5 Worst Places to Live in Virginia

Virginia, known for its rich history, scenic beauty, and overall quality of life, consistently attracts new residents. However, like any state, it has areas that face significant challenges. This article delves into five Virginia cities that consistently rank poorly in terms of livability. It’s important to understand the factors that contribute to these rankings so you can make the best possible choice if considering a move to the Old Dominion state.


This article considers the following crucial factors when identifying the worst places to live in Virginia:

  • Crime Rates: Safety is paramount. Statistics on violent crimes (murder, assault, rape, robbery) and property crimes (burglary, theft, vehicle theft) are heavily weighed.
  • Cost of Living: We examine housing affordability, transportation costs, groceries, and other daily expenses, comparing them to the state average.
  • Unemployment Rates: Areas with high unemployment tend to struggle with other socioeconomic issues.
  • Education Quality: We consider school system performance, test scores, and graduation rates.
  • Limited Amenities and Infrastructure: Access to quality healthcare, recreational facilities, cultural attractions, and a robust infrastructure greatly impact quality of life.

The 5 Worst Places

  • 1. Petersburg, Virginia
    • High Crime Rates: Petersburg consistently has one of Virginia’s highest crime rates, particularly for violent offenses.
    • Economic Hardship: The poverty rate is significantly higher than the state average, and unemployment remains a persistent problem.
    • Blighted Neighborhoods: The city has a visible issue with abandoned buildings and urban decay.
  • 2. Portsmouth, Virginia
    • Violent Crime Concerns: Portsmouth struggles with disproportionately high rates of violent crime.
    • Poverty: A large portion of the population lives below the poverty line.
    • Infrastructure Issues: Some areas of the city suffer from aging infrastructure and limited access to amenities.
  • 3. Richmond, Virginia
    • Disparity Between Neighborhoods While Richmond offers many desirable areas, certain neighborhoods experience significantly higher crime rates and poverty.
    • Cost of Living: Housing costs in Richmond, the state capital, can be notably higher than in other parts of Virginia.
    • Traffic Congestion: Heavy traffic congestion can be a significant concern for residents, particularly commuters.
  • 4. Hopewell, Virginia
    • Elevated Crime Levels: Hopewell’s property and violent crime rates exceed both state and national averages.
    • Limited Economic Opportunity: The city has faced an economic downturn with the loss of manufacturing jobs.
    • Environmental Issues: Some residents express concerns about pollution due to past and present industrial activities.
  • 5. Emporia, Virginia
    • Staggering Poverty Rate: Emporia has one of the highest poverty rates in Virginia.
    • Lack of Employment: Job opportunities are scarce, contributing to economic hardship.
    • Limited Amenities: Residents may find limited options for dining, entertainment, and essential services.

Important Considerations

  • Subjectivity: What qualifies as a “worst” place to live is somewhat subjective and depends on individual priorities.
  • Fluctuations: Rankings can change over time with improvements or declines in various factors.
  • Redeeming Qualities: Even the most challenged cities might offer positive aspects, affordable housing, or a tight-knit community feel.


While Virginia has much to offer residents, it’s essential to be aware of its less desirable areas. This article aims to provide a starting point for thorough research if you consider moving to Virginia.

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MBS Staff
Articles: 5610

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