These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Oregon

We used science to determine which places in the Beaver State are the real pits.

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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:

  1. Brookings
  2. Prineville
  3. Sweet Home
  4. Sheridan
  5. Roseburg North
  6. Lincoln City
  7. Jennings Lodge
  8. Grants Pass
  9. Winston
  10. Ontario

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:
Additionally, if you record a video response, we’ll possibly embed it in this post. Send any video responses to: [email protected]

1. Brookings

Population: 6,315
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).

2. Prineville

Population: 9,294
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

Population: 8,938
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.

4. Sheridan

Population: 6,086
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

Population: 6,493
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

Population: 7,926
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

Population: 7,133
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

Population: 34,454
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.

9. Winston

Population: 5,352
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?

10. Ontario

Population: 11,273
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.

  1. Lake Oswego (Pop. 36,813)
  2. West Linn (Pop. 25,158)
  3. Keizer (Pop. 36,402)
  4. Sherwood (Pop. 18,088)
  5. Bethany (Pop. 20,505)

Send any video responses to: [email protected]

Detailed Rankings For Worst Places In Oregon

See Data Here.

City Population Worst Job Score Rank
Brookings 6,315 35.46 1
Prineville 9,294 37.48 2
Sweet Home 8,938 37.69 3
Sheridan 6,086 40.23 4
Roseburg North 6,493 40.31 5
Lincoln City 7,926 40.35 6
Jennings Lodge 7,133 40.88 7
Grants Pass 34,454 44.21 8
Winston 5,352 44.25 9
Ontario 11,273 45.06 10
Coos Bay 15,938 45.35 11
Seaside 6,441 45.58 12
Madras 6,215 46 13
Sutherlin 7,761 46.21 14
Astoria 9,510 47.02 15
White City 7,392 47.29 16
Cottage Grove 9,671 47.48 17
Milton-Freewater 7,025 47.63 18
Roseburg 21,542 47.81 19
Scappoose 6,571 48.52 20
Klamath Falls 20,943 48.67 21
Junction City 5,445 49.06 22
Monmouth 9,549 49.5 23
Lebanon 15,500 49.63 24
Independence 8,535 49.65 25
Talent 6,086 50.42 26
Hayesville 18,224 50.88 27
Newport 9,989 51.54 28
St. Helens 12,807 52.02 29
Molalla 8,039 52.15 30
Florence 8,412 52.33 31
Gladstone 11,570 52.35 32
Mcminnville 32,092 52.4 33
Forest Grove 21,245 52.44 34
Deschutes River Woods 5,627 52.48 35
Sandy 9,498 52.48 36
Woodburn 23,879 52.6 37
Redmond 26,186 52.71 38
West Slope 6,676 53.08 39
Medford 75,134 53.35 40
Oak Grove 17,262 53.44 41
Hood River 7,115 53.67 42
Eagle Point 8,368 53.81 43
Gresham 105,612 54.1 44
North Bend 9,679 54.63 45
Stayton 7,637 54.77 46
Portland 585,888 55.17 47
Fairview 8,884 55.23 48
Springfield 59,347 55.65 49
Albany 50,239 56.17 50
Green 8,008 56.19 51
Ashland 20,186 56.35 52
West Haven-Sylvan 7,016 56.58 53
The Dalles 13,537 56.58 53
Oregon City 31,904 56.73 55
Four Corners 16,472 57.19 56
Silverton 9,193 57.38 57
Baker City 9,790 57.44 58
Garden Home-Whitford 6,490 57.52 59
Cornelius 11,867 57.71 60
Raleigh Hills 6,861 57.96 61
Wilsonville 19,262 58.19 62
Happy Valley 14,050 58.5 63
La Grande 13,027 58.88 64
Dallas 14,632 60.06 65
Bend 77,063 60.63 66
Umatilla 6,864 61.44 67
Troutdale 15,964 62 68
Central Point 17,078 62.23 69
Milwaukie 20,391 62.29 70
Canby 15,770 62.48 71
Pendleton 16,684 62.48 72
Salem 154,835 62.5 73
Tualatin 26,106 62.69 74
Eugene 156,222 62.71 75
Cedar Mill 15,118 62.77 76
Altamont 19,544 63.1 77
Newberg 22,063 63.33 78
Corvallis 54,341 63.73 79
Damascus 10,529 63.79 80
Beaverton 90,254 63.83 81
Rockcreek 9,488 66.02 82
Tigard 48,366 66.02 82
Cedar Hills 9,273 66.21 84
Aloha 50,710 66.58 85
Hermiston 16,650 67.71 86
Oak Hills 11,005 68.02 87
Oatfield 14,594 68.69 88
Bull Mountain 8,990 68.77 89
Bethany 20,505 69.77 90
Sherwood 18,088 70.63 91
Keizer 36,402 70.81 92
West Linn 25,158 71.88 93
Lake Oswego 36,813 72.69 94

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends. .

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.