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:
- Kotzebue (Photos)
- Barrow (Photos)
- Kenai (Photos)
- Wasilla (Photos)
- Palmer (Photos)
- Bethel (Photos)
- Wrangell (Photos)
- Fairbanks (Photos)
- 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.
For more Alaska reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Alaska
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Alaska
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Alaska
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
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Seward (Pop. 2,748)
- Unalaska (Pop. 4,809)
- Cordova (Pop. 3,175)
For more Alaska reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Alaska
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Alaska
- 10 Safest Places In Alaska
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Alaska
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Alaska