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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Alaska For 2020

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

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

Houston needs some tough love as it ranks as the worst city to live in Alaska for 2020.

Crime in Houston is the 4th highest in the state, where 1 in 15.2 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, 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

Would you believe that Wasilla is the 4th most dangerous place in Alaska? That's the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 15.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within Wasilla city limits.

In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 158 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Wasilla. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for Alaska, that's just unacceptable.

Beyond the crime numbers, Wasilla's unemployment rate is the 2nd highest in Alaska (10.9%), and homes are the 12th cheapest in the state ($238,000). 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 Wasilla.

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

Things are starting to get progressively more 'modern' and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Alaska when we get to Kotzebue. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 10.2% (which is really high), and the median income is $84,559. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren't a complete mess.

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

Say what you want about how beautiful Palmer might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.

The unemployment rate rankss 3rd highest in the state at 10.8%. Homes are the 4th lowest priced ($204,300), and the median income per household is just a tad over $60,350.

The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.

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

When you're looking at science and data, Ketchikan is the worst place you can live in Alaska. Let's see why.

The unemployment rate here is 8.1%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $237,700, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.

You have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.

Ketchikan is a far drive south from Louisville.

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

When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Alaska, Kodiak came in 7th. Let's see why.

Located in Kodiak Island Borough with a population of 6,107, Kodiak has the 19th highest unemployment rate in Alaska. Crime is high for the state as well, coming in as the 7th most dangerous.

Additionally, 9.5% of the population lives below the poverty line.

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

Located on your way to somewhere else you'd want to be, Bethel has few options for some sort of entertainment.

The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (9.0%) and homes are the 16th cheapest in the state ($265,700).

Say what you want about 'cheap living', the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's absolutely no demand to live in Bethel.

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

If you live in Alaska, you may or may not be surprised that Sitka ranked, at least on paper, as the 10th worst place to live in the state. It has the 17th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 15th most dangerous.

Incidentally, Sitka is the 2nd most densely populated city in Alaska. Draw your own conclusions.

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 For 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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