Oregon is one of those states that quietly flies off the radar. The one in the corner, quietly doing its work without much of a peep. No one can deny that it’s a beautiful place filled with lots of progressive people who enjoy their little nook of the country.
But, is it all roses? Not at all. Just like other states, Oregon has its share of issues just like everyone else. And the purpose of this post is to use science to see where those places are.
So, after analyzing all 95 cities with a population of 5,000 or more, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Oregon:
- Sweet Home
- Roseburg North
- Lincoln City
- Jennings Lodge
- Grants Pass
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 Oregon, 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, asked for the opposite of those things, 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
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.
Two notes: We’re aware of the feedback regarding Brookings. Here’s our source: http://www.bestplaces.net/find/state.aspx?state=or.
Additionally, if you record a video response, we’ll possibly embed it in this post. Send any video responses to: [email protected]
Crime: 2nd worst in Oregon for cities its size
Unemployment rate: 10.9%
House vacancy rate: 17.5%
There’s no doubt Brookings is a beautiful place. It’s right on the coast, and pretty much the first place you come to if you’re driving up Route 101 from California.
However, Brookings is, according to science, by far the worst place to live in the state of Oregon. Crime is second highest in the state for cities above 5,000, and the unemployment rate here is almost the highest in the state.
Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 homes are vacant here. So, technically, Brookings is an isolated place with a high crime and nothing to do except stare out at the sea or drive to Pistol River (population 84).
Crime: 12th worst in Oregon for cities over 5,000
Household income: $30,628
Unemployment rate: 10.8%
The good news is, according to a story we recently did, Prineville is the 10th luckiest city in Oregon, based on lottery winnings per capita.
The bad news is if you hit it big, someone might steal your money here. Prineville doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, this town on the desert side of Bend may not be your first choice for a vacation.
3. Sweet Home
Unemployment rate: 8.6%
Household income: $36,205
Commute time: 14th worst in Oregon
Sweet Home doesn’t sound too sweet when you add up the numbers. This town in the middle of nowhere (north of Eugene) has a low household income and a long commute time, meaning even less time with the family. That is for folks who have a job – residents here are employed 2% less than the national average.
Plus, the public school students here get about 30% less financial support than their peers in the rest of the nation.
Population density: 5th lowest for cities above 5,000
Crime: Top 25% in Oregon
House vacancy rate: 13%
Sheridan is one of the smaller cities at the top of our worst Oregon list. Off by itself southwest of McMinnville, residents in Sheridan don’t have many options when it comes to entertainment (even though a lot of people like to ‘get outdoors’ in Oregon.)
Nearly 1 in 6 homes is vacant and crime is significantly above average for cities of its size.
The good news is the population has grown 10% in the last 15 years, and home values are rising. For the homes that are occupied, that’s a pleasant sign.
5. Roseburg North
Comfort index: 5th worst in Oregon
Household income: $30,951
Unemployment rate: 9.9%
Roseburg North is a smallish town along I-5 south of Eugene. Economically speaking, it doesn’t get much worse in Oregon. Residents earn a paltry salary and 1 in 10 are unemployed.
Additionally, not only is there not a lot to do here amenity wise, the weather is statistically almost dead last in the state. The comfort index is measured by BestPlaces.Net, taking into account rain, sunshine and humidity.
6. Lincoln City
Household income: $29,686
Crime: 6th highest in the state
House vacancy rate: 31%
Lincoln City is another beautiful place along Route 101. However, it’s one of the poorest places in Oregon. Residents are almost the most underpaid, and nearly 1 in 3 homes are vacant.
And, crime here is very high, according to the FBI.
One ray of sunshine is the weather here is rated nearly the best in the state.
7. Jennings Lodge
House vacancy rate: 10.4%
Commute time: 9th longest in the state
Jennings Lodge is the first of the cities on this list that is somewhat near civilization. Located about 20 minutes south of Portland, the weather here is pretty crummy, by the rest of the state’s standards. While the unemployment rate is far lower than the state average, the commute time is significantly higher, and the fact than 1 in 10 homes is vacant is a sore thumb on this community.
8. Grants Pass
Crime: 8th highest for cities over 5,000
Household income: 8th worst in the state
By far the largest city at the top of this list, Grants Pass, near Medford, has a very high crime rate in comparison with the rest of the state. And, if you’re measuring a city’s likeability based on weather, it doesn’t get much worse than in Grants Pass.
Homes here only average $32,991 in income each year, which is almost the lowest in Oregon.
Household income: $31,627
Population density: lowest in Oregon
Unemployment rate: 9.9%
Winston is, basically, a tiny place with nothing to do, where the people are underpaid and underemployed. It’s a place along I-5 that you’ve probably driven past many times and didn’t even notice.
Does that sound fun to you?
Household income: $30,545
House vacancy rate: 10.6%
Crime: 3rd highest for cities of its size
Ontario might as well be in Idaho, it’s so far away from everyone else. Folks here suffer through high crime, low wages and a very high number of homes aren’t occupied.
On the bright side, the public education system here is 6th highest in Oregon.
There You Have It
Like we said earlier, Oregon is a great place, but our goal was to point out where the worst places are, according to data. So, if you’re analyzing places in Oregon with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best places to live in Oregon, according to science. The complete report on the best places in Oregon is here.
- Lake Oswego (Pop. 36,813)
- West Linn (Pop. 25,158)
- Keizer (Pop. 36,402)
- Sherwood (Pop. 18,088)
- Bethany (Pop. 20,505)
Send any video responses to: [email protected]