Worst Small Towns In Washington For 2020

Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in WA are the pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Washington.

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Most Americans have never been to Washington. However, as the people who live there know, Washington is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Washington has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Evergreen State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 170 of Washington's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Washington where you'd never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in Washington for 2020:

  1. Neah Bay
  2. Peaceful Valley
  3. Warden (Photos)
  4. Oroville
  5. Mabton (Photos)
  6. Moses Lake North
  7. Forks (Photos)
  8. Darrington
  9. Granger (Photos)
  10. South Bend

So what is the worst small town to call home in washington for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Neah Bay is the worst small town to live in Washington.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Washington has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Washington or the worst places to live in Washington.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Washington For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,032
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $68,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.2% (2nd worst)
More on Neah Bay:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,032
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $146,400 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (6th worst)
More on Peaceful Valley:  Data

Warden, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,744
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $94,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (33rd worst)
More on Warden:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,968
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $126,300 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (48th worst)
More on Oroville:  Data

Mabton, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,156
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $96,000 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.2% (13th worst)
More on Mabton:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,124
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $112,600 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (96th worst)
More on Moses Lake North:  Data

Forks, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,782
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $144,400 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (63rd worst)
More on Forks:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,178
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $167,300 (50th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (16th worst)
More on Darrington:  Data

Granger, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,687
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $112,400 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (10th worst)
More on Granger:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,592
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $116,400 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (65th worst)
More on South Bend:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Washington, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in Washington for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 170 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In Washington

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Evergreen State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Washington, according to science:

  1. Canterwood (Pop. 3,018)
  2. Medina (Pop. 3,260)
  3. Yarrow Point (Pop. 1,168)

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Washington

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Neah Bay 1,032 22.2% $68,000
2 Peaceful Valley 4,032 16.7% $146,400
3 Warden 2,744 8.8% $94,500
4 Oroville 1,968 7.4% $126,300
5 Mabton 2,156 12.2% $96,000
6 Moses Lake North 4,124 5.0% $112,600
7 Forks 3,782 6.1% $144,400
8 Darrington 1,178 11.7% $167,300
9 Granger 3,687 14.0% $112,400
10 South Bend 1,592 5.9% $116,400
11 Grand Coulee 1,046 7.8% $115,800
12 South Wenatchee 2,011 18.3% $165,000
13 Royal City 1,517 3.1% $85,600
14 Belfair 4,435 5.5% $194,000
15 Bridgeport 2,526 5.3% $88,300
16 Westport 2,091 13.1% $173,100
17 Winlock 1,725 9.9% $131,000
18 Long Beach 1,431 8.1% $178,500
19 Cle Elum 2,834 7.5% $200,000
20 Rock Island 1,195 7.2% $149,600
21 Ocean Park 1,695 20.9% $166,600
22 Brewster 2,591 5.7% $154,200
23 Cascade Valley 1,894 12.0% $234,200
24 Marietta-Alderwood 3,708 14.6% $333,700
25 North Yelm 3,201 6.3% $129,900
26 Grand Mound 3,189 10.6% $155,200
27 Dallesport 1,602 10.6% $178,400
28 Napavine 1,720 10.6% $172,900
29 Chewelah 2,620 4.5% $144,200
30 Mccleary 2,075 8.6% $154,800
31 Raymond 2,882 5.1% $104,800
32 Tonasket 1,057 3.5% $154,200
33 Okanogan 2,570 1.5% $135,100
34 Soap Lake 1,445 2.7% $98,800
35 Republic 1,340 3.7% $112,700
36 Newport 2,142 5.4% $152,500
37 Stevenson 1,503 8.7% $259,600
38 Castle Rock 2,968 7.4% $158,400
39 Everson 2,641 8.2% $255,800
40 Morton 1,120 10.9% $155,100
41 Omak 4,794 2.3% $110,000
42 Goldendale 3,446 9.1% $129,400
43 Manson 1,374 17.6% $259,100
44 Moxee 3,958 6.9% $171,700
45 Chelan 4,070 14.9% $313,300
46 Benton City 3,315 5.1% $143,100
47 Ahtanum 3,416 0.9% $189,200
48 Port Angeles East 3,328 11.8% $172,300
49 Kettle Falls 1,616 3.8% $152,500
50 Waitsburg 1,188 5.4% $150,000
51 Point Roberts 1,191 2.8% $247,600
52 Burley 2,119 4.9% $290,600
53 Twisp 1,153 3.6% $184,700
54 Sumas 1,757 5.2% $217,900
55 Rainier 2,346 14.1% $186,400
56 Colville 4,777 5.6% $157,600
57 Kalama 2,557 7.8% $213,300
58 Ritzville 1,628 2.2% $109,300
59 Tenino 1,695 7.6% $151,700
60 Deer Park 4,026 4.2% $180,500
61 Desert Aire 2,964 5.3% $224,500
62 Pomeroy 1,289 9.3% $111,900
63 Home 1,164 3.1% $236,700
64 Navy Yard City 3,166 7.7% $150,500
65 Burbank 3,333 9.8% $192,800
66 Port Hadlock-Irondale 3,574 5.3% $218,300
67 Garrett 1,449 4.3% $256,700
68 Entiat 1,260 1.0% $204,300
69 Fords Prairie 2,352 7.7% $187,100
70 Longview Heights 3,619 10.3% $199,400
71 Kittitas 1,548 2.5% $149,400
72 Longbranch 3,798 2.8% $220,500
73 Zillah 3,118 1.9% $170,800
74 Cashmere 3,139 5.1% $223,100
75 Coulee Dam 1,230 2.3% $152,900
76 Gleed 2,634 4.1% $170,700
77 Friday Harbor 2,554 3.4% $316,000
78 Algona 3,191 8.1% $229,900
79 North Puyallup 1,722 5.3% $122,700
80 Montesano 3,927 10.1% $176,800
81 Carson 2,703 2.6% $220,700
82 Key Center 3,823 8.4% $275,600
83 Suquamish 4,310 5.9% $247,700
84 Colfax 2,878 3.2% $166,500
85 White Salmon 2,485 5.8% $341,400
86 Central Park 3,072 4.4% $205,100
87 Amboy 2,022 9.3% $325,000
88 Rocky Point 1,579 9.4% $249,700
89 Alderton 3,280 4.4% $307,200
90 Ravensdale 1,873 5.7% $450,800
91 Eatonville 2,945 7.0% $228,100
92 Asotin 1,105 4.5% $197,700
93 Gold Bar 1,911 5.6% $197,500
94 Freeland 1,994 13.5% $352,600
95 Elma 3,245 3.0% $172,700
96 Nooksack 1,678 1.4% $251,000
97 Prairie Heights 4,256 6.0% $274,600
98 Dayton 2,682 1.6% $156,200
99 Davenport 1,717 4.0% $150,900
100 Medical Lake 4,937 5.6% $193,800

How Is The Area In ?

22 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Washington, 2020

  1. What a bunch of racist, classist garbage. People being poor or being high school dropouts doesn’t mean they aren’t good people with worth. Boredom is absolutely relative. Has the author ever heard of compassion? Truly idiotic.

  2. FYI- I am the 5th generation of a Proud family who has lived in this beautiful country of small towns since 1862. I grew up in Tekoa Washington, which seems to fall 11th on their list of towns least desirable. I would contend that they shouldn’t talk with their mouth full, these are Farming communities, which supply the nation with FOOD. Contrary to popular thought, the food is “NOT” manufactured at the Grocery store, and YES we appreciate our businesses that exist here, they like the Farmers around, are a Vital part of small town America. We spend time at our kitchen tables talking with each other, and growing our OWN food. Small town America is like a pond in a remote beautiful forest, you can walk up and see the still waters, with some wildlife teaming around, reaping benefit from its life giving traits. But, look below the surface, life begins. You can skip a rock across the water, and the waves turn to ripples. It’s really what’s below the surface that matters. When that rock settles, it does Damage, just like this ignorant, insensitive article is doing. What a concept.

  3. Looks like all the towns listed are small towns and rural communities… just because they are not big cities with shopping malls and traffic jams doesn’t mean they are not good places to live. Let the author think how they want. Unless they have lived in any of these towns themselves they have no basis to Pas judgement. There are a lot of well educated people and a lot of good athletic , caring and compassionate folks who live in these towns. Who simply have chose to reside due to various reasons like family ties history, or simply, dreams that keep them grounded to their roots. Genarations.. where people and families know each other help a neighbor, and work together… enjoying nature, peace and quiet. Where if someone was sick or injured neighbors would help each other out. I know a lot of people or families in most of these listed towns… they are great folks.
    This article is just some computer generated statistics based on certain input of the author of the article… holding no weight and that’s ok… can’t believe everything ya read on the internet. Would be nice to have better info tho… but I like these small towns and communities just the same!!! & The people , friends, and families that reside in them! Go small Towns in Washington!! 😉

  4. I live in Malden, I dont know where you get your facts, but there off. We have a store in Rosalia which is 6 miles away not 30 thats a fact, and we are not poor, alot of retired people, kids do graduate from high school, smaller schools are better, more time for each child. I could go on with more true facts. Thumbs down on your article, Im sure you have insulted alot of good people in these small towns

  5. Riverside is actually a lovely little town. It is close to the city of Omak where shopping is good and there are several “Eateries”.It is also close to Hospitals and doctors. The author had to pick one of the least attractive locations to take his picture. Obviously the author has never read the history of Riverside. He would find it fascinating. Where does he get his erroneous statistics??

  6. I was in Malden for 15yrs as a kid and it wasn’t too bad, the statistics on them towns are wrong. Awsome festivals happen every year there like Battle Days if you haven’t gone then you need to go put it on your bucket list of things to do. By the way “GO COUGS”

  7. all these towns have great redeeming features, too bad this author used stats to judge us and our homes. you will have a waive and a smile and a kind words in most of these places, can’t think of better towns to raise my kids!

  8. Doesn’t seem this INFOTAINMENT “journalist” visited Malden, WA before churning out his list. It’s 2016, but he includes a Google image from 2009 (pre road improvement). Not sure his source for population data, but appears to be from 2014, while we’ve been back above 200 since July, 2015. He uses vague and implied meanings to get a reader to form negative conclusions about the cost of homes. Seems he ran out of negative spin to include about Malden, so he widened his snipe to a 30minute radius, making insinuations about area independently owned grocery stores.

    There are some fine markets in Rosalia, Oakesdale, and Spangle, and if you want to reach a chain store, unless your driving on the slow side, whithin a 30minute drive, you’ll have your choice of 4 popular grocery stores in nearby Colfax and Cheney.

    The target audience for this piece of infotainment seems to be education and wealth snobs. So, I suppose if the article dissuades that crowd from moving here, we’re no worse for the wear.

    So, for everyone else, if you want to move out of an over-crowded neighborhood, if you like a quiet community, where you get a glimpse of wildlife, if you want a commute that includes lovely landscapes instead of traffic stops and congestion, make an appointment to see one of the property’s for sale in Malden, WA. We’ve got a nice little home for sale on Aerie, and a few lots for sale inside the Town limits as well.

  9. I left Spokane to find a quieter more laid back life after I retried from the Air Force, finally finding a home in the small town of St John, it was perfect for us, here you can get just about anyone to help you do anything, people share the fruits of their labor sharing garden vegetables, fruits or even offering to loan you a tool if you need it, something you cannot get in a larger town, plus our little school has great kids that perform one check of a winter Christmas show, are great in sports, the fact we have to drive 60 miles sometimes is minor compared to having the life we have now

  10. I’m glad to see this article discouraging people from moving to these little towns. Our shining jems are best kept secret, least the ‘educated city folk’ come bringing with them the ways they pretend to want to leave behind.

  11. Crime rate + unemployment + lack of education = these towns.
    These were pointed out as the criteria for basing this list. People getting all worked up about statistics that are used world wide as indicators. Of course there are good people in these towns and I would bet that many of them sleep with a loaded gun close by their bed.

    1. Your equation, Chris, is a stilted and incomplete portrayal of the towns people are speaking up about in response to the Infotainment article because articles such as these perpetuate inflammatory statements such as your bet about sleeping near guns.

      1. Do some research.. you won’t find high crime in Latah. But go the 30 miles to Spokane and you had better keep your eyes wide open.

  12. I was born and raised in Northport, number 4 on your very stupid and biased listing. Northport was a great place to grow up in. We new every body in town, including the names of their pets. Granted there is not much works there except in the woods or mines. But it was home. I hardly ever remember any crime there either. So get a life and look at the big cities. I bet Seattle would probably be number 1 as the wo st big cities to live in.

  13. I lives in Northport for alot of years you can say what you like yes all the factors you stateday be true but the crime lvl. Have not lived there for a few years but have many friends that still do.And for your info there are some very highly educated people that have grown up there and live there

  14. I would far prefer to live in these towns than live in Tacoma or Seattle or Portland. I have lived there and never would I ever live in a big city again. High crime and nothing to do. You couldn’t even go out after dark if you wanted to live. What dumps! Give me a small town any day/ Or better yet out in the country. Neighbors a mile away!

  15. I actually know most of the places on this list, several of them well. I’d live in any of these without a second thought.

    Not that there aren’t some unpleasant towns in this state; a few aren’t even in King County. But whoever compiled this list clearly has some kind of attitude problem. A place must be bad if you can afford to live there? I’m guessing he’s from California.

    Northport? Seriously, dude? Have you ever _been_ to Northport?

  16. RK Henderson ~ SHHHHHH! Do we really want everyone to know wht a perfect and caring place Northport is to live?
    LOL, income below poverty line, but what percentage of people here own their property outright compared to other places, and provide for most if not all their food?
    Actually, I think most readers would be happiest to stay in the wonderful cities on the west side. Where living is easy.

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