Saints and Sinners: The Ten Most Sinful Cities in the United States … and the most Saintly

deWhich cities in America are the “most sinful” of the bunch? Perhaps they’re the ones whose monikers or mottos seem to suggest as much:

  • Always turned on.
  • Big beach. Big fun.
  • The city that never sleeps.
  • Glitter Gulch
  • Live large. Think big.
  • More than you ever dreamed.
  • Sin City
  • Sleaze City
  • Tinseltown
  • Town on the make.
  • What happens here, stays here.
  • What we dream, we do.
  • The wickedest little city in America.

While some of the descriptions above hardly represent what city boosters would want to convey about their burgs, a surprising number of them are actually the end-result of formal marketing and branding efforts – focus-group tested and all.

[How many cities do you think you can name for these slogans?]

tr logoBut put all of that aside now … because the online residential real estate website Trulia has been busy doing its own analysis of which cities qualify as being among the nation’s most “sinful.” Earlier this month, it published its listing of the ten most “sinful cities” in the United States.

How did Trulia compile the list? For starters, it limited its research to the 150 largest metropolitan areas.

Next, it used a variety of data such as drinking habits, the number of adult entertainment venues and the number of gambling establishments to determine the cities where it’s easiest to succumb to the eight deadly sins – among them gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and vanity.

For each “offense,” Trulia examined statistical measures that serve as key clues – stats like how many adult entertainment venues there are (for lust), and exercise statistics (for sloth).

Obviously, a mega-city like New York or Los Angeles is going to offer many more outlets catering to the sinful nature of mankind compared to smaller urban centers. So Tulia has “common-sized” the data based on per capita population, making it possible to determine the destination in which it’s easiest to satisfy one’s whims (or vices).

So – drumroll please – here’s the resulting Trulia Top Ten, listed below beginning with #10 and moving up to the ignominious honor of being the most sinful city of the bunch:

  • #10 Columbus, OH
  • #9   San Antonio, TX
  • #8   Las Vegas, NV
  • #7   Shreveport, LA
  • #6   Louisville, KY
  • #5   Toledo, OH
  • #4   Tampa, FL
  • #3   Philadelphia, PA
  • #2   Atlantic City, NJ
  • #1   New Orleans, LA  

I suppose few people would quarrel with New Orleans coming in at #1 on the list; anyone who has spent any time in that city knows must know how much of an “anything goes” atmosphere exists there. (Few tourists seem to avert their eyes to what they see, either.)

Atlantic City? Las Vegas?  Pretty much the same thing.

But what about Louisville, or Toledo, or … Shreveport?? OMG!

Of course, the same statistics Trulia crunched to determine who sits atop the “Sin City” list also reveal which cities are their polar opposites – the places Trulia calls America’s “saintly sanctuaries.”

Which cities are those?  Here’s that list:

  • #10 Cambridge, MA
  • #9   Greeley, CO
  • #8   Asheville, NC
  • #7   Boise, ID
  • #6   Claremont-Lebanon, NH
  • #5   Raleigh, NC
  • #4   Tuscaloosa, AL
  • #3   Ft. Collins, CO
  • #2   Ogden, UT
  • #1   Provo, UT

I think fewer surprises are on this list.


For details on the Trulia analysis and to read more about the methodology employed, click here.

What’s your take? Based on your own personal observations or even first-hand experience, which cities would you characterize as the most “sinful” … and the most “saintly”?  We’re all interested to know!

4 thoughts on “Saints and Sinners: The Ten Most Sinful Cities in the United States … and the most Saintly

  1. Here’s an Asian perspective.

    Top 5 sinners:

    5. Beijing, China
    4. Manila, Philippines
    3. Osaka, Japan
    2. Bangkok, Thailand
    1. Pattaya (Chon Buri), Thailand

    Top 5 saints:

    5. Bangalore (Bengaluru), India
    4. Kuching, Malaysia
    3. Colombo, Sri Lanka
    2. Dhaka, Bangladesh
    1. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

    The lists above include only cities I’ve visited.

  2. Singapore hangs in the balance between “sinner” and “saintly.”

    On the “sinner” side, prostitution is legal, it has two massive casinos, people consume staggering quantities of food and alcohol, and they complain constantly. So Singapore gets “sinner” points for lust, greed, gluttony and wrath.

    But on the “saintly” side, you can’t sell chewing gum (except for medicinal purposes), you’ll get fined for littering, religion of all kinds (Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindi) is widely practiced, people work very hard and ethics are highly institutionalized within business and government. To illustrate, to discourage gambling, Singaporean citizens must stoop to pay a hefty fee before entering the local casinos, while watching foreign tourists waltz through the entrance for free. So Singapore gets “saintly” points for lack of sloth, envy and pride.

    Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta, Qingdao and Chengdu come in way ahead of Singapore on the “sinner” list. On the other hand Taipei, Seoul, Chennai (Madras) and Hyderabad surpass Singapore on the “saintly” list.

    Macao might also belong on the “sinner” list, and Thimphu (Bhutan) on the “saintly” list, but I’ve never visited either one.

  3. Interesting that five of the SINiest cities have a strong gambling focus. I’m sure there’s no connection whatsoever … 😉

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