This City Has Been Named the Worst City to live in California

California holds a unique allure for many due to its diverse culture, breathtaking natural landscapes, and promising economic prospects. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that not all cities in the Golden State are created equal.

Some of them fall on the less desirable end of the spectrum, and in this piece, we’ll delve into the factors that determine a city’s livability or lack thereof, ultimately revealing the city deemed the least ideal to call home in California.

What Makes a City Livable?

Various elements significantly influence the quality of life in a city, including:

  1. Affordability: The overall cost of living, housing, transportation, and taxation can significantly impact a city’s appeal. A high cost of living can strain residents, making it difficult to meet basic needs and save for the future.
  2. Safety: Crime rates, police presence, and the efficiency of emergency services play a pivotal role in how safe people feel. High crime rates can breed fear and insecurity among residents and visitors.
  3. Education: The accessibility, quality, and diversity of educational opportunities directly affect an individual’s capacity to learn, grow, and reach their aspirations. A subpar education system can curtail access to knowledge, skills, and career prospects.
  4. Health: Access to healthcare, environmental quality, and recreational facilities play a critical role in determining residents’ physical and mental well-being. A deficient healthcare system can lead to illness, disease, and premature mortality.
  5. Culture: The richness, vibrancy, and diversity of cultural offerings in a city can greatly enhance the quality of life. A lack of cultural activities can render life dull and monotonous.

Which City is the Worst City to Live in California?

A recent study conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website that assessed 151 U.S. cities based on 43 livability indicators, declared San Francisco as the least desirable city to reside in within California. San Francisco’s overall score of 37.47 out of 100 placed it at the bottom of the ranking. The city underperformed in several critical categories, including:

  1. Affordability: San Francisco earned a dismal 149th place out of 151 cities, marked by a median home price of $1.4 million and a cost of living index soaring to 269.3, which is more than twice the national average of 100. The city also shoulders one of the nation’s heaviest tax burdens, with a 9.3% effective income tax rate for high earners and an 8.5% sales tax rate.
  2. Safety: San Francisco ranked 119th in terms of crime and safety, with a violent crime rate of 712 incidents per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 5,547 per 100,000 residents, both surpassing state and national averages. Additionally, the city faces a high homelessness rate, with approximately 8,035 homeless individuals as of January 2020, posing health and safety challenges.
  3. Education: San Francisco secured the 139th position in the education category, with an 86% high school graduation rate and a 56% college attainment rate, both below state and national averages. The city also grapples with a low student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1 and limited per-pupil spending of $13,243, impacting educational quality.
  4. Health: In the health category, San Francisco ranked 77th, showcasing a 4% uninsured rate and an average life expectancy of 82 years, which are better than the state and national averages. However, the city contends with a high prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes (9%), asthma (9%), and HIV/AIDS (1%). Moreover, elevated air and noise pollution levels can negatively affect residents and visitors’ well-being.


In conclusion, while San Francisco boasts numerous attractions, including its cultural diversity, historical landmarks, and technological innovation, it simultaneously faces substantial challenges like its high cost of living, elevated crime rates, subpar education, and environmental issues. These factors have collectively earned San Francisco the title of the worst city to reside in California, according to WalletHub’s comprehensive study. Therefore, individuals contemplating a move to or visit to San Francisco should carefully consider these issues when weighing the pros and cons.

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