These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2019


We used science and data to determine which Alaska places 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 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Alaska.

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You’d think that since practically every reality show on cable these days that isn’t about housewives is about Alaska that it would be one of the most amazing places on earth.

Actually, for the people who live there, it is. It’s tough, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. They choose the rough and rugged lifestyle, and have set themselves on a whole other scale when it comes to American grit and determination.

There’s no arguing that the state is breathtakingly beautiful.

But is it all good in The Last Frontier? Of course not. Just like every other state, Alaska has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Alaska your home.

After analyzing 22 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Alaska:

  1. Houston
  2. Kotzebue (Photos)
  3. Barrow (Photos)
  4. Kenai (Photos)
  5. Wasilla (Photos)
  6. Palmer (Photos)
  7. Bethel (Photos)
  8. Wrangell (Photos)
  9. Fairbanks (Photos)
  10. Ketchikan (Photos)

What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.

However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Alaska? That would be Houston.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.

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

For more Alaska reading, check out:

How we determined the worst places to live in Alaska for 2019

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 don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:

  • Good education
  • Lots of jobs
  • Low crime
  • Low poverty
  • Nice homes
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Health insurance

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered — leaving 22 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 22 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.

Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.

Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Alaska — Houston. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Alaska.

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

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,068
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $169,700 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (1st worst)
More on Houston:  Data

Houston places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live in Alaska. Here, 10.8% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Houston have the 8th highest adult drop out rate in Alaska.

Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $169,700 each — the 1st lowest in Alaska.

As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

Kotzebue, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,276
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $207,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (4th worst)
More on Kotzebue:  Data | Photos

Kotzebue ranks as the 2nd worst place to live in Alaska for 2017.

While the unemployment rate is high (but not terrible), crime is a real factor here. It’s the 1st most dangerous place you can live in Alaska, according to the latest FBI numbers. If you live here, you have a high chance of being a victim each year.

Residents here earn about $88,047 a year. That’s in the bottom half of what people in Alaska normally make.

Barrow, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,383
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $181,200 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (2nd worst)
More on Barrow:  Data | Photos

The unemployment rate in Barrow is a sky high 14.2%, which is the 2nd highest in the state. Ouch.

The median income in Barrow is $82,964. That means 11.2% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 21.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.

Kenai, AK

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,634
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $226,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (10th worst)
More on Kenai:  Data | Photos

Kenai is the largest city to make this list. Located on this same peninsula south of Anchorage, finding good medical care is also much harder than in other areas of the state. The unemployment rate is 9.3%, and crime is above average.

Wasilla, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,296
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $233,000 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.2% (3rd worst)
More on Wasilla:  Data | Photos

If you’re looking to live in Alaska, Wasilla might not be the best choice as it places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Last Frontier for 2017.

The average family earns $60,259 a year out here, and 14.3% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 12.2% of the population is out of work.

And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Wasilla, every year, you have a 1 in 20.0 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 6th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.

Palmer, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,773
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $198,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (5th worst)
More on Palmer:  Data | Photos

When you’re looking at science and data, Palmer is the worst place you can live in Alaska. Let’s see why.

The unemployment rate here is 9.8%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $198,500, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.

You have a 1 in 27.8 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.

Palmer is a far drive south from Louisville.

Bethel, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,408
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $267,100 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (6th worst)
More on Bethel:  Data | Photos

you’re looking to live in Alaska, Bethel might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2017.

Bethel doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Bethel may not be your first choice for a vacation.

Wrangell, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,475
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $194,000 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (13th worst)
More on Wrangell:  Data | Photos

If you live in Alaska, you may or may not be surprised that Wrangell ranked, at least on paper, as the 8th worst place to live in the state. It has the 13th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 20th most dangerous.

Incidentally, Wrangell is the 1st most densely populated city in Alaska. Draw your own conclusions.

Fairbanks, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 31,853
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $199,000 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (9th worst)
More on Fairbanks:  Data | Photos

If you live in Fairbanks, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 9th worst place to live in the state.

You’ve got the 8th highest crime rate in Alaska, which saw 205 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 21.3 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 155 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Fairbanks.

Plus, folks are simply out of work. Fairbanks sports the state’s 9th highest unemployment rate (9.4%), and families bring in a combined $60,658 a year, which is far below the state average.

No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $199,000.

Ketchikan, AK

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,195
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $237,000 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (11th worst)
More on Ketchikan:  Data | Photos

Here in Ketchikan, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Alaska. That’s not a good combination.

Located in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, you have a 1 in 24.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Ketchikan city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (7.9%). That’s good for the 11th highest unemployment rate in Alaska.

Wrapping Up The Worst In Alaska

If you’re looking at areas in Alaska with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Houston ranks as the worst city to live in Alaska for 2019.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Alaska:

  1. Seward (Pop. 2,748)
  2. Unalaska (Pop. 4,809)
  3. Cordova (Pop. 3,175)

For more Alaska reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Alaska

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Houston 2,068 16.1% $169,700
2 Kotzebue 3,276 11.9% $207,000
3 Barrow 4,383 14.2% $181,200
4 Kenai 7,634 9.3% $226,600
5 Wasilla 9,296 12.2% $233,000
6 Palmer 6,773 9.8% $198,500
7 Bethel 6,408 9.7% $267,100
8 Wrangell 2,475 7.0% $194,000
9 Fairbanks 31,853 9.4% $199,000
10 Ketchikan 8,195 7.9% $237,000
11 Kodiak 6,168 4.8% $233,900
12 Nome 3,793 9.6% $210,100
13 Soldotna 4,516 7.3% $219,500
14 Dillingham 2,209 5.1% $254,900
15 Juneau 32,434 4.8% $343,100
16 Homer 5,510 5.9% $270,400
17 North Pole 2,319 6.8% $216,700
18 Sitka 8,810 5.0% $350,900
19 Valdez 3,921 9.5% $201,600
20 Seward 2,748 5.8% $228,900
21 Unalaska 4,809 1.6% $347,800
22 Cordova 3,175 2.1% $319,500

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9 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2019

  1. This is the most idiotic article I have ever read. It maybe based on “data”, but the author has no idea what he is talking about and no clue about Alaska.

  2. I don’t understand how Nome didn’t make this list! But concur wholeheartedly on Homer’s inclusion. Other residents who disagree are clueless at best, complicit perps at worst. There is no reality in “Reality” Shows. Homer is a retirement community for oilfield executives, military, and corrupt politicians. Thus representing a pustulent cancer on the face of all creation. Proud to bomb 3rd world countries back to the stone age for profit.

  3. i disagree with your article. Soldotna boasts a hospital that includes a new oncology unit. We have plenty of doctors. We may not have many indoor venues but we live the outdoors and live an active lifestyle year round. Most of the crime here is petty property crimes unlike that in Anchorage, Wasilla and Fairbanks. I think you should rerun your numbers minus the property density category. That causes an unfair bias to the stats.

  4. Like Bethel is definitely the worst place to live, people there just have stds all the time. And the common sense they have, well they don’t have any they will just mess up there lives all the time. And there are no trees which makes it boring as the Lords existence.

  5. Dont know about the rest of these places but how is barrow not on this? seriously unless your indian your not welcome, they dont want you, could care less of you, and because asrc and nsb pay all the bills (who get paid by the government) they could care less about fixing anything or making anything better, all outsiders come and say hey if we do this, that or invest in this, would make life so much more easier, all you get in return is a stern get out, the “so called inuit values” are thrown in your face constantly but only followed if it suits them other 98% its ignored if it goes against what they want to do. if the companies there would run like they do anywhere else they would go out of of service within a week. the only successful places are ran by outsiders, and they are always under constant social attack, it is the same over and over, they run the place, going under bring in outsider, gets fixed, they make them leave, put another indian in charge, they go under just repeat after repeat.

  6. More proof that algorithms are opinions expressed through math and given a scientistic halo with a dodge for accountability-“hey the computer says it, not me!”
    Might as well have said Alaska is nowhere like the rest of the United States’ coastal bands of high density population. Crime is Mayberry compared to even Seattle. The cold keeps most of the weaklings and complainers away. The high cost of living levels people out, although the medical, telecom and oil people live high on the hog at everyone’s expense. And when global warming hits harder we are the refuge.

  7. Don’t know how Anchorage did not make the list. Drunk people passed out everywhere and panhandlers on just about every street corner. The police don’t want anything to do with the drunks. Anchorage hires a civilian security company to round them up and throw them into a makeshift jail each night then let them out in the morning when they sober up. I lived in Anchorage between 2007-2011. I literally had to step over drunk people in the morning to get to the bus stop and I lived in mid-town Anchorage which isn’t even the worst place. The city officials spruce up Anchorage in the summertime by hanging pretty flowers on the streetlights so the cruise ship people will come ashore and spend money but any other time Anchorage is a dump. Cars broken into all the time. The only reason most people do not leave Anchorage is because of the PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend). The PFD is where they pay their citizens money each year not to leave the Alaska. Were it not for the PFD, Anchorage and most of Alaska would be a ghost town.

  8. Petersburg would be best in summer..Love prevails..even in winter with cabin fever setting in some locals will be friends and crab season starts around Valentines day..if you are willing to work this rocks..make like 20 trillion friends in 2 days…Devils thumb mountain on mainland so we just flip finger back..island is also known as little Norway though it is actually Mitkoff island Russia so best of all worlds and hell yeah I seen that..You have Kuprenoff island to the west with friends and boats and just all is cool..it is heaven on earth it is..smells like fish coming in..but wait till you see what she has..Petersburg/Mitkoff rock for best…..Sandy beach man…

  9. Petersburg would be best in summer..Love prevails..even in winter with cabin fever setting in some locals will be friends and crab season starts around Valentines day..if you are willing to work this rocks..make like 20 trillion friends in 2 days…Devils thumb mountain on mainland so we just flip finger back..island is also known as little Norway though it is actually Mitkoff island Russia so best of all worlds and hell yeah I seen that..You have Kuprenoff island to the west with friends and boats and just all is cool..it is heaven on earth it is..smells like fish coming in..but wait till you see what she has..Petersburg/Mitkoff rock for best…..Sandy beach man…

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