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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
Houston needs some tough love as it ranks as the worst city to live in Alaska for 2020.
Crime in Houston is the 4th highest in the state, where 1 in 15.2 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, Houston residents have the 1st longest commute of any residents on our list.
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.
Would you believe that Wasilla is the 4th most dangerous place in Alaska? That's the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 15.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within Wasilla city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 158 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Wasilla. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Alaska, that's just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Wasilla's unemployment rate is the 2nd highest in Alaska (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 on demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Wasilla.
Things are starting to get progressively more 'modern' and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Alaska when we get to Kotzebue. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 10.2% (which is really high), and the median income is $84,559. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren't a complete mess.
Say what you want about how beautiful Palmer might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 3rd highest in the state at 10.8%. Homes are the 4th lowest priced ($204,300), and the median income per household is just a tad over $60,350.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
When you're looking at science and data, Ketchikan is the worst place you can live in Alaska. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 8.1%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $237,700, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Ketchikan is a far drive south from Louisville.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Alaska, Kodiak came in 7th. Let's see why.
Located in Kodiak Island Borough with a population of 6,107, Kodiak has the 19th highest unemployment rate in Alaska. Crime is high for the state as well, coming in as the 7th most dangerous.
Additionally, 9.5% of the population lives below the poverty line.
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.
Located on your way to somewhere else you'd want to be, Bethel has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (9.0%) and homes are the 16th cheapest in the state ($265,700).
Say what you want about 'cheap living', the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's absolutely no demand to live in Bethel.
If you live in Alaska, you may or may not be surprised that Sitka ranked, at least on paper, as the 10th worst place to live in the state. It has the 17th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 15th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Sitka is the 2nd most densely populated city in Alaska. Draw your own conclusions.
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:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Alaska?