People who live in Louisiana are darn proud of it. There’s a certain grit that comes with living in the Bayou State. A little bit of toughness and ruggedness mixed in with a lot of culture. More culture than most Americans have seen, actually.
But, just like every other state in the U.S., Louisiana comes with some baggage. There are some pretty rough spots there, and the purpose of this post is to identify exactly which places stand out as being the least desirable, at least according to science.
After analyzing all 109 cities with a population of 5,000 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Louisiana:
- Ville Platte
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked.
How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst places to live in Louisiana, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, found the opposite of those, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- High Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Low expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
- Long Commute Times
- High Crime
- The Worst Weather
We also didn’t include towns with tiny populations. It wouldn’t make sense to compare little places with 45 people in the same category as New Orleans.
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.
Education spending: 6th worst in the state
Household income: $34,487
Crime: 13th worst in Louisiana
It sounds a little mean to say it, but, according to the data, Ponchatoula is, by far, the worst place in the state of Louisiana. Students get almost the least amount of attention here, nearly 1 in 6 homes are vacant, and the household income levels are by far lower than other cities in the state.
Plus, the unemployment rate is 5% – higher than most of the rest of the state (but actually not that bad, statistically, if you measure it against the rest of America, which is at 6%).
Actually, if you measure the employment numbers here, Louisiana residents are employed far more than the national average. Which is nice.
Ponchatoula is located in I-12, 45 minutes east of Baton Rouge.
2. Ville Platte
Crime: 10th worst in Louisiana
Household income: $21,176
Commute time: 10th worst in the state
Ville Platte, the parish seat of Evangeline Parish, is out in the middle of nowhere north of Lafayette. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year than any other residents in the state, and crime is sky high.
Additionally, 17% of the homes here are vacant.
School expenditure: 11th lowest in the state
Household income: $30,996
Crime: 3rd worst in Louisiana for cities above 5,000
Crime is sky high here in Rayne, the ‘frog capital of the world’. Located in Acadia Parish on I-10 west of Lafayette, schools are underfunded, in respect to the rest of Louisiana, and residents earn a paltry annual salary.
On a positive note, a 3.9% unemployment rate is almost the lowest in Louisiana. That’s good.
Household income: $25,315
Crime: 7th highest in the state
Unemployment rate: 6%
Bogalusa has some issues for sure. Crime levels are very bad, in comparison to the rest of Louisiana, and residents earn one of the lowest annual salaries in the state. The unemployment rate is on par with the national average, but a lot higher than in other cities in Louisiana.
Bogalusa, in Washington Parish near the Mississippi state line, has seen its population shrink almost 9% in the last 15 years.
Education spending: 3rd worst in the state
Weather: 3rd worst in Louisiana
Population density: 9th lowest
Marksville is located about a half mile down a country round, south of Alexandria. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
Weather factors include rainy days, amount of sunshine and humidity.
Crime: 2nd worst in Louisiana
Education spending: 6th lowest in the state
Household income: $31,406
Crime is just bad in this part of the state. Hammond, right next door to the worst place to live, Ponchatoula, has the 2nd highest number of crimes per capita in the entire state.
When you factor in low salaries and an underfunded education system, there are certainly some issues to address here.
Hammond is by far the largest city at the top of this worst ranking in Louisiana.
House vacancy rate: 20%
Unemployment rate: 3rd worst in Louisiana
Median income: $23,188
Bastrop is out in the boonies in the northeastern part of the state. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely. An astounding 1 in 5 homes is vacant here.
Additionally, crime is 5th worst in the state, which is very high considering Bastrop is so far removed from the rest of Louisiana.
Unemployment rate: 2nd worst in Louisiana
Household income: $24,704
Tallulah has lost 14% of its already small population since 2000, and there may be some reasons why when you consider the sky-high unemployment rate and measly salaries here. Additionally, crime is above average.
On the bright side, residents have the 2nd best commute times in the state. If they can get a job, that is.
Tallulah is on I-20 on the eastern side of the state.
Crime: 6th highest in Louisiana
Household income: 3rd lowest in the entire state
Population density: 3rd lowest
Tiny Mansfield can’t help that it’s out in the middle of nowhere and that there’s nothing to do there except outdoor activities. But it has a very high crime rate, and residents earn only $23,000 a year.
On a positive note, Mansfield schools spend far much more on their students than any other city in Louisiana. Perhaps the upcoming generation can institute some change here.
Crime: 14th highest in Louisiana
Household income: 15th lowest
While crime is abnormally high and residents expect to make far less than their Louisiana neighbors, Franklin has one thing going for it: Scientifically, it has the best weather in the state.
Franklin is on Route 90 halfway between New Orleans and Lafayette.
There You Have It
Turns out, most of the worst places to live are small places out in the middle of nowhere. Places with high crime and unemployed, underpaid people. New Orleans, or any of its surrounding areas was anywhere near the top of this list.
Here’s a complete chart to the data (chart coming). Worst starts from bottom to top. Here’s how larger cities in Louisiana ranked:
52. Baton Rouge
73. New Orleans
If you’re curious enough, here are the best places to live in Louisiana, according to science. Our complete list is here: HomeSnacks Best Places in Louisiana
- Youngsville (Pop. 8,172)
- Shenandoah (Pop. 18,774)
- Prairieville (Pop. 27,447)
- Metairie (Pop. 138,369)
- Estelle (Pop. 17,074)