America’s Most Miserable Cities


#1 Miami, Fla.
The housing crisis has devastated Miami with 47% of homeowners sitting on underwater mortgages. Foreclosures have been rampant with 364,000 properties in the Miami area entering the foreclosure process since 2008 according to RealtyTrac.

#2 Detroit, Mich.
Detroit has closed schools and laid off police in an effort to avoid a bankruptcy filing this year. Home prices are down 54% the past three years, worst in the U.S. The median price was $38,000 last year in the Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn metro division.

#3 Flint, Mich.
Flint razed 775 abandoned homes in the year ending October 2011, to try and change the city landscape. The state of Michigan appointed an emergency manager last year to take over Flint’s budget and operations. Crime remains a severe problem with the violent crime rate the third worst in the U.S.

#4 West Palm Beach, Fla.
South Florida has long been stained by corruption. One of the latest examples: Jose Rodriguez, the mayor of Boynton Beach (part of the West Palm metropolitan division) was suspended from his office last month by Gov. Rick Scott after he was arrested for allegedly using his position to obstruct a child abuse probe involving his wife’s estranged daughter. Home prices in the West Palm area are off 50% since 2006.

#5 Sacramento, Calif.
Sacramento’s lone pro sports team is flirting with a move to Anaheim unless the city delivers financing for a new arena. Sac-Town might not miss them. The team has lost 73% of its games since the start of the 2008-09 season. Foreclosures in California’s capital were among the 10 highest last year.

#6 Chicago, Ill.
The Windy City is a cultural and financial center, but its residents must endure gridlock traffic, high property taxes and brutal winters. Commute times to work average 31 minutes, eighth worst in the U.S.

#7 Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The spring break mecca has been hit hard by the housing downturn. Median home prices in the metro division that includes Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach are down 50% since 2006 to a recent $183,000.

#8 Toledo, Ohio
The city is ensnared in a scandal within its Department of Neighborhoods that involves alleged bid rigging and stolen funds. The FBI and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are investigating the crimes. Toledo scores poorly when it comes to income and property tax rates.

#9 Rockford, Ill.
Property tax rates were fifth highest in the country in 2010. The median tax bill was $3,234 on home values of $136,000 for a rate of 2.4%.

#10 Warren, Mich.
The housing market collapsed in the Warren metro division, which includes Troy and Farmington Hills. The median home price is down 50% over the past three years, the second biggest drop in the U.S. after Detroit.

#11 Stockton, Calif.
Last year’s No. 1 miserable city got a boost as housing prices have stabilized to some degree after a 45% drop between 2006 and 2008. Stockton still has plenty of problems, though. It ranks among the country’s six worst when it comes to unemployment, foreclosures and violent crime.

#12 Cleveland, Ohio
Things have brightened in our 2010 most miserable city as unemployment is below the U.S. average at 7.7% and home prices are off just 4% since 2008. Cleveland still makes the cut thanks to high taxes (income and property) along with lousy weather and sports teams.

#13 Lansing, Mich.
Lansing makes the cut thanks to lots of foreclosures, high property taxes and lousy weather. One bright spot: short commutes to work for the metro area’s 467,000 residents.

#14 Akron, Ohio
Vacant homes are becoming a problem in Akron with 3,000 properties currently on the Akron Service Department’s list of problem homes.

#15 Merced, Calif.
Unemployment is at 17.6% in Merced, which is the worst among the 200 largest metro areas in America. Foreclosures are also an issue with 3,700 filings last year, or 4.4% of households. That rate is seventh worst in the U.S. Merced is the smallest metro area by population on the miserable cities list.

#16 Memphis, Tenn.
Home prices are down only 6% the past three years and Tennessee does not have a state income tax. But a violent crime rate that is second only to Detroit helps lands Memphis on the list.

#17 Bakersfield, Calif.
The American Lung Association dubbed Bakersfield the most polluted city in the U.S. thanks to its high level of particulate matter in the air and ozone. Only 14% of Bakersfield adults have a college degree.

#18 Vallejo, Calif.
Vallejo emerged from bankruptcy last year after three years of cutting spending and restructuring debt. Fallout from the reduced spending includes a police force and fire department that operate at roughly one-third their capacity from 2004.

#19 Modesto, Calif.
Modesto has been ravaged by the housing bust with 1 out of every 19 properties filing for foreclosure in 2011 according to RealtyTrac. That’s third worst in the U.S. Unemployment remains a problem also with an average rate of 16.7% the past three years.

#20 Gary, Ind.
Gary, located 25 miles from downtown Chicago, has been ravaged by the decline of its industrial base. Foreclosures and high crime continue to plague the area.

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