Ah, Texas. The Lone Star State. The state where secession is talked about on a daily basis. A place for rebels, pick-up trucks, sexy cheerleaders, and the hardest-working Americans of all time.
But, is it all roses in Texas? Of course not. For every good, there has to be a bad. And that’s where this post aims to investigate. Even in one of the best states in the union, there have to be bad spots. The dead zones. The bruises on the apple, if you will.
After analyzing almost 238 of the most populous cities, we came up with this list as the absolute worst 10 places in the state of Texas:
- Port Arthur
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked.
Small Towns vs. Big Cities. Which is Better?
In order to rank the worst places in Texas, we had to determine if it made sense to put a large town in the same category as a tiny town, of say, 10 people. We decided that it makes sense to rank only the larger cities, so we cut the population off at 10,000.
Because Sammy Martinez, Texas, population 11, probably shouldn’t be mentioned in the same context as Dallas.
And speaking of Dallas, we’re sure you’re wondering how the larger cities ranked. There’s a chart at the bottom with all of the cities in order from worst to best.
An additional note: Crime rates can be higher in beach towns and destinations, meaning a population swells during certain times of the year, as does the crime there. This article, and the data used, simply account for the number of crimes that occur in a given location, regardless of outsiders causing such crimes.
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 worst)
- Higher Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- High Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
- Long Commute Times
- High Crime
- The Worst Weather
1. Jacksonville, TX
Student expenditure: Bottom 5%
Crime: 24th most dangerous in Texas
Jacksonville, Texas takes the cake as being, on paper, the worst place to live in the state of Texas. Crime is very bad, in comparison to the rest of the state, and student expenditure (the amount of money spent per student) is also one of the lowest.
Additionally, the household median income here is just over $31,000, also very low.
Jacksonville is in eastern Texas, just south of Tyler.
2. Port Arthur, TX
Unemployment rate: 11.3%
Population density: Bottom 5%
House vacancy rate: 16%
Port Arthur has 702 people per square mile. In comparison, Dallas has a population density of 3,500 per square mile. That means there’s a lot of open space here. Say what you want about ‘open spaces’, but in terms of feeling like you’re part of a community, it’s hard to do when everyone is spread out.
In addition, almost 1 in 5 homes in Port Arthur is vacant. Meaning…more open spaces. Unemployment is almost twice the national average here as well.
On the bright side, spending on students in Port Arthur is the second-highest in Texas at an astounding $16,494.
3. Donna, TX
Median household income: $25,360
Crime: 19th highest in the state
Donna, located at the far southeastern tip of the state, is one of the more dangerous places in Texas. In fact, that entire region ranks very high on our most dangerous cities in Texas study.
Household incomes are very low here as well. Basically, Donna is a small town with a high unemployment rate where there’s not a lot to do in the general vicinity except listen to police sirens.
4. Tomball, TX
Population density: Bottom 5% in the state
Commute time: Higher than average
Sunny days: Bottom 20 in Texas
Tiny Tomball, on the northern fringe of Houston’s suburbs, is very spread out for a city of its size. Factor in long commutes into the city with a high home vacancy rate, and it’s generally one of the worst places you could live, statistically.
And if you love sunshine, this isn’t the place for you: Tomball ranks almost dead last in terms of sunny days in Texas.
5. Mercedes, TX
Household income: $25,490
Unemployment rate: 8.6%
Comfort Index: 18th worst in Texas
Mercedes, located right next door to Donna at the tip of Texas, has a very low household income and a very high unemployment rate. And, the weather here is really lousy as well. The comfort index, a measurement used by BestPlaces.Net as a way to factor in temperature, rainy days and humidity, puts Mercedes toward the bottom of the list in Texas in terms of overall weather likeability.
6. Vidor, TX
Population density: Lowest 5% in Texas
Vidor has one of the highest household incomes on our worst places list (homes average almost $39,000 a year in income), but when you factor in a low student expenditure, low population density and a very high unemployment rate, it’s pretty bad across the board here.
Vidor is just across the Neches River on the eastern side of Beaumont.
7. Galveston, TX
Home vacancy rate: 38%
Household income: $37,770
Crime: Top 5% in Texas
Galveston has an astounding 38% vacancy rate in Texas. Meaning that more than 1 of 3 homes is boarded up or not being used. Yes, it’s a beach town, and homes are used for vacations, but that’s still off the charts high.
Additionally, crime is very high and household income is very low. Factor in one the least sunniest places in the state, and you’ve got a real situation down there.
Galveston, oh, Galveston!
8. Weslaco, TX
Crime: The worst in the state of Texas
Home vacancy rate: 19%
Unemployment rate: 8.6%
Across the board, Weslaco is one of the worst places in the state, period. There is more crime in Weslaco than in any other place. Just a short drive from Brownsville (and the Mexican border), Weslaco residents have a 1 in 95 chance of being the victim of a violent crime – meaning raped, murdered or attacked.
Additionally, 1 in every 5 homes here is vacant and nearly 1 in 10 people are without a job.
9. Freeport, TX
Home vacancy rate: 20%
Education ranking: Bottom 5% in Texas
Freeport is located just south of Galveston along the Gulf Coast. Students here get some of the least support in the state, as spending per student and teacher-to-student ratios are very much below average. And when 1 in 5 homes aren’t occupied, that’s just a bad sign.
10. Huntsville, TX
Student expenditure: 10th lowest in the state
Household income: 29,254
Weather: Worst 5% in Texas
Huntsville, out in the middle of nowhere, and about an hour drive north of Houston, rounds out the top 10. Residents here earn less than most other Texas folks, and weather wise, it’s not very comfortable here.
On the bright side, the unemployment rate in Huntsville is well below the national average.
There You Have It
That just about does it. If you’re considering a relocation, you probably want to avoid these areas. Perhaps there will be a sad country song about some of these places one day
Oh, wait there already is.