The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2023

The worst places to live in Alaska are Wasilla and Dillingham for 2023 based on Friday Night Science.

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 20 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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2023

  1. Wasilla
  2. Dillingham
  3. Fairbanks
  4. Kenai
  5. Seward
  6. Palmer
  7. Nome
  8. Wrangell
  9. Bethel
  10. Homer

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

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in Alaska is Valdez.

However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Alaska? The worst place to live in Alaska is Wasilla.

Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2023.

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:

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2023

Wasilla, AK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,098
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $272,600
Unemployment Rate: 9.5%
More on Wasilla:  Data | Photos

Wasilla has a population of 9,098. That may seem relatively low, but for the Last Frontier, it represents a virtual metropolis. That figure ranks 3rd in the state. Unfortunately, Wasilla has another distinction: it’s known as the number 1 worst place to live in Alaska.

The town (which once had Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin as its mayor) has major economic problems. The unemployment rate sits at 9.5%, the 4th highest pace in Alaska. Even the available jobs don’t pay very well. The median income is $62,292.

This weak economic base leads to other problems. The crime rate in Wasilla is more than 150% above the U.S. standard. Meanwhile, the community supports a spotty education system.

Dillingham, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,133
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $265,200
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
More on Dillingham:  Data | Photos

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 10th highest in the state here. Is that a surprise? You have a 1 in 96 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 attacked here, odds are you know someone who was.

Or, you knew who dunnit.

Fairbanks, AK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 33,018
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $223,600
Unemployment Rate: 8.1%
More on Fairbanks:  Data | Photos

Most of Alaska’s major cities lie along the coast. Fairbanks is an exception. It sits in the middle of the country, placing it within a setting of unmatched natural beauty. But, this being the Last Frontier, life has its challenges. In fact, Fairbanks is known as the number 3 worst location in Alaska to live.

Like much of the state, expenses are high in Fairbanks. Located far from any other population center, the cost of living runs about 30% above the national average. That makes it tough on the 33,018 inhabitants of the area, who have to make due on median incomes of $66,572. The unemployment rate sits at 8.1%.

Crime is also a problem in Fairbanks. The city’s crime rate is double the U.S. norm.

Kenai, AK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,452
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $233,400
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
More on Kenai:  Data | Photos

Kenai, Alaska, sits along the coast of the Cook Inlet, in the southern part of the state. It’s a tough place to make a living, with low wages and a high unemployment rate. These economic troubles make it the number 4 worst spot to live in the Last Frontier.

The population of 7,452 residents ekes out a living with a median income of $70,732. That’s the 9th lowest level in Alaska. The people earning that meager amount can count themselves lucky, though. Many of their neighbors don’t have jobs at all, with the unemployment rate standing at 10.3%.

The crime rate in Kenai sits more than 200% above the national average. Meanwhile, the cost of living in the area is about 10% above the U.S. standard. The median home value is $233,400.

Seward, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,614
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 11)
Median Home Value: $241,600
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
More on Seward:  Data | Photos

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

First off, people in Seward earn the 10th lowest incomes in the state. At $75,050, that actually sounds like quite a bit for most other states, but in Alaska, it’s really low, especially when you consider the adjusted cost of living up there. 10.1% of the population in Seward lives below the poverty line, and 6.1% of the population is unemployed.

Crime is above average as well.

When you’re looking at health care, Seward has the 3rd lowest number of doctors per capita.

Seward is south of Anchorage in an isolated valley on the Gulf Coast.

Palmer, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,978
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $224,500
Unemployment Rate: 9.7%
More on Palmer:  Data | Photos

Palmer is located in the southern-central part of Alaska, about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, the state’s largest population center. Unfortunately, this proximity to a city hasn’t saved the community from being identified as the number 6 least attractive spot in the state to put down roots.

Jobs are the main issue for the 5,978 inhabitants of Palmer. The area ranks as number 3 on the list of highest unemployment rates in Alaska. The figure comes in at 9.7%.

Schools in the area are good and the overall cost of living is under control…at least for Alaska. However, the high jobless rate leads to significant poverty. That in turn, fuels a high crime rate. Palmer suffers the number 14 highest violent crime rate in the state.

Nome, AK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,685
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $291,300
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
More on Nome:  Data | Photos

In an almost literal sense, Nome is a city of gold. It was originally founded as part of the gold rush that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (back then, it was the most thriving city in the region). However, those golden days are largely in the past. In the 21st century, Nome counts as the number 7 worst place to live in Alaska.

Located on the Pacific coast toward the northern part of the state, this community of 3,685 people is very isolated. The town has local roads, but no major highway to link it with the other parts of the state.

As you might guess, this solitude tends to stifle the economy. The unemployment rate is the highest in Alaska, coming in at 10.7%. The median income sits at $91,375. The crime rate sits about 65% above the national average.

Wrangell, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,162
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $230,800
Unemployment Rate: 5.7%
More on Wrangell:  Data | Photos

Wrangell, Alaska, provides the main population center on Wrangell Island, part of a chain located in the southernmost part of the state. This leaves the community rather isolated, limiting economic opportunity there. The result? The number 8 least enticing spot to live in the state.

Wrangell has some things going for it. The crime rate is below the national average and it supports a solid school system. However, making a living on the island is tough. The community of 2,162 residents endures a median income of $54,891. This ranks 1st in the state as a whole.
Meanwhile, the median home value sits at $230,800.

Bethel, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,273
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $309,900
Unemployment Rate: 9.4%
More on Bethel:  Data | Photos

Not everything in Bethel is grim. Each year, the 6,273 residents of the town can enjoy the Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race or show up for the Yup’ik dance festival. But life in the community definitely has its grim elements, as Bethel ranks as the number 9 worst spot to live in Alaska.

First off, it’s tough to find a job around town. The unemployment rate sits at 9.4%, the 5th worst level in the state. As a result, the poverty rate hovers at 13.4%.

Schools in Bethel are bad, with scores as low as 1/10 on Great Schools. Also, for such a small town, the community suffers a high crime rate.

Homer, AK

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,531
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $309,500
Unemployment Rate: 8.4%
More on Homer:  Data | Photos

It seems as if the peninsula south of Anchorage is, generally, the worst place to live in Alaska. Homer, located along the Gulf coast, resembles the cities above. Residents here earn the 5th lowest incomes, and the unemployment rate is also 8.4%.

Crime is far above average here. You have a 1 in 54.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime every year you spend within Homer city limits. That’s a lot of stolen chainsaws and fishing gear.

Additionally, you have a 1 in 325 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. Meaning raped, attacked or killed.

As a side note, Alaska is one of the most dangerous states in the nation.

Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in Alaska for 2023

To figure out the worst places to live in Alaska, 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 the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered — leaving 20 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 20 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 — Wasilla. Read on for a detailed look at the ten worst cities in Alaska.

Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023. This is our tenth time ranking the worst places to live in Alaska.

Summary: 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 little to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Wasilla ranks as the worst city to live in Alaska for 2023.

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

  1. Cordova (Pop. 2,588)
  2. North Pole (Pop. 2,825)
  3. Valdez (Pop. 3,966)

For more Alaska reading, check out:

Worst Places To Live In Alaska?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Wasilla 9,098 9.5% $272,600
2 Dillingham 2,133 7.5% $265,200
3 Fairbanks 33,018 8.1% $223,600
4 Kenai 7,452 10.3% $233,400
5 Seward 2,614 6.1% $241,600
6 Palmer 5,978 9.7% $224,500
7 Nome 3,685 10.7% $291,300
8 Wrangell 2,162 5.7% $230,800
9 Bethel 6,273 9.4% $309,900
10 Homer 5,531 8.4% $309,500
11 Juneau 32,240 5.1% $358,200
12 Ketchikan 8,150 5.9% $270,200
13 Kodiak 5,682 5.1% $264,500
14 Sitka 8,518 5.4% $367,800
15 Kotzebue 3,199 5.8% $246,400
16 Soldotna 4,370 6.1% $219,300
17 Unalaska 4,339 4.2% $412,100
18 Cordova 2,588 0.9% $336,700
19 North Pole 2,825 3.2% $232,200
20 Valdez 3,966 4.3% $202,600

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.