These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Hawaii For 2019


We used science and data to determine which Aloha State 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 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Hawaii.

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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:

  1. Waianae (Photos)
  2. Makaha (Photos)
  3. Hawaiian Paradise Park
  4. Maili (Photos)
  5. Hawaiian Beaches
  6. Nanakuli (Photos)
  7. Kapaa (Photos)
  8. Wailea (Photos)
  9. Wailua Homesteads
  10. 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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Hawaii reading, check out:

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

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 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, HI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,636
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $339,500 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.3% (3rd worst)
More on Waianae:  Data | Photos

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, HI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,832
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $407,200 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.2% (2nd worst)
More on Makaha:  Data | Photos

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.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,564
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.

Maili, HI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,190
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $436,200 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (5th worst)
More on Maili:  Data | Photos

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.

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,302
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.

Nanakuli, HI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,757
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $310,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (4th worst)
More on Nanakuli:  Data | Photos

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.

Kapaa, HI

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 10,505
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $497,700 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (9th worst)
More on Kapaa:  Data | Photos

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.

Wailea, HI

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 5,602
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $936,400 (44th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (12th worst)
More on Wailea:  Data | Photos

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.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,212
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, HI

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 45,703
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $305,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (10th worst)
More on Hilo:  Data | Photos

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:

  1. Ewa Gentry (Pop. 24,181)
  2. Waikele (Pop. 7,446)
  3. Mililani Mauka (Pop. 20,393)

For more Hawaii reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Hawaii

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Waianae 13,636 14.3% $339,500
2 Makaha 8,832 18.2% $407,200
3 Hawaiian Paradise Park 11,564 7.4% $255,300
4 Maili 10,190 12.1% $436,200
5 Hawaiian Beaches 5,302 23.9% $196,900
6 Nanakuli 11,757 13.3% $310,300
7 Kapaa 10,505 6.4% $497,700
8 Wailea 5,602 5.9% $936,400
9 Wailua Homesteads 6,212 5.6% $601,200
10 Hilo 45,703 6.2% $305,900
11 Lahaina 13,223 5.1% $609,800
12 Wahiawa 17,555 4.9% $526,800
13 Kihei 22,220 5.8% $527,500
14 Waipio Acres 5,432 8.1% $384,700
15 Waipahu 41,715 4.8% $573,300
16 Kahului 30,706 5.2% $539,700
17 Ewa Beach 15,047 4.5% $474,200
18 Wailuku 16,995 7.0% $480,700
19 Holualoa 8,732 5.7% $508,500
20 Waimanalo 6,578 3.0% $586,400
21 Kalaoa 11,107 5.0% $501,000
22 Hanamaulu 5,386 2.4% $435,500
23 Kula 7,520 4.0% $858,200
24 Kalaheo 5,416 4.7% $672,600
25 Urban Honolulu 350,788 3.9% $628,300
26 Ewa Villages 8,087 3.3% $495,200
27 Lihue 7,064 3.3% $546,300
28 Kapolei 21,086 5.5% $490,600
29 Makakilo 20,615 6.0% $577,400
30 Makawao 6,832 2.8% $572,300
31 Laie 6,168 5.8% $662,100
32 Royal Kunia 14,396 3.9% $596,100
33 Pukalani 8,340 3.2% $620,300
34 Halawa 14,335 3.5% $671,400
35 Ahuimanu 8,085 4.1% $630,200
36 Ocean Pointe 13,579 4.2% $613,200
37 Kaneohe 34,123 4.0% $697,000
38 Waimalu 13,158 3.3% $396,900
39 Waipio 11,607 2.7% $526,100
40 Aiea 9,332 3.4% $756,200
41 East Honolulu 47,868 2.3% $888,400
42 Ewa Gentry 24,181 2.6% $510,700
43 Waikele 7,446 2.8% $478,100
44 Mililani Mauka 20,393 1.8% $641,900

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19 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Hawaii For 2019

  1. I can’t believe how much I love this article. I didn’t even have to read it. It’s all true, but I would go even farther.

    I try not to speak in extremes very often as I don’t find very many opinions I can get behind whole-heartedly. But, Hawai’i as a whole is definitely the very worst place to live or visit; I mean, just don’t even look at pictures of this horrible place online, (blech!), and that is never going to change. You can take that to the bank when you return to the place from whence you came.

    Aloha nō!

  2. That is a very “haole” perspective of looking at our beautiful home. The best advice ever given about Hawaii was by Anthony Bourdaine when he told all who watched his show, “stay away from Hawaii, don’t come here” and I totally agree. Don’t come from your castle and convenience on the mainland and expect the same on an island far away from many of the resources you’re used to. Don’t complain, just go back where you came from. Aloha

  3. An interesting list. I live in one of these places, its comfortable and feels totally safe (except for the imported homeless people from the mainland harassing kids where to score weed) and have lived in a place that is on the BEST list that didn’t feel safe at all. Hawaii is a paradoxical place that is a total mystery to mainlanders- Our standards for good bad places to live would leave any mainlander scratching their heads. But that was a fun read.

  4. I used to live in Wahiawa (and yes I have native Hawaiian blood), it was pretty seedy out there. It reminded me of some more rundown mainland cities in a way because of how paved over a lot of it was Meth was a problem for sure. I did see drug addicted hookers. A lot of wannabe gangsters were around but they always respected me and my ways.

    If you were a white military man you probably didn’t exactly love it. Enlisted men would walk over from base to the McDonalds and would have to cross the bridge back and forth. Occasionally kids would hang out there and kick/snatch the food bags from their hands. If the enlisted guy made a fuss about it, some big dudes would emerge to make sure they kept on going.

    A couple weeks after I moved back to the Kapahulu area one of my neighbors was shot and killed because he tried to intervene in a domestic argument outside of our old apartment building.

    I can’t say I missed much about living in Wahiawa.

  5. This whole article is full of crap. I live half of the time in So Cal and the other half in north Hilo and spend a lot of time on Maui. I have always believed that Hawaii is a place where if you give respect you get respect. If you don’t then you will have problem like anywhere else. Hawaii is a beautiful place with mostly wonderful people. It’s so funny how most of the comments show that folks want you to go back from where you came. LOL. They know that the problems on Hawaii came from somewhere else.

  6. Too bad you can’t “grammar check” your header before you post an article. Maybe you could strengthen your credibility.

  7. Yada yada yada .. Do not come at all .. The problems come from those who come and try to change things!! Attitude adjustment .. Hawai’i is a Kingdom! Mainland attitudes should stay on the mainland! Inaccuracies abound! Waihee / Waiehu are mostly Hawaiian Homelands … Properties occupied by Hawaiians! Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches / Hawaiian Shores are subdivisions with each having one small store close by. Perceptions are a strange thing! You are obviously on the outside looking in ! Hawai’i is much like a third world country and we like it that way! BTW folks should not try to purchase land here as ALL titles are clouded and in the near future many will come to know Hawai’i was never a part of the USA! It is under military occupation .. Regime change coming soon! Aloha Aina !!!!

    1. Why so many native Hawaiians in the US military? This seems a dishonorable thing to do and disrespectful to Hawaiian ancestors. Am I wrong?

  8. Definitely on the outside looking in. I’ve lived it what some would call the ghetto on the mainland. I currently live in Makaha and love it here. I drive through Nanakuli everyday on my way home. The worst part about living here is the traffic. Is there crime, well that’s a stupid question, where there are people there is crime. If you come here respecting the locals you won’t have much problems. One silly fact you overlooked, poor people don’t steel from poor people, they would rather head to the rich communities for the nice stuff. I feel safe in Makaha been here for many years with my family and we love it. You can still find plenty of Aloha from most people in Hawaii, don’t judge people and live life with Love and Aloha and you will find it is usually returned.

    1. Julie R. No he does not. He sounds like he really lives there and you don’t. Always felt safe in HPP, except from the wild pigs.

  9. You are correct about some things for most likely the wrong reasons. As someone who has lived in Paradise Park for 11 years and apprasied RE all over the big island for 20 years, I will share some personal observations. I apologize in advance if they seem negative, but the truth is what is most important, not “beliefs”. I have lived here for 28 years, and just have no other place left to go to.

    1. The worst thing about HPP is the NOISE! If its not the tourist helicopters usually flying right overhead during the day (for the wealthy, at around $500 a seat) to see the volcano, its the constant sounds from the neighbors gas-motor weed-wackers, chain saws, lawnmowers, bulldozers, construction or constantly barking dogs & crowing roosters everywhere! HPP is reportedly the largest subdivision in acreage in the US that is within 12 miles of a town.

    2. There is VERY little here to get, see, or do on most islands. The traffic into Hilo, the only real town in Hawaii County 12 miles away is very BUSY on the 2-4 lane roads. We would wither away without Amazon, which can still happen at any time if they decide to raise shipping costs. Hilo is so poor in construction quality, good restaurants, and amenities, it could be compared well to any 3rd world town, like in South America.

    3. Nobody spoiled by the mainland’s accessability is likely to appreciate Hawaii, and all costs are much higher. There are not enough jobs despite what we are told, and I seriously doubt the accuracy of all the statistics in this article. Many are on welfare including EBT cards.

    4. The U of HI has recognized that local sea life HAS been contaminated by the Fukushima disaster, but this truth is almost never spoken about here.

    5. The state is “owned” by the deep-state Democrats, and legalized life-saving cannabis will probably never be allowed by vote for the health or well being of most human beings (all with biochemical receptors for it) here.

    Conclusion: Many COULD reasonably compare the vastly remote Hawaiian islands to a prison state in some significantly honest ways! And no, you wouldnt like it here, so forget about moving to Hawaii! Aloooo-fricking-ha!

    And save your vacations for visits to states where they respect the freedom of humanity to choose as much as they respect or tolerate other substances they profit from.

  10. I lived in HPP for 2 years and on the surface, the author has it right. There is a lot of property crime in HPP, good paying jobs are scarce, and other things like – no mail delivery, no trash pick up, slow police response times, dogs running loose on the roads, and unpaved roads.

    However, we loved the people that lived in HPP. The people on the big island are for the most part, kind, loving, and friendly. It wasn’t my favorite place due to the distance to civilization (i.e. restaurants, stores, movie theaters, etc); but you can’t beat the amount of house you can get in HPP vs. Oahu.

  11. Is there a negative attitude by some of the locals toward white people here? Of course, you can get that in any US state. Let’s be honest with ourselves. The white elitists of the US are the reason for that attitude- they have used and abused others for so long and needless to say tricked Hawaiians out of their own land (Mark Zuckerburg is still doing it today). So, while us the common white person who didn’t come from money and aren’t dependents of “the man” may not be at fault- you can’t really take offense to the attitudes of circumstance. There are many natives of Hawaii that are not white that understand us visitors are just here temporarily and thankful for our short stay in their paradise, here to spend our money on their local businesses, and have no ill intentions. You can’t let people’s negativity toward you impact how you view a people as a whole and while others may struggle with that themselves you cannot take it personally. I am on a 30 day vacation in Oahu and staying in Makaha. I am happy I chose this side of the island as it has more of an at home feel versus the crowded city of Honolulu (ironic I say that living in Phoenix). You know what I see on this side of the island? I see town’s being neglected by a government that has plenty of money and resources (just like on the so-called mainland). That’s right. The US neglect in funding the right things is the problem. The US has their priorities ass backwards. Homelessness and drug addiction are worldwide problems and the US is no different, believe that- and imprisoning people for either is not the answer. Bless all of Hawaiians. I hope one day you are able to control your own land and resources without you know who having any say in it. I wish you all nothing but prosperity and good health. Thank you for you being you.

  12. I’m a data scientist. This is not data science. Maybe “date” science (as stated in the first sentence. Didn’t bother editing, even after updating. Weak.), but this is someone irresponsibly cherry-picking data and applying an inaccurate analysis. Rates of employment should be considered in conjunction with age. Basic stuff. This is not worth reading and certainly not factual. Also, who prefers a higher population density. Just terrible and irresponsible.

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