The 30 Worst Cities for Raising a Kid

Few factors are more important than a child's environment.

The 30 Worst Cities for Raising a Kid
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There are roughly 759,109 factors that influence how a kid turns out. Setting aside genetics, chief among them is the kind of household mom and dad create. But a close second is the environment—including the zip code—a kid is reared in. Everything from crime and graduation rates to air quality levels and access to exercise can play a significant role. To that end, we dove deep into these figures to ID which cities in the United States are the absolute least ideal for raising a child.

A quick note on the data: it all comes from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Most of it is self-explanatory, except for these two. “Disconnected Youth” is the percentage of teens and young adults ages 16 to 24 who are neither working nor in school, while “Severe Housing Problems” lists the percentage of households with severe problems, like overcrowding, inadequate kitchen area, or a lack of plumbing. If you’re looking to raise a family, you might want to pack your bags first. And for more amazing parenting advice, learn all about the 20 Biggest Regrets Nearly Every Parent Has.

Rancho Cucamonga, happiest cities, fittest cities, healthiest cities, worst singles scenes, longest commutes, commute

30
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Population: 176,534
High School Graduation Rate: 81%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 84%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.2
Severe Housing Problems: 28%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 150.68
Raising Kids Index: 50.79

And for more rankings of American zip codes, here are The 50 Most Caffeinated Cities in America.

lancaster california former city hall

29
Lancaster, CA

Population: 160,106
High School Graduation Rate: 79%
Disconnected Youth: 14%
Excessive Drinking: 17%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.4
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 94%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.4
Severe Housing Problems: 34%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 688.92
Raising Kids Index: 50.01

You’d also have a pretty long drive living here, as Lancaster is one of The 50 Cities with the Worst Commutes in America.

Los Angeles, happiest cities, best singles scenes, flip a house, longest commutes, commute, rent, property, best job opportunities, sleepless cities, best sports fans

28
Los Angeles, CA

Population: 3,976,322
High School Graduation Rate: 79%
Disconnected Youth: 14%
Excessive Drinking: 17%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.4
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 94%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.4
Severe Housing Problems: 34%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 724.71
Raising Kids Index: 49.65

Montgomery, drunkest cities

27
Montgomery, AL

Population: 200,022
High School Graduation Rate: 79%
Disconnected Youth: 16%
Excessive Drinking: 16%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 75%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.2
Severe Housing Problems: 19%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 607.43
Raising Kids Index: 49.63

Might be best to keep kids away from here, since Montgomery is also one of the The 100 Drunkest Cities in America.

fattest cities, best singles scenes, best drinking water

26
Augusta, GA

Population: 197,081
High School Graduation Rate: 78%
Disconnected Youth: 22%
Excessive Drinking: 15%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 71%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.2
Severe Housing Problems: 20%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 11.16
Raising Kids Index: 49.59

Mobile, drunkest cities, fattest cities

25
Mobile, AL

Population: 192,904
High School Graduation Rate: 86%
Disconnected Youth: 20%
Excessive Drinking: 16%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 73%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10
Severe Housing Problems: 18%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 885.93
Raising Kids Index: 49.54

Streets of Ontario city in California with beautiful mountains in the background

24
Ontario, CA

Population: 173,212
High School Graduation Rate: 81%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 84%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.2
Severe Housing Problems: 28%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 347.55
Raising Kids Index: 48.82

fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, best job opportunities, sleepless cities

23
Shreveport, LA

Population: 194,920
High School Graduation Rate: 75%
Disconnected Youth: 20%
Excessive Drinking: 15%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 84%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.2
Severe Housing Problems: 17%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 956.80
Raising Kids Index: 48.63

mcallen texas drunkest cities fattest cities, best job opportunities, worst drinking water

22
McAllen, TX

Population: 142,212
High School Graduation Rate: 87%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 14%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 8.9
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 62%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 8.9
Severe Housing Problems: 28%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 151.18
Raising Kids Index: 48.49

Albuquerque, rent, property, sleepless cities

21
Albuquerque, NM

Population: 559,277
High School Graduation Rate: 62%
Disconnected Youth: 14%
Excessive Drinking: 16%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 8.5
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 92%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 8.5
Severe Housing Problems: 19%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,116.62
Raising Kids Index: 48.23

fontana california Photo via Wikimedia Commons

20
Fontana, CA

Population: 209,665
High School Graduation Rate: 81%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 84%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.2
Severe Housing Problems: 28%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 414.95
Raising Kids Index: 48.15

Cleveland, Ohio, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, best sports fans

19
Cleveland, OH

Population: 385,809
High School Graduation Rate: 75%
Disconnected Youth: 15%
Excessive Drinking: 17%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 12.9
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 96%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 12.9
Severe Housing Problems: 19%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,632.67
Raising Kids Index: 47.87

Worst drinking water

18
Rockford, IL

Population: 147,651
High School Graduation Rate: 74%
Disconnected Youth: 18%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10.5
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 93%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10.5
Severe Housing Problems: 17%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,655.25
Raising Kids Index: 46.65

You might also want to steer clear, since Rockford is also one of The 25 U.S. Cities with the Worst Drinking Water.

fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, rent, property, best job opportunities, sleepless cities, best sports fans

17
Milwaukee, WI

Population: 595,047
High School Graduation Rate: 74%
Disconnected Youth: 15%
Excessive Drinking: 25%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10.7
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 99%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10.7
Severe Housing Problems: 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,546.26
Raising Kids Index: 46.64

fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, longest commutes, commute, rent, property, best job opportunities, sleepless cities, best drinking water, best sports fans

16
Philadelphia, PA

Population: 1,567,872
High School Graduation Rate: 70%
Disconnected Youth: 20%
Excessive Drinking: 22%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 97%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.2
Severe Housing Problems: 24%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 990.77
Raising Kids Index: 46.09

Washington DC, D.C., drunkest cities, happiest cities, fittest cities, healthiest cities, best singles scenes, flip a house, longest commutes, commute, rent, property, best job opportunities, best sports fans

15
Washington D.C.

Population: 681,170
High School Graduation Rate: 68%
Disconnected Youth: 16%
Excessive Drinking: 28%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10.9
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 100%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10.9
Severe Housing Problems: 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,132.02
Raising Kids Index: 45.58

fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, sleepless cities

14
Toledo, OH

Population: 278,508
High School Graduation Rate: 60%
Disconnected Youth: 14%
Excessive Drinking: 19%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.4
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 95%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.4
Severe Housing Problems: 17%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,191.71
Raising Kids Index: 44.68

Memphis Tennessee American Cities Vacation Destinations

13
Memphis, TN

Population: 652,717
High School Graduation Rate: 78%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 13%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 9.8
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 87%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 9.8
Severe Housing Problems: 21%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,830.35
Raising Kids Index: 44.40

Bakersfield, drunkest cities, worst singles scenes, flip, best job opportunities, worst drinking water

12
Bakersfield, CA

Population: 376,380
High School Graduation Rate: 83%
Disconnected Youth: 22%
Excessive Drinking: 19%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 13.9
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 78%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 13.9
Severe Housing Problems: 26%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 483.82
Raising Kids Index: 44.36

fresno california sleepless cities, worst drinking water

11
Fresno, CA

Population: 522,053
High School Graduation Rate: 82%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 16%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.3
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 79%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.3
Severe Housing Problems: 29%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 614.11
Raising Kids Index: 44.16

Little Rock, fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, sleepless cities

10
Little Rock, AR

Population: 198,541
High School Graduation Rate: 72%
Disconnected Youth: 16%
Excessive Drinking: 16%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 12.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 87%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 12.2
Severe Housing Problems: 16%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,533.18
Raising Kids Index: 43.87

9
Baltimore, MD

Population: 614,664
High School Graduation Rate: 70%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10.3
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 99%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10.3
Severe Housing Problems: 23%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,791.22
Raising Kids Index: 43.19

Indianapolis, drunkest cities, fattest cities, flip, rent, property, sleepless cities, best sports fans

8
Indianapolis, IN

Population: 855,164
High School Graduation Rate: 72%
Disconnected Youth: 16%
Excessive Drinking: 19%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 12.3
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 87%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 12.3
Severe Housing Problems: 19%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,392.36
Raising Kids Index: 42.18

las vegas at night

7
Las Vegas, NV

Population: 632,912
High School Graduation Rate: 72%
Disconnected Youth: 18%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 8.9
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 96%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 8.9
Severe Housing Problems: 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 2,136.16
Raising Kids Index: 41.54

fattest cities

6
Jackson, MS

Population: 169,148
High School Graduation Rate: 68%
Disconnected Youth: 16%
Excessive Drinking: 12%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 73%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10
Severe Housing Problems: 21%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 857.83
Raising Kids Index: 41.52

detroit michigan sleepless cities, best sports fans

5
Detroit, MI

Population: 672,795
High School Graduation Rate: 79%
Disconnected Youth: 21%
Excessive Drinking: 20%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 11.5
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 93%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 11.5
Severe Housing Problems: 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 2,037.02
Raising Kids Index: 39.83

Salem, drunkest cities, best drinking water

4
Salem, OR

Population: 167,419
High School Graduation Rate: 74%
Disconnected Youth: 17%
Excessive Drinking: 17%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 8.8
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 59%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 8.8
Severe Housing Problems: 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 318.36
Raising Kids Index: 39.82

San Bernardino California most dangerous cities

3
San Bernardino, CA

Population: 216,239
High School Graduation Rate: 81%
Disconnected Youth: 19%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 14.2
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 84%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 14.2
Severe Housing Problems: 28%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,330.93
Raising Kids Index: 38.99

Stockton, happiest cities, worst singles scenes, longest commutes, best job opportunities

2
Stockton, CA

Population: 307,072
High School Graduation Rate: 82%
Disconnected Youth: 18%
Excessive Drinking: 18%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 9.7
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 73%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 9.7
Severe Housing Problems: 27%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 1,426.70
Raising Kids Index: 37.53

Columbia, fattest cities, drunkest cities, best singles scenes, best cities to buy a mansion

1
Columbia, SC

Population: 134,309
High School Graduation Rate: 63%
Disconnected Youth: 10%
Excessive Drinking: 19%
Food Environment Index (1–10): 10
Access to Exercise Opportunities: 65%
Air Pollution (average daily PM2.5): 10
Severe Housing Problems: 18%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100K people): 830.92
Raising Kids Index: 34.99

And for more great city rankings, especially if you’re looking to start a family, check out The 50 Best Cities for Buying a Bigger House.

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