If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? If excitement is your turn on you may pick a major city, or if you have a love affair with nature you may choose to be close to a natural wonder, or large body of water. What if you wanted to live underground like a cave man, surround yourself with garbage or live near carnies? You are in luck because these weird neighborhoods exist as well.
Ground rules to be considered for “weirdest neighborhood” include the following. First, there has to be people. No ghost towns accepted here. If it’s a ghost town where people choose to live and are haunted then we will consider it. Another rule is Detroit doesn’t count. Why? Just because you can buy a house for $500 doesn’t mean your neighborhood is weird, it means your city is bankrupt.
It wasn’t intentional, but each neighborhood definitely rates high on the creep factor rankings as well. Every village or town brings that X-factor of uniqueness, that one thing that gives us all the shivers. Also, apparently if your village or neighborhood is in Florida, well then there is a chance your town makes the list.
So who didn’t make it? Well for starters all those places that try too hard to be weird. I’m looking at you Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas. At one point you were naturally weird, but now it’s way too contrived. Any populated medieval village is not included. There are too many and for some reason I also don’t find this very weird and sort of wish I lived in an enclosed medieval village.
Our list will take you on a ride from the slums to the sex industry to the truly strange (Hello again, Florida) and back again. Welcome to the ten weirdest neighborhoods in the world.
10. Slab City, California
Three hours from Los Angeles and one hour from Mexico you will find this state-owned desert area promoted as a free oasis for RV travelers. No one is calling it a commune, but there’s no electricity or running water and everyone is encouraged to be as free and creative as they want to be. (Note: My assumption is most residents don’t wear shoes.) At this sometimes “last resort” for many, artistic expression rules and all are expected to live within the Golden Rule. If you fail to abide by this rule you will be “taken care of” inside this close-knit group. Problems include lack of proper waste removal and the way things are “taken care of.” Bonus: Cheaper than Detroit.
9. Miracle Village, Florida
Miracle Village is a home for Florida sex offenders. Yes, read that again, the whole village is made up of sex offenders. With the laws today prohibiting sex offenders from living near schools and other institutions it makes some sense to allow an alternate neighborhood for them to continue their rehabilitation. This particular neighborhood has brought on a lot of debate and controversy, but many believe they are seeing positive results with this arrangement. Regardless of the success rate I believe it’s good to know this neighborhood is here (especially if you’ve got enough gas in your car to make it to the next exit).
8. Coober Pedy, Australia
If you have ever wanted to live underground or know what it’s like to live inside a cave then this may be a place for you to live, or at least visit. The town is a mining town and it’s very hot. The inhabitants decided to build their town underground. Underneath the climate is more controlled and there is no need for air conditioners or heaters. Today over 1900 people live in this underground community. In addition to underground houses there are churches, a museum and a bed and breakfast for tourists that want to give the whole “living underground thing” a test drive.
7. Amsterdam Red Light District, Netherlands
The most famous of all red light districts, Amsterdam’s neighborhood not only boasts sex shows, sex shops and prostitutes, but also, people actually live here. I actually went to one of the live sex shows once and by the fourth act it was boring. It’s always the same four positions in the same order. Maybe I should have had more Heinekens prior, but I’m guessing this is how the locals see the everyday shenanigans happening in their hood. Been there, done that, out of my way I have to get to work!
6. The Villages, Florida
Welcome to The Villages, population 100,000, a gated community for anyone over 55 years old. A few interesting facts is that only golf carts are allowed for transportation and that children can visit, but not for very long. Oh, and this place is essentially a sex village for old people. There is a major black market for Viagra and stories of quickies in golf carts are the norm. The sexual activity level is so high there is real concern of spreading STDs! Also, they consume more beer per capita than anywhere in the state. This is where you go to party. It’s like Miami University for the elderly.
5. Miyakejima, Japan
Miyakejima is where Mount Oyama is located, a mountain/volcano that has erupted several times, even killing 11 people in 1940. In 2000 the eruptions were so bad everyone had to be evacuated off of the island. Over the course of a month (after evacuations the island had 17,500 earthquakes). In 2005 there was an eruption and since there has been a constant flow of sulfuric gas coming from Mount Oyama. There are still 2800 people living here and due to the poisonous gas everyone wears a gas mask, all the time.
4. Roswell, New Mexico
Near Area 51, the area where conspiracy theorists believe UFOs and possible aliens have landed, Roswell serves as a portal for the UFO obsessed. The area has since been declassified and the “story” is that the area was used by the government to test low-flying aircraft. That is either a sound explanation or a poor excuse, depending on your belief. Regardless, Roswell is a decent sized town that hosts a UFO festival, UFO museums and many tourists looking to find answers. Locals have a high tolerance for alien conspiracy theories and crime. Roswell is home to a lot of violence that has reared its head in the form of drive-by shootings and serial arsonists. Is the increase in crime related to something extra terrestrial? I’m game to start the rumor if you are…
3. Manshiyat Naser, Cairo
Manshiyat Naser is a slum of Cairo with a population of 60,000. Every space of this neighborhood is covered in garbage. For 20 million residents of Cairo this where their garbage ends up and there are people who live amongst the garbage. These inhabitants are “garbage collectors” who go door to door in Cairo and bring back the garbage to Manshiyat Naser where they then sort through all of the trash. Almost 90 percent of the garbage is recycled. For most, this is work and just a way of life. Of course, living conditions are bad and unhealthy – you are living in a neighborhood full of garbage.
2. Gibsonton, Florida
For fans of carnivals, amusement parks and circus folk, you are going to love to hear this. Ten miles south of Tampa Bay you will find Gibsonton, a town of nearly 8000 residents that for many years has been the neighborhood for retired and wintering travel show folks. Back in the day, when freak shows were still a thing, this is where the Bearded Lady, Fire Eater and Horse Woman all lived. They actually lived in this town! All performers stayed here. At the post office there was even a low counter for the “little people.” As recent as 1992 this town made headlines when “Lobster Boy was murdered.” This was the boy of parents that had webbed extremities… like lobsters? Despite most of the famous “sideshows” passing away, many of their descendents still live in Gibsonton. If you go to this neighborhood today you will still find scattered old amusement park ride parts as well as the occasional exotic animal. How has a horror movie not been set in this town? This needs to happen.
1. Kowloon Wall, Hong Kong
The closest you could ever come to living a Grand Theft Auto life was if you lived within the Kowloon Wall in Hong Kong, before it was demolished in 1994. With 33,000 residents, Kowloon Wall was the most densely populated area of Hong Kong. The area was un-policed and provided little protection. Essentially governed by the Triads, a gang that controlled lots of prostitution, gambling and drugs, Kowloon Wall was high on crime, but also a place of escape for many. It was like Las Vegas, but less safe. (Note: Not like Vegas, not even close.) Given there were no rules and many of the residents were squatters, the conditions were dangerous including houses of huts not structurally sound that fires (some set intentionally) easily destroyed. Despite the corrupt governing and danger lurking, most residents lived normal lives with businesses that thrived within the walled community. (Note: Again, nothing like Vegas.)