Naming the worst places to live in Hawaii might sound like a silly thing to do. Hawaii is probably the most exotic and beautiful state in the nation. It’s a destination for vacations and honeymoons.
The Hawaiians are fiercely protective of their state, and rule breakers are not tolerated. In fact, while tourism is the biggest job provider and economic backbone of the state, most locals would rather prefer that you stay out.
But is it all good in The Aloha State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Hawaii 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 Hawaii your home.
After analyzing 44 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,300 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Hawaii:
- Waianae (Photos)
- Makaha (Photos)
- Hawaiian Paradise Park
- Maili (Photos)
- Hawaiian Beaches
- Nanakuli (Photos)
- Kapaa (Photos)
- Wailea (Photos)
- Wailua Homesteads
- Hilo (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 Hawaii? That would be Waianae.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Hawaii
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Hawaii
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Hawaii
How we determined the worst places to live in Hawaii 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 5,000 people were considered — leaving 44 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 44 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 Hawaii — Waianae. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Hawaii.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Waianae ranks as the 1st worst city in Hawaii. Located in Honolulu County, Waianae has the 7th lowest income levels in the state of Hawaii ($60,282), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 14.3%.
Makaha ranks as the 2nd worst place to live in Hawaii for 2017.
The issues Makaha has is with its local economy. The unemployment rate is the 2nd highest in Hawaii (18.2%), and as you might expect, the household salaries and home prices are both towards the bottom of Hawaii.
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $255,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (7th worst)
More on Hawaiian Paradise Park: Data
HPP is right next door to Hawaiian Beaches. It is also not a real ‘city’. The population has almost doubled here in the last 15 years. Does that sound appealing?
It’s certainly not paradise here when you consider home values ($255,300), and income levels ($51,908). Many people here live at or below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is 7.4%, which is the highest in the state.
Say what you want about how beautiful Maili might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 5th highest in the state at 12.1%. Homes are the 10th lowest priced ($436,200), and the median income per household is just a tad over $71,806.
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.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $196,900 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (1st worst)
More on Hawaiian Beaches: Data
Hawaiian Beaches is a CDP located on the eastern side of the Island of Hawaii.
Here, you can find the absolute cheapest homes of anywhere in Hawaii. There’s a reason homes sell for an average of $190,000. It means no one wants to live here. Homes are priced by demand.
Income levels here are $34,000, and nearly 1 in 5 people in Hawaii Beaches lives below the poverty line. Plus, the unemployment rate is 5.7%, which is really high for Hawaii.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Hawaii, Nanakuli ranks 6th worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Nanakuli, crime is the 22nd highest in the state, and 1 out of 36.0 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 405 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 Hawaii, the folks in Nanakuli have the 13th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Nanakuli undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 4th highest in Hawaii, at 13.3%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Hawaii has some hard workers.
Out of all the places to live in Hawaii, Kapaa ranks as the 7th worst — not something to brag about.
Kapaa’s unemployment rate stands at 6.4%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $74,200 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 16th cheapest in the entire state at $497,700. 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 Kapaa. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 22nd worst in the state. You have a 1 in 36.0 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 405 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
If you live in Wailea, 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 8th worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 22nd highest crime rate in Hawaii, which saw 80 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 36.0 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 405 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Wailea.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Wailea sports the state’s 12th highest unemployment rate (5.9%), and families bring in a combined $68,675 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $936,400.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $601,200 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (16th worst)
More on Wailua Homesteads: Data
If you’re looking to live in Hawaii, Wailua Homesteads might not be the best choice as it places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Aloha State for 2017.
The average family earns $76,250 a year out here, and 8.8% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 5.6% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Wailua Homesteads, every year, you have a 1 in 36.0 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 22nd most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Hilo, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 10th worst city in Hawaii.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Hilo has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 6.2%, and families earn around $57,151 a year. It’s also the 22nd highest in Hawaii for crime, where 1 in 36.0 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Wrapping Up The Worst In Hawaii
If you’re looking at areas in Hawaii 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, Waianae ranks as the worst city to live in Hawaii for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Hawaii:
- Ewa Gentry (Pop. 24,181)
- Waikele (Pop. 7,446)
- Mililani Mauka (Pop. 20,393)
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Hawaii
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