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:
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Hawaii For 2019
It’s not even close. Waianae is the worst place in the state of Hawaii that you can live in, according to science. Let’s see why.
Waianae’s residents are unemployed at a 14.3% clip, which is the 3rd highest in the state. Homes are the 5th cheapest in Hawaii here, and at $339,500, that shows there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
Plus, crime is the 22nd highest in the state of Hawaii in Waianae. In Waianae, there were 80 violent crimes in 2019. That means people who live here have a 1 in 405 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered. For Hawaii, that’s off the charts high.
If you live in Makaha, 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 2nd 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 Makaha.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Makaha sports the state’s 2nd highest unemployment rate (18.2%), and families bring in a combined $51,833 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $407,200.
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.
The unemployment rate in Maili is a sky high 12.1%, which is the 5th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Maili is $71,806. That means 20.2% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 36.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
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.
According to science, Nanakuli is the 6th worst place you can live in Hawaii.
Let’s see why. Nanakuli has the 22nd-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Nanakuli is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($310,300), and the 4th-highest unemployment rate in the state (13.3%), and across the board, Nanakuli doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
There’s probably not many people in Hawaii that would be surprised to see Kapaa on this list. In fact, if Kapaa wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Kapaa has the 22nd worst crime rate in Hawaii. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 80 violent crimes in Kapaa in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 405 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Kapaa are the 16th cheapest in the state ($497,700), the unemployment rate is the 9th highest (6.4%), and the annual household income is 19th lowest in Hawaii, at $74,200. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Wailea is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Wailea residents earn the 12th-lowest salaries in the state. At $68,675 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $936,400, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 22nd highest in Hawaii per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 12th highest in the state, at 5.9%.
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 for 2019.
The unemployment rate here is 5.6%, and households bring in a combined $76,250 a year in income. That’s not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Hawaii.
Crime is the 22nd highest in the state in Wailua Homesteads as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
Out of all the places to live in Hawaii, Hilo ranks as the 10th worst — not something to brag about.
Hilo’s unemployment rate stands at 6.2%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $57,151 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 3rd cheapest in the entire state at $305,900. 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 Hilo. 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.
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.
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: