These Are, Undeniably, The 10 Worst Places To Live In Texas


These are the places in the Lone Star State that are the real pits.

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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:

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Port Arthur
  3. Donna
  4. Tomball
  5. Mercedes
  6. Vidor
  7. Galveston
  8. Weslaco
  9. Freeport
  10. Huntsville

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

Source: Google Maps

Population: 14,550
Student expenditure: Bottom 5%
Crime: 24th most dangerous in Texas
Unemployment: 5.8%
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

Source: Flickr user Nicolas Henderson

Population: 54,022
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

Source: Google Maps

Population: 15,924
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

Source: Google Maps

Population: 10,732
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

Source: Google Maps

Population: 15,803
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

Source: Google Maps

Population: 10,735
Unemployment: 7.2%
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

Source: Flickr user 75Central Photography

Population: 48,352
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

Source: Google Maps

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

Flickr user Keith

Population: 12,107
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

Source: City-Data.com

Population: 38,682
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.

Detailed Ranking For The Worst Places in Texas, According to Science

See full ranking.

City Population Worst Place Score Rank
Jacksonville 14,550 178.44 1
Jacksonville 14,550 178.44 1
Port Arthur 54,022 176.88 2
Donna 15,924 176.19 3
Tomball 10,732 173.25 4
Mercedes 15,803 170.38 5
Vidor 10,735 169.75 6
Galveston 48,352 166.5 7
Weslaco 35,720 165.75 8
Freeport 12,107 164.88 9
Huntsville 38,682 164.5 10
Orange 18,800 164.38 11
Rio Grande City 13,826 164.25 12
Alamo 18,345 164.25 12
Harlingen 64,947 162.88 14
San Benito 24,355 161.81 15
Lancaster 36,271 160 16
Paris 25,180 159.31 17
Lockhart 12,785 157.56 18
Texas City 45,235 156.31 19
Conroe 57,380 155.81 20
Mission 76,784 155.19 21
Seguin 25,477 154.5 22
Alvin 24,582 154.19 23
Brownsville 175,210 153.69 24
Texarkana 36,548 153.31 25
Pharr 70,119 153.06 26
Balch Springs 23,853 152.56 27
Baytown 71,790 152.44 28
Alton 13,298 152 29
La Marque 14,626 151.63 30
Beeville 13,058 151.31 31
La Homa 13,992 150.13 32
Houston 2,107,449 150.06 33
Eagle Pass 26,383 149.88 34
Belton 18,539 149.19 35
Robstown 11,566 148.13 36
Bonham 10,147 148.06 37
Humble 15,155 147.19 38
Raymondville 11,182 147.06 39
Webster 10,454 146.81 40
Del Rio 35,471 146 41
Marshall 23,922 145.88 42
Lufkin 35,169 145.88 42
Glenn Heights 11,226 145.31 44
Angleton 18,897 145.06 45
Laredo 236,063 144.38 46
South Houston 16,997 144.31 47
Copperas Cove 32,639 143.88 48
Dallas 1,207,202 143.5 49
Seagoville 14,829 142.69 50
Alice 19,222 142.13 51
Mount Pleasant 15,706 141.13 52
Nacogdoches 33,157 140.75 53
Killeen 127,995 140.56 54
Aldine 14,923 140.44 55
Cleburne 29,318 140.38 56
Edinburg 77,174 139.63 57
Mcallen 130,297 139.19 58
Canyon Lake 20,562 139.13 59
Greenville 25,572 138.5 60
Clute 11,202 138.19 61
Beaumont 117,769 138.13 62
Mineral Wells 17,021 137.88 63
Athens 12,728 137.5 64
Santa Fe 12,322 136.75 65
Azle 10,788 136.69 66
San Elizario 14,207 136.63 67
Addison 13,643 135.56 68
Palestine 18,647 135.13 69
Dickinson 18,748 135 70
Uvalde 15,849 134.88 71
Bay City 17,588 133.88 72
Cedar Hill 44,970 133.69 73
Denison 22,655 133.56 74
Brenham 15,785 133.5 75
Terrell 15,862 133 76
Corsicana 23,879 132.56 77
Desoto 49,011 131.81 78
Fort Worth 743,865 131.38 79
Waco 124,843 130.75 80
Socorro 31,912 130.63 81
Sherman 38,499 129.94 82
Taylor 15,475 129.81 83
Midlothian 18,026 129.75 84
Port Lavaca 12,224 129 85
Rosenberg 30,665 129 85
Lumberton 11,850 127.63 87
San Antonio 1,335,287 127.63 87
Temple 66,435 125.19 89
Henderson 13,614 125 90
Hidalgo 11,190 124.94 91
Red Oak 10,663 124.88 92
Gainesville 16,012 124.88 92
Grand Prairie 174,631 124.44 94
El Campo 11,551 123.81 95
Ennis 18,531 123.5 96
Kingsville 26,103 123.38 97
Tyler 97,125 123.31 98
Bryan 76,082 121.63 99
Longview 80,931 121.44 100
Wichita Falls 104,152 120.88 101
Brownwood 19,201 120.75 102
Seabrook 11,955 120.5 103
Harker Heights 26,579 119.69 104
Victoria 62,869 119.19 105
Cloverleaf 23,070 119 106
Katy 14,363 118.38 107
Waxahachie 29,760 118 108
College Station 93,663 118 108
Jacinto City 10,572 117.94 110
Channelview 38,958 117.63 111
Forney 14,692 117.44 112
Garland 227,641 117.44 112
Duncanville 38,590 116.94 114
El Paso 650,778 116.88 115
Gatesville 15,779 116.38 116
New Braunfels 57,776 116 117
Plainview 22,098 115.88 118
Forest Hill 12,478 115.5 119
Kilgore 13,165 114.88 120
Sweetwater 10,824 114.81 121
La Porte 33,859 114.69 122
Stafford 17,565 114.63 123
Corpus Christi 305,427 114.44 124
Burkburnett 10,773 114.31 125
Crowley 12,878 113.63 126
Abilene 118,484 113.63 126
Richmond 11,703 113.5 128
Rendon 13,014 112.94 129
Spring 54,997 112.75 130
Fort Hood 34,795 112.69 131
Big Spring 27,162 111.69 132
Galena Park 10,907 111.5 133
Arlington 367,154 110.94 134
Lakeway 11,517 110.25 135
Schertz 31,934 109.81 136
Port Neches 12,971 109.75 137
Haltom City 42,511 109.56 138
Benbrook 21,433 109.44 139
Live Oak 13,269 109.31 140
Vernon 11,041 109.13 141
Kerrville 22,344 109.06 142
Lake Jackson 27,028 108.94 143
San Marcos 46,131 108.13 144
Wells Branch 12,041 107.31 145
Leon Valley 10,271 106.94 146
Austin 799,939 106.88 147
Weatherford 25,417 105.94 148
Borger 13,144 105.56 149
White Settlement 16,208 105 150
West Odessa 22,585 105 150
Universal City 18,502 104.44 152
The Woodlands 97,951 104.38 153
Pearland 90,347 103.94 154
Timberwood Park 23,779 103.88 155
Horizon City 16,859 103 156
Denton 115,098 102.94 157
Irving 217,021 102.81 158
Atascocita 65,693 102.25 159
Stephenville 17,470 101.81 160
Pecan Grove 15,881 101.19 161
Fresno 18,908 100.69 162
Sienna Plantation 13,375 100.06 163
Rowlett 55,970 99.94 164
Burleson 36,879 99.63 165
Missouri City 67,173 99.56 166
Boerne 10,618 99.25 167
Kyle 27,886 96.94 168
Deer Park 32,098 96.69 169
Rockwall 37,842 96.5 170
Euless 51,526 96.44 171
League City 83,026 96.31 172
Hurst 37,572 96.25 173
Sulphur Springs 15,461 95.38 174
Little Elm 25,916 95.19 175
Amarillo 191,118 95.19 175
Nederland 17,482 94.44 177
North Richland Hills 63,605 94.44 177
Georgetown 48,220 94.31 179
Canyon 13,452 94.06 180
Pampa 18,122 94.06 180
Sugar Land 79,475 94.06 180
Odessa 101,545 94.06 180
Farmers Branch 28,681 93.81 184
Portland 15,243 93.06 185
Mansfield 55,818 93.06 185
Sachse 20,215 92.81 187
Groves 15,992 91.63 188
Leander 26,818 91.56 189
Mission Bend 37,352 90.69 190
Converse 18,349 90.19 191
Snyder 11,169 89.81 192
Levelland 13,558 89.75 193
Saginaw 19,793 88.94 194
San Angelo 93,450 88.75 195
Lubbock 229,428 88.5 196
Lewisville 95,989 88.06 197
Midland 112,618 88 198
Grapevine 46,756 87.81 199
The Colony 36,718 87.5 200
Mckinney 131,882 87.5 200
Friendswood 35,853 87.19 202
Hereford 15,284 86.38 203
Cibolo 15,541 86.06 204
Hutto 15,882 86 205
Watauga 23,600 85.88 206
Bedford 47,385 83.5 207
Southlake 26,454 82.5 208
New Territory 15,475 81.69 209
Cinco Ranch 17,833 81.69 209
Robinson 10,524 81.31 211
Richardson 100,057 79.81 212
Bellaire 16,935 78.69 213
Pflugerville 47,602 78.69 213
Four Corners 12,498 78.56 215
Fredericksburg 10,556 76.81 216
Carrollton 120,727 76.63 217
Round Rock 100,764 76.5 218
Greatwood 11,415 75.81 219
Colleyville 23,009 75.56 220
Keller 39,763 73.5 221
Coppell 39,212 72.75 222
Jollyville 16,796 72.25 223
University Park 23,241 71.94 224
Andrews 11,273 69.81 225
Frisco 116,944 69.63 226
Hewitt 13,505 68.88 227
Flower Mound 65,330 68.81 228
Plano 263,122 68.75 229
West University Place 14,866 68.31 230
Cedar Park 51,664 67.31 231
Corinth 19,736 66.19 232
Brushy Creek 23,976 62.31 233
Allen 84,387 59.19 234
Murphy 17,496 58.25 235
Highland Village 15,144 56.94 236
Dumas 14,618 56.38 237

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.