THE 10 WORST Places To Live In Alaska For 2020


We used science and data to determine which Alaska places are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst places to live in Alaska.

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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:

Here are the 10 worst places to live in Alaska for 2020:

  1. Houston (Photos)
  2. Kenai (Photos)
  3. Wasilla (Photos)
  4. Kotzebue (Photos)
  5. Palmer (Photos)
  6. Ketchikan (Photos)
  7. Kodiak (Photos)
  8. Dillingham (Photos)
  9. Bethel (Photos)
  10. Sitka (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 2020.

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2020

Houston, AK

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,172
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $169,100 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.0% (1st worst)
More on Houston:  Data | Photos

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 15.2 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 (17.0%). That's good for the highest unemployment rate in Alaska.

Kenai, AK

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,687
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $233,200 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (7th worst)
More on Kenai:  Data | Photos

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.

Wasilla, AK

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,675
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $238,000 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (2nd worst)
More on Wasilla:  Data | Photos

Wasilla has a 10.9% unemployment rate (2nd in AK), below average income levels and the 4th highest crime rate in the state.

This random City-Data comment sums up Wasilla.

"I visited Wasilla over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.

"I saw lots people around Wasilla 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."

Kotzebue, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,288
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $214,900 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (4th worst)
More on Kotzebue:  Data | Photos

Kotzebue takes the 4th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.

But what gives Kotzebue its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 2nd worst in the whole state.

Palmer, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,978
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $204,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (3rd worst)
More on Palmer:  Data | Photos

The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Palmer. The only real difference is Palmer is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.

However, the unemployment rate in Palmer is at 10.8%, which is the 3rd worst in Alaska. And households earn a combined $60,350 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Palmer is merely $204,300.

Palmer is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.

Ketchikan, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,224
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $237,700 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (10th worst)
More on Ketchikan:  Data | Photos

Ketchikan ranks as the 6th worst city on this list.

Ketchikan has the 6th highest crime rate in Alaska, where residents have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 11th cheapest in the state ($237,700), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.

Review Of Ketchikan by HomeSnacks User

Ketchikan gets a lot of rain - 300 days per year, but it's a great little tourist town. There are many nice shops and great ocean views.

Totem pole park was really neat and full of history!

Kodiak, AK

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,107
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $243,800 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (19th worst)
More on Kodiak:  Data | Photos

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Kodiak is the 7th most dangerous city in Alaska. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 23.6 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 $71,554 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.

Dillingham, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,250
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $260,200 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (12th worst)
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 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.

Bethel, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,424
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $265,700 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (6th worst)
More on Bethel:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Alaska, Bethel ranks 9th worst. Let's see why.

Here in Bethel, crime is the 17th highest in the state, and 1 out of 112.7 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.

That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?

Additionally, you have a 1 in 64 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.

When you look at adult education in Alaska, the folks in Bethel have the 8th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Bethel undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.

The unemployment rate is the 6th highest in Alaska, at 9.0%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means Alaska has some hard workers.

Sitka, AK

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 8,738
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $349,300 (21st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (17th worst)
More on Sitka:  Data | Photos

When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Sitka is the 10th worst place in the state of Alaska.

The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Sitka is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Sitka are the 2lowest in the entire state.

And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can't get much worse in Alaska.

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

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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:

  1. Seward (Pop. 2,770)
  2. Valdez (Pop. 3,870)
  3. Cordova (Pop. 3,055)

For more Alaska reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Alaska?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Houston 2,172 17.0% $169,100
2 Kenai 7,687 8.9% $233,200
3 Wasilla 9,675 10.9% $238,000
4 Kotzebue 3,288 10.2% $214,900
5 Palmer 6,978 10.8% $204,300
6 Ketchikan 8,224 8.1% $237,700
7 Kodiak 6,107 3.3% $243,800
8 Dillingham 2,250 6.8% $260,200
9 Bethel 6,424 9.0% $265,700
10 Sitka 8,738 4.4% $349,300

How Is The Area In ?

13 thoughts on “THE 10 WORST Places To Live In Alaska, 2020

  1. This is the most idiotic article I have ever read. It maybe based on “data”, but the author has no idea what he is talking about and no clue about Alaska.

  2. I don’t understand how Nome didn’t make this list! But concur wholeheartedly on Homer’s inclusion. Other residents who disagree are clueless at best, complicit perps at worst. There is no reality in “Reality” Shows. Homer is a retirement community for oilfield executives, military, and corrupt politicians. Thus representing a pustulent cancer on the face of all creation. Proud to bomb 3rd world countries back to the stone age for profit.

  3. i disagree with your article. Soldotna boasts a hospital that includes a new oncology unit. We have plenty of doctors. We may not have many indoor venues but we live the outdoors and live an active lifestyle year round. Most of the crime here is petty property crimes unlike that in Anchorage, Wasilla and Fairbanks. I think you should rerun your numbers minus the property density category. That causes an unfair bias to the stats.

  4. Like Bethel is definitely the worst place to live, people there just have stds all the time. And the common sense they have, well they don’t have any they will just mess up there lives all the time. And there are no trees which makes it boring as the Lords existence.

  5. Dont know about the rest of these places but how is barrow not on this? seriously unless your indian your not welcome, they dont want you, could care less of you, and because asrc and nsb pay all the bills (who get paid by the government) they could care less about fixing anything or making anything better, all outsiders come and say hey if we do this, that or invest in this, would make life so much more easier, all you get in return is a stern get out, the “so called inuit values” are thrown in your face constantly but only followed if it suits them other 98% its ignored if it goes against what they want to do. if the companies there would run like they do anywhere else they would go out of of service within a week. the only successful places are ran by outsiders, and they are always under constant social attack, it is the same over and over, they run the place, going under bring in outsider, gets fixed, they make them leave, put another indian in charge, they go under just repeat after repeat.

  6. More proof that algorithms are opinions expressed through math and given a scientistic halo with a dodge for accountability-“hey the computer says it, not me!”
    Might as well have said Alaska is nowhere like the rest of the United States’ coastal bands of high density population. Crime is Mayberry compared to even Seattle. The cold keeps most of the weaklings and complainers away. The high cost of living levels people out, although the medical, telecom and oil people live high on the hog at everyone’s expense. And when global warming hits harder we are the refuge.

  7. Don’t know how Anchorage did not make the list. Drunk people passed out everywhere and panhandlers on just about every street corner. The police don’t want anything to do with the drunks. Anchorage hires a civilian security company to round them up and throw them into a makeshift jail each night then let them out in the morning when they sober up. I lived in Anchorage between 2007-2011. I literally had to step over drunk people in the morning to get to the bus stop and I lived in mid-town Anchorage which isn’t even the worst place. The city officials spruce up Anchorage in the summertime by hanging pretty flowers on the streetlights so the cruise ship people will come ashore and spend money but any other time Anchorage is a dump. Cars broken into all the time. The only reason most people do not leave Anchorage is because of the PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend). The PFD is where they pay their citizens money each year not to leave the Alaska. Were it not for the PFD, Anchorage and most of Alaska would be a ghost town.

  8. Petersburg would be best in summer..Love prevails..even in winter with cabin fever setting in some locals will be friends and crab season starts around Valentines day..if you are willing to work this rocks..make like 20 trillion friends in 2 days…Devils thumb mountain on mainland so we just flip finger back..island is also known as little Norway though it is actually Mitkoff island Russia so best of all worlds and hell yeah I seen that..You have Kuprenoff island to the west with friends and boats and just all is cool..it is heaven on earth it is..smells like fish coming in..but wait till you see what she has..Petersburg/Mitkoff rock for best…..Sandy beach man…

  9. Petersburg would be best in summer..Love prevails..even in winter with cabin fever setting in some locals will be friends and crab season starts around Valentines day..if you are willing to work this rocks..make like 20 trillion friends in 2 days…Devils thumb mountain on mainland so we just flip finger back..island is also known as little Norway though it is actually Mitkoff island Russia so best of all worlds and hell yeah I seen that..You have Kuprenoff island to the west with friends and boats and just all is cool..it is heaven on earth it is..smells like fish coming in..but wait till you see what she has..Petersburg/Mitkoff rock for best…..Sandy beach man…

  10. I moved from Anchorage to Wasilla last year, and boy was that the worst decision I’ve ever made. The people here are awful, the “oh so wonderful” nonprofit organizations are filled with thieves, businesses are seriously unreliable. If you’re considering moving here, don’t! I’m moving far away from here ASAP.

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