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
Here in Houston, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Alaska. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, you have a 1 in 20.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Houston city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (16.1%). That’s good for the 1st highest unemployment rate in Alaska.
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.
Kotzebue ranks as the 3rd worst place to live in Alaska for 2019.
The issues Kotzebue has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 4th highest in Alaska (11.9%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom of Alaska.
If you live in Barrow, 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 4th worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 5th highest crime rate in Alaska, which saw 80 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 21.1 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 96 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Barrow.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Barrow sports the state’s 2nd highest unemployment rate (14.2%), and families bring in a combined $82,964 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $181,200.
You can’t blame them for living in Wasilla since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 3rd highest in the state here (12.2%), the residents in Wasilla earn the smallest household income in the state of Alaska. At a combined income of $60,259, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Alaska. Wasilla has the 6th highest crime rate in the state.
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Bethel is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It’s that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 70 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 85.4 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 9.7%, which isn’t horrible, but the 6th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $83,438 a year in combined household income.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Kodiak is the 11th most dangerous city in Alaska. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 29.2 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Kodiak might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Kodiak are really low. People here earn about $69,868 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Kodiak are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Alaska than in Kodiak.
Palmer has a 9.8% unemployment rate (5th in AK), below average income levels and the 13th highest crime rate in the state.
This random City-Data comment sums up Palmer.
“I visited Palmer over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.
“I saw lots people around Palmer who looked…well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.
“And what’s with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes?
“Just looked sad.”
Wrangell needs some tough love as it ranks as the 9th worst city to live in Alaska for 2019.
Crime in Wrangell is the 20th highest in the state, where 1 in 88.4 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, Wrangell residents have the 16th longest commute of any residents on our list.
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)
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