Why Is Hialeah Always Ranked the Worst City for Everything?

In the past year, Hialeah has been named one of the worst cities for recreation, renters, and singles.

It's the worst city for an active lifestyle.

It's the worst city to celebrate Valentine's Day.

It's the worst city for financial security.

For a place that calls itself the "City of Progress," Hialeah seems to rank abysmally low on almost every metric. What gives?

As it turns out, the rankings almost always come from WalletHub, a personal finance and credit score website that seems to pump out "best" and "worst" lists at 45-minute intervals. WalletHub's researchers look at existing data — including figures from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and combine them with earlier WalletHub reports to make their lists.

That means a place like Hialeah gets dinged for systemic problems initially, and then over and over again because it performed poorly in earlier studies. According to WalletHub, the city has one of the nation's lowest median annual incomes, highest nonmortgage debt as a percentage of that annual income, highest percentage of uninsured residents, and lowest percentage of households with emergency savings. Combine that with Hialeah's lack of green space, transportation options, and public exercise facilities, and you have the makings of one of the worst cities for anything — on paper, at least.

So what's a city like Hialeah to do?

Some problems are easier to fix than others. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez points to a recent report that shows Hialeah to be the worst city in America for active lifestyle.

"What dragged the city down in this case was its number of playgrounds and parks, the third lowest in the country, and very few hiking, running, and walking routes," Gonzalez says. "These are all things local authorities could improve for the benefit of the residents' overall quality of life."

But what consistently hurts Hialeah in the rankings are more deep-rooted issues related to poverty. Having one of the nation's lowest median annual incomes means affordable housing can be hard to find. Many workers aren't offered employee benefits, which could explain why almost a third of the population doesn't have health insurance.

Though "best" and "worst" lists are easy fodder for news sites (guilty!), it's important to remember the results aren't exactly scientific. If you want to move your family to Oviedo or find happiness in Bismarck, go ahead and trust the rankings. If you want the best croquetas, pastelitos, and cafecitos, trust your gut and head to Hialeah.
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Jessica Lipscomb is news editor of Miami New Times and an enthusiastic Florida Woman. Born and raised in Orlando, she has been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Contact: Jessica Lipscomb