The 10 Worst Phoenix Suburbs For 2021


We used science and data to determine which Phoenix suburbs are the real 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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Phoenix.

Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Phoenix.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Phoenix 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Phoenix area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Phoenix proper, although Paradise Valley certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Phoenix are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

We examined the 22 biggest suburbs of Phoenix to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in arizona lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Phoenix in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Phoenix for 2021:

  1. Guadalupe
  2. Tolleson
  3. Glendale
  4. El Mirage
  5. Avondale
  6. Mesa
  7. Tempe
  8. Peoria
  9. Surprise
  10. Goodyear

What's the worst suburb of Phoenix? Guadalupe ranks as the worst suburb of Phoenix for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Phoenix that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in arizona check out the best places in arizona overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Phoenix too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Arizona reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Phoenix Suburbs To Live For 2021

Guadalupe, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,482
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,125 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $100,100 (lowest)
More on Guadalupe:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Guadalupe, the absolute worst place to live around Phoenix according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Guadalupe beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the worst in the Phoenix area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Guadalupe.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Tolleson, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,246
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,952 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $174,800 (3rd lowest)
More on Tolleson:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Tolleson. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 12.8 miles to Phoenix. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $45,952 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Glendale, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 247,813
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $55,020 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $214,700 (4th lowest)
More on Glendale:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Phoenix suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Glendale on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Phoenix suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

El Mirage, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 35,333
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $58,216 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $160,800 (2nd lowest)
More on El Mirage:  Data | Photos

If you live in El Mirage, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Phoenix suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Phoenix. Remember, we looked at 22 cities for this study.

El Mirage is about 13.7 miles to downtown.

Avondale, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 84,736
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $61,825 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $215,100 (5th lowest)
More on Avondale:  Data | Photos

Avondale has the distinction of being a Phoenix suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Avondale has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Phoenix area, where the median price is $215,100. To put that into perspective, in Paradise Valley, the median income is $211,393, which is the best in the area.

Avondale has an unemployment rate of 5.91% which ranks 3rd worst.

Mesa, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 499,720
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $58,181 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $226,500 (6th lowest)
More on Mesa:  Data | Photos

Mesa has 499,720 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 14.845088326388959%.

Tempe, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 187,454
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $57,994 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $272,900 (9th lowest)
More on Tempe:  Data | Photos

Ah, Tempe. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Phoenix.

It's the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the Phoenix metro area (5.13%).

Peoria, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 168,196
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $75,323 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $264,500 (8th lowest)
More on Peoria:  Data | Photos

Peoria is a city about 19.4 miles from Phoenix, but Phoenix probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Peoria has the 12th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (5.14%) in the entire Phoenix metro area.

Homes only cost $264,500 for a reason. That's cheap for Phoenix standards.

Surprise, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 135,450
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $69,076 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $239,500 (7th lowest)
More on Surprise:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Phoenix, then Surprise might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Phoenix suburb.

About 5.81% of residents are out of work.

Goodyear, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 80,371
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $83,866 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $290,800 (10th lowest)
More on Goodyear:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Phoenix suburbs to call home is Goodyear.

Located 27.1 miles outside the city, Goodyears is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 11th highest unemployment rate (4.52%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Phoenix for 2021

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2015-2019, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Phoenix.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 3,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 22 suburbs to evaluate around Phoenix.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 22 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Phoenix." We're lookin' at you, Guadalupe. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Phoenix where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Phoenix with Guadalupe casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Phoenix aren't all bad. Paradise Valley takes the cake as the best place to live around Phoenix.

  • Paradise Valley
  • Fountain Hills
  • Carefree

For more Arizona reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Phoenix Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Guadalupe 6,482 $38,125 $100,100
2 Tolleson 7,246 $45,952 $174,800
3 Glendale 247,813 $55,020 $214,700
4 El Mirage 35,333 $58,216 $160,800
5 Avondale 84,736 $61,825 $215,100
6 Mesa 499,720 $58,181 $226,500
7 Tempe 187,454 $57,994 $272,900
8 Peoria 168,196 $75,323 $264,500
9 Surprise 135,450 $69,076 $239,500
10 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
11 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
12 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
13 Goodyear 80,371 $83,866 $290,800
14 Cave Creek 5,670 $83,787 $482,600
15 Santa Cruz 64,522 $77,921 $854,200
16 Chandler 252,692 $82,925 $300,800
17 Litchfield Park 6,073 $83,156 $318,000
18 Scottsdale 250,602 $88,213 $475,300
19 Gilbert 243,254 $96,857 $328,700
20 Carefree 3,811 $79,152 $747,000
21 Fountain Hills 24,729 $85,200 $402,100
22 Paradise Valley 14,362 $211,393 $1,516,200

How Is Your Town In ?