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:
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2019
Houston is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Houston residents earn the 1st-lowest salaries in the state. At $52,888 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $169,700, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 6th highest in Alaska per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 1st highest in the state, at 16.1%.
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.
Out of all the places to live in Alaska, Kotzebue ranks as the 3rd worst — not something to brag about.
Kotzebue’s unemployment rate stands at 11.9%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $88,047 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 7th cheapest in the entire state at $207,000. 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 Kotzebue. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 1st worst in the state. You have a 1 in 18.4 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 27 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Barrow, AK needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 14.2%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 5th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 21.1 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
Wasilla is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $60,259 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Alaska, a 12.2% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 6th highest in Alaska here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
Would you believe that Bethel is the 16th most dangerous place in Alaska? That’s the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 85.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within Bethel city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 70 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Bethel. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Alaska, that’s just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Bethel’s unemployment rate is the 6th highest in Alaska (9.7%), and homes are the 17th cheapest in the state ($267,100). 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 Bethel.
Kodiak is the 7th worst city in Alaska for 2019. When you’re comparing other cities to Kodiak, things just don’t look great, at least according to science.
Kodiak is the 11th most dangerous place in Alaska, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job — at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 4.8%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($233,900), and residents earn just $69,868 a year.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Palmer is one of the worst places you can live in Alaska. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 9.8% unemployment rate for a city of 6,773 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
If, by some reason, you were driving through Wrangell, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($56,094) and they can’t get good jobs (7.0% unemployment rate).
Wrangell ranks as the 9th wost place in Alaska.
Located south of Anchorage, Soldotna has the 9th lowest income levels in the state of Alaska ($68,662), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 7.3%.
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.
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:
- Valdez (Pop. 3,921)
- Seward (Pop. 2,748)
- Cordova (Pop. 3,175)
For more Alaska reading, check out: