The 10 Worst Neighborhoods In Phoenix For 2021

We used data and science to identify the neighborhoods in Phoenix that 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 2021. This is our fifth time ranking the worst neighborhoods to live in Phoenix.
Worst Neighborhoods In Phoenix
Source: Public domain

Phoenix's neighborhoods conjure up too many stereotypes to count. You've got hipster areas, preppy places, neighborhoods where college kids thrive, and of course, ghettos.

It seems as if there's a neighborhood for everyone in Phoenix.

And while the city consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country thanks in part to a strong economy and tons of entertainment, it's not all rainbows and sunshine in Phoenix. Some neighborhoods aren't as great as others.

So the question arises, which Phoenix neighborhoods are the worst, and which are the best?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Phoenix hoods need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Phoenix area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the neighborhoods to be amazing, although Desert View ranks way above the rest.

We examined 15 of Phoenix's neighborhoods to find out the worst places to live. These places don't quite measure up to Phoenix's reputation.

The Worst Neighborhoods In Phoenix For 2021

  1. Central City
  2. South Mountain
  3. Estrella
  4. Maryvale
  5. Alahambra

So what's the worst neighborhood to live in Phoenix for 2021? According to the most recent census data, Central City looks to be the worst neighborhood in Phoenix.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Phoenix that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Once you're done, you can look at the bottom of the story for a complete chart of every neighborhood we looked at from worst to best. Looking for places to avoid outside of the city? You can also check out the worst suburbs of Phoenix.

For more Arizona reading, check out:

The 5 Worst Neighborhoods In Phoenix For 2021

Central City Phoenix, AZ

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Population: 55,934
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $92,265 (3rd worst)
Median Income: $26,395 (worst)
More on Central City:  Data

Central City Village is the urban village of Phoenix, Arizona, that includes the downtown area of the city. As of 2010, it had a population of 58,161 residents.

Because of its location at the historic center of Phoenix, there are many old homes and buildings located in the Central City Village that convey the history of Phoenix. Downtown, which includes the larger commercial and government buildings, as well as sports venues such as Talking Stick Resort Arena and Chase Field, is the core of the village and the city of Phoenix. Because of this, Center City village is almost unique, in that it has a much more urban environment than the other, more suburban, villages of Phoenix.

South Mountain Phoenix, AZ

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Population: 123,300
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $107,310 (4th worst)
Median Income: $42,577 (4th worst)
More on South Mountain:  Data

South Mountain Park preserves in a natural state a mountainous area of 16,283 acres or approximately 25.5 sq mi of native desert vegetation. Originally called Phoenix Mountain Park, it was formed in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge sold its initial 13,000 acres to the city of Phoenix for $17,000. It has since been expanded through bond programs during the 1970s into the early 1980s. It is located south of central Phoenix, hence the name. Since the naming, suburban growth has nearly surrounded the park. Ahwatukee now borders to the south and Laveen to the west.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 90,255
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $85,516 (2nd worst)
Median Income: $38,644 (3rd worst)
More on Estrella:  Data

Maryvale Phoenix, AZ

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Population: 224,370
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $84,540 (worst)
Median Income: $36,517 (2nd worst)
More on Maryvale:  Data

Plans for Maryvale began to take shape during the 1950s, when developer John F. Long came up with the idea of developing a master-planned community on the western part of Phoenix, with an aim of turning the area into a working class suburb for Caucasians. It was the first master planned community in Arizona, and one of the first planned communities in the country. The community was designed to include space for parks, schools, and space to fulfill other community service requirements.

Alahambra Phoenix, AZ

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Population: 134,116
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $138,611 (5th worst)
Median Income: $43,225 (5th worst)
More on Alahambra:  Data

Alhambra is an urban village of Phoenix, Arizona. It encompasses an area south of Northern Avenue, west of 7th Street, east of 43rd Avenue, and north of Grand Avenue or the Grand Canal.

The community's name was chosen by W. J. Murphy, to designate one of the four North Phoenix areas he sub-divided and later developed. The area saw growth in the 1940s and 1950s, during a population boom that followed World War II. Many of those who moved to the area discovered it when they were stationed at Luke Air Force Base.

How we determined the worst Phoenix hoods in 2021

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 places have the least amount of those things. We threw the following criteria into this analysis in order to get the best, most complete results possible. We used this set of criteria for each neighborhood in Phoenix:

  • High unemployment (Less jobs)
  • Low median income (Less pay)
  • Low population density (No things to do)
  • Low home values (No one's willing to pay to live here)
  • High crime (Estimated)

Then, we ranked each neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona for each of these criteria from worst to best.

Next, we averaged the individual rankings for each criteria into a "Worst Score".

The neighborhood with the lowest "Worst Score" ranks as the worst neighborhood of Phoenix.

Read on below to learn more about these terrible places around Phoenix to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 15 neighborhoods ranked from worst to best.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Hold on to your pants.

The 'hoods around Phoenix that are really hoods

Well there you have it -- the worst of the neighborhoods in Phoenix with Central City landing at the bottom of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods in Phoenix aren't all bad. Desert View takes the cake as the best place to live in Phoenix.

We ranked the neighborhoods from worst to best in the chart below.

For more Arizona reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Neighborhoods To Live In Phoenix For 2021?

Rank Neighborhood Population Home Value Median Income
1 Central City 55,934 $92,265 $26,395
2 South Mountain 123,300 $107,310 $42,577
3 Estrella 90,255 $85,516 $38,644
4 Maryvale 224,370 $84,540 $36,517
5 Alahambra 134,116 $138,611 $43,225
6 North Mountain 169,088 $138,865 $50,524
7 Laveen 55,112 $178,000 $68,008
8 Encanto 54,597 $186,183 $47,479
9 Camelback East 144,021 $247,059 $56,425
10 New Village 5,653 $172,650 $96,497
11 Deer Valley 170,028 $167,384 $62,353
12 Paradise Valley 178,412 $252,702 $72,905
13 North Gateway 17,226 $260,769 $92,782
14 Ahwatukee Foothills 79,838 $298,053 $95,258
15 Desert View 50,657 $358,674 $101,587

15 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Neighborhoods In Phoenix For 2021

  1. Somebody did look very well for one of the worst parts of Phoenix!Does “Sunnyslope”ring a funky bell? Now we are the poster scum for Drugs,Ho’s(drug-ho’s)

  2. This article contains very little fact and a whole lot of inaccurate data. Several of the areas mentioned din this article are in fact highly desirable and or up and coming neighborhoods in Phoenix. The trend to urbanize has transformed many of these older neighborhoods into trendy areas.

    I sincerely doubt that the author of this article has ever set foot in the areas they are commenting about. What is even sadder is that people will read this article and believe that their methodology is accurate.

    The definition of an expert is “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject”. This author possesses none of the expertise necessary to write an article of this nature.

  3. It’s pretty accurate, and the only urbanization I see is the light rail which makes it worse. I work and partly live in the North side luckily, and just driving 2 miles south it turns into a third world country. I don’t know if the author has actually been there, but I don’t blame them. The police actually advise people not to go to certain areas, specifically south mountain, at night because something will literally happen to you. Even during the day, if you drive in south phoenix and sit at a stop light for too long there’s a chance someone will try to steal your car.

    1. Oh dear. You don’t know what you are talking about. Stop lying to people. Many cars are parked outside their homes on not broken into even.
      Poor doesn’t equate to bad necessarily.

  4. The worst area in PHX, is Sunnyslope, it’s where all the dregs of society are, the lowest of the lows!! Dope Fiend central. Swindlers, hooligans, loser, failures!! A bad lot of lazy layabouts. Irresponsible people. A sorry bunch them slopers, as they proudly lable themselves!! Very run-down area, junky, slummy part of north Phx!!!

    1. Damn! I graduated from Sunnyslope High in 1977. It used to be nice. It was home. Had great times there as kid and made great friends, too. Even the Basha’s (BAYLESS?) home was up on top of a mountain in Sunnyslope. Things change!

    2. Not all areas of Sunnyslope are the “worst.” But, I will say that it wasn’t awful when it was first built up. My family moved into that area in 1954, and it was a lovely community of young families that grew up and all knew each other. As time went on, it did sink into the pits. However I do think there are still several parts of ‘Slope that are beautiful.

  5. The details as to why the cities were bad weren’t even explained??? It would have been nice if you elaborated more Mr expert. & I can’t see how paradise valley and Estrella made your list.

  6. Most of the comments I’ve read concerning this terribly inaccurate article seem to be made by snobs that probably have never set foot in any of these neighborhoods. Do me a favor, please, leave your snobby Scottsdale neighborhoods for a day and go visit some of these “ghettos.” You might find the areas and the people who live there aren’t scum like you Scottsdale snobs think.

  7. There are several areas of Phoenix that are bad, but the 3 areas in particular that I see, hear and read about all the time are just south of Metro Center, specifically the 27th ave corridor down to past buckeye. The West Side…35th to 99 avenues , Olive down to I 10. And as always, Broadway to Baseline 19th ave to 48th Street. These areas are where most of the Class 1-3 felonies are committed.

  8. I lived in Sunnyslope a few years ago as a young single female and never had an issue. Granted I wouldn’t walk my dog in my neighborhood after dark, but I had a home alarm system and never used it. I had more issues with homeless people when I lived in Midtown in the Ashland historic district. And since moving to a “quieter” neighborhood in Mesa I learned that someone was murdered in a complex across the street from me. So much for stats.

  9. LOL, what a bunch of BS. Your criteria is all wrong. Crime and violent crime need are the number one thing to be accounted for, but yet no mention. LOL. The more diverse! The worse!

  10. I am located in Estrella, this is my perspective on the rankings. I think that downtown is a highly desirable place so I disagree with Central City as #1, plus its close to Paradise Valley, Tempe, and Scottsdale on top of the many employment opportunities so that is absurd. Estrella, Laveen, and South Mountain are new communities and need time to develop. I imagine they will be highly desirable residential areas after the I-10 West Light Rail is complete by 2030 (which will connect the whole area) and as new amenities open due to more people moving. From my experience the lowest of the low are in Glendale specifically 85301…crazy a*s people over there.

  11. Having moved away from. PHX n SS in 1992, was kinda surprised it went so far downhill. It wasn’t great starting in 1990…Metro CTR was kinda plummeting…but there were some decent n-hoods. Sounds like NOW it’s a s-hole. I grad from SHS in 87, n my old HS buds tell me they live in Anthem…idk where that is, north I guess. Time to take out the trash….

  12. As a Central City veterano, I’d like to say that it’s old and kinda rough in the 90″s…I went back a few years ago and it’s like super cultural and hip. Since the dt area revamp with the baseball team it’s always been very visitor friendly. And the gangs are old, with an honor code. Something happens, you likely had it coming… not like the random wild west side.

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