call home.
Conclusion: Considerations When Choosing a Place to Live in Virginia
While Virginia offers many advantages such as picturesque landscapes, rich history, and vibrant cities, it’s essential to consider the challenges that some areas face. The ten cities mentioned in this article struggle with issues like high crime rates, poverty, low-income levels, and subpar education. Each city has its own unique set of problems, making it crucial for prospective residents to thoroughly research and evaluate their options. It is recommended to prioritize safety, economic stability, and access to essential amenities when considering where to settle down. Virginia may have some of the wealthiest and most successful cities, but it is equally essential to address the cities that are less desirable if you want to plant roots in this diverse state.