Move over, Las Vegas, NV—there’s a new capital of sin in America. Oh, you’re still pretty bad, but it turns out that St. Louis, MO has you beat when it comes to the big seven: Pride, lust, greed, wrath, envy, gluttony, and sloth.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’re those crazy Movoto bloggers up to this time?” Well, you see, we’ve just been asking ourselves some of the big questions again. You know, like how many Tribbles would it take to fill your house or how a Pokémon lives. Or, in this case, what the real Sin City is.
Everyone knows that Las Vegas has made a name for itself—and attracts nearly 40 million visitors a year—by being a bastion of “sinful” activities: adult entertainment, gambling, drinking, and general debauchery. But what about the real sins? The ones in the Good Book. The ones in the movie “Seven?” We thought it would be fun to figure out which cities are making names for themselves in those (mainly less fun) moral offenses.
We’ve already told you which one claimed the tarnished crown; here’s the full list of the 10 most sinful cities in America:
See—Las Vegas is still on there. But nine other big cities proved to be more sinful based on Biblical criteria. Read on to find out how we reached our conclusions, and why living in these cities is a bit like a real life Dante’s “Inferno.”
How’d We Come Up With Our List?
Unlike most of the city rankings we’ve already done, we already had some criteria set out for us coming in, namely the Seven Deadly Sins themselves. However, one can’t simply find statistics on things like “prevalence of lust” and “occurrences of wrath”—well, actually you can, but you have to get creative. Luckily we’re sort of known for that around here.
So, in order to make this ranking, we had to translate the sins into some criteria that makes sense for modern city living. That’s how we came up with the seven we ended up using:
- Strip clubs per capita (Lust)
- Cosmetic surgeons per capita (Pride)
- Violent crime per year per 1,000 residents (Wrath)
- Theft per year per 1,000 residents (Envy)
- Percentage of disposable income given to charity each year (Greed)
- Percentage of obese residents (Gluttony)
- Percentage of physically inactive residents (Sloth)
With those figured out, we looked at the 95 most populous cities in the United States (we had to exclude Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Indianapolis, Toledo, and Tucson since they don’t report some of this data) to see how they stacked up in each criterion. We ranked each city from 1 to 95—with 1 being most sinful and 95 being least—and averaged the scores across all criteria to come up with our final list of 10 most sinful locales.
Keep reading to find out why we chose each criterion to represent its corresponding sin and which cities most embodied that particular moral failing.
Lust: Where Vegas Still Reigns SupremeAh, lust. Of all the deadly sins, this is the one most people seem to have little difficulty getting behind. We suppose that’s because being seen as a perv is slightly less unappealing than people thinking you’re a jerk, a bully, or a slob? Anyway, to gauge the lustfulness of our cities, we went with the old standard: strip clubs. We used Yelp to figured out how many of these adult entertainment hubs exist in each city, then divided that number by the population to get how many there are per capita.
Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas ranked first. Specifically, North Las Vegas, NV did, with one strip club for every 2,808 residents. Las Vegas, NV proper came in second at one for every 3,406 people. Another desert city, Scottsdale, AZ, ranked third with one strip club for every 4,511 residents.
Pride: Where Your Looks are What Matter Most
Pride was one of the trickier criteria to decide on, since it can have a variety of meanings. What we eventually landed on has to do with the fact that the sin of pride has also been called the sin of vanity. With that in mind, we went with the number of cosmetic surgeons each city has, seeing as few things say you take a lot (or too much) pride in yourself than having your appearance surgically altered.
According to Yelp, Scottsdale, AZ has the most cosmetic surgeons per capita with one for every 1,812 people. Irvine, CA was a close second with one for every 1,827 residents. Anaheim, CA—also in Southern California—has one plastic surgeon for every 2,246 people who live in the city.
Wrath: When Things Get Violent
Unlike pride, wrath is pretty easy to equate to things that happen in a city. For this criterion we went with reports of violent crimes as cataloged by the FBI. Specifically, we looked at combined incidents of murder (and nonnegligent manslaughter), robbery, aggravated assault, and forcible rape for our most populous cities on a per year per 1,000 residents basis. We can’t say the “winner” surprised us much, unfortunately.
The dubious distinction of most wrathful city went to Detroit, MI, with 24 violent crimes per year per 1,000 residents. St. Louis, MO was second with 20, while Memphis, TN was tied with Oakland, CA in third with 16 apiece.
Envy: When You Want What Isn’t YoursIf you’re extremely envious of what others have, you want it for your own. That’s how we thought about this sin, which led to us selecting incidents of theft—again gathered by the FBI—as our representative criterion. Like violent crimes, these were viewed on a per year and per 1,000 resident basis. We looked at combined incidents of burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The top ranked city in this category kind of threw us off guard (then stole our wallet).
Where’s your stuff most likely to get stolen? Honolulu, HI. The island paradise sees 76 reported thefts per year per 1,000 residents. That’s 11 more than St. Louis, which has 65. Atlanta, GA rounded out the list of cities where the crooks have sticky fingers with 53 thefts every year per 1,000 people.
Greed: When Giving Back Isn’t a Consideration
When thinking about greed as a sin, we initially started looking at things like personal wealth, but we decided that was a little unfair. So, we turned to charity—specifically, the percentage of disposable income each city gives to charity on a yearly basis, from Philanthropy.com’s research into “How America Gives.”
Laredo, TX turned out to be the most stingy, giving only 2.8 percent of disposable income to charity each year. Fremont, CA gives 3.2 percent, with Reno, NV only slightly better at 3.3 percent. (Detroit was tops, giving a whopping 11.2 percent.)
Gluttony: Where Eating Never Ceases
While overeating is just one of several contributors to obesity, being overweight is still most commonly caused by the overconsumption of food (and lack of physical activity, which we’ll get to in a sec). With that in mind, we looked at the percentage of residents in each city classified as obese by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an indicator for this sin.
Detroit landed another, er, “win” here, with 34 percent of its residents classified as obese. Tulsa, OK nearly tied at 33.9 percent, while Memphis was a close third at 33.8 percent.
Sloth: When Getting Off Your Keister’s a Chore
For our final sin, sloth, we probably couldn’t have asked for a better criteria than the number of people who aren’t meeting government physical activity guidelines. Like our data on obesity, this information came straight from the CDC.
Tulsa came out on top here (after struggling to get off the couch) with 32.4 percent of its residents labeled “inactive.” Minneapolis, MN was second at 30 percent, while St. Louis, MO and Orlando, FL tied in third at 28.8 percent.
Where Sin is In
To be clear: We’re not saying you’re a bad person if you live in one of the cities on our latest Kind of a Big Deal List—but there’s definitely some Old Testament-level sinful stuff going on around you. Or, hey, maybe you’re reading this post in a strip club right now. In which case, we hope you’re tipping big and keeping your hands to yourself, you perv.
Thumbnail image source: Flickr user Skinny Lawyer
Who is Movoto Real Estate, you might ask? Movoto is an online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, CA. Our blog has been recognized for its unique approach to city-based research by major news organizations around the world such as Forbes and CBS News.