Miami Named Worst City to Live in America (Which Is the Wake-Up Call We Need)

Miami Named Worst City to Live in America (Which Is the Wake-Up Call We Need)
Photo by Mr Depot | Miami New Times Flickr Press Pool

If you wake up each morning and stroll out to the balcony of your luxury downtown condo in nothing but a silk robe to leisurely spend the morning checking your E-Trade account and making reservations for the night at Prime 112, you may, in fact, think Miami is the best city in the world. 

If you spend two-and-a-half hours on the bus each morning traveling from the two-bedroom home you share with six people in Liberty City to your minimum-wage service industry job in Miami Beach, you may, in fact, think Miami isn't all it's cracked up to be. You might even think it's the worst place in America. 

Words like "best" and "worst" can be subjective, especially when trying to measure something abstract like the character and livability of a city. 24/7 Wall St., however, has used their cold hard data to rank America's 50 worst cities to live. 

Miami has come in dead last. Yes, it even beat out runner-up Detroit for the title. 

It's a sobering reality check for a city that knows it has problems but rarely gets serious about actually fixing them. 

Unlike other similar city ranking lists, 24/7 Wall St. only gives things like nice weather, amenities, and "fun things to do" a small percentage of its overall consideration. Rather, it went straight to the economic and practical realities. Cities were ranked in nine categories: crime, demographics, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure, and leisure.

We should note that the rankings only include cities with populations of 65,000 or more. Miami's ranking only reflects the city of Miami, and because it was considered the worst in Miami-Dade, no other cities in the county were considered (which is good news for Hialeah). 

Here's the site's verdict on Miami: 

1. Miami, Florida
Population: 430,341
Median home value: $245,000
Poverty rate: 26.2%
Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.6%

No city in the United States is worse to live in than Miami. The city’s median home value of $245,000 is well above the national median of $181,200. However, with a median household income of only $31,917 a year, well below the national median of $53,657, most of these homes are either out of reach or a financial burden on most Miami residents.

Like most of the worst cities to live in, more than one in every four people in Miami live in poverty. According to recently released research from the nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute, the top 1% of earners in the Miami metro area make about $2 million annually, 45 times greater than the average income of the other 99% of earners. This earnings gap makes the metro area nearly the most unequal of any U.S. city. Citywide violence is closely associated with a range of negative social and economic outcomes, including incarceration, unstable employment, lower cognitive functioning among children, and anxiety. A disproportionately large portion of Miami residents likely experience some of these outcomes as the city’s violent crime rate, at 1,060 incidents per 100,000 people, is several times higher than the national rate.

We shouldn't be surprised by the rankings. 

We know that crime is still at levels far too high here. 

We all know income inequality is out of control. 

Anyone who isn't aware that home prices and rent are inhumanely high has been living, well, probably not under a rock, but rather high above the clouds, far away from reality in a penthouse unit. 

Traffic is bad, and our public transit system is a joke. 

The vast majority of our economy is still based on the service industry, and the number of jobs that attract people with degrees is still way too low. 

We know all of this already, and there's always lots of talk about how to fix it, and yet very little gets done. 

Of course, we should point out the obvious caveat that this does include only the city of Miami, and it is sort of pointless to view Miami out of the context of wider Miami-Dade County (especially considering Miami proper is one of the smallest hubs of a major American metro area by both population and area). The city limits include some of the area's most luxurious neighborhoods and some of its worst. The vast majority of the middle class lives outside of Miami's city limits. 

So, if this was a county-by-county or metro-by-metro ranking, we might not have come in dead last. But the problems highlighted by this ranking would remain no less true. 


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