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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 47 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,200 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 Makaha.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Hawaii For 2020
You might have passed through Makaha once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Makaha needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 16.7%, residents earn about $52,097 a year, and home prices are just over $383,200. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn't anything to do in Makaha.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in Hawaii, Waianae came in 2nd. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Hawaii residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Hawaii, you can see some really big differences. In Waianae, the number of people out of work is 14.6%
In Hawaii, that's the 2nd highest in the state.
The residents in Waianae have the 3rd lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Waianae average $59,213 a year. Which isn't too shabby in comparison to the other 'lowest' income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $360,800 on average. That's the 4th lowest in the state.
Out of all the places to live in Hawaii, Nanakuli ranks as the 3rd worst -- not something to brag about.
Nanakuli's unemployment rate stands at 13.3%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $64,229 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 $339,300. 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 Nanakuli. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 24th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 34.0 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 400 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $280,100 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (22nd 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 ($280,100), and income levels ($56,738). Many people here live at or below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is 3.9%, which is the highest in the state.
Maili ranks as the 5th worst city on this list.
Maili has the 24th highest crime rate in Hawaii, where residents have a 1 in 34.0 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 9th cheapest in the state ($443,900), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
you're looking to live in Hawaii, Lahaina might not be the best choice as it places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
Lahaina doesn't have the worst crime in the state, but it's sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Lahaina may not be your first choice for a vacation.
According to science, Wailea is the 7th worst place you can live in Hawaii.
Let's see why. Wailea has the 24th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Wailea is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($994,000), and the 13th-highest unemployment rate in the state (5.3%), and across the board, Wailea 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.
When you're looking at science and data, Kahului is the worst place you can live in Hawaii. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 4.5%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $563,500, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 34.0 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Kahului is a far drive south from Louisville.
Wahiawa is a medium sized city just outside Schofield Barracks in the middle of Oahu.
Here, crime is the 10th highest in the state, and income levels and home values are far below the state average. It is known as a drug infested town, where you're more likely to get ripped off than killed. Commenters in forums say it's 'run down' here and kind of 'ghetto.'
Another commenter said it's the armpit of Oahu.
The hookers here might be good entertainment for those stationed nearby. At least they have that.
Kapaa is one of the poorest cities in the state of Hawaii. This city has 4.5% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $84,472 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Kapaa has the 24th highest crime rate in Hawaii. While the numbers aren't staggering (Hawaii is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it's still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Aloha State.
How we determined the worst places to live in Hawaii 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
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 47 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 47 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 -- Makaha. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Hawaii. 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 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, Makaha ranks as the worst city to live in Hawaii for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Hawaii:
- Aiea (Pop. 9,439)
- Mililani Mauka (Pop. 19,955)
- Waikele (Pop. 7,062)
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Hawaii?
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