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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 21 of the state's most populous cities (over 2,200 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Alaska:
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 2020.
For more Alaska reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2020
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Houston is the worst place you can live in the state of Alaska. Let's see why.
Crime and no jobs. How does that sum it up? When you look at the numbers, you can see why Houston might be a bad place to live. Would you believe Houston has the 4th highest crime rate in Alaska? It does. You have a 1 in 15.2 chance of being robbed when you're within Houston city limits each year.
Plus, Houston has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 17.0%.
And the home prices ($169,100) are the cheapest in the state. Say what you want about 'cheap living,' the fact is, homes are priced on demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Houston.
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 8.9%, and crime is above average.
Located on your way to somewhere else you'd want to be, Wasilla has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (10.9%) and homes are the 12th cheapest in the state ($238,000).
Say what you want about 'cheap living', the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's absolutely no demand to live in Wasilla.
If you live in Kotzebue, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 2nd highest crime rate, per capita in the state of Alaska. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 23.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 106 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 31 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 16th lowest salaries in Alaska At $84,559 a household, that's simply not enough to get by for most folks.
Palmer's situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Palmer has the 11th worst crime index of any place in Alaska, and has the 5th lowest income.
Out of all the places to live in Alaska, Ketchikan ranks as the 6th worst -- not something to brag about.
Ketchikan's unemployment rate stands at 8.1%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $59,132 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 11th cheapest in the entire state at $237,700. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Ketchikan. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 6th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 328 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Alaska, Kodiak ranks 7th worst. Let's see why.
Here in Kodiak, crime is the 7th highest in the state, and 1 out of 23.6 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 127 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.
When you look at adult education in Alaska, the folks in Kodiak have the 4th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Kodiak undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 19th highest in Alaska, at 3.3%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Alaska has some hard workers.
Dillingham is off by itself, along the gulf at the top of the Aleutian Islands. While it might be pretty, science doesn't measure beauty, remember?
1 in 10 people in Dillingham is without work, and the cost of health care is really high way out here. Which means, you'd better hope you can pay for a health emergency.
Crime is the 13th highest in the state here. Is that a surprise? You have a 1 in 70 chance of having your life threatened every year you spend in Dillingham city limits. That's off the charts high. Meaning if you weren't raped or attacked here, odds are you know someone who was.
Or, you knew who dunnit.
Bethel needs some tough love as it ranks as the 9th worst city to live in Alaska for 2020.
Crime in Bethel is the 17th highest in the state, where 1 in 112.7 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Alaska.
If commute time is important, Bethel residents have the 17th longest commute of any residents on our list.
The unemployment rate in Sitka is a sky high 4.4%, which is the 17th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Sitka is $71,534. That means 7.5% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 38.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.
How we determined the worst places to live in Alaska for 2020
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
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 21 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 21 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. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Alaska:
- Seward (Pop. 2,770)
- Valdez (Pop. 3,870)
- Cordova (Pop. 3,055)
For more Alaska reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Alaska
- Richest Cities In Alaska
- Safest Places In Alaska
- Best Cities For Singles In Alaska
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Alaska?