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:
- Houston (Photos)
- Kenai (Photos)
- Kotzebue (Photos)
- Barrow (Photos)
- Wasilla (Photos)
- Bethel (Photos)
- Kodiak (Photos)
- Palmer (Photos)
- Wrangell (Photos)
- Soldotna (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.
Houston needs some tough love as it ranks as the 1st worst city to live in Alaska for 2019.
Crime in Houston is the 6th highest in the state, where 1 in 20.0 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 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.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Barrow 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 14.2% unemployment rate for a city of 4,383 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
You can sure expect that Wasilla is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 5th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Wasilla has the 6th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 54 violent crimes here in 2019, and residents have a 1 in 20.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Wasilla, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits — the unemployment rate sits at 12.2% which is the 3rd worst in Alaska.
You can’t blame them for living in Bethel 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 6th highest in the state here (9.7%), the residents in Bethel earn the smallest household income in the state of Alaska. At a combined income of $83,438, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Alaska. Bethel has the 16th highest crime rate in the state.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Kodiak is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of Alaska. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 11th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Kodiak had a 1 in 29.2 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Kodiak, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Kodiak’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (4.8%) and income levels of its residents ($69,868).
Palmer is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Palmer is the 13th most dangerous place you can live in Alaska.
Residents in Palmer have a 1 in 27.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Palmer, where average homes are valued at only$198,500. That’s the 4th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
While the median household income in Wrangell is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Wrangell still has the 13th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 20th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Wrangell household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
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%.
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:
- 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