5 Worst Places to Live in Kansas

Kansas, the Sunflower State, evokes images of rolling plains, charming small towns, and warm Midwestern hospitality. However, like any state, Kansas has its share of areas that struggle with various challenges. This article takes an honest look at five Kansas cities that consistently rank low on livability indexes due to factors such as crime, poverty, limited economic opportunities, and lack of amenities.

This article considers the following to determine the “worst” places to live in Kansas:

  • Crime Rates: FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics and local law enforcement data.
  • Poverty Rates: Data from the United States Census Bureau.
  • Economic Indicators: Unemployment rates, median household incomes, and job growth statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Quality of Life Factors: Access to education, healthcare, amenities, and infrastructure assessed through reputable sources like Niche and local government reports.

5. Arkansas City, KS

  • High poverty rate: Arkansas City’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the national average. This contributes to social problems and a lack of resources for residents.
  • Limited job market: The city offers a limited range of employment opportunities, with many low-wage positions. This makes it difficult for residents to build financial stability.
  • Aging infrastructure: Much of the city’s infrastructure is outdated, leading to problems with roads, buildings, and utilities.

4. Coffeyville, KS

  • Struggles with crime: Coffeyville’s crime rates, particularly property crimes, are persistently higher than state and national averages.
  • Economic decline: The city has suffered from job losses and business closures, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
  • Brain drain: Many young and educated individuals leave Coffeyville for areas with better opportunities, leading to a dwindling skilled workforce.

3. Parsons, KS

  • Above-average poverty levels: Parsons faces a significant poverty issue, impacting a sizable portion of its population.
  • Dependence on declining industries: The local economy is heavily reliant on industries that are in decline, leading to limited job prospects.
  • Limited amenities: Residents may experience a lack of access to recreational facilities, cultural events, and diverse dining options.

2. Leavenworth, KS

  • High crime rates: Leavenworth consistently experiences elevated crime rates, particularly violent crime and property crime, compared to the rest of Kansas.
  • Housing affordability concerns: Finding affordable housing can be a challenge in Leavenworth, especially with a growing population.
  • Overcrowded prison: The presence of a large, overcrowded prison within Leavenworth’s borders impacts the city’s overall character and resources.

1. Kansas City, KS

  • Severe crime problem: Kansas City, KS has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, particularly concerning violent crimes like homicide and aggravated assault.
  • Poverty and socioeconomic disparities: Significant portions of the city’s population face poverty and income inequality.
  • Issues with infrastructure: Parts of Kansas City, KS suffer from aging infrastructure, leading to problems with roads, sanitation, and access to essential services.

Important Considerations

  • Subjectivity: “Worst” is subjective; some people may thrive in these places because of low housing costs or a strong sense of community.
  • Potential for change: Cities evolve; these areas may experience economic revitalization or improvements in the future.
  • No place is all bad: Even the most challenged cities have positive aspects, dedicated residents, and potential for positive outcomes.


While the cities mentioned in this article face significant challenges, it’s important to remember that every community has complexity. Areas with high crime or poverty rates may also have strong community bonds, rich histories, or hidden gems awaiting discovery.

It’s also crucial to recognize that conditions can change. Urban renewal projects, economic development efforts, and community-driven initiatives have the potential to transform struggling areas. This article aims to provide an honest assessment of the challenges faced by certain Kansas communities, not to offer a definitive condemnation.

If you’re considering moving to Kansas, it’s essential to conduct thorough research that extends beyond these worst-of lists. Explore positive aspects, speak to locals, and consider your personal priorities to determine whether a particular location aligns with your lifestyle and needs.


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MBS Staff
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