In the vast landscape of Texas, there are communities facing significant challenges that make them less than ideal for residents. From economic hardships to social issues, each town and city on this list has its unique set of obstacles that impact the daily lives of its residents. Let us examine some of the apparently worst places to live in Texas.
It is important to note that this post highlights specific challenges faced by some Texas communities and is not a reflection of the state as a whole. Texas continues to thrive and overcome adversities. Certain communities grapple with economic challenges, but efforts are underway to address and overcome them. High unemployment and poverty rates in certain regions highlight the need for collective efforts to improve economic opportunities.
Worst Places to Live in Texas in 2023 & 2024
This small town near Dallas has a high poverty rate of 35%, a high unemployment rate of 8.3%, and a high crime rate of 60% above the national average. The education and housing quality are also low, making it a poor choice for living.
The small agricultural hub of Robstown near the Corpus Christi area offers very little outside of crop harvesting jobs. Nearly 40% of the population lives below the poverty line with limited access to resources for advancement. Public schools are underfunded with extremely poor testing results. The violent crime rate is also about three times higher than average.
This town claims to be the birthplace of Texas hold 'em poker, but it also has a lot of problems. It has a high poverty rate of 32%, a high unemployment rate of 11.8%, and a low median home value of $76,300. It also ranks low on education, health, and environment.
With a crime rate of 31 per one thousand residents, Robstown has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 32. Within Texas, more than 92% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Robstown.
This town located near Lake Livingston has a high crime rate of 90% above the national average. It has a low median income of $33,000, a low median home value of $88,900, and a low graduation rate of 77%. It also has poor health and environmental indicators.
Near the Mexico border and the Rio Grande Valley, San Benito suffers from high poverty levels reaching 30% of households, below-average incomes, under-resourced schools, as well as crime rates that are more than double state rates. The cost of living is relatively affordable here, but economic opportunities and quality of life measures lag behind most of Texas.
The crime rate in San Benito is considerably higher than the national average across all communities in America from the largest to the smallest. According to Neighborhoodscout, based on FBI crime data, San Benito is not one of the safest communities in America. Relative to Texas, San Benito has a crime rate that is higher than 84% of the state's cities and towns of all sizes.
A suburb 15 miles east of Dallas, Balch Springs tops our list as the current worst place to live in Texas. Violent crimes are 225% higher than average here while poverty and unemployment are both widespread. City infrastructure is outdated and failing while recreational opportunities are very minimal for families. The school district is also considered one of the most deficient.
This suburb of Dallas has a high crime rate of 70% above the national average, a high poverty rate of 25%, and a low median home value of $97,200. It also has low ratings on education, health, and the environment.
On the Sabine Lake between Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico sits Port Arthur, an area ravaged by crime, poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and the lasting impacts of repeated hurricanes and tropical storms. Nearly 1 in 3 residents live below the poverty line as the city suffers from a declining population and tax base.
This city on the Gulf Coast has a high poverty rate of 28%, a high unemployment rate of 10.4%, and a low median home value of $64,600. It also has poor health and environmental conditions, especially after being hit by several hurricanes.
This town, not related to the one in Ohio, has a high poverty rate. In 2022, the median household income of Cleveland households was $46,875. However, 10.0% of Cleveland families live in poverty. The crime rate in Cleveland, TX is also significantly higher than the national average. Violent crime in Cleveland is 47.1, nearly double the US average of 22.7.
These dual challenges of poverty and elevated crime rates necessitate a multifaceted approach to enhance the overall quality of life for Cleveland residents.
The city of Donna, TX faces significant socioeconomic challenges, as evidenced by its 2022 median household income of $34,049. While Donna households marginally surpass those in Clarksville ($33,935) and Redland ($33,689), a troubling 33.3% of Donna families grapple with the harsh realities of poverty (source:
Compounding the community's difficulties is a considerably higher crime rate compared to the national average. The violent crime rate in Donna is a staggering 54.1, almost double the U.S. average of 22.7. This alarming statistic underscores the pressing need for targeted strategies to address and mitigate crime within the town.
The intersection of income disparities and elevated crime rates in Donna necessitates a concerted effort, including community-focused initiatives, to uplift residents and create a safer, more prosperous environment.
The city of Killeen has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation even though it has given birth to stars like Ne-Yo and Clayton Kershaw. 15.7% of the population in Killeen, TX, determined by poverty status, grapples with economic challenges, amounting to 23,500 individuals out of a total of 149,000 people. This figure surpasses the national average of 12.6%, indicating a higher prevalence of poverty within the community.
The town of Killeen also contends with a considerably higher crime rate than the national average. Gang violence and drug trafficking are issues that blanket the community in fear and limit economic mobility for many residents. Public school performance is also bleak here. While standing at 23 crimes per one thousand residents, Killeen doesn't rank among the communities with the very highest crime rates. However, the probability of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Killeen is a concerning 1 in 43.
Analysis of FBI crime data reinforces the fact that Killeen is not among the safest communities in America. In comparison to Texas, Killeen's crime rate surpasses that of 83% of the state's cities and towns, irrespective of their size. This underscores the need for targeted efforts to address both poverty and crime challenges within the community.
Freeport occupies an ideal coastal location on the Gulf of Mexico south of Houston, but high rates of poverty, crime, and weak city services make it one of the least desirable areas to plant roots in Texas. The cost of living is low, but so is the quality of life by most measures. This city on the Brazos River has a high poverty rate of 20.9%, a high unemployment rate of 9.7%, and a low median home value of $79,900.
Neighborhoodscout paints a grim picture of safety in Freeport, revealing a crime rate significantly surpassing the national average across all American communities, regardless of size. The odds of falling victim to either violent or property crime stand at a concerning 1 in 37.
Delving into FBI crime data further reinforces the troubling narrative surrounding Freeport. Contrary to expectations, this community does not rank among the safest in America. When considering the Lone Star State, Freeport's crime rate emerges as a cause for alarm. It surpasses that of 88% of Texas' cities and towns, irrespective of their size. This places Freeport among the less secure locales within the state.
This city in San Patricio County has a high poverty rate. Around 26.9% of Sinton families live in poverty. In 2022, the median household income of Sinton households was $46,411. The violent crime rate in Sinton is a staggering 40.3, nearly double the U.S. average of 22.7. This stark contrast underscores the heightened risk of violent incidents faced by individuals in this community.
Property crime, too, exhibits worrisome figures in Sinton. With a rate of 45.8, it surpasses the U.S. average of 35.4 by almost 30 percent. Residents grapple with an increased likelihood of property-related incidents compared to the national norm. The data underscores the imperative of heightened awareness and proactive measures to enhance safety and security in the community.
This city in Cherokee County has a high poverty rate. 22.2% of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Jacksonville, TX (2.96k out of 13.4k people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 12.6%.
Jacksonville, unfortunately, grapples with a crime rate that significantly surpasses the national average, spanning communities of all sizes across America. While it stands at 22 crimes per one thousand residents, it doesn't claim the dubious distinction of being among the very highest crime rate communities.
The probability of falling victim to either violent or property crime in Jacksonville is a concerning 1 in 45. This statistic highlights the elevated risk residents face in their daily lives.
Examining the FBI crime data emphasizes that Jacksonville doesn't rank among the safest communities in America. This revelation prompts a closer look at safety measures within the city.
Relatively speaking, Jacksonville's crime rate surpasses that of 81% of Texas' cities and towns, irrespective of their size. This positioning indicates a need for concerted efforts to enhance security within the community. These socioeconomic challenges call for a comprehensive approach to address the root causes and improve the overall well-being of Jacksonville residents.
Located about an hour southwest of San Antonio, Dilley has struggled economically for years. The small town of around 4,000 residents has limited job opportunities outside of agriculture, an underfunded school system, as well as elevated rates of poverty and crime compared to state averages. Housing options are sparse and aging as well.
Situated east of Houston near Louisiana, Orange has stagnated economically with the decline of the shipbuilding and fishing industries that once drove the local economy. Today roughly one-third of residents live in poverty as crime, drugs, and gang activity run rampant. Public infrastructure is crumbling in many neighborhoods as well.
In West Texas north of the Permian Basin, Snyder has become one of the poorest places in the state with unemployment triple the national average. City services like public transportation and recreation opportunities are extremely limited for the town’s size. Violent crime has also been on the rise in recent years.
The small town of Raymondville has the unfortunate distinction of being the poorest city in the entire state of Texas by a number of metrics. Located 40 miles north of the Mexico border, nearly half the population lives below the poverty line with limited access to steady employment, healthcare, or other critical services. Drug trafficking is also a major problem.
While many parts of Texas continue booming, these places represent some of the least opportune places to put down roots based on factors like crime, poverty, employment, infrastructure health, educational opportunities, and general quality of life.
They each face their own mix of complex socioeconomic challenges in providing residents with basic needs and access to advancement. However, strategic investments and partnerships focused on economic development, infrastructure, policing, and education are ongoing and in the coming years would help set some of these areas on an improved track.