America's 10 Most Miserable Cities

Did you know there was an index to measure misery?

Misery is defined as a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress. The economic indicator most often used to measure misery is the Misery Index. The index, created by economist Arthur Okun, adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. It has been in the narrow 7-to-9 range for most of the past decade, but was over 20 during the late 1970s.

Forbes has collected America’s 10 Most Miserable Cities. True, it may suck to live in these cities, but at least you can take pride in knowing that you’re tough enough. Flex those muscles.

America’s Most Miserable Cities:

10. Providence, R.I.
Rhode Island loves your tax money, baby. Only NYC is worse. Maybe that’s why everyone is leaving?

9 Charlotte, NC
Bank of America and Wachovia call this city home, which doesn’t bode well for its unemployment rates.

8.Modesto, California
If you don’t have a job, move to Modesto! You’ll fit right in.

7.Los Angeles
Do you like driving, paying taxes and breathing pollution? Los Angeles is for you!


If you like disappointing sports teams, wasting the best part of every day sitting in mind-bending traffic jams and freezing your ass off—move to my hometown—Chicago! If you’re not sure you can take it, google “Gaper’s Block” before you make any decisions.


What do you get when you add long commutes, toxic waste, and violent crime? Sports fans who boo Santa Claus.

4. New York City
High income taxes, stupidly expensive housing, “the costs can make all but the super-wealthy miserable.”

3. Flint, Michigan
You can buy a house for $104,000… but where will you work?

2.Stockton, California
Stockton is the epicenter of the subprime meltdown. What more do you need to say?

1. Detroit
The Motor City has high unemployment and tops the country when it comes to violent crime. As if that wasn’t bad enough—Detroit is toxic. It’s near the top of the list of cities that require the most Superfund dollars to clean up toxic waste sites. Congratulations, Detroit! You’re the most miserable people in the U.S.!

Guess it really is time to move to Pittsburgh. Do they allow Bears fans there?

America’s Most Miserable Cities [Forbes]
(Photo:Jason Lujan)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Finder says:

    That might be the dumbest list ever compiled.

  2. chiieddy says:

    Boston’s not on the list. That’s because despite the cold weather and high cost of living, it’s actually a nice place to live.

  3. Caduceus says:

    @Finder – There are probably dumber lists out there.

  4. majortom1981 says:

    How is NEw York City one of the most miserable? They have tons of people trying to moe there. IT cant be that miserable. HEck its cheaper to live in Manhattan then it is to live here on Long Island.

  5. mopar_man says:


    Your city must be on there then.

  6. Finder says:

    @Caduceus: Any list that rates a city on how well their sports teams do is fucking dumb.

  7. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    Ahhh, so many things to say about my #1 hometown but not enough paragraphs or hours in the day to spew them out.

    If you love a city without major grocery chains, an incompetent city bureaucracy, a thoroughly corrupt administration, huge taxes for both residents & non-residents (and corresponding lack of services), Detroit is your kind of place!

    Things were looking upbeat for the city & the region under the previous mayor (Archer), but he declined to run for reelection because he was fighting a one man battle for the city.

  8. stephenjames716 says:

    yea, I agree. while they all have their downfalls, there are many upsides of living in those big cities.

  9. vastrightwing says:

    Sure, Boston has high taxes, expensive housing, tunnels that collapse and kill people (Search:Big Dig), corrupt politicians, etc. etc., but we also have the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Howie Carr, “Mumbles”, MIT, Harvard, more Irish pubs than Ireland and the entertainment value of the city’s reaction to LEDs (search: Boston hoax device) is priceless.

  10. ClayS says:

    Because its expensive to live in NYC. When it comes to expensive housing, its a matter of supply and demand. If a particular city is desirable, more people want to live there and housing is naturally going to be more expensive than a less desirable place. Personally, I would expect to see San Francisco on the list instead of NY, since it is not only expensive to live there, but bums roam the streets freely and crime is much higher.

  11. missdona says:

    Certainly these people have never seen Newark, NJ.

  12. kantwait says:

    How is my hometown of Baltimore NOT on the list? We have tons of crime, traffic, random weather, etc.

  13. TWinter says:

    The list is stupid because seems to mix places that people really want to flee (Detroit & Flint being the prime examples) with places that have problems because they attract so many people who want to be there (NYC, LA, Chicago, Charlotte).

    The misery of Detroit is a totally different beast than the misery of Chicago or NYC.

  14. smitty1123 says:

    The Kentucky Fried Movie was right!

  15. ClayS says:

    Some parts of Newark are very nice, like the Ironbound. The areas to the south though, pretty scary.

  16. K-Bo says:

    Surprised to see Charlotte, I live in Raleigh, and all my life all I’ve heard is how Charlotte and Raleigh are the best places to live in NC (I’m actually partial to Wilmington NC though, if only there were jobs)

  17. Bladefist says:

    I’m just glad the article wasn’t trying to be overly negative. I live in MO. I don’t get an ocean. I get frigid winters, humid summers, and nothing to look at. byte me.

  18. Sherryness says:

    I’ve lived in the Metro areas of San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, and Des Moines (the one in Iowa). Miami and Des Moines were by far the most miserable to me because of the oppressive, isolating weather. Des Moines has the added detriment of not having much to do, but I have imagination – I could always find something to do. But get sick of doing everything inside. It’s almost always hideously hot or hideously cold. And that is just MISERABLE.

  19. missdona says:

    @ClayS: When we go to the airport (McCarter Hwy?), it seems awful.

  20. digitalhen says:

    I moved from NJ into Manhattan and I’m actually paying less rent, and my utilities are about a third. Plus I don’t need a car, so I’m feeling pretty flush.

  21. foghat81 says:

    Huzzah for Cleveland :)

  22. Wimpkins says:

    No NY NY ?

    Why not? I love waiting in line…for everything.

  23. bustit22 says:


    I have to agree, this list can’t be correct! There aren’t any NJ cities on it!!

  24. Tallanvor says:

    The people who created this list are full of crap! Chicago is a great place to live. I know a lot of people who left for a few years, found they missed it a lot, and made their way back. If/when I move back to the States, I’d love to live in Chicago again.

  25. Ass_Cobra says:

    Meg, being from Pittsburgh I can tell you we welcome all fans of the NFL game. We are sure that even if you are a Bears fan you’ll quickly fall in love with the Steelers…they’re seductive. If you’re a Cubs fan you’ll fight right in with all the Pirate’s fans too. Give us a glimpse as to what the next 85 years should be like.

  26. Canerican says:

    Surprise all but one city is in Democrat-controlled state, and 8 of those cities were ranked as the top 25 most Liberal, each one has a Democrat mayor, is that really surprising? You support socialism, raise taxes on the businesses that can help you, and you are surprised to hear that you city sucks?

  27. morganlh85 says:

    Oh Detroit. At least we’re number one at SOMETHING.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I heard the mayor of Detroit was selling the entire city off for scrap and then turning it into an “Escape from New York” style prison.

  29. morganlh85 says:

    PS Being a native of Pittsburgh and having lived in Detroit about 3 1/2 years for college I can guarantee you that Pittsburgh is paradise compared to here!

  30. ClayS says:

    True, but if you go east from the downtown area, the Portuguese Ironbound section has many excellent restaurants and nightlife and is very safe.

  31. Death says:

    I love Providence. it’s the slutty little sister of Boston.

  32. ClayS says:

    Pittsburgh is incredibly underrated; very nice city in a lot of ways.

  33. Scalvo2 says:

    It isn’t like we booed someone being paid to be Santa Claus. This guy was being drunk and belligerent.

    Don’t forget, our transit system sucks too!

  34. Solly says:

    I live in Raleigh also and was thinking the same thing. I have been looking for something in Wilmington as I think that would be a fun place to live.

  35. friendlynerd says:

    I want to get paid for making arbitrary lists like these “journalists.” Seems like easy, brainless work.

  36. Am I the only one who thinks you cannot measure happiness through calculation of financial data? Just a crazy idea there.

  37. DMDDallas says:

    Why aren’t crime rates and demographics factored in?

  38. lenagainster says:

    Why isn’t Washington, DC, on the list? Crime and politicians; what could be worse?

  39. char says:

    @Wimpkins: heh, that was my biggest shock moving to NYC. 1.5 hours at staples and 3 hours at the DMV convinced me to do any thing that requires a line in the bronx.

  40. Los Angeles needs a bump on that list. P.S., where’s Baltimore?

  41. stevegoz says:

    @Canerican: Yeah, because we all know that Dallas, San Antonio and Houston are such thriving metropoli! (I assume they were exempt from this study because there is no there there, right?) And Miami, Orlando and Tampa Bay — if I can’t make it there, I won’t be able to make it anywhere! (Do any of the red states have actual cities, or just places where people come to work by day and drive like hell to get out of at 5 pm each night as they return to their vinyl-clad suburban shacks?)

  42. disavow says:

    @smitty1123: Send him…to Detroit!!

    @Bladefist: On top of that, a lack of eye candy because a) no beaches and b) why bother burning hours and hours to look good three months out of the year? (I live in Indep.)

  43. redhelix says:

    Ugh, every time my girlfriend wants to drive down to Providence (we’re Bostonians) all I can think about is the miles and miles of abandoned warehouses surrounding that miserable city and their terrible highway signage.

    I’m a Boston driver, and *I* have trouble navigating Providence. Yeah.

  44. jmuskratt says:

    New Orleans would be #1 by a mile (our murder rate is the highest, notwithstanding Forbes’ claim) if we weren’t always eating and getting drunk. Perhaps they measured for misery during Mardi Gras?

  45. Bladefist says:

    @disavow: Im in parkville,n kc area. This place sucks. I guess the benefits are the cost of living and we get some personal space. But weather is terrible and there are only a few and far between fun places to go

  46. Caswell says:

    Detroit is probably the most miserable place to live in America, so at least the list got that right. The suburbs can be nice, but even there the cost of living is high due to manufacturing / engineering wages.

    The lack of Newark on the list is a huge black eye though. That place is a dump.

  47. Aphex242 says:

    HEY GUYS – Click the link. The site itself DOES measure stuff like commute times, crime, etc. The little editorialized blurbs up above, including bashing sports teams, are all The Consumerist, and not Forbes.

  48. Nissan288 says:

    Being from Philadelphia I just can’t stand seeing the words Pittsburgh.

  49. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Only someone that doesn’t live in Chicago would want to move to Chicago!

    The buses & trains barely work.
    It’s impossible to walk anywhere now because of all the unshoveled snow on the sidewalks 10 days after a big snow & now it’s all turned to 3 inches of solid ice.
    The streets are potholes filled with more potholes because of all the salt dumped every snow. Even when the snow has melted, the streets are still white from the salt, so everything rusts, everything!
    Every single politician in Chicago, Cook County & Illinois is a crook!
    Who constantly raise taxes.
    On top of that, the governor is a mentally ill whack job!
    Local TV news is either going on panic watch & screaming that a huge rain/snow/thunder storm is coming or some useless sweeps crap.

  50. notblaine says:

    My brother in law is a half-Bears fan (in so much as if the Steelers aren’t involved, he wants the Bears to win. If they’re playing the Steelers it’s another story all together).

    You can pretty much like any NFC team you want and no one will bother you. In fact you’ll probably get a good deal of respect since the Bears are one of the few teams that Steeler fans find respectable (Bears, Packers… that might be it).

    All are welcome… All are welcome (excpet for anyone who likes anything to do with: Cleveland, Cincinatti, Philladelphia, Baltimore and anyone who likes the Seahawks at the moment).

    Aaahh..nothing like basking in the glow of providing an extensive answer to a rhetorical question.

  51. Randy says:

    Forbes definitely missed the target on this one with some places. Detroit deserves its ranking, and so does Flint (Hell, the entire state is a miserable place to live – I should know, I live there!), I can’t believe Chicago is a crummy place to live. I lived near Chicago for 2.5 years, and it seems to be a bit better than where I am now.

    Just avoid certain areas after dark and take the back roads instead of the expressways and you’re fine.

  52. etinterrapax says:

    @redhelix: I had the same problem last time I went to Providence–I had to be there because that’s where they put me for the GRE last time, bastards–and I’m glad it wasn’t just me. I don’t think I’d ever try it again without a GPS. Boston’s not as easy as Minneapolis was, but I’ve lived with it for longer. Pure proof that I’m a New Englander: I find midwestern cities’ planned layouts and easy navigation to be threatening signs of the apocalypse. Flying over those rows and rows of subdivisions used to make me feel physically ill.

    I have no personal reason to feel bad for Detroit, but I do. Same reason I feel bad for central New York (Syracuse, etc). It’s obvious that until fairly recently, fifty years or so, they were doing really well economically and were viable destination cities for people looking to relocate. Troubled cities make me sad. I want to fix all of them.

  53. Youthier says:

    Detroit and Flint? They should just put the whole damn state on the list. At least the Michigan “government” (and I use that term loosely) acknowledges those cities. They don’t really care about all the other miserable places in the state.

    The most positive thing to happen in Michigan is that the Democrats were pissed about the primary move and we only had half the amount of stupid political fighting this year.

  54. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    For all it’s flaws (like being the most likely city in the US to get shot by a police officer) & being slightly boring at times, I still <3 Jacksonville.

    Seriously. The rest of you fuckers stay the hell away.

  55. DaleM says:

    I was born and raised in Flint (#3 on the list) and moved to Detroit (#1) where there was more opportunity. Now I live in Chicago (#6) and only have this to say – IT IS INFINITELY BETTER THAN FLINT OR DETROIT!

  56. DaleM says:

    I was born and raised in Flint, lived in Detroit. I now live in Chicago and it is Infinitely better that Flint or Detroit.

  57. fett387 says:

    They forgot Boston.

  58. noquarter says:

    @Canerican: Get your facts straight. The liberal northern cities in this country make money, while the southern ones take it in federal aid.

  59. ianmac47 says:

    Any list that omits Newark but includes New York City is a work of fiction.

  60. Skiffer says:

    @ClayS: Yeah, but San Fran wants to turn Alcatraz into a Harmonium…they can’t be all that unhappy. Although “aloof” is probably a better word…

  61. RJM07 says:

    How about Camden? I wonder when people will get over Philly booing Santa? Santa sucks.

  62. Death says:

    I’m sure they remembered Boston, which is why it isn’t on the list.

  63. Skiffer says:

    @noquarter: Your article was published in 1996…do you know if the distribution has changed or not?

  64. nerdsavant says:

    Pittsburgh can be just as miserable at times (like this morning, at 16 degrees with 2 inches of snow on the ground) but paying $500 rent for a two-bedroom townhouse makes me alright with that, strangely enough

  65. meeroom says:

    I’ve never lived there but I loved visiting my sister in Rhode Island, everywhere you go is near the water.

  66. noquarter says:

    @Skiffer: I couldn’t find a more recent one, but I don’t see why it would be any different now. The Southern states still dominate in all the poverty statistics.

  67. crabbyman6 says:

    <3 Philadelphia. Who doesn’t want to boo Santa, their own team and probably small children holding puppies, if given the chance, every once in a while? …oh wait

  68. Shannon says:

    Where is North Las Vegas at? It should be #3 or #4.

  69. DCGaymer says:

    WAIT! DC wasn’t on there….We’re continually blighted by “patriotic” tourist’s…you know the type, they that think wearing a star spangled tube top makes you patriotic….Politicians, need I say more….ineffectual city government….it was recently found that our own tax department emplyees stole somewhere over $20 million over the past decade…predatory meter readers, violent random crime, … oh, and August. If you think you have huidity where you live….IO invite you to DC in August. We may have jobs….but it just means we still have to go to work.

  70. veraikon says:

    Charlotte? Really? Just the other day I heard someone praising Charlotte as a great example of local government and private enterprise working together. I know a lot of people from my area (Upstate New York) who’ve either moved to or are contemplating moving to Charlotte’s general part of the country. Forbes’ main rationale seems to be the *prospect* of unemployment because of all the banks headquartered there, but that seems like a bit of a reach.

  71. VeeKaChu says:

    I know there’s “Gaper’s Block” in every megalopois, but it’s so not surprising to discover that the term was coined in our fair city.

    I drive the IKE daily, and often arrive home hoarse from shouting in vain at the various assholes, some of whom I’ve seen coming to a complete STOP on a 4-lane just to look at carnage in the adjacent lanes. It’s infuriating and- in the context of the social compact to which we all implicitly agree when piloting a vehicle on the public roadway- utterly irresponsible.

  72. failurate says:

    Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin are just fantastic this time of year. Thanks for asking.

  73. Laz says:

    >9. Charlotte
    >Bank of America and Wachovia call this city home,
    >which doesn’t bode well for its unemployment rates.

    WTF? This is rationale? Sure those are the big employers, but there are more than a half-million people working in the Charlotte area, which means a small – albeit well-paid – fraction could *potentially* be affected *if* there are extensive layoffs at *both* banks at the same time. Plus, both tend to target their layoffs in other cities so as not to disturb the rather disgusting love affair they have going on with the city/county government.

    Pick better reasons to say Charlotte sucks donkey butt, like the shortage of fine arts and cultural happenings, the extremely poor city/county planning, the way the real estate developers hold the entire area by the cojones, the modernized segregation that has led to an entire corridor of foreclosures along I85, the multitude of drunks that descend on the lake areas for the races in Concord or the boat festivals in Cornelius, the recent debacle with something as simple as appointing a new County Sheriff…There are so many!

  74. Prosumerist says:

    If you make under $100 grand you got no business living in Manhattan.

  75. Gaambit says:

    Why does the list act like bad traffic only happens in these few cities? Clearly someone hasn’t tried driving on 285 or 85 getting out of Atlanta during rush hour.

    Wasn’t surprised to see my old hometown Philly show up on there. Kinda funny that people STILL bring up that Santa thing, considering it happened what, over twenty years ago?

  76. I have lived for 18 and 5 years in two of the top 10 saddest cities. I cannot agree. The combined 23 years in LA and NY were better, just in terms of city living, than 2 years in Washington DC, and 4 years in St. Louis, MO. And way better than 3 years in suburban Connecticut. Yes, Taxes, driving and pollution (ignoring the fact that smog is the result of a natural inversion layer, also seen in Denver, which has worse air quality than LA). But, diversity. Mexican food. Dim Sum. Chicken and Waffles. Movie Stars. Movie theaters worth going to. Etc. The offerings in the big cities make up for the “sadness” factor from some ur-commentator who hasn’t really lived in these places, if they in fact live at all.

  77. bbbici says:

    NYC would be great to live if you are fabulously wealthy and not fond of nature. For all others, it is miserable.

    Detroit can’t be all that bad or it couldn’t have such an amazing hockey team.

  78. Angryrider says:

    It’s also fabulous if you don’t live in certain parts of the city.
    Prices go up like crazy the closer you are to Midtown.

  79. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @RJM07: Santa Claus is gonna pay what he owe!

  80. Funklord says:

    @Laz: Don’t forget the monopoly that US Air has on the Charlotte airport. Want to fly in or out of Charlotte? Then you’re flying on US Air at whatever exorbitant rate they decide to charge. Every time another airline tries to establish a route in or out of town, US Air just drops their prices, and is willing to take a loss for however long it takes the other airline to give up trying.

    So tack on a few hours drive if you want to travel in or out of Charlotte for a decent fare, as it means flying out of Raleigh/Durham or heading to South Carolina.

  81. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    They based the Misery Index based on: Commute times, Income tax rates, Superfund sites, Unemployment, Violent crimes, and Weather.

    So sports teams were irrelevant to the list and you had to have more than just bad traffic to make the list.

    What I don’t understand is why they didn’t include poverty or homeless rates.

  82. rodeo40 says:

    Chicago too cold…when did everyone become such weather pussies? The only thing the south is good for is humidity, insects and crime.

  83. gingerCE says:

    I lived in Los Angeles for about half my life and I agree with it’s placement on the list. I’d see tourists come to LA and look so disappointed at how unglamorous it really is. If tourists want to come to California, I’d go San Francisco over Los Angeles. SF is a much nicer and friendlier city. Northern CA is much nicer than Southern CA.

    Having just visited NYC, I’m surprised to see it on the list. I really liked NYC–walking instead of battling traffic–taking a subway (even when crowded) also beats battling traffic. Plus the food, even the food on the street, is delicious.

    I have also driven through Modesto a few times. I was surprised by the number of homeless I saw in Modesto–especially cause it’s a small town. Yes, you see the homeless in SF and LA, but Modesto?

  84. Beschizza says:

    I moved to Pittsburgh recently. It is cheap, lively, fun, clean and suprisingly pretty.

    There are downsides that the “BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN AMERICA!” hype misses, however. Government is hopelessly corrupt and broke, for example: the only thing to do it pretend it doesn’t exist, and don’t plan on starting a business there.

  85. mycroft2000 says:

    The list is somewhat bogus in that Forbes, as would be expected of it, includes higher taxes as an indicator of “misery,” whereas in the world I live in, they are often a sign of higher-quality municipal services, which, although I suppose they don’t instill unbridled joy in one’s breast, don’t really make one miserable.

  86. STrRedWolf says:

    If you move to Pittsburgh, beware the summer conventions — especially Anthrocon. One baseball team had the misfortune of staying at the Westin (the offical AC Hotel, the backup being the Omni). The players were kept up all night due to all the howling and cat-erwauling. (pun intended)

  87. smoothtom says:

    Nice shot of the Michigan Central station.

  88. smoothtom says:

    @Canerican: You’re an idiot.

  89. deadlizard says:

    @Tallanvor: There are also people who run
    from Chicago like hell because of long Siberian winters, rainforest-y
    summers, lousy mass transit and traffic, crime and corrupt government.

  90. xanadu1979 says:

    I agree. New Orleans is by far the most miserable city in the country. I think they’re just giving us a pass because of the recent events. But, sadly, most of our problems existed before the storm.

    It’s still a great place to visit though, really, we need your money….badly.

  91. jeff303 says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: OK so you’re basically complaining about poor transit, and the Chicago winter. Yes the winter sucks but anybody who lives here for more than a year and doesn’t see it coming is an idiot (also this year has been exceptionally bad so far).

    As far as transit, yes the CTA is probably mismanaged and so forth but the real problem is a lack of funding and patronage. Judging by the state of congestion on the roads (even in SPITE of the potholes you alluded to), people have yet to wake up and start embracing alternatives to driving. When they do, transit will improve. Until people are ready to support change then nothing ever will.

  92. deadlizard says:

    I agree New York should be on the list, but not so high. It’s true
    rent is ridiculous, people are rude, taxes are high and there are
    communist-type lines for everything, but in return you get the most
    diverse city in the country, the best mass transit, the best public
    services, the best museums, cultural events and entertainment, plus the
    obesity problem is not as bad as most American cities and crime is as
    low as it can get for a city its size. Let’s say, you get what you pay

  93. K-Bo says:

    @Funklord: The airport thing is true, it’s cheaper for my mom’s company in Winston to buy tickets to flights that go from PTI through Charlotte to wherever they are going, but everyone hates it, because with all the hassle of flying these days, it would be quicker to drive to Charlotte to catch the flight, but it would cost $200 more. They even looked into buying the tickets for the PTI-Charlotte, and just skipping the first leg, but there are all kinds of rules against it.

  94. clickertrainer says:

    I think Seattle should be on the list. Sure it’s a scenic city, and you’ll have plenty of time to look at it while sitting on I5…..

    A Seattle native who moved to California ’cause the traffic is better here. Really.

  95. VeritasNoir says:

    I find it amusing that am excited to be moving from the #1 spot on the list to #6. (Thats Detroit to Chicago for all of you too lazy to scroll up!) My life is about to become a few slots less miserable!

  96. jmuskratt says:

    @xanadu1979: I shoulda been clearer…it’s a GREAT place to visit. None like it in the western hemisphere. Cheap, great food and music everywhere, you can take your beer out onto the street (gasp!), it’s about 70 outside right now, and you can get around mostly by walking.

    But, to pay insurance, property taxes, while trying to find a contractor that isn’t related to Satan makes it hard to live here.

  97. yetiwisdom says:

    Philly! Word! But if we’re to believe the hype Michael Nutter is going to make it all better (he can’t make it much worse after the John Street administration).

    Don’t cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and Wawas count for anything? Truth be told the hideous public transport situation has been improving. And the Belgian Beer bars are freakin’ awesome! See you @ Monk’s, Bishop’s Collar, Eulogy, Abbaye …

  98. VeritasNoir says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: That sounds like a pretty depressing view of life. . . When you focus on the negatives, that is what you will find.

  99. quail says:

    They should have figured in the percentage of people 30 and younger living in a place. A lack of this group means the city is in severe trouble and needs to turn things around. My particular New England City has more old geezers than youth. There’s just no opportunities. And the people here are sour as hell. Oh and btw, Charlotte is where the majority of people from my town have fled to.

  100. clnclarinet says:

    > Government is hopelessly corrupt and broke, for
    > example: the only thing to do it pretend it doesn’t
    > exist, and don’t plan on starting a business there.

    No, that’s not the only thing; we can work to change the government!! I’m really excited about the 3 new city councilfolk that just took office.

    Pittsburgh is great!! Low cost of living, there ARE jobs here despite the common wisdom, and there’s a lot of cultural activity for our size. And Bears fans are welcome– it’s Browns fans that aren’t greeted with open arms ;)

  101. mgermano says:


    I moved back to Pittsburgh in August (was here for grad school 2003-05). I primarily moved back becasue I love the city, medium sized, lots of stuff to do. My one big gripe is that everyone claims it is CHEAP, which is a huge fallacy. It may be cheap to purchase a home in the suburbs, but the commute stinks and it is costly to park downtown. I would think most young professionals want to live in Shadyside or the Southside and both of those areas are extremely expense for renters and don’t even think about trying to buy. People from Manhattan will probably laugh at this, but I moved here from Hartford, and I don’t see the cost of living savings.

  102. sleze69 says:

    I am tired of this Philadelphia bashing. Santa was drunk as a skunk and deserved to be boo’d (we also threw snowballs at him). What kind of example was he showing our kids?!

  103. Wimpkins says:

    @bbbici: The hockey team is in the burbs.

  104. IconoclasticFlow says:

    Chicago: We Stay Out Of Spite For Nature!

  105. phalex says:

    Yay, Michigan Central Depot! Coolest abandoned building to explore EVER.

  106. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I’m not complaining about winter, I’m complaining about the lazy assholes who don’t shovel the snow in front of their houses & businesses, or worse, the businesses that plow the snow from their parking lots onto the sidewalks!

    Pollyanna, if I didn’t have something to kvetch about, I wouldn’t have a life!

  107. privatejoker75 says:

    I spent 30 years of my life in Philly and I wholeheartedly agree with their #5 ranking

  108. @gingerCE: It’s only unglamorous to tourists because they can’t get in all the glamorous places ;-)

    LA has traffic, a high cost of living, and pollution. But where else can you surf, golf, and ski all in the same day?

  109. Pop Socket says:

    @kantwait: I gotta protest the absence of Baltimore too. We have a rep to protect.

  110. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    It’s 75 & breezy where I’m at. Also I guess you don’t eat any citrus fruits or vegetables?

  111. Javert says:

    @Wimpkins: Umm, no, the hockey team is downtown…the arena looks over the river to Cananananada. Curious as to where you got this idea?

    Boston…just curious, why do people who have no affiliation with MIT or Harvard say it makes it great for living here? The people of MIT and Harvard look at you as ignorant townies. Does the intellectualism seep accross the river and make people in Boston, Back Bay or South B smarter? I do not think it does though the residents of those areas seem to believe so.

    New Orleans should be on the list but I don’t think you can say bad things about the city yet.

    After reviewing the article and the criteria, wow, stupid. I could just as easily argue Boston on to the list. Also, there should have been areas to earn back points. Providence – great food. New York – 24/7. Detroit – Red Wings. Seems to me that the magazine needed to fill some pages.

  112. n/a says:

    New Haven, CT should really be on that list. New York – getta the fucka outta here; and yeah, Boston is a toilet, but Springfield, MA; or Pittsfield is much, much worse. And why isn’t New Orleans on that list?

  113. majortom1981 says:

    The way the rank them miserable is stupid. If you live in NYC you work in NYC and can take the train. Also the weather is not that bad . Also the cost of living is not that bad considering it can be cheaper then living in the surrounding states.

    Forbes Should know better then this.

  114. The Cynical Librarian says:

    I can’t understand why the $100,000 house is good? I bought a 3 bedroom 2 bath, for 63,000 a year ago. Granted I live in South Bend, Indiana.

  115. appetite says:

    Providence is a sweet city.

    Besides, the misery index is another crappy indicator that economists use to make themselves seem important. Unemployment rate + inflation rate = misery? That’s all? Come on.

  116. Youthier says:

    The weather is the least miserable thing about Chicago/Detroit in my opinion. Yeah it’s cold but you always have something to talk about. Instead of standing there awkwardly with your boss’s boss, you can say, “Man, can you believe all this snow?” or “Wow, what was the wind chill last night?”

    Terrible winter weather is one of the most powerful networking tools I’ve ever seen. The only thing that trumps it is smoking.

  117. noquarter says:

    @appetite: Economists love to pull equations out of their asses and pretend they mean something. Because it’s math. And you can’t argue with math.

    I’m not clear on how the unemployment rate makes an employed person miserable, either.

  118. MrWashy says:

    The only downside to living near Pittsburgh for me is the overabundance of older people. PA has the second highest population of old and retired citizens, next to Florida, and for some reason they’re spread all over western PA. (for those not around here, western PA is Pittsburgh, eastern is Filtha.. err Philadelphia.) That and the incredibly sucky traffic going into/out of the city. Otherwise it is clean, nice to look at, and can be incredibly friendly, even to Bears fans. Although Browns fans may want to closet themselves.

    And before someone jumps all over it, yes there is a reason for the final “h” in Pittsburgh.

  119. dfellars says:

    Meg, you should be ashamed of yourself. You know we Chicagoans put up with the Sports, Snow, Cold, Public Transportation Woes, etc because in the Summer… this is no better city in the country.

    And as crooked as the politicians are… we keep electing them and are happy to do so.

  120. HOP says:


  121. HOP says:


  122. HOP says:

    baltimore maryland belonges on the list somewhere…i was a policeman there for 28 yrs and i can tell you it,s a dirty, mis-run city…’s a shame ,’cause when i was growing up there ,it was a pretty nice place…..

  123. missdona says:

    @gyroball: I’m currently looking at $300K for a 2 bedroom condo outside NYC without central air and shared laundry facilities. It’s all about location.

    Let’s say you have a decent 4 bedroom house that you bought for 63K in South Bend, Indiana. The same house (on the same lot) within 10 miles of Manhattan is 500K+.

  124. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    You like Chicago summers?
    100 degrees & 100% humidity!
    You must live 40 miles from the lake where at least the temp drops down a bit at night.

  125. Benstein says:

    Filthadelphia should be #1. Home of Comcast, the Flyers, and Ed Rendel. What more can you say?

  126. TangDrinker says:

    Yes, Charlotte totally sucks. Please don’t even think of moving here, especially all of you from up North and from California. I know you wouldn’t enjoy our 65 degree February temps in our decent houses under 250K.

    Heck, our Ikea won’t even be completed until 2009, we only have 2 Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods still hasn’t finished their store yet.

    Nope, nothing to see here, move along.

  127. TechnoDestructo says:

    I was about to move to Philadelphia for school. I started having doubts the moment I got there. What hit me instantly was the fact that there was more garbage on the street than I’d ever seen, ANYWHERE. There was less garbage blowing around the roads at the landfill in the city where I grew up, than there was lying on the streets in Filthadelphia.

    What really turned me against the whole idea was when I decided to go outdoors at night. It was about 8 pm. Before I’d walked 50 feet, I heard gunshots, coming from a block or two away. I’d been in some of San Francisco’s worst neighborhoods in the middle of the night before. Once, there was a shooting a couple blocks from where I was. People started coming out of their homes to gawk. In Philly, everyone who was on the street immediately ran inside.

    Clearly anything I thought might have prepared me, didn’t.

    I kept walking and I was accosted by three drunk teenagers. Maybe 12-14 years old. (First of all, they’re like 14 and they’re stumbling drunk on the street. Second…it’s fucking 8 pm and they’re already stumbling drunk.) They start trying to pick a fight with me. As they get closer, two of them think better of it, and start trying to talk down/hold back their stupid friend.

    I’m big, and they were small. And drunk. I was in no danger, and they were in great danger. But that’s one of those fights that even if you win, you lose. I doubt it would have been particularly healthy to be the 200 pound white guy who beat up 3 scrawny black teenagers in a 90+ percent black neighborhood.

    I left the next morning. Law school can wait.


    Seemed like a lot of things were improving…though I have to wonder how the sub-prime meltdown is affecting their urban renewal programs. And sure, maybe things will be great 20 years from now. But it isn’t NOW.

    Oh, and if there’s one thing they’re doing right in North Philadelphia, it’s that they’re not going whole hog on the gentrification. The only way in which yuppie condo neighborhoods do not suck as badly as stabby druggy neighborhoods is that you’re less likely to die there. But you probably want to die just as badly.

  128. TechnoDestructo says:


    San Fran has such friendly and helpful bums, too.

    The only part of LA I liked was the beach communities.

  129. nidolke says:

    Detroit! We’re number one!

  130. SaraAB87 says:

    Wow, where is my hometown of Niagara Falls, NY. Gotta be the worst city in the world and we are built around a national landmark. Our city is over 60% welfare and the downtown area is filthy and smells of trash. (hint: don’t take a vacation here). Not to mention NY state taxes us to death and overcharges us to death, there are NO jobs and everyone is leaving except the welfare people who have no where else to go. Perhaps this has to do with the placement of a Casino which does nothing but take everyone’s money (what they have that is) and creates gambling addiction. Our sales tax is 8.75% and thats the same as California. This is happening in Buffalo and many other parts of NY as well. NY is the most “exodus” state right now, as everyone is leaving, it simply has nothing to offer its inhabitants.

  131. Caswell says:


    In the world of southeast Michigan, higher taxes are simply a sign that more of your money is going outside of your town to prop up the City of Detroit and its corrupt leadership.

  132. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I don’t care who you are or where you’re from your town sucks and MY TOWN RULEZ.
    That should end the commenting right there.

  133. friendlynerd says:


    Philadelphia’s not for pussies. You’re better off staying away.

  134. biledemon says:

    Philadelphia..bah. I’ve lived here 15 years and I can’t stand it anymore. Difficult to find a job (for someone who holds a B.S), there really isn’t much to do except goto bars, clubs. At least I am paying $500 rent for one bedroom apt near South Philly… you can’t beat that in this smelly city…well the Apt complex i live in is made of wood so everyone hears their neighbor’s conversations. I can’t stand Philly Wood Houses that even the big bad wolf can blow away and leave the little piggies buttnaked (and they ask 200k for a fucking house made of wood with cheap ass materials?) Flower Show? (yes grandma u can go), Art museum? sure Rocky was there and so was I. Kelly Drive? In this freezing weather? are u kidding me? South Street? Come on overrated and expensive (except one or two good restaurants). Maybe WholeFoods and Trader’s Joe’s are the only good stores to go at and have real fun shopping (then again WholeFoods …err.. Wholepaycheck is relative how much you can afford). This city is devoid of life unless you spend your free time in bars + clubs. Perhaps because it’s so blatantly metropolitan and full of social-life-cosmetic wannabes who live to work. Everyone is so on their own. I really..really abhor this city: John street Mayor is a joke and extremely corrupt. Oh and don’t forget Comcast: the biggest company bastard in Philadelphia (lying fucks, raising prices and throttling your bittorrent).

  135. deadlizard says:

    @dfellars: This list is so arbitrary.
    Chicagoans are not miserable: They’re the largest population of
    masochists in the nation. Maybe they learned it by watching the Cubs
    for 100 years. I don’t blame them loving oppresive, 100%-humidity
    summers after surviving bone-chilling cold most of the year.

  136. GOKOR says:

    I’m pretty sure Camden, NJ and Philadelphia have a higher percentage of violent crime than Detroit. Hell, Camden just destroyed everyone on violent crime in the month of January this year.

  137. KogeLiz says:

    Boston should be on that list.
    We have crappy cold windy weather ,huge taxes, expensive rent for a million year old crap houses, arrogant college kids, arrogant college grads, horrible restaurant service, traffic, unreliable public transportation, oil that costs a fortune, not enough trash cans, college kids screaming and vomiting, ridiculous parking prices, ridiculous tickets for parking, trash, yards, etc., crappy small roads without street signs, bars close at 1am, no smoking, manic sports fans that harass anyone wearing non-boston sports apparel, annoying mommy’s girls that chat loudly on their cellphones no matter where you are, one or two clubs [dance/techno only], overpriced food, tobacco and hair salons.

  138. spinachdip says:

    @Canerican: That’s because densely populated areas generally vote Democratic (that’s true in red states too). Republican-voting areas generally aren’t big enough to make lists like these – it’s a statistical inevitability, not an indication of a party’s ability to govern.

  139. spinachdip says:

    BTW, people I know iN NYC are happy as a clam. Could be that they’re struggling, but they’re probably doing something they actually like, or at least working towards something they want to do. The taxes wouldn’t be an issue if the city weren’t getting less in return from the state and the federal government.

  140. rdldr1 says:

    I LOVE Chicago, but it has its problems. The Chicago Police is notoriously corrupt. Also, there are far more murders in Chicago than the larger NYC. The politicians arent so great – they cant fund the much needed public transportation, and they are discussing about RAISING the already high sales tax from 8.5% to about 11%. The cost of living here is very high, but many Chicagoans just deal with the city’s problems. Theres a bar in just about every corner!!

  141. Sinflux says:

    I live in LA, hail from Flint ($104,000 can get you a NICE house), plan on moving to New York sometime in the future. Perhaps I like being miserable.

  142. ChrisGriswold says:

    Yay! Pittsburgh!

    Eat: Primanti Bros sandwiches, Mad Mex, India Garden, Lulu’s Noodles, Abay
    See: Carnegie Museums, Andy Warhol, Mattress Factory, Wood Street Gallery, Cathedral of Learning, Mount Washington, PNC Park

    There were the things I missed when I moved to New York City.

  143. Hambriq says:

    @KogeLiz: You have crap like that in basically every major city you go to.

    Hate on Boston all you like, but let’s face it. There are far worse cities. Like Springfield. I’ll take small roads and impossible driving conditions over feeling like a little slice of Detroit got planted in the middle of New England.

    Also, Boston has the Red Sox. And by the way, when did everyone suddenly start hating New England sports?

  144. Hambriq says:


    Also, Philadelphia is the home of the Eagles. And in the word of The Dude: “I fuckin’ hate the Eagles, man.”

  145. coold8 says:

    Where’s my boy Camden?

  146. Flynn says:

    I’d like to compare their top 10 with their bottom 10. Because if they’re going to tell me that Las Vegas and Houston are the best places to live (or even something like Boca Raton and Anaheim), they’ve got a screw loose. There are things that large urban areas like Chicago, LA, and NY provide that no strip malled town or gated community can provide: art, culture, ethnic diversity.

    Typical economic thinking…key in on high taxes and the amount of time someone spends sitting in their car. Here’s a tip: make the taxes work for the area, and find a new way to commute! I don’t mind a half an hour commute if I get to read or get exercise while doing it. But if the 40 GB HD in the Escalade is full of boring MP3’s, then yes, that’s miserable. But that’s not the city’s fault.

  147. Portland is always at or near the top of the ‘best cities’ lists. Unless your tolerance for rain is low, it’s generally a good place.

  148. Witera33it says:

    Philly actually achieved #1 for murder last year. Beat out Detroit. I can only hope that Nutter can make a difference. However, anywhere where an 18 year old in a car shoots and kills a much younger kid on a bike just because he’s hard to pass, is a miserable place indeed. Let’s not forget poor education, high drop out rates, no street maintenance during snow and ice, city tax that’s higher than federal or state, and additional city take for the privilege of doing business. Where are those taxes going?
    Oddly, I still really like it here.

  149. friendlynerd says:


    Newsflash: Street hasn’t been mayor since 2007.

  150. Chigaimasmaro says:

    Living in Philadelphia for most of my 29 years, I have to say that Philadelphia is a miserable city. It has SO much potential, but its always wasted on dumb initiatives. Right now, they want to put 100 more policemen on the streets. This was done in previous years and the only effect that it had was that the city wage tax went up and funding for the arts and education were cut. How about having the current police people actually DO something instead of milling around the city all day.

    We have THE most painted murals in the country, but no one else knows about it. Philadelphia has a FANTASTIC music scene, no one knows about it. We also have some VERY good restaurants in town. All people know Philadelphia for is cheesesteaks, crime and the Liberty Bell.

  151. dudinski says:

    Seriously, no Minneapolis? It was -15 degrees the other morning when I walked my dog. It’s like 5 degrees today and people are talking about how “nice” it is. Winter starts in September and ends in April. Yeah, it’s clean and there’s stuff going on, but have you ever felt -40 wind chill?

  152. bdgbill says:

    No Atlanta? Baltimore? St. Louis? NEW ORLEANS? Washington DC?

    I have spent weeks in each of those cities and given the option of spending the rest of my life in one of them or death, I would need to think about it.

    These people clearly didn’t do enough travelling. They were right on the money with Flint, Detroit and Philly though.

    Most of the big Philly apologists I have met moved out of their beloved city years ago. I always make sure I have at least a half tank of gas when driving through Philly so I will not need to get out of the car.

  153. LucyInTheSky says:

    I want a best cities list please.

  154. shades_of_blue says:

    If not for the murderous cost of living in NYC, I’d live there. I wouldn’t raise a family there, but as a single bachelor it’s one of my favorite places to burn a weekend at. The average commute is 36 minutes? That’s only 1 minute more than I already have to waste daily, while doing about 15-20 miles over the posted limit. Violent crime is not that bad either, I feel far safer walking the streets of NY than Reading and Philadelphia.

  155. jeff303 says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: OK actually I will agree with you on the sidewalk thing. It’s incredibly annoying that the city seems to pay no attention to sidewalks and only cares about clearing roads.

  156. HOP says:

    you forgot balto md….i was a police there for 28yrs…it’s a seedy dirty place now…if you hap;pen to go there ,stick to the inner harbor area or camden yards…that’s where all the police protection is….when i grew up in balto, it was a pretty nice place to live….

  157. chicagojim says:

    11 years in Las Vegas puts that POS city at the top of my list. The memory of living in that cesspool makes my life in Chicago a lot easier. Bring on the snow! Bring on the tornados! Our sports teams might suck, but at least we have some!

  158. banmojo says:

    I think it’s a great list, valid and helpful. Thanks.

  159. braindesign says:

    @chiieddy: just like someone from boston to chime in where they have no bearing or insight related to the topic.

    “Did somebody say ‘boston’!? no? well let me talk about boston”

  160. MauriceReeves says:

    @Sleze69 – Come on, you know that the Santa incident is just one example of Philadelphia fandom. This is the city that every player surveyed by Sports Illustrated said is the worst to go to of all time, that they routinely have small children flicking them off as the bus passes through town. Philadelphia is the city that threw batteries at J.D. Drew, and the city where everyone cheered when Michael Irvin was seriously hurt on the field with a neck injury. I had a friend from Philly who wore his Penn State jacket to the Linc because it was a cold day, but because it wasn’t green got harassed and had beers poured on him all day.

    And the fans in Philly revel in the “Broad Street Bullies” and players like Chuck Bednarik, who tackled Frank Gifford so hard it took him out of football for over a year. I’ve worked with guys who’ve bragged about how many murders have occurred in their neighborhood.

    Yes, Philadelphia has a lot going for it too, and I personally love working there, but it really is as bad as people say.
    Philadelphia is a rough town in general and the fans deserve the reputation they’ve earned.

  161. synergy says:

    I’ve lived close enough to Chicago, Flint, and Detroit to be able to say that, yes, they are pretty miserable.

  162. pauliee says:

    @mgermano: Lots of young professionals live in Bloomfield/Friendship/Squirrel Hill and they’re pretty reasonably priced – much more so than Shadyside and South Side, which are completely overrated. If you’re more than a two blocks or so away from the corner of Negley and Penn, Friendship can be really pretty and really nice, although that particular corner is definitely sketchy and maybe not worth the $174/month I paid in rent last year…

  163. greggdetroit does not like the American South says:

    big up! we’re number #1, yessir!

  164. juliekaffe says:

    @pauliee: And Lawrenceville, too. We’re cheap.

    And our new city councilman is neither corrupt nor old!

  165. lostalaska says:

    I currently live in Juneau, Alaska and it can be a miserable place. The town consists of about 35k people. Besides being a state employee job options are very limited. I’m renting an old beat up 3 bedroom condo with two other roommates for $2000 a month plus we pay all the utilities (about another $400 a month). Housing costs are through the roof here and very limited with what you can find.

    Juneau is part of the North American continent, but because of all the mountains and ice fields we’re landlocked. Only way out is by a ferry boat down to Prince Rupert, BC or Bellingham, WA. Or to fly out of here. The winters are cold, dark and harsh and the spring/summer/fall it just rains 95% of the time. I’ve been pinching my pennies to save up to escape this land locked prison.

  166. RubyAnn says:

    That’s why I live in Vermont, best of all worlds. Hills, Trees, Boston or Montreal in about 3 hours by car or NYC in 6. Oh and we have fewer people in our state than some metropolitian areas. Sure I have to drive an hour to get to a shopping mall, but there is always the internet. @vastrightwing:

  167. frankblevins says:

    I guess no ones been to Camden, NJ. Has to be the most depressed city in the US. Plus it gets bonus points for being across the river from Philly.

  168. joellevand says:

    As a Camden refugee…where the hell is our spot on the list?

  169. Hambriq says:

    @braindesign: Yeah, kind of like how everyone else in this thread is doing with their home city?

  170. quieterhue says:

    What a dumb list. I am quite happy living in NYC on my very modest income, thank you very much. And I’m from Boston, and while it’s not a miserable city, it’s certainly not a fun city. I mean, it’s quaint and all, but the streets are difficult to navigate, the public transportation sucks and there’s no nightlife.

  171. KingPsyz says:

    Vegas is strangely absent from the list. We have been slammed by the housing meltdown here because we have some many people moving to Vegas on a regular basis that they needed to keep building and building and expanding our city.

    Then BAM! everything pops and people are loosing houses left and right, people stop spending money which puts more people out of work, ect.

    Plus we have tons of easy access to gambling and that’s a surefire way to make people poor and miserable. The CAT transit system is wholly unreliable and esspecially in the extreme heat of summer waiting 45minutes to an hour and a half for a bus can be brutal.

    Our city is ugly too, only a handful of green places. Mostly all concrete, dirt, and steel.

    I do find the inclusion of Stockton and Modesto hillarious. I spent a lot of time in my 20s in central/northern California and can attest to those being pretty miserable places to call home. Modesto does have a really awesome taco place on highway 120w which I can’t recall the name of to save my life. But if you’re ever driving through Modesto and see a taco stand on the highway stop in.

  172. MYarms says:

    I’m surprised there are no places in Florida on that list. Like Orlando, Miami or Daytona Beach for example.

  173. thephotoman says:

    @ Cancerian: The only place on the “Best Places to Live” that is conservative is Sugar Land, TX, and I’m fairly certain someone was paid to say that: having lived there, it sucked like the rest of Greater Houston.

    The list is bunk, anyway, due to two glaring omissions: New Orleans (nothing says miserable like living in a trailer because your home was washed away with the rest of the city) and Houston (wealthy, yes, but people live in isolation, take three hours to get to work, and I don’t know if anyone notices the weather reports, but instead of seasons, it’s three months of summer and nine months of Hell).

  174. zizou says:

    @Finder: Uh, are you stupid or something? The comments about the sports teams were made by Meg Marco, not Forbes.

  175. CourtneyTelemachus says:

    I am from metropolitan Detroit and it is true that within the political boundaries of Detroit it is fairly miserable just as it is whereever you have a predominantly poor black urban ghetto and incompetent leadership. The fact that we have such a ghetto is the direct result of liberal democratic policies of the last 50 years and the corresponding cult of victimization and lack of responsibility promulgated by hip hop, jive-ass leaders in the black community. The result is that in Detroit only 54% of its population can read and only 24% of its students graduated from high school.
    That being said, I laugh when I read some smug idiot’s comments, as he sips his mocha latte, about how great it is to live in Chicago or on the Coast. This is the same smug idiot who plans to vote for Obama. If you want to know what “change” looks like, come to Detroit’s inner city. If you want to know how misery feels, vote Democrat.
    As for me, I don’t drink Starbucks and I think hip hop is something pigs do to when they copulate. As for misery, I don’t look to the government or some moronic list to tell me and yet I still manage to find happiness. As for metro Detroit, I’m sorry to say that it looks just like where you live (regardless of location) with all the same fast food joints, Box stores, gas stations and traffic.