If you’ve ever been to Arizona, you know it’s a beautiful place. The desert landscapes are some of the prettiest places in the country, and the mountain areas have some of the best outdoor activities in the entire southwest.
But is it all great in the Copper State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Arizona has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Arizona are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, you’ll most likely disagree if you see your town atop this list. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Arizona your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 54 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Arizona:
- South Tucson
- Eloy (Photos)
- Winslow (Photos)
- Coolidge (Photos)
- San Luis
- Guadalupe (Photos)
- Tucson (Photos)
- Nogales (Photos)
- Cottonwood (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Arizona for 2018
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 54 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 54 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 Arizona — South Tucson. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Arizona.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
1. South Tucson
Population: 5,627 Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $74,100 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.9% (1st worst)
Welcome to South Tucson, where criminals go to make a living. South Tucson has the 7th highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within South Tucson city limits, you have a 1 in 16.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 45 violent crimes here in 2015. For a city of 5,627 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 124 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in South Tucson every year as well.
Population: 17,128Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $73,300 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (10th worst)
Eloy, along I-10 south of Chandler, is also a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Eloy is the 32nd most dangerous place you can live in Arizona.
Residents in Eloy have a 1 in 37.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Eloy, where average homes are valued at only$73,300. That’s the 1st-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Population: 9,539Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Values: $81,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.8% (3rd worst)
You can’t blame them for living in Winslow since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 3rd highest in the state here (16.8%), the residents in Winslow earn the smallest household income in the state of Arizona. At a combined income of $34,239, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Arizona. Winslow has the 2nd highest crime rate in the state.
Population: 12,073Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Values: $82,600 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (5th worst)
Coolidge is only a half hour drive south of the outskirts of Chandler and ranks as the 4th worst city on this list. However, there are some major differences in the quality of life between the two.
Coolidge has the 17th highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 20.2 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 6th cheapest in the state ($82,600), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
5. San Luis
Population: 31,118 Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Home Values: $112,100 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.2% (2nd worst)
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, San Luis is one of the worst places you can live in Arizona. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 17.2% unemployment rate for a city of 31,118 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing. That’s by far the highest unemployment rate of any city we’ve analyzed.
Not only that, but the public school system is completely underfunded in San Luis. The students get the least amount of spending in the entire state, and at $7,000 each per year, that’s about half the national average.
The city has a prison in town, and it sits right next to the Mexican border. Crime is above average here, and perhaps the only reason crime isn’t higher is that there are most likely lots of border patrol agents in the area.
Population: 6,172Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $82,200 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.4% (4th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Guadalupe is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Arizona. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of Arizona. Guadalupe is the 10th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 18.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $82,200, which is the 5th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Guadalupe.
Income levels are just about $30,326, the 4th lowest in Arizona.
When you add it all up, Guadalupe really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
Population: 527,586Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Home Values: $132,200 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (15th worst)
Tucson ranks as the 7th worst city on this list.
Tucson has the 6th highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 16.9 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 19th cheapest in the state ($132,200), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Population: 6,985 Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 5)
Home Values: $154,500 (25th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (33rd worst)
Tolleson, part of Maricopa County, is the 8th worst place to live in Arizona for 2015.
. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $39,714, and crime 10th worst in Arizona.
Additionally, the poverty level is 2390.0% in Tolleson.
Population: 20,355Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 7)
Home Values: $114,600 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (9th worst)
Nogales is a little better off, but not by much.
The U.S. poverty line is $25,000 for a family of four. In Nogales, household incomes hover at just over $27,929. Which means most of Nogales is having trouble making ends meet. Especially when the unemployment rate is 12.4%.
Homes are very cheap here, and the public schools are just about as underfunded as those in San Luis. Nogales also sits on the Mexican border.
It’s beginning to look like Arizona is really the super rich, the middle class and the destitute.
Population: 11,598Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Home Values: $135,000 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (21st worst)
While numbers in Arizona are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Arizona cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Cottonwood average $135,000, which is the 20th lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Cottonwood.
Plus, 2150.0% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 20th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Cottonwood city limits, you have a 1 in 23.4 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Arizona
If you’re looking at areas in Arizona 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, South Tucson ranks as the worst city to live in Arizona for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arizona:
- Paradise Valley (Pop. 13,833)
- Scottsdale (Pop. 234,495)
- Gilbert (Pop. 226,832)
For more Arizona reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Arizona
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona
- This Awesome Time Lapse Of The Arizona Desert Will Make Your Day
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Arizona