The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona For 2021


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Copper State 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 seventh time ranking the worst places to live in Arizona.

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:

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 Arizona? That would be Guadalupe.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

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

For more Arizona reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona For 2021

Guadalupe, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,482
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $100,100 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (11th worst)
More on Guadalupe:  Data | Photos

Guadalupe sits just outside of Phoenix, about 20 minutes from the center of the state's biggest population center. Meanwhile, it's also on the edge of the South Mountain Park and Reserve, providing access to abundant outdoor activities. Unfortunately, this great location comes with problems. Guadalupe also serves as the number 1 least appealing town in Arizona.

The economy is the main challenge for the 6,482 residents of Guadalupe. About 35.3% of them live below the poverty line. The median income sits at $38,125 and the unemployment rate hovers at 9.0%.

With such a limited tax base, Guadalupe also suffers from bad schools. They rank a score of 4/10 on Great Schools.

Eloy, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 18,666
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $100,100 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (7th worst)
More on Eloy:  Data | Photos

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 24th most dangerous place you can live in Arizona.

Residents in Eloy have a 1 in 32.3 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 $100,100. That's the 4th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.

Snowflake, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,811
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $164,000 (2worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (6th worst)
More on Snowflake:  Data | Photos

Snowflake has an ironic name. Typically, the average temperature in the area never drops below the high 40s. So, as you might guess, snowflakes are rare in Snowflake. That's not all the community is missing. The town counts as the number 3 place you'd most want to avoid in Arizona.

Unfortunately, poverty is a major problem in the area. About 20.3% of the town's 5,811 people live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, unemployment sits at 10.8% and the median income hovers at $47,206.

Snowflake sits in a rural part of the state, about three hours from Phoenix. It's close to a few reservations, lying between the Fort Apache Reservation and the Hopi Reservation.

San Luis, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 32,985
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $117,400 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (worst)
More on San Luis:  Data | Photos

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 14.2% unemployment rate for a city of 32,985 people, that's a sign that things aren't just bad. They are downright depressing. That's one 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.

Winslow, AZ

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 9,476
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $92,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (10th worst)
More on Winslow:  Data | Photos

If you're a classic rock fan, you probably know Winslow from the Eagles song "Take It Easy." In fact, the town has a statue commemorating the lyric: "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona/And such a fine sight to see." Unfortunately, reality doesn't live up to the legend. Winslow stands as the number 5 worst location in Arizona.

The economy is the main problem in the area. The median income stands at $37,756. However, 23.1% of the town's 9,476 residents live below the poverty level. 14.0% of them receive food stamps.

These financial hardships lead to other problems. The schools rate a score of 4/10 on Great Schools. The crime rate is more than 140% above the national average.

South Tucson, AZ

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,667
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $84,200 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (2nd worst)
More on South Tucson:  Data | Photos

Can you guess where South Tucson is located? That's right, south of Tucson. However, this suburb isn't an idyllic land of green lawns and well-groomed McMansions. Instead, it stands as the number 6 most pitiful place to live in Arizona.

Just look at the economic numbers. The unemployment rate sits at 14.0%. A whopping 43.7% of the population live below the poverty line, with 12.2% receiving food stamps. The median income stands at $24,967.

Those figures paint a stark picture: it's tough to find a job, and the work available doesn't pay the bills. Obviously, it's difficult to make ends meet in this community of 5,667 people.

Coolidge, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,685
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $113,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (3rd worst)
More on Coolidge:  Data | Photos

Coolidge is only a half hour drive south of the outskirts of Chandler and ranks as the 7th worst city on this list. However, there are some major differences in the quality of life between the two.

Coolidge has the 24th highest crime rate in Arizona, where residents have a 1 in 32.3 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 8th cheapest in the state ($113,100), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.

Tolleson, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,246
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $174,800 (25th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (44th worst)
More on Tolleson:  Data | Photos

Tolleson is part of the suburban sprawl surrounding Phoenix. It sits just of I-10, about 20 minutes west of the city's heart. This prime location, close to the state's biggest urban center, hasn't given Tolleson a boost. In fact, it exists as the number 8 least appealing place to put down roots in Arizona.

Wages in the area just aren't enough to provide a stable standard of living. The medium income sits at $45,952, with 18.0% of the people struggling below the poverty line.

There are other problems as well. Crime in the area is about 300% above the U.S. standard. Also, with rare exceptions, the schools in the area mostly below average.

Apache Junction, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 40,592
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 20)
Median Home Value: $105,600 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (13th worst)
More on Apache Junction:  Data | Photos

Apache Junction stands on the eastern edge of Phoenix's metropolitan area, leading into some of Arizona's famous desert mountains. Theoretically, this puts it in a great location: 45 minutes from the center of the state's biggest city and a relatively short drive to some of the area's most beautiful landscapes. But, in practice, Apache Junction isn't an ideal spot. In actuality, it's the number 9 worst place to live in Arizona.

Jobs are hard to come by in this community of 40,592 people. The unemployment rate stands at 8.4%. Meanwhile, 13.9% of the town scrapes by on the wrong side of the poverty line.

Apache Junction suffers other challenges as well. For instance, the schools in Apache Junction are mediocre at best, topping out at 6/10 on Great Schools.

Camp Verde, AZ

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 11,196
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $193,100 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (30th worst)
More on Camp Verde:  Data | Photos

Camp Verde hosts a lot of festivals. In the fall, you can check out Fort Verde Days. In the summer, you can enjoy the Crawdad Festival. But between these special events, life in the area is no picnic. Camp Verde stands at number 10 on the list of worst spots in all of Arizona.

A good chunk of Camp Verde's 11,196 inhabitants struggle below the poverty line. In fact, 25.1% fall into that unfortunate category. The unemployment rate sits at 5.6% and the median income hovers at $39,681%.

Looking at some other challenges for the community, the crime rate sits about 10% above the national average. The educational system is weak as well. Camp Verde's schools rate a 4/10 score on Great Schools.

How we determined the worst places to live in Arizona for 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 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 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 -- Guadalupe. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Arizona. 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 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, Guadalupe ranks as the worst city to live in Arizona for 2021.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Arizona:

  1. Gilbert (Pop. 243,254)
  2. Scottsdale (Pop. 250,602)
  3. Paradise Valley (Pop. 14,362)

For more Arizona reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Arizona?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Guadalupe 6,482 9.0% $100,100
2 Eloy 18,666 10.4% $100,100
3 Snowflake 5,811 10.8% $164,000
4 San Luis 32,985 14.2% $117,400
5 Winslow 9,476 9.2% $92,400
6 South Tucson 5,667 14.0% $84,200
7 Coolidge 12,685 12.7% $113,100
8 Tolleson 7,246 4.0% $174,800
9 Apache Junction 40,592 8.4% $105,600
10 Camp Verde 11,196 5.6% $193,100

How Is The Area In ?

27 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Arizona For 2021

  1. Honestly you should have put Wickenburg on the list. Forget what your study was based on. This town is actually called WICKEDburg. Extremely corrupt police, extremely high drug use, nothing really there for kids. Just a terrible place to live.

    1. Wicken is great for old-fart racist jackholes to sit around and bitch and moan about the “n*ggers and queers women and ‘Mescans ruining the country!” When the depression generation and racist/fascist snowbirds die out, Arizona will be a lot nicer place to live.

      1. thats funny when you say that racist and fascists should die off, but you have Hiroshima the place that got nuked by the us in 1945 in your name.

  2. I’m totally surprised that Safford didn’t make this list! Being a life long resident of this city I honestly can say it’s one of the worst!!

    1. Yeah, because who needs that pinko education about science and stuff anyway, right? Just send kids to tax dodging welfare mooch “churches” (aka, houses of the deluded)for some ‘Merican brainwashing.

  3. Any time an article starts throwing “school spending” into the mix–I toss. This type of “rating” is crap.

  4. You listed my small AZ town in the worst. I love it here! I am not going to say where but wanted to thank you. Hopefully your negative review will keep others from moving here. Thank you!

  5. Arizona is one of the better states to live in.The weather is the dominate factor.Of course the diversity of the land is an attraction as mountains and desert are combined.

    The minus is you pay for the climate by lower wages.This is true of Florida also.

    Phoenix was a beautiful town when last I was saw it.Economics has effected most cities.Bus transportation was not abundant when I live in Phoenix so you need private transportation.

    It is only about 8 hrs to San Diego from Phoenix?You can go for a swim in the Pacific.

    Arizona and Florida are best choices.Both are similar in many ways.Florida has no mountains are desert.

    For personal reasons I prefer Arizona.If you don’t like one part of the state you can move to another.

    In the winter live in Phoenix.In the summer live in the mountains if you can.

    Prescott has the rodeo and is allot cooler than Phoenix in the summer.

    A motorbike is a good means of transportation.Of course there are a few cold months.You have to be careful when you ride a motorbike.

    Walter Haas—God Bless America

  6. El Mirage AZ is the # 1 speed trap white trash town in all the USA! Their ONLY source of income are traffic cameras operated by overweight ex cops from other loser towns. if you are 2 MPH over their speed traps they send you a $ 234 ticket within 2 days. They are really hard up! Best thing that could ever happen is if their cops all died of overdoses of burritos!

  7. Coolidge and eloy what a dump full of tweekers i know i used to work there!You can not go any where with out a begger asking for money.You go to Safeway you come out you’ll have something missing.Stanfield a dump tweeker town too.Sections of Maricopa getting bad.The south side of Casa Grande a dump. Sections of the west and east side of Casa Grande plenty of tweekers and gangs.Great place to live North West of Casa Grande.Beautiful homes good schools i know i own a home there.All the newer section of NW Casa Grande beautiful place to live .Chandler and Gilbert beautiful place to live i know i own homes there too.But Old Chandler close to Mesa very bad, tweeker town and gangs.

  8. You left out the toxic waste dump of the almost-a-ghost-town of Miami. Once the copper is tapped out here, it will take a hundred years to clean up the toxic crap left by the mines, but no one will want to, so it will just dry up and blow away, become even more haunted than it already is. Checklist: 1) Downwind site, just breathe in that radioactivity like my best friend did and get aplastic thyroid cancer and die, 2) Gateway to the Pinal mountains, site of US Govt spraying of Agnet Orange (yay!) 3) Mines poison everything in the area, hooray! 4) Suspicious number of “outlaw bikers” riding $30,000 bikes around town (Meth houses burning down abound) 5) Ignorant f*cks who support racists and traitors (Don’t worry, they hate everyone who’s not from there, including gays, blacks, women, etc.), Miami, the Original Sh*thole!

  9. thats funny when you say that racist and fascists should die off, but you have Hiroshima the place that got nuked by the us in 1945 in your name.

  10. After doing some research I am considering cancelling y eight night visit to Tucson in April. have always wanted to go there as I only saw it for a day in about 1980. Now I live on the border of Tampa and FL has been compared to AZ in terms of weather and low salaries. Maybe I should return to LA to visit but I am hesitant because it will cost me much more.

  11. Douglas AZ deserves mention. Low quality of life. Drug smugglers delight. Described as “Like Mexico without the good parts.” I feel it is the city with the open hand. Avoid at all cost.It has been said that” Douglas has the best cops that money can buy”.(Will Rogers)nothing good here move along. Note those who say great things about Douglas are lying for pay or want your money.

  12. Tucson stinks. Stuck here due to a job but trying to transfer to Phoenix. Too many needy and lazy people in Tucson. My neighbor threatened to run me over because I have no interest in talking to her and yet, I am being the one to have to move out of my apartment because the apartment manager supports her. She must be on disability which pays for most of her rent. She is younger then me (just by looking at her) and she doesn’t work. Another thing about Tucson, if one person does not like you for what ever reason, they will tell other people and before you know it, you are being shunned by other people. Go for a bike ride down the Rillito River Trail (The Loop) and you will be subjected to drug addicts trying to sell you drugs. Go to Sabino Canyon and people are smoking dope while they are hiking. Drugs, needy people, low income, homelessness run ramped in Tucson.

  13. Don’t forget to add #prescottaz to this list. The giant influx of elderly and retired groups have wrecked the economy, squashed diversity, saturated the job market with part time positions at minimum wage, driven up housing and the tax bracket, moved our schools to the 90th percentile in educational funding, and generally caused everything to get a little more creepy and leering or bitter and cynical. Dry, suffocating heat continues to hover in the 80s well into October as all of the traffic, concrete, and new buildings go in. Driving anywhere while simultaneously trying to avoid the swerving Buick’s and confused Oldsmobiles give you an immediate panic attack. Moved here in my 20s with an open heart. Now I barely make eye contact with anyone because it’s just a bunch of unpleasantness. Can’t wait to leave this closed minded, hot, and horrible place now ASAP in my 30s. IF YOU ARE BUSINESS-MINDED DO NOT MOVE HERE. Takes 20 minutes to get a coffee at Starbucks.

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